Saturday, April 20, 2013

How Living Close to the Land Can Help Boys

There are some things I'm so passionate about I start to shake and my stomach gets queasy when I think about them. I'm sure the world could fall apart around me and I wouldn't even notice as I type what's going through my mind. It's just that I feel this incredible need to do something with all those ideas and convictions that well up inside... something constructive!

Today is one of those times... I read an article which clearly struck a chord and I can tell I'm going to be late to an appointment because I can't let the moment go without getting my thoughts out.

To say our twenty-first century youth are in trouble would be an understatement. Yes, there are those who are well adjusted and doing amazing things, but they are the minority. (I'm sorry this seems so negative, but to keep our head in the sand will not make the problem go away or alter it in any way.) Most teens and pre-teens are struggling with issues that seem so insurmountable they are taking their own lives and on occasion, taking the lives of others along with their own.

They are hurting, frustrated, and angry.

So this begs the question(s)...

• Why?
• Is this something new?
• Are they facing problems that we never faced as youth?
• What's the solution?

Obviously the answers to these questions are anything but simple and I would be hard pressed to deal with them all in one blog post. (And everyone would quit reading before the article ended!). Nor do I think there is a single reason for this problem, but there is one aspect I'd specifically like to talk about today.

I happened upon an article by Peter Brown Hoffmeister on his blog by the same name. I don't know Peter and I haven't read any of his other posts, so I cannot recommend him one way or the other, but I can say that I according to his post On School Shooters, I believe he is on to something.

You'll want to read it for yourself, but let me just summarize his thoughts briefly... As a troubled youth, he struggled with many of the same things these mass killers have displayed prior to taking the lives of others. Thankfully, he did not act out on his thoughts and tendencies, grew up, got his act together, finished school and college, and became a teacher himself. He now runs an outdoor program for troubled youth during his free time.

Hoffmeister believes the key difference that causes many to act out on their thoughts today is the over use of violent video games. His observation is that his parents' strong convictions (his mom is mentioned in particular) kept him from sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, however all the recent violent attackers have had a long history of playing violent video games at great length. I'm interpreting his article here, but his belief is that this virtual reality training removed or broke down inhibitions that would have helped prevent these kids from acting out on their thoughts and desires to hurt others (because they themselves are/were hurting).

This isn't really a new thought, but it is insightful coming from someone who has walked very close to the line himself. And the reason his article stood out to me was the fact that he has a very viable solution and is putting that conviction into practice with his Integrated Outdoor Program. Again, I do not know anything about his program other than what I've read on line, so I am not recommending it one way or the other. But, I believe he is on to something that we can all embrace.

All children need to live close to the land in some way.

Another way to summarize this is to say... they need the outdoors; to be close to nature; experiencing creation; etc.

Let me back up just a bit and build my case. May I propose that...

1. Boys in particular need to physically exert themselves. A LOT. Have you noticed that almost 100% of these mass killers are boys? Why is that? Ever heard of male testosterone? Young males get a surge of that stuff and they need an outlet for it. Not all work is equal...they need HARD work. Work that will make them sleep good at night and release excess testosterone. Since the fall in the garden, man has been destined to sweat and toil the ground to provide food (Gen. 3:17-19) and God has designed men to physically meet this challenge. Am I saying every boy needs to grow up to be a farmer by profession? No. But I am saying that they are designed to meet hard physical challenges and it wouldn't hurt if they did some homesteading on the side. Through working on a farm (or tending an inner city garden) and caring for animals, boys learn to be self controlled and gentle even when they don't FEEL like it and at the same time they have an outlet for all that energy.

(Note: I listened to Rush Limbaugh this week while driving and someone tried to bring up the point that mass killers are almost always males to which Rush responded with sarcasm and ridicule. His concern was that the caller wanted to ban only males from having guns, which clearly was NOT her intent, but she just didn't know how to express what she was observing. Why is it that this is being overlooked? Yes, testosterone usually tends to cause males to act "in the moment" and the mass killers tend to commit "premeditated" crimes, but I believe the testosterone is closely linked to the emotion of anger and acting out on this anger can be delayed if one knows they are going to get greater satisfaction at a later time.)

2. Boys need physical work which allows them to contribute to the family and society in a meaningful way.  We've all heard stories of dads that made their boys move a pile of rocks and then move them back (usually as a form of punishment). Yes that exerts energy, but it breaks down the spirit. If we want young men that grow up to be pillars of society, then they need to be engaged in work that allows them to contribute in meaningful ways... genuine work, not busy work.

