Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Is Country Life the Magic Forumla for Family Success?

This is almost a part two of another post regarding teaching your children to work, which you may also be interested in reading.

I think one of those more popular fallacies around many homeschooling circles is the idea that the best way to teach your children to work hard is to move out to the country and own a farm. I've known several friends who think that the cure for lazy kids is to live on the land. I was re-reading a few of my favorite books on family life recently, and I realized that most of them imply (indirectly) that country life is a sort of necessity for family success. I would never want to give that impression here, though I love the country life.

My standard answer to any of my city dwelling friends, when they tell me of their intentions to make a country move, or who are pining away at a daydream of country living, is to gently remind them of a simple truth:

If your children aren't willingly working beside you now, they surely aren't going to be up at the crack of dawn feeding the chickens and pigs.(I recommend that you tape that one to the well worn cover of your copy of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living"!)

Each family has it's own dynamic, and has to go with what works for them in areas that are not directly addressed in the Bible. Though the Bible seems mostly addressed to an agrarian society, the Bible addresses city-dwelling in a positive light as well when it says,

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth....[my note: then comes a list of blessings...]...Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
(Deuteronomy 28:1, 3)

You can be just as blessed in the city as in the country. The key is serving the Lord, not where you are living.

Obviously, I live in the country, just outside of a moderate sized town, on a wee bit less than an acre of land, with a big garden. I used to have chickens until my house was rezoned. I like the quiet of country life. I like the lack of traffic, and I generally like my surroundings. There are many things I love about living here, and there are some I don't like (especially with the gas prices!), just as there are many things I like about living in the city, and many I don't like. There are things that save you money in the country (hint: raising animals is not necessarily a money saver--they have to eat, you know) and things that save you money living in the city.

I would ask any of you longing for that house in the country to not wait for that to teach your children about work and to enjoy nature. Ask yourself this: What is your reality? Whatever that reality is, do it with the kids. Whatever your daily tasks include, in your mind (or on paper), break jobs and activities down into bite sized baby steps, think about how to include your children in your everyday life.

The magic formula is NOT, I repeat NOT about living in the country, having a farm, or participating in 18th/19th century chores. Whether you live in the country or the city, do whatever it is you do every day WITH your kids. Living in the country, I can tell you there are just as many (if not more) lazy kids with too much time on their hands up here in the country as down in the suburbs (mailbox baseball, cow-tipping, and paint-balling barns are popular past times in the country). The key isn't just what kind of chores you are doing, but rather working with your kids, and doing your work with a cheerful heart, and training our children in CHEERFUL diligence from a young age.

This working with your children can mean things like this:
  • Cooking Breakfast (or other meals) with your children
  • Picking up together
  • Sorting socks while telling Round Robin stories
  • Hanging laundry on nice days and praising God together for dryers on not so nice days.
  • Shoveling snow for your driveway and your neighbor's driveways
  • Sewing together. When you have a button to sew on a shirt, make it a learning event. Everyone practice.
  • You can even get high tech with this thought. I like the 21st century. I am a contradiction sometimes, I know...I like gardening, I like sewing, and I like technical things...so why not pass that on to my kids, too?
  • My oldest daughter took most of the photographs on this blog, including the Magnolia at the top. Teach them to use a digital camera--there's no film to waste
  • I may be using the film making skills of two of my kids soon which they enjoy doing
  • When you are fixing something around the house, have a child help you. Someday they too may have drippy pipes or toilets that keep running.

You get the picture. With the Lord, your family can be blessed in the city, or blessed in the country.

1 comment:

mamazee said...

Love this one, too - we're in town and some days i LONG to feel free to send the children outside to just roam and build and dam creeks :) - but actually, we back onto a green space (that has had cougars in it!), we live very close to the Rocky Mountains and can go hiking as often as we want - and it's still just a short little hike down to the library... it'sa notso bad :0