Dear Barb – Down on the Farm

Dear Barb:

I grew up in a farming family, three previous generations of farmers. So it was always expected that me and my brother would become farmers. My brother is heading in that direction, but I chose to go to university instead. My parents are heartbroken that I did not choose farming. I can tell my dad is offended that I did not want to follow in his footsteps. I do not see farming in my future, the work is physically hard and the money not that good. I want to get a business degree and see where that takes me. My parents are not supportive of my education. They expect me to work on the farm as much as my brother does and that doesn’t leave me enough time to do my school work. My marks are sliding and I’m way behind in most of my courses. I don’t know how to explain to my parents that this is what I want to do without hurting their feelings. Thanks Gregg

Hi Gregg:

Great question! Often children grow up with the parental expectation that they will follow in their parent’s line of work, but this doesn’t always happen and the children and parents are both left feeling unhappy and disappointed. The family farm is fast becoming a dying lifestyle and this is unfortunate because farming provided stability and bonding for the family. Pulitzer Prize winning, agricultural author Louis Bromfield wrote about farming that It’s “the only profession in which man deals constantly with all the laws of the universe and life.” On the other hand, you are right it is hard work and can entail 14-hour work days, plus farm income has been constantly dwindling as huge agribusinesses take over distribution and processing of farm products. Perhaps you need to sit down and have a heart to heart discussion with your family about what you personally want to do. Include them in your plans, show them that you can have a successful life and that this is what you truly want for yourself and explain that you need to spend more time on your studies. Assure them that you will still help out on the farm when you can, but you cannot spend as much time working the farm as your brother does. If they refuse to accept your choice, you may have to move out for a while. The prospect of you moving out at this point, may cause them to realize how serious you are and that this is what you want for your future. You have to be true to yourself, while also respecting your parents? way of life. Thanks Gregg, for writing in.

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— Dear Barb has become a staple here at The Voice Magazine, and a couple people have told me it’s the first thing they read. Take out the rural setting, and the primary concern in the June 17th edition here could apply to a lot of students, and was noted on Facebook. It obviously had to be included.