Step Back, Homestead Parents. Let Your Kids Grow Up

Step Back, Homestead Parents. Let Your Kids Grow Up

A Farmish Kind of Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to You can view our full affiliate disclosure here.

I’ve been thinking lately about my kids getting older and how it’s important that as a parent, we step back and let our kids grow up. Even when they might fail. Even when we’re not 100% sure of their ability. When we step back, we let them rise to the occasion. We give them an opportunity to show us who they are.

It reminded me of a time I saw one of my kids step up to lead the family. It’s not a dramatic example. Actually, it’s really quite simple. But it’s one of my favorites.

A few years ago, we were at our cabin, miles and miles off the beaten path in God’s country. We had hopped on our four-wheelers to go check deer stands, and were riding on trails that most people wouldn’t be able to find unless they knew they were there.

I was leading the group on my trusty red Honda, my husband and youngest were heading up the back in a side-by-side Ranger. Sandwiched in the middle on his own ATV was my eldest, 12 years old, riding alone. He’d just earned his ATV certificate the week before and was finally legal to ride by himself.

And man, was he proud.

It’s easier to keep the kid sandwiched in the middle of the group. It’s safer—if something happens with our son’s ATV and I drive on not knowing, my husband is behind our son to help.

Now, see…I know the trails.

I know where to turn.

I know exactly where we are going.

It’s just easier if I lead.

It’s easier—but not necessarily better.

Dear homestead parent, please step back and let your kids grow up.

When we arrived at one of the stands, I approached my oldest.

Me: You know these trails?

Him: Yeah. Mostly.

Me: You want to lead the group?

He thought for a minute.

Him:  Hmmm. Yeah. Okay. Sure.

And so we pulled away from the deer stand with my oldest in the lead. With me following him. With him taking charge.

Once, he stopped at a fork in the trail because he wasn’t sure which way to go. Another time he almost missed a turn off that was hard to see.

But both times he figured it out and got us where we needed to go.

He took charge. He was the leader. We all survived.

And to his mother, the 12 year old looked a lot less boy and a little more man.

There are a million emotions that come with that. And it was perfectly fine.

Step back and let your kids grow up. Let them lead. Let them take charge.

Let's commit to raising confident, capable, responsible men and women—not 18 year old boys and girls. Step back and let your kids grow up.

Now, some families do have their kids in charge, but it’s in the manner of: my kids have everyone wrapped around their finger and totally run the show.

That is not what I’m talking about.

I’m strongly suggesting that your kids are given the opportunity to physically and mentally take charge of a situation because it gives them the confidence that if they ever had to lead, they could.

Is it a big deal to let your kid be the leader on the trails in the deep woods, miles away from the hunting shack?

Maybe not. But maybe it is.

We don’t think about our kids leading anymore because we live in a nice politically correct, “safe”, “civilized” world where 8-year-olds generally don’t have to worry about being the man of the house.

But we should think about it.

I can’t think of any reason that we shouldn’t.

Step Back: Let Your Kids Grow Up -

We can argue all day about what the role of a parent is. But at some point, the goal is that your child will become an adult and exist independently of you in the big wide world. (If not, I hope your basement is comfy.)

We keep our kids young in ways we don’t even realize.  The things we shelter them from, the conversations we won’t have with them, the responsibilities we don’t make them (or won’t let them) take on. Whether we’re talking about what a five year old can do or what a 15 year old can do, I’ll be honest—I think the main reason parents (especially moms) keep their kids young is because it’s easier.

Yes, I said it. It’s not to protect our kids, it’s to protect us.

We keep them young because we don’t have to worry about them screwing up.

We don’t have to listen to them complain about the task they’ve been handed.

We don’t have to agonize over will they be able to handle this and what will I look like as a parent when they can’t?

Your kids might fail. They might screw up. It’s okay. Step back and let your kids grow up.

Let's commit to raising confident, capable, responsible men and women—not 18 year old boys and girls. Step back and let your kids grow up.

I realize that children mature at different rates. I realize an 8 year old is not an 8 year old is not an 8 year old. I realize that not every 13 year old can handle xyz. Children evolve differently.

