This morning, I read a beautiful post by my friend Tiffany Davis of ImperfectlyHappy.com. First of all, I love the title of her website. So may times as I browse homesteading websites, an image of perfection is portrayed. While we certainly want to put our best foot forward, perfection on an urban farm or homestead is neither attainable nor the goal. Rather, we are always learning, always growing, constantly adjusting, and forgiving of ourselves when things do not go as planned. When crops fail, or goats don’t cooperate on the milkstand, or an unexpected cost pops up, every challenge is an opportunity to learn something new or to grow in character.
When we started our farm, we were so excited! And one of our reasons for homesteading was to instill character and a solid work ethic in our children. Tiffany beautifully outlines some of the many benefits of homesteading for kids in her post 7 Virtues Homesteading Kids Learn. I encourage everyone with children to read it.
Amongst other virtues, Tiffany points out that kids learn team work, discipline and compassion. We are so pleased when our children display these character traits, and are gratified when visitors to the farm compliment us on our amazing girls. They are truly gems, and we are incredibly proud of each of them.
But, the reality is that our kids do not always exhibit teamwork, but often squabble about their farm chores. They are sometimes slack or lazy, and not always disciplined. They sometimes forget to feed or water an animal and need a reminder to have compassion on the lives that depend completely on them.
When our children display imperfection, as parents, we have a choice. We can either get frustrated and discouraged, or we can take a deep breath and use challenges as an opportunity to help our children to grow.
Over the years, I have learned to rejoice whether my kids fail or whether they succeed. The farm life provides many circumstances that bring out the worst in all of us, and my attitude towards these circumstances has a lot to do with whether they end culminate in anger and frustration, or end with a positive outcome.
My husband and I came to the conclusion long ago that it is better for kids to fail while they are living on our farm, while we have the opportunity to bring correction and help them grow, than to appear to be perfect as kids and fail as adults. So we give our kids the freedom to fail, while taking every opportunity to help them improve and grow.
Homesteading parents, be encouraged! When your kids are imperfect, we call that NORMAL. And when they fail, it’s merely an opportunity to develop virtue. Thanks, Tiffany, for reminding of one of the most important reasons that our family farms. We’ll keep working at it!