My oldest son was obsessed with farming since day one. Then starting at about age 5, we'd hop in the car, drive to a farm where we'd park along side a pasture filled with cattle. Then we'd hop out and he'd draw pictures and take little notes about what he saw. Sometimes the farmer would come out to see what we were up to. They usually got a kick out of the situation and would spend time answering all of his questions. Then we'd hop back in the car and head home where my son would reconstruct what he saw with his plastic farm animals.
He's now in vet school, interested in big animals, wildlife and how humans and animals fit together on this planet. Through this experience, we learned two major things. The first is the importance of positive role models for kids. The second is the idea that doing what you love can improve your mental and physical health. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website notes that positive role models help shape how our kids behave and make decisions. And when it comes to doing what you love, the University of Southern California's website says if you like what you do, you're more likely to be optimistic and more productive. And Mayo Clinic reports that optimists have better psychological and physical health, a reduced risk of dying form cardiovascular disease and better coping skills than those who are not optimistic.
No job is perfect. They all have a downside. And farming is hard work. But, I am forever grateful to the farm families who helped shape my son's future. Some of those interactions were fleeting, others continue to be big parts of our lives.
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