The Department of Labor is currently proposing changes to the child labor laws. Drastic changes that will change the landscape of agriculture. I'll let you look elsewhere for all the details, many have written about it. Instead, I'll share a bit about how important it is for children to have meaningful work.
I grew up the oldest child of a small farmer. I was the hired hand from the time I was 9 or 10 years old. I learned to drive tractor at age 8, raking hay with the tractor my great grandfather purchased brand new. And farming right alongside the watchful eye of my dad.
I love farm work. I do to this very day. This love didn't appear magically when I turned 16 or 18 (as the Labor department would have our children do), instead it was cultivated - pun intended - over years and years of life. On a farm, everyone has a job and they are all important. That sense of work, meaningful work, is vital to the development of responsibility and dedication in children.
Our kids are already helping to make our farm prosper. Granted, at ages 3, 2, and 1, they aren't pitching square bales, but what they do contribute is valuable.
Recent example: We buy grain for our chickens in 40 bushel totes. And then we unload it into the grain bin so that Hubby can custom mix the ration. This time it happened to be oats.
We don't use an auger because it would tear the tote bag. Instead we use these 3 gallon buckets and form a bit of an assembly line. Usually I am scooping from the back of the pickup and Hubby is unloading into a tote in the bin.
The kids are outside with us and want to be involved.
So, they each have a small bucket that I fill along with the big buckets that Dad uses. Then the kids take their bucket and unload it in the tote, right along with Dad.
And from then on, they know that their work is what feeds the chickens. And the chickens feed us. And that's what makes a farm-family go round.
Meaningful work...It's a good thing!