Not only does the work release excess testosterone, but it helps them emotionally as they fulfill their God-given need to protect, provide, and create. It's like emotionally castrating a young man when all that he does during the day is for his own pleasure and not for meeting the real needs of others, especially for those who are "weaker" in some way... children, women, widows, etc. Please know I'm not saying they should never enjoy some "free time" to do something for themselves, but if they ONLY live for themselves, they will never enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they helped someone else.

3. Boys need to physically connect with creation and their Creator. Yes, girls need this, too, but boys in particular seem to connect with God when they meet Him in a tangible way. And for males, it seems the best way they can do this is outdoors, experiencing nature (and God) up close. This doesn't mean they get a pass from God's call to corporate worship, but it does mean they need to see Him in creation and understand that it is God who orders and ordains all things (as in the cycles of nature), that He is BIGGER than man (like the mountains), that life isn't always fair, but it has purpose (how creation works), and life is fragile (animals are born and they die). And they eventually discover that many of theses things apply to their relationships with other people.

I remember on 9/11, watching the horrors of that day for hours on TV; my feelings were raw and running wild through my mind. At some point, I stepped to a window and looked out to see a few birds, happily pecking away at our feeder. Immediately a wonderful peace flooded over me as I realized the world and life would go on as long as the Creator desired and that somehow, we would be okay no matter what happened in the future. Seeing the sparrows going about their routine amid all the chaos reminded me of the sovereignty of God in a big way! I needed that and I believe it's exactly the kind of thing our boys need.

4. Boys need homesteading mentors. It's one thing to tell a pre-adolescent to go out back and play. It's another thing to tell a teen with raging hormones to go outside and find something to do. Older boys need guidance. Wisdom. And they need it over and over again until they're old enough that their hormones have settled down a bit and those ideas have become a part of who they are as men (ie: their character).

Young men specifically need the Word, not just Creation, and having a mentor who can bring God's truths into their lives is vital. A godly adult can help a boy make the connection between what he sees in creation with what God's Word says because application of Scripture doesn't always follow hearing it and boys often need these correlations pointed out. (Note: We've seen evidence over and over that indicates the mentoring relationship is best when another MAN is able to fulfill that role for a boy, however, God has certainly used females to do this when a male is not available, so do not be discouraged or feel your son is being short changed if God has not provided another man. Do look for opportunities for godly men to speak into his life, but don't wait!)

Homesteading is an excellent solution that any family can engage in to help their children. And if you know of a troubled teen in your neighborhood/community who doesn't have an involved family, you can invite him or her to join you working your piece of land, no matter what size it is. Urban or rural, there ARE ways to connect with nature, whether it's a community garden in a lot between two inner city buildings or a farm out in the middle of nowhere. Other articles and posts address how to find opportunities for these kind of connections, so I won't go into details at this time.

At this point, some of you may be thinking...

"But my son doesn't like the outdoors, in fact, he hates it."
It doesn't matter... he still needs it. Boys don't often know WHAT they need! And moms, why are we coddling these young men? Life is tough... they need to do some things they don't like. It's not like we're sending them to be tortured, for heaven's sake!

"But it's not safe out there." 
Maybe. Maybe not. Danger can be found in many places, and apparently the video games are turning out to be more dangerous than we thought. May I suggest that those who are fearful read Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. Trust me... it will help you get past the safety issue and stop being so over protective. We live in a remote area with lots of dangerous wildlife (mountain lions, bobcats, elk, coyotes, and sometimes even bears). I found that I was getting more and more leery of letting the girls go out and explore. Reading this book helped tremendously! (Please note, we never send them out without a large dog. Please use common sense.)

If you live in an urban setting that is riddled with crime, and you are unable to move out of that area, find some community leaders or a pastor that can direct you to resources in reasonably safe areas of your neighborhood or avoid crime-heavy locations during "peak" hours.

"Not all boys are called by God to be the outdoor type." 
It's true; God has called some to a 9-5 job, sitting behind a desk. But all the more reason your son will need to know how to go outside and get some exercise when he gets home from work! My husband's formative years sound like a chapter from Tom Sawyer. Oh, the stories he can tell! But by vocation, God has called him to the role of a pastor. Not exactly an "outdoor" job. When he comes home, he needs time outdoors because all those hours in study and counseling weigh on his body physically and without exercise, fresh air, and sunshine, the toll on him is even greater! On days he comes home and sits in front of the computer, he never feels as good. Thankfully, he learned as a boy those things that call him to the outdoors as an adult.

