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Family activities build unity, bonding

Diane Prather
The farm and ranch life can make families closer.
AL

There are a lot of positives to be gained when families spend time together.

You can see the positives at the Moffat County Fair, for example, like the evening the doors to the exhibit area are opened so 4-H members can find out the results of 4-H Completion Day judging.

Parents are there, and sometimes grandparents are, too.

Young children run ahead, find the ribbons on their projects, grab the ribbons and run back to show them off to their parents, who are just entering the building.

Older kids are more reserved but proud of their accomplishments just the same.

The children in this example know they’re supported in what they do, no matter the results of the judging.

The children share their work with the family, and the parents provide lots of positive feedback. Letting kids know they’re loved and they’re important members of the family, that’s pretty powerful stuff.

Farm and ranch families have lots of opportunities to work and play together. Consider the following scenario from some years ago when ranchers stacked loose hay.

There wasn’t as much hay machinery as there is today, so the entire family helped out. That meant moms, too. There weren’t babysitters, so everyone went to the field. Older kids helped with the haying operation. Younger kids had to entertain themselves.

If there were trees alongside the field, kids crawled in spaces among them.

Sometimes, the trees surrounded rocks that were large enough to serve as imaginary tables, chairs, and beds. Outdoor playhouses were born. Leaves from trees and other plants were turned into pretend dishes. Sticks became spoons and were used to stir up mud pies.

Moms always were within sight of the play area.

When work was finished for the day, parents were invited into the pretend playhouses. Kids shared their fun.

At the same time, parents took time to point out deer that were grazing in an adjoining field or perhaps ladybug beetles that were eating aphids off leaves.

Sound corny? Just think how many positives came from such family experiences. The family members had a bond. They understood commitment. They shared. And kids’ lives were made richer by their creativity and what they learned.

The scenario isn’t all that different today, though ranch and farm kids probably have their electronic games and telephones with them when families work together.

But while moving cattle and sheep to and from summer pasture, children still find secret playhouses in trees. They take time to play in a stream of water, too, or to check out the wildlife that’s around a water hole on a cold winter morning.

One thing that’s true about ranch and farm families everywhere is togetherness at mealtime. After a hard day’s work, family members look forward to sitting down around the table to enjoy a meal together. It’s a relaxed, happy time – a nurturing experience. Family members enjoy good food, and also food for thought.

Family members may vary in age from toddlers in high chairs to grandparents, and, regardless of age, everyone gets a chance to share things that happened that day.

There are jokes and views about world affairs. Children learn about their heritage. Memories are relived. Kids learn about family values.

Little children learn vocabulary. They learn how to put sentences together.

Perhaps everyone eats more healthfully, too. Children are more apt to try eating vegetables and unfamiliar foods when they see adults eating them. Children learn to use mealtime manners.

After the meal, when younger children have been excused, other family members often are reluctant to leave the table.

They remain there, savoring cups of coffee and conversation. It may seem that children no longer are listening, but they’re still tuned in to the table talk.

Very young children sometimes crawl under the table, enjoying the comfort of the adult voices.

Mealtime for ranch and farm families sometimes may be served in a grain field, during harvest or off the bed of a pickup truck during hay season or gathering times, but it’s family time all the same.

Working and playing together as a family is all about bonding, family unity, learning how to communicate, and connecting to one another. It’s the power of being positive.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009. All rights reserved.


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