Growing Up In the Country

Growing Up In the Country

As our girls have been growing up – they are now 16 and 13 years old – my husband and I have been trying to figure something out. What is it about their childhood that differs from when we were kids? Are there things we had that we wish we could give to them? We know their generation is different from ours in a number of ways. They have access to and knowledge of incredible technology. My husband and I still recall getting our families’ first home computers with dot matrix printers and an Atari, but that was nothing compared to today’s wireless, seamless, effortless gizmos. Our kids have a pop culture knowledge and exposure that our two-television-channel-world simply didn’t touch. (That being said, a person would be hard pressed to stump my husband Larry in 80’s music trivia.)

While there are a number of obvious differences in our childhood experiences, compared to our daughters’, the one that keeps “rising to the top” is the fact that Larry and I grew up on family farms. By living on acreages, we had both responsibility and freedom, which our children didn't have when we lived within city limits. In short, we struggled to raise “town-kids”. When we were going through grade school, our friends that were town kids got to play with their neighbourhood gang a LOT! They didn’t have to do chores (at least not to the extent we did on the farm) and they didn’t have to ride the bus to get to school. However, they did miss out as they couldn’t explore with complete freedom as we could on our farms. They also didn’t get the luxury of learning to use a dirt bike, go cart or quad and other fun toys!

We were finding that, by living in town, we could give our kids chores to do around the house and yard, but it didn’t have the same real responsibility and ownership that chores did out in the country. When I was a kid, helping my mom and dad made a difference to our family’s business and well being – feeding livestock and weeding the garden were really part of feeding our family. Plus, dad hired us to help in the field – a sort of allowance, but really our first earned wages. We learned the value of earning through hard work from a young age. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were not slaves…our expected work was balanced out with incredible freedom to play and explore and get stuck in the mud. There were no worries about our poor health due to inactivity, dragging us in for supper was the challenge!

We want these same things for our children:

1) The ability to have space where we can have tasks for our kids, to understand that work can be hard, but worth taking pride in. We don’t want to start a farm, we just want to have room to grow a garden or build a shed, where we can teach our kids some of the meaningful lessons we learned.
2) The ability to have space where our kids can explore with freedom and learn about nature on their own. Space where walking and running and biking are the first choice for them to get to their next adventure.

Is this something you crave to have for your family?