Keeping 'Em Down on the Farm

Mom struggles with bored teens and the demand for union wages.

| May/June 2007

  • Bored Breig
  • BoyAndChickens
    Sometimes the nearest friends are a few chickens. This tends to work better for younger children than for teens. Swartz
  • RunningCutie Fus
  • Running Hart
  • YellowSlicker
    Being outdoors, rain or shine, allows the investigation of numerous small wonders. Abacherli

  • Bored
  • BoyAndChickens
  • RunningCutie
  • Running
  • YellowSlicker

Last fall, our family acquired a new kid – a pimply, smart-mouthed, eyebrow-pierced, funny-as-heck foster child named Harlan.


Harlan, who is 15, had spent the last two years of his life in a city in a neighboring state, where he enjoyed precisely three activities: Hanging out on street corners with shady characters, walking around the mall and playing video games.


His move to our farm was abrupt. One day he was wandering the city unsupervised, surrounded by an infinite number of ways to get in trouble. The next day there really was nothing for him to do other than hang out with some goats.


It was culture shock, for all of us.


Fortunately, back before he moved away to the city, before puberty crept up and turned him into a video-head, Harlan had lived just down the road from us and used to spend quite a bit of time at our farm. So, at least Harlan had some early exposure to country life.


This year, Harlan came to live with us – my husband and I, our two preschoolers, and my 13-year-old stepson, Nik – full time.

7/15/2009 5:41:21 AM

Hmmm... working on the house is okay. What works for me is "you live here, you work here". I put clothes on their back, food on the table, medical insurance, snacks, fun stuff, roof over their head. The least they can do is chores to help. Rewards work great. When the chores are all done, you can play xbox or whatever. Or you could give them a .22 and tell them they can shoot when chores are done. Bows work good too. Or you could tell them that they could sell everything they plant, care for and harvest. If they want money, let them earn it the hard way by working for it. I refuse to pay my four for anywork around the house. No ball practice or games unless it's all done. No movies unless it's done. No phone or friends over either. Good luck...

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