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Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch: Good Parenting Without a Farm

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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is George Bailey's weekly report on he and his wife's efforts to teach their kids financial freedom.

For the past few months, during my business meetings, I've had a lot of clients and other business associates asking me about my podcast and what it's about. When I explain to them that I'm on a mission to figure out what parents can do to prepare their children for the adult world of business and finance, they ask me what I've learned so far from the folks we've had on the show. What's the secret? It's actually quite simple—you just have to raise your children on a farm.

That's right. If you really want to show that you care for your child's future, it's time to sell your suburban home or hip city condo, buy some livestock, find a field somewhere, and start plowing. Problem solved.

Honestly, it seems like a good portion of the successful people I've been talking with have at least some exposure to farm life. Bob Holden, Gary Kellmann, Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge? All raised working on a farm. Shawn Askinosie? Lots of time visiting his grandparents on the farm, where they lived for years.

I'm a self-avowed city slicker. I love buildings, lights, and a decent amount of traffic. I love the kind of restaurants that a large city attracts. I love watching people and wondering about their stories. I live in the suburbs and regularly drive into the city for business meetings, networking events, and so on. I'm not about to go milk cows.

Don't get me wrong. I love camping, hiking, breathing fresh air, and the stars at night. I love roasting marshmallows with the little ones scurrying about dangerously close to an open fire. My favorite place on the planet is the Grand Canyon. I'm no stranger to life outside the city.

However, with all my passion about teaching my kids to be adults, it's a bit frustrating to think that I've come out of the gate with a massive disadvantage in that my children don't have any chickens to behead, scald, and pluck. Sigh. ("I'm all the animal your kids need, baby" — Asclepius, the pet snake)

As we've been thinking about how to deal with this setback, Christina and I have decided to try something new. Our idea was inspired by Rhonda's account of needing to get all her farm chores done before heading off to school. My guess is that it wasn't necessarily the manner of the work that Rhonda and my other farm-dwelling friends did that was so important; more likely, it was important that they started the day off knowing that their chores were their first priority.

We've started making our kids work right out of bed (allowing for breakfast, of course). This last week, before they've gotten on the bus, they've been making their beds, cleaning their rooms, putting away their toys, brushing their teeth, and reading their scriptures. Yes, there's been some resistance, sometimes rather intense. But it's amazing how quickly they've resigned themselves to their tasks.

It's only been a week, and none of my children are teenagers, so I'm sure I'm in for a rude awakening sometime in the near future. However, it's amazing to see the shift in their little work ethics. There are even times when they really get into it. There's not much I'm certain about in regards to how we should raise our children, but starting the morning with work is feeling like a pretty good idea. Even better than moving to a farm.


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