"I don't know anyone who can mentor my son in homesteading; I'm just learning myself." 
Excellent! Learn together. By discovering new skills along side each other, your relationship will be even stronger. Every child can appreciate a humble parent who is willing to say, "I don't know, but let's find out!". And the fact that you are willing to stop what you are doing and specifically spend time with him will speak volumes! If you don't know much about the Bible, do that together as well. Attend a good church that teaches from the Word verse-by-verse, join a Bible study, or seek out a pastor who can recommend a mentor.

"He doesn't respect or obey me and won't get off the computer and stop playing video games." 
Or something of the like. I really feel for the single mom who finds she's in a situation like this. I may be a girl, but I confess, as a teen (before Christ in my life), I was this kind of child although I wasn't into video games. My mom was afraid to tell me "no" on anything for fear I'd run away or worse. When she told me this years later, I was shocked! Yes, I was rebellious and disrespectful, but there was a limit to it in my mind. I just never let on to that fact. For each child, that limit may be at a different place, but I believe children crave for parents to be strong and place boundaries in their life.

If you have a child like this, you may need to seek some professional counseling from someone who can help you both. And as a parent, you may need a parenting class to help you with your son or daughter. But for most, it's as simple as packing the equipment up when he's gone and send it to an undisclosed adult friend's house until he is ready to get it back WITH LIMITS and respect. Then sit down with your child and discuss how he's going to be spending all that "free time" in the future.

A few closing thoughts...

I realize this post is being read by the "choir" for the most part. If so, please share this with those you feel might benefit. Perhaps someone you know just needs encouragement that they are on the right track and not to give up. Parenting is a 24/7/365 job that lasts for YEARS! And we all have those moments that we drop the ball because we're feeling worn out... physically and emotionally (cause hey, we ain't gettin' younger at this job!).

I also understand that absentee parents probably aren't reading my article and it's no surprise to most of us that these are often the very homes that breed troubled and angry youth. Instead of going into detail here supporting this argument, readers can google statistics that prove this point over and over again. But assuming it's true, what can we do with this information that would help?

Find ways to be involved within your community for those whose parents either can't or won't engage with them. Pray and ask God to direct you to some child in need. Allow your children to bring home a friend who seems a bit... unattended by his parents. Only be sure to have very strict rules as to what they will do and where. In other words, don't be afraid to hang out with them even if it seems "uncool". For girls, that might mean all of you cooking together in the kitchen (something I do with my children when their friends come over). But for boys, give the big outdoors a try. Build a garden box together, make a compost bin, haul some dirt for the garden and play a game of "King of the Mountain" while you're at it.

Finally, consider adoption. Whoa... seriously? Yes. It doesn't even have to be a formal adoption. Just be willing to open your home up to a young person in need of a place to spend extended amounts of time. Foster care is an official term for that. Be wise... this isn't a calling for everyone. Don't bring teen boys into your home with teen girls or you'll be creating a situation that isn't good for either. But some of you have big farms or ranches and no girls OR your children are college age and beyond. You might be the mentor some boy desperately needs. We can't change the all the boys in the world, but we can change the world for one boy. Imagine the impact that would make if we all did that!

In closing, I want to reiterate that I am not as naive as you may think when you read this post... I realize this is only a part of a bigger problem and that it's way more complex than what I've addressed here. But could I get an AMEN that this is a big chunk of it? I apologize this post is much longer than normal, but it's as much for me as anyone... I NEEDED to write this. By thinking it out on "paper", I'm able to process my thoughts better and understand things that seem so overwhelming. I hope... in some small way... it has done the same for you.

Blessings to you and your boys!


  1. Amen! We need to provide opportunity for our children (blood related or not) to work their hands through soil, take care of an innocent animal and know that there is a God. Very well written article that I enjoyed reading.

  2. Hi there, Well said! I've actually linked this for my daughter to read-she is like minded.
    Have a great weekend and thanks for posting this!!

  3. I would add- I think we're a society that encourages using weapons/force instead of reason to fix things, too much TV (not just videos), too much chemicals/additives in foods, and a lack of encouraging boys to be creative thinkers and not just physical. Since boys and girls have left/right brains they both need to have a balance between logical and creative to be balanced people...

  4. Thank you. I so enjoyed reading this article. I grew up on a cow/horse ranch and am thankful for that upbringing. If only every child could have that opportunity. Again, thank you. Have a great weekend.

