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Where are all my ‘barn parents’?

Show-Me Life: Viral TikTok looks at “bedroom” vs “living room” parents, and misses “barn parent.”

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

September 1, 2023

4 Min Read
 Mindy ward pictured with her family
STARTING OUT: My husband and I knew we would raise our kids in a rural setting. The best decision we made was to encourage them to show livestock, which led to most of our parenting taking place in a barn. Mindy Ward

There is a new “parenting style” question going viral on TikTok: Are you a “bedroom parent” or “living room parent”?

The next generation wants to know when growing up, where did your parents spend most of their time?

TikTok mom Marissa Kile shared a video talking about the bedroom vs. living room parent debate — hers were strictly bedroom parents. Many millennials responded to her video explaining that their parents retreated to the bedroom, away from kids, to find peace and relaxation. Others in this generation said no, their parents stayed in the living room, sitting on the couch, watching TV or interacting with kids.

For just a bit more clarification, the Gen X and Boomer “bedroom parents” definitions are a little different. For these groups, the bedroom was completely off limits, and kids entertained themselves outside of this sanctuary.

I guess my folks missed the memo. They were neither. Actually, my parents spent most of their time in the barn — with us kids. I am proud to say I carried on that parenting style — a barn parent.

Here is how this style benefits a parent and a child:

Stress reducer. All jobs are demanding. I think many associate staying still with relaxation. However, too often, idleness brings about more worry. I mean, all you are doing is sitting (or lying) and thinking. As a parent when stress came, I kept my mind and body in motion. Completing chores often brought about a sense of perspective.

What followed was often a minute of just standing, leaning on the gate staring at my sheep. And as if God was saying, ‘It’s all ok,’ there was always that ewe who would walk up and rub my hand. I was not the only one in the barn. My kids were right there with me. They saw the stress, they watched it fade, and they saw the relief. It is important to show kids all options for handling difficult days. The barn was it for us.

Family dynamics booster. Enter any barn and you will improve your family’s communication skills. It’s said that out of the mouth, the heart speaks — well, we had a lot of heart-to-hearts in our barn. There was freedom here to discuss or even shout out the good, bad and ugly going on in our family. But in the end one thing rang true and still remains — family means everything. Our kids learned there was nothing they could do or say that would ever make us love them less and vice versa. Barn parenting revealed unconditional love and acceptance.

Fun in everything. Scooping manure is never a chore of choice. So we turned up the tunes, sang and danced our way from pen to pen. If you have to do a task, nothing says you can’t make it enjoyable. Shoot, I think the barn was the place my kids found their voice — both were in high school a capella. I’m just sayin’. My girls also knew that time in the barn was the gateway to traveling the country for livestock shows. It meant hanging with their friends all summer. We had fun in the barn.

Now, my kids are grown and living their own lives. But to this day, my husband and I still spend time in the barn. It is where we work, relax and find peace. It is where the memories still live — on every metal sliding door and wooden post.

We are blessed as barn parents to keep that style alive with our grandson. He finds fun tinkering with tools on tractors, riding a lawnmower and filling up the wagon with rocks. It is where we, along with his parents, will foster communication and fun. When he is older, we hope our barn becomes a place he comes to and finds peace, along with years of memories.

I am a barn parent. So, what kind of parent are you?

About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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