When The Great American Farm Tour stopped by our farm a couple of months ago, I mentioned in the video how we are forming partnerships with other individuals now that our children have grown up and left the homestead. In the comment section, a couple of people opined about why our children left.
I find it interesting that many people think that children should stay on the farm when they grow up. In the rest of the world, people keep talking about how to get their adult children to leave home. Why is the homestead different?
When we first moved to our homestead in 2002, a lot of people asked me, “Did you grow up on a farm?” The answer is no. I grew up in a small town, and so did my husband. For some reason, our society tends to think that you have to grow up on a farm to have a farm, and that if kids grow up on a farm, they should stay. There’s a lot wrong with the idea that the farm is a closed loop.
A homestead is not a business
First, it’s important to understand that a homestead is not necessarily a business. We moved out here to grow our own food organically. It just so happened that after a few years, we grew more than we could consume ourselves, and we started selling the excess. That does not mean that we are making our living on the homestead. Our farm income would be a part-time income for one person, and would never support a family of five. We both have outside jobs. So, if our children had decided to stay here, they would either have to start a profitable business or get a job. It’s not that different than what you’d expect from an adult child living at home in the suburbs.
What about family businesses?
Farms are one kind of family business. Many business owners in a variety of fields are finding that their children don’t want to take over the family business when they grow up. Just because you have a business about which you are passionate is no guarantee that your child will be passionate about that business. It does not mean that you have done anything wrong — like make the child work too much in the business. Everyone is different and has different goals and aspirations in life.
Growing up is inevitable
Although I love my children and wish I could see them more often, I never expected them to stay here forever. After all, our house is not big enough for more than one family. Since I became a grandmother last week, I’m especially happy that my daughter left home and found the love of her life. She never would have found him if she had stayed here.
Parenting in the 21st century
A century and a half ago, people moved west to homestead, and their children didn’t have a lot of options unless they were willing to move far away from their parents. And they didn’t even Skype back then to keep in touch! When they left home — and many adventurous ones did — they never knew when they’d see their family again. The safest and easiest thing to do was simply stay on the homestead and build yourself a house across the meadow when (or if) you decided to start a family. Today, people have tons of options. Many modern careers did not even exist 20 years ago. And just because someone moves away from their parent’s homestead does not mean they can’t start their own homestead. In fact, both of my daughters want to have their own homestead one day.
In case you’re curious what my children really think about all of this, I decided to make a short video with my oldest daughter last week when I was in Ft. Worth, waiting for my grandson to make his appearance.