  5. Amen! Let's hear it for the boys!:)

  6. Great thoughts! I am loving raising my children (2 boys and 2 girls) with a love for God and nature and see the benefits every day. Your post was challenging though in the urging to reach out to other young people too. That is something I should work on more.

    I so agree that it seems like violent video games are causing people to be totally desensitized (and most likely the moves they watch too). I wish more parents would be adult enough to keep them out of their homes and also to teach their children to realize they are bad so they wouldn't fill their minds with such garbage in their college years either. Our country certainly needs a lot of prayer!

  7. I agree as well. I have seen the difference in several different families within my family. One family lives on a farm and homeschools and their 2 oldest are boys who are now 17 and 19. They are wonderful young men with a strong work ethic and responsible and pleasant to be with. Another family has a very angry and confused young man who would have benefited greatly from being able to work the land with his hands. His younger brother is very into sports and that seems to be helping him but as I observe I see that the sports is much less meaningful than working with one's hands.
    Thanks for writing out your thoughts.

  8. I have 6 sons and I couldn't agree with you more. You've hit the nail on the head with this one. Being outdoors, caring for something other than themselves, working, building... all things boys need in abundance!

  9. Hello, And I just want to say BRAVO!! Very well written and with much heart and love. All that you said about boys needing the great outdoors was Gods intent in the beginning. I loved it!!
    Blessings, Roxy

  10. This was a disturbing article. Studies show that girls who participate in sports don't use drugs, have early sex, have fewer babies out of wedlock, and a whole plethora of actions we wish and do not wish for our girls. So, maybe for urban girls, sports is the substitute for the active life of homesteading. It is the activity, the raised self-esteem, the purpose they gain from sports that boys (and girls) can gain from living close to the land. I read stories of Christian homesteaders and the like who deliberately groom the girls for a life close to the kitchen. This is not a bad thing except for the fact that they need the exercise, the courage, the skills that boys learn outdoors. Granted, women and girls do not have the upper body strength in general that boys do. But, girls need the head-clearing outdoors, the learn to care about things in nature, just like boys do. Girls need the great outdoors as much as boys do, no more and no less.

    1. Welcome, Linda. I encourage you to look around at some of my other posts as you'll see that while I believe girls should learn to cook (wouldn't hurt boys to know either), my daughters are highly involved in outdoor activities as well... farming, rodeo, archery and hunting, hiking, swim team, etc. In no way was my article a commentary that girls do not need to live close to the land as well, however, in the 21st century, we are coddling boys and not allowing them to express their need to be BOYS. That concept was the centerpiece of this particular article, not to address girls (which I tend to discuss much more often).
      Thanks for the feedback.

    2. You should add that to this post. This was my first time here. I started to leave and never come back, discounting the whole blog because it upset me. Actually, I believe boys and girls should learn to cook. Girls should learn the same skills as boys. However, our society will encourage girls to specialize in homemaking arts while boys will be encouraged to do more work with tools in the outdoors or rougher areas.

      I think boys and girls are being coddled in many ways. Part of it is the current ideas on safety. My daughter is a helicopter parent raising two children in a NYC apartment. Neither the 18-yt-old boy or the 12-yr-old girl can even make a grilled cheese sandwich. They are not allowed to use a stove because they might hurt themselves.

      My daughter ridiculed in front of her son the work gloves I sent him in one of my frequent boxes I send from AL, boxes full of items that are useful and on sale. Wait until she sees the wool socks I intend to send all three of them.

      As a girl-child, I was allowed the freedom in the woods as my little brother. I still think there is no girl-way or boy-way to be.

  11. Thank you so much for writing this. I just wanted to tell you that God used this post to inspire me to write a post of my own. It's not exactly on the same topic, but I'd love for you to read it if you get a chance. Like you I just "had" to sit down and write it. Hopefully God will use my words to inspire someone just as He has used yours to inspire me.


  12. Loved this article! Currently in the suburbs (temporarily we hope) while my husband studies but grew up on a farm and can't wait to get back and begin homesteading as much as I can. I think hard work for boys is something that is sure to help build self-confidence! Marc Driscoll write he thinks boys are like semi-trucks, they are easier steered when carrying a heavy load :)

  13. Right on! I always see a difference in my son's attitude after he comes in from a long day of playing outside! I love to watch him build his forts and use his imagination!

  14. Amy, another excellent, excellent article! You brought up many reasons why an outdoor life is so vital for child development. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. We're sharing this link!

  15. Thanks for your thoughts, Amy. With summer coming soon, I needed a reminder to set limits on how much computer time my son will be allowed. We have a little land, but I don't have many projects for my son. I'm going to pray that God would direct me in directing my son this summer and that I'll have the fortitude to persevere despite his protests!