But are we honest enough as parents to decipher if it’s our kids that can’t handle xyz, or that we’re not willing to let them handle xyz?

Very few things can grow in the shade of a tower. Watch your kids grow and step up while you take a step back.

Or maybe even several steps back.

Homestead parents, let’s commit to growing confident, responsible men and women…not 18 year old boys and girls.

Let's commit to raising confident, capable, responsible men and women—not 18 year old boys and girls. Step back and let your kids grow up.

Do you homeschool? So do we! Check out my book — The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick.

17 thoughts on “Step Back, Homestead Parents. Let Your Kids Grow Up”

  • Love this! Yes, yes, yes, we need to be raising up adults, not children. People who can make decisions, lead, and think. Mostly think! And who can handle responsibility, and I love how you are letting him practice within your protection. Your 12 yr old sounds like an amazing kid.

  • Our 8 year old is in charge of bringing in the firewood, with his little brother’s help. The cut and split wood is in the shed about 100′ from the house – he needs to keep the stack in the porch topped up. We’ve had a few chilly mornings (we don’t have back up heat) when he has realized “OH – I didn’t bring wood in last night!” but it’s amazing to see how he has lived up to the responsibility. He has actually put on his boots and coat and grabbed the headlamp to bring in firewood before the sun came up – his decision.

    My father would go snigging logs with my grandfather, starting when he was six, and his job was to lead the big draft horses along the path. How many of us would let a six year old lead a huge draft horse along a bumpy trail? When I talk to older people, it seems that country boys were often taking on what we’d now consider jobs for grown men, and six seems to have been the magic number.

  • This is such a good article. Teaching our kiddos “how to fly” is so important and you’re right, nothing grows well in the shadow of a tower. Thanks for your insightful words.


  • When we were homeschooling full-time, people were surprised at how much responsibility my three children had in the running of the household – cooking, cleaning, gardening. Of course, at the time we lived in the suburbs, and the most the neighbor kids did was empty their take-out food containers in the trash. Our kids need responsibilities, I would even say they crave it. The pride my children had in what they could do was nothing that could be taught in school. Thanks for sharing this.

  • I completely agree with you.My son is only three, but we are working hard to teach him responsibility even now. I teach middle and high school students, and it is very clear which students’ parents do everything for them. The sad thing is it causes so many problems with academics, social issues, and self confidence.

  • just found you
    read a couple of your articles
    i started with the homeschooling page and
    found this one shortly after.
    i love your stories and advice, thank you for your teaching and your words of wisdom while being funny — easy to read but informative

    • so i am having a VERY hard time stepping back
      i read some of this and started to cry
      my son is going to be 10 in feb and he is very sheltered and i need need need to step back for everyone’s sake. i will keep reading but i will try and also show him i can fail as well, i agree with you that it is important, i never thought about it til i read your article

  • I so agree with this. My “boys” are now grown men in their early 30’s. They are independent, reliable and good people!

    I raised them to be independent – it was scary at times, but I wanted them to be able to fend for themselves.

    Great article

  • When my oldest daughter was 13, I began taking evening college classes and she was responsible 2x per week for cooking dinner and making sure her 3 year old brother was bathed and in bed.

    When my second to the oldest was 15, she came home from school one day and told me she wanted to do foreign exchange in another country.

    When my youngest was 15, he changed the flat tire of our car–in the rain–by himself.

    These milestones stand out in my mind as times when my kids were provided with an opportunity to step up and stand up, and they did beautifully. Yes, I was there for support, but it was them who took the initiative and the lead.

    Today, they are all productive members of society. My oldest is a Registered Nurse. My second to the oldest just started back to work after her youngest started preschool. My youngest is now in the US Air Force and stationed in another country. They are all still leaders and still stepping up to the plate.

  • This is the goal we have for our sons. I want 18 year olds that can make decisions and handle life. I want them to be able to lead a family when the Lord calls them to it. It is nice to know they can handle things when dad isn’t home. Great article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *