1. Expect Him to “Pull His Own Weight.”
Boys raised on a farm grow up working. There’s an expectation of pulling their own weight, not just funding Friday night escapades.
Bob, a third-generation farmer, fondly reminisced that, although he realized he was a special case, he began learning to farm at the ripe old age of four. He went on to explain that his father was missing a hand. Somewhere between toddler and boy, he became his father’s right-hand man — literally.
On a neighboring farm, an old man sat at the kitchen table to describe his childhood. “Early mornings.” he said. “I was expected to milk the cow before going to school each day, and then again when I got home.”
Not only did he milk his family’s cow, but also his grandparents’ as well.
“Looking back,” he said, “like most boys of that time, I learned a great many other things working beside my father on a daily basis.”
One thing all farm boys learn early is to “just do it.” I don’t mean play basketball in Nikes — I mean work. Just do it because it is expected. Just do it because it’s needed. Just do it because it must be done. They did it for their families.
Although the culture of the American family farm is fading as fast as the crumbling barns that dot the countryside, their spirit and wisdom don’t have to die with them.
As I spoke with different old men, the same recurring theme underscored each memory: in expecting a boy to “pull his own weight,” he gains more than he gives.
The point to take away here is not that we should return to the era of child labor in the Industrial Revolution, or put children in dangerous farm machinery, or even force them to work in fields.
Rather, that fathers work side-by-side with their sons. It’s a father’s expectation that a boy can be more than he is that brings out the man in the boy.
John Eldredge wrote in Wild at Heart that every boy longs to know whether he has what it takes to become a man.
[T]he question every boy and man is longing to ask. Do I have what it takes? Am I powerful? Until a man knows he is a man, he will be forever trying to prove he is one.