  16. Thank you for this article. I am so glad I am not the only one with this thought process. This is one reason I support the Boy Scouts and several mens hunting clubs. Me son was an order of the arrow & a Eagle Scout. Yes it makes a big difference for a boy to be active. Actually, even the grown men as well. Thank you and God Bless, please keep up the excellent writing. ~ Thinker

  17. Love this post and really feel that it is right on the target. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

  18. So well said. We have two sons and are new to the country way of life. My husband grew up here, on this exact land, and always told me how different he would have been without it, how much better his life was growing up out here. I am a city girl. I grew up on pavement and no trees (except in parks and some homes had a little one in their backyard). I couldn't understand what the big deal was. I grew up fine. I am a well rounded person. I am not a criminal. I strive to walk with Christ each and every day. I figured he was just over exaggerating.

    Then we made the move out here and I, very quickly, realized what he was talking about. There is a HUGE change in our children and it's directly related to where we live. I am not saying you have to buy hundreds of acres and start homesteading to see this wonderful change. It can be done in the city. It just has to be very purposeful and requires more thought and work. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken the time to do that work. Thankfully my children are still young enough to develop this same ethic, sense, and knowledge easily.

  19. This is full of wisdom and needs to be read by everyone. Thank you for not keeping your thoughts in your heart; we've all been enlightened. God bless you~

  20. I love your blog. I'm not religious, and I'm liberal with my politics, but I love the family values that you share and the many adventures I read about here.

    The one thing I feel compelled to comment on is your suggestion of adoption. I, myself, have two adopted children and have definitely caught the adoption "bug" over the years. However, please be careful when advocating adoption of foster youth to your readers. Bringing a foster child, or any adopted child, into the home is something that requires a LOT more than just the desire to help someone in need. If you're going to bring a child into the home you need to be prepared to fully commit to that child no matter what they do. These children have literally been tortured and are in many ways broken. It takes a LOT more than a warm meal and a loving family to put them back together again. It takes years and years of financial commitment to therapy, re-learning how to parent, making absolutely sure (in advance) that you and your spouse are 100% on the same page before committing, and NEVER giving up. No matter WHAT. The majority of these children suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder, a very serious mental illness, and it's truly amazing how a 5 year old with this disorder can destroy a family.

    I hope that when our 5 year old homewrecker is older and further along the path to healing that we will be able to adopt again. I think that when the kids are teenagers that we might be able to go again for a 5-8 year old. Learning how to manage these children has cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and so very few understand their mentality and how to help; it seems like it would be a waste to not use the skills we've learned to try to help another child.

    Just be careful. These children do need the help of anyone "called" to help. But it's not simple. Their need is SO great. But the effort needed to really help them is far greater than anyone can imagine until you are in the middle of it.

    Kindest Wishes,
    Jen in CA

    1. Jen, wise words indeed! Thank you for your input and reminder to readers. We have adopted 3 of our own, and we've learned every adoption is as different as the child. Circumstances and needs differ from child to child with some requiring heroic efforts because of what the child has experienced in the past - from fetal alcohol syndrome, drugs, sexual abuse, etc. The topic could be an entire book... not just a comment or a blog post!

      Bless you for all you're doing for this child... do not grow wearing in doing good! (I know... I've been there!) The joy will be ever so much greater when you see him/her overcoming past hurts and circumstances. Praying today your strength is renewed afresh every morning!
      ~ Amy

    2. How wonderful! I hope I didn't come off as condescending; that wasn't my intent. I'm just on the RAD forums a lot these days looking for support and lending it, so I'm a bit of a fire breathing dragon on this issue right now. :-)

      It sounds like your family has come through some trials with your kiddos as well, and that gives me a lot of hope, to hear of others' successes. Within a couple of years we aim to be on land of our own, sharing our goat pictures with the world, too. I hope at that point we've come through the worst of our trials with her so that we can enjoy it. I hope, if anything, that maybe the wide open spaces will give her room to run wild and calm her spirit. Just like a boy in your article might. Believe me, she'll be mucking stalls. ;-)

    3. Jen, you didn't come off condescending at all! BTW... We have had some challenges with our adoptions, but others have had much greater things to over come. I think one of the keys that has helped us is to be humble and open to what others have tried both successfully and unsuccessfully and be willing to make a change of course if things aren't working.

