If you had asked me back when I was 12, I would probably have told you that some of things mom and dad made us do were “child abuse.” Waking up at 6am to pick cantaloupe. Transplanting tomatoes in the mud. Working at the farm market. Pulling weeds.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 banned child labor in factories and mines, but racist Southern politicians ensured the existence of enough loopholes to keep black children working on the farm. Now it’s young migrants who often do those jobs. And as [a reporter] demonstrates in the second feature of our investigative report, it’s not just nicotine poisoning and heat exhaustion, but the hazards involving farm vehicles, grain silos and manure pits, that endanger these children.
(Note the insinuation that you’re supporting a racist idea if you think kids working on a farm is perfectly acceptable.)
Yes, working on a farm can be dangerous – we have heavy equipment, we have potentially dangerous animals, and lots of other pitfalls. But, trust me, the benefits outweigh any of the hazards. Here are my top 5 reasons growing up on a farm was pretty awesome — and probably good for you too.
1. Farms kids are actually healthier than their non-farm counterparts.
Research has shown that being on a farm is actually really good for kids. We encounter all sorts of things in the environment that strengthen our immune systems and allow us to fight off sickness and disease. We’re pretty strong kids and, later, adults.
2. Farm Kids Respect Other People (And Their Things!)
It happens all the time – someone runs over our crops with their dirt bike, picks our corn stalks for fall decorations, or steals our produce out of the field. We see how it upsets our parents, we understand that’s our money they’ve just taken, and we know what they did was wrong. We learn to respect other people and their property from the experience.
3. Farm kids spend a lot of time outside.
Instead of sitting in front of a television or computer screen, we actually went outside. We played games. We climbed trees. We got fresh air. We soaked up the sun. We got to use our imaginations. Being outside is good for you and we certainly spent a lot of time out there (even in the winter when we could have been in the house!).
4. Farm kids get to spend time with older relatives and other family members.
I grew up working alongside mom and dad. Sure, we didn’t always get along, but I was certainly closer to them than many of my non-farm counterparts. We’re still close today and I’m fairly sure their positive influence rubbed off on me. But I also got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. Unlike kids that see grandma and grandpa on the holidays, I actually saw mine (almost) every day during the summer. We spent a lot of time together and I got to know them as people. Now that 3 of them have left us, I cherish that time beyond measure.
5. Farm kids learn about hard work early.
The idea of hard work has been extremely beneficial to me in my adult life. I learned that on the farm. You have to get the job done before you can go have fun. It doesn’t work the other way around. Things aren’t handed to you on a silver platter. You don’t get any favors by watching TV all day or playing video games. When you actually accomplish something, that’s when you get the reward.