      Sometimes you can do all the right things and the children grow up to follow another path of self destruction (so very sad!). I have close friends who I believe did most things right with 2 of the 4 adopted adults living happy well-adjusted lives. Their two siblings (blood related though adopted), made radically different choices despite the same up bringing and background. Even if this happens, there is always a possibility that they will return to their senses and do a 180. And often, it is because they keep remembering what was instilled in them during their younger years at home. So be firm and tough if necessary, but fair and just... LOVE LOTS... and never give up!

      I'm excited for you as you work toward your goal of getting some land. Sounds like a great plan!

    4. Thank you for posting this article. We need to help today's youth in so many ways. More young girls are having babies out of wedlock and they almost seem proud of it and is now becoming the norm. More boys are violent, don't have any or very little involvement in their out of wed lock children's lives. Not to mention that both sexes are more irresponsible and don't know how to work hard for a living.

      I love your idea about helping kids from the community and showing them there's more to live than video games, computers and their phones.

      We are currently fostering our first sibling group (and 3 for that matter). These children all have problems and it can be so super frustrating at times handling them. The middle one is autistic and the youngest has RAD and is severely developmentally delayed. The youngest two only went outside once every other week and that was to go to the grocery store!!!!! We went brought them home they were ecstatic that we had chickens, a large yard to run in, woods to play in, flowers to pick and a garden that we grow veggies in. Now they WANT to go outside when they come home. There's many days were the TV isn't even turned on. I just think how much we've impacted their live just showing them the lifestyle that we live and they have totally embraced it.

      My husband and I are only in our low 30's now so we will only foster kids from 2-12. However we get into our 40's we plan on only taking in only teenagers. This is a group that desperately needs help and perhaps they can be led on the correct path. Though hard work they can be shown to be a responsible adult and break the cycle and which they grew up in.

      Thanks for the post.

  21. Wonderful post! Your very first "excuse" was what was going through my mind as I read. My son isn't the outdoor type. In fact, he would LOVE to be the video game, movie watching type instead. He dislikes living on what he calls a "goat farm". He'd rather not garden. He wishes he didn't have to split wood. He'd like more than 45 minutes a day of computer time somewhere other than the family room. Wishes we had WiFi so he could use his I-pod to be online at home.
    This post has inspired me to keep on keeping on with him. I'll be sharing this with my hubby as well, so he can be encouraged that we've made some good choices. Sometimes our kids get us believing that this "isn't fair" to them. They don't want to stay home so much because we have to do the milking. Thank you for reminding us of another excellent benefit to this lifestyle we've chosen. :)
    Thank you for sharing! :)

    1. Patty, I can totally relate! I don't talk about it much, but we have a child who feels the same way... never enough "electronics" for her (in her opinion). We tried getting her involved with gardening, chickens, and then goats... none of it took. She only saw it as W.O.R.K. and took no joy in it, claiming she's a city girl (and wants nothing more than to go to Hollywood or someplace).

      We want our girls to WANT to be in the outdoors, no matter where they live. We WANT them to have a desire for living close to the land in SOME way, even if it doesn't look exactly like our lifestyle. So after much prayer and consideration, we introduced her to the world of horses... for this particular child, that was the ticket!!! She'll shovel manure all day long and think nothing of it (I'm exaggerating, of course, but she never complains about it... EVER). In order to ride, she must help take care of the horses, learning to groom and care for them, etc. It's been a win/win situation.

      Don't give up... PRAY, try various things, and talk to him to get an idea of what he might enjoy. I should also mention that during a particularly difficult time (just prior to and during our transition into the horse world), we sent her electronics to an adult friend's house to stay for a while (4 months). We've since been able to bring them back and the difference is amazing! The attitude has improved and she's so much more judicious with her time on it. She also still helps with the chickens and goats, but her attitude is dramatically improved. Someday, I'll write an entire post on this.

  22. This was a wonderful post. Thank you so much. I could not agree more!

  23. LOVE this article and posted it on my FB page with a shout out to start some raised beds for any parents with kids in this danger zone. Just think of the great learning for all and benefits of good vegetables! Love this, just what I have been needing in my life too...

  24. Thank you for this post. I am not married and have no kids of my own, but I agree, society is "breeding" problems with children growing up away from the land and being too involved in playing violent games.

  25. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Having 2 teenage boys ourselves (18 & 16 and a 13 year-old daughter), we've found it necessary to set up get outside and to be busy. Raising animals helps!
    Idleness isn't profitable in our home~ In the winter time this is more difficult. The computer is a challenge/struggle with school subjects, needing to look up things, researching, emailing...It's always a prayer of how to balance all things in life! I was inspired to re-evaluate our home front on these issues~

  26. First I want to say what an inspiring post this is. Our sons are raised and on their on now, but raising kids is never easy. We are blessed that our sons are God loving, independant, and caring men. It is so important to give back to your community. It was such a joy being their parents. They both volunteer in the community through different avenues. They are the first ones to go and help anyone in need.

    We lived in the country and our sons had land and ponds all around them. Trees to climb and access to hunting and lots of hard physical work. Our neighbors were excellant mentors to our boys. It takes a whole community to raise one child. We lived in a small town less that 12,ooo people. Everyone knows your name and your children. It was the perfect place to raise kids. Of course living in a small community it's important to be in church, sports and band or what ever interest your kids.

    I was a latch key kid and my mother was a very absentee single parent. I'm sure this is why I took my job as mother so serious. I was determined to have a better life for our children. I also had wonderful grandparents that care for us when our mother was not able.

    We were involved in their activities and always knew where they were. I know hard it is to raise kids as a single parent. It seems like too many children are having babies to raise themselves. Kids need to be kids and enjoy nature. I am so sad for the kids that don't have parents that are really there for them.

    ~~Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat~~Mother Teresa

  27. A very insightful article. Thank you for sharing.

  28. So true! I don't have any boys but it scares me dearly that my daughter could probably outwork any of the ones I see around us… Who is going to lead and protect when many of the boys are idol in there little cyber worlds? It has become a concern… But I really believe that life on the land nourishes all the good qualities to make a responsible, mature and strong young man… It worked in the past with all the American forefathers. They were intelligent but tough… Constructive and creative (not too mention, they didn't have the "extra" free time to think of evil schemes, they were too busy WORKING at a young age).

  29. My parents were often asked by relatives to take their teen boys for the summer and teach them to work, that it was okay to get dirty and to care for animals. It was always fun for this family of mostly girls to school our boy cousins on how to work on the ranch.

  30. Awesome post! I have 3 boys and could not agree more with you.

  31. I totally agree. I think some of this could go for girls as well. Have you notices how violent girls are getting now a days?

    1. True. Very true, Michelle. We had some "cat fights" at school when I was a girl, but nothing like I've seen or read in the news in the last few years. I'm one of those girls that REALLY needs the outdoors even though I don't consider myself particularly "athletic". I'm an animal and plant girl (kind of obvious, huh?), but there are many, many females like myself.

  32. Amen, Amy!! You are so right about this. I'm sorry somebody made a comment about this article being disturbing... I think she missed the point- BOYS!! :) We don't have video games in our home, and are very careful what the children watch. I love for our son (and daughters, lol) to watch Andy Griffith... I think he has a great way of teaching morals and good character. I wish we had wholesome television like that nowadays. So sad where our society has gone. It's no wonder we're seeing children act the way they do. As my father always said: Trash in, trash out. They are only acting out what they've seen demonstrated to them. It's our job to decide what we want our children to emulate, and only "feed" them what we want to reap.

  33. I am a single mother of a 9 year old son and a 7 year old girl. They are both allowed one hour (my son does the Xbox) and my daughter plays with the iPad for her hour. They get this after their homework has been done. Personally I hate the Xbox and would happily throw it in the rubbish however it's here and a part of. Kids lives in 2013. When my ex and I split he would visit the kids on a Sunday and just sit on the couch for 5 hours and play Xbox with my then 4 year old. Subsequently my son got addicted to Xbox and I totally was against that form of interaction and for that length of time. My preference would be for them to go to the park and kick a football which I encouraged and only managed a few times. I am very strict with the 1 hr per week and the iPhone timer is set for one hour and when that goes off I set it for 5 mins for him to wind up, save the game etc. I found giving the 5 mins extra stopped my blood pressure from going through the roof when after the 1 he timer went off I would be saying off now, he would be saying in a minute because he wanted to say it so the 1 hr timer and then the extra 5 mins works and he is more respectful because he has time to finish and get off. I do know that the mood when they get off has a lot to be desired but banning it altogether forever isn't going to help. I am horrified when he tells me how much Xbox and computer time his friends get. I totally agree that video games and particularly violent ones makes killing into a fun harmless game but the reality is when you kill someone in real life they are dead and never come back. I wished they had never been invented. We grew up with PAC man which is completely harmless

  34. Thank you for writing this article. It echoes what I have been reading and experiencing myself. My sister is a single mom who has a 17 year old boy, whom she has had a difficult time raising. I will be forwarding this article to her.

  35. I found your article to be very good and insightful. I worked as a child protective worker for the State of Oregon and agree with your thoughts about computers, video games and the out doors. Some of the other reasons for our youth straying the course is just plain lack of attention and respect. I was made the "teen specialist" in my office and attended several state wide functions, where I was able to talk to teens. I can't tell you how many times I heard that teens were placed into foster care and then forgotten about. Young boys and girls that had not seen a social worker for their case for, literally YEARS! No one listening and in their minds no one caring, There were workers that were supposed to see the children on their case loads that were not. I had two unrelated teens, one boy and one girl, that spent practically all of their lives in foster care and eventually aged out of the system. Because they had foster parents that really cared and I listened and acted on stuff they had to say , neither got pregnant or got anyone else pregnant or neither started using drugs. The boy went on to college and the girl went into the Navy. I didn't do anything special, I just did what I was hired to do and listened to the children. We had a psychologist come into the office to test every one including the district director about motivation. Only two out of twenty people really cared about kids in a state organization where people were hired to care for our youth. The competition placed into children today at sporting events, is no longer the healthy sportsmanship of the past. Our schools have degraded to the point of teachers spending their time doing administrative paperwork instead of teaching our children. The break down of the family unit certainly does not assist in this situation either. We, as a society, have a lot of work to do to regain our moral standards.

    1. D. Hausmann, Thanks so much for sharing your experiences... so helpful to have confirmation from someone "in the field", although so sad to hear that so many never get the help they really need.

  36. Our boys could care less if we had a house. They would love to live outside. My DH has even mentioned that our next move, and there will be one, may need to be to the country or a farm just for the boys. They need that exertion and active play. They used to be scared of worms, slugs, getting dirty, etc. It took some time (months) but I finally got them over it. I'm not sure what they did before coming to live with us, but I'm pretty sure it had to do with a lot of t.v. because they REFUSED to watch any when they first moved in. They also didn't seem to know how to behave outside, but they LOVED being there. It has been great to see the change in them. I now see a very negative affect on their behaviors if too much t.v. is watched, or any t.v. some days, and not enough outdoor time has happened. The only negative side is that my housework sometimes gets neglected. Oh, well, I'd much rather be outside anyway, too.

  37. Just found your blog! I'm fairly new to homesteading...we have a 7 acre "farm-ish", 4 goats, a horse, numerous dogs, about 60 chickens (or so...some are for butchering), and an orchard (which I know nothing about). I am planting about a 3/4 acre garden this year. Learning as I go. I was raised a city girl basically. Loving this blog...Thank you for all the time and energy it takes to write this and stay consistent with it! You are a blessing to people like me.

  38. Excellent article and so very true. We have four boys, two grown and two just entering college. We know of what you speak....

  39. My Husband and I would very much like to be on our own homestead. We are raising two of our three Grandsons, and know that they would revel in the life on a small farm. My Husband grew up between his Grandparents small farm and a small town. He yearns to return to the type of life he remembers from his Grandparents farm. I grew up in small town, unfortunately we live right in the middle of a city now. We are all squirming to be out of it.
    We try to expose our Grandsons, as much as possible, to the kind of life we want to have in the country. We are growing a 'garden' in containers, as we rent our home. My Husband shows them things he is working on, such as motorcycles, painting vehicles, working on vehicles, building things (ie shelves, ramps). They are only 6 and 3, so there is a limit. But I am already showing them how to wash clothes, iron, fold. How to cook, and explain why we cook with herbs, or how things cook. We have fish right now, so they are learning how we care for them. The oldest is allergic to cats and dogs, unfortunately. However, he is not allergic to horses, cows, etc.
    We don't want a huge place, just big enough for the boys to have room to run. To be able to have chickens, both for eggs and for meat. We haven't decided on goat or cow for milk. We definitely want a cow or two for meat, and to trade for some pork. And of course a good sized garden to be able to provide eventually for all our vegetable and herb needs. We long to be able to plant long term items such as asparagus, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, pears, etc.
    As you've probably already guessed, I yearn for our own homestead as well. It just seems to slip farther away with the economy. Prices keep going up. The company my Husband works for will most likely be closing his plant soon, and with jobs they way they are it's going to mean him taking a lower paying job, if he can get one. I have been home caring for the boys since the youngest was 8 months old. I was out of work before that, because I hadn't been able to find a job. So our little homestead looks like it's getting further and further away.
    Keep up your wonderful blog about your little piece of heaven on Earth, and at least we can read and dream while we make do with what we have.


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