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Community Article
Talk of the Town
A Question for Dads

This recent topic from the Tractor Talk discussion board is being highlighted because it is an awesome display of the caliber of individuals that have made this site their own. The young person asking questions received positive feedback and advice from total strangers who "told it like it is" with the care many reserve for their own kids. The advice is timeless... so although it isn't necessarily antique tractor related, it will be prominently displayed in our archives to honor those who have the courage to ask and those who have the courage to respond in an honest, positive manner.

The discussion started out with the following post:

" I am 14 and my dad is alwas on me to do something to help him. the past two days we had snow days. i was up at 5:30 so i stayed up. my dad gives me a list of things to do and like i will remember them. meanwhile my 16 year old brother sleeps till noon. then he comes home and laughs when he hears all the movies my bro watched and is on a pissed off rampage with me because i only did half the stuff. and then he makes me do more stuff while he relaxes. some how there is alwas time for my brother but not me. if i want something done i have to do it myself. what should i do to even out the work load. sorry for so long. "

The following replies were received:

We worked while growing up because our labor was necessary to make ends meet. Us kids never knew we were poor, but we were. When I had a daughter (only child), I taught her how to work. She didn't like it. She later told my wife, her Mom, that she was glad I made her learn to work. She never has told me, though. My brother has two daughters, and as near as I know, they didn't have to work as much as my daughter. They seem to be turning out OK, too. Knowing how to work isn't something that has to be learned while you are a kid, but I think it is easier to learn then, and maybe sticks with you better as you grow up.


I remember things happening that way a few years ago myself. Dad gave me a little piece of paper with a saying on it and told me to keep it for 7 years. this is what it said and I'll be darned if it wasn't true."When I was 14 my old man was so ignorant that I couldn't stand to have the old man around, when I turned 21 I was astonished at what the old man had learned in 7 years". Like the others have said, it builds character and gives a person pride. when I look at my brother i feel for him cuz he now has to struggle for everything and keeps calling bck to me and dad on how to do things.My dad is 75 now and soon to be 76, starting to slip at things but still probably can outwork me, but I wouldn't trade a day of it for anything, we are now best friends.
Youngster, you have received some good advice from the posts below. Let me say that life isn't always fair. It wasn't fair when my Dad died when I was ten, and it wasn't fair when my brother died three years later. Let me say I wish I could have had more time with both of them. You don't releaze what a Dad teaches you unless he's not there. One thing for sure is that you will benefit from the chores and experence you are getting. Not knowing your Dad I would suggust you do your chores as asked, but you may want to get his blessing on how they were done. Ask for his advice. Treat him with respect and I'm sure he will treat you good. It is difficult to raise children. It's almost impossiable to treat them equally even if we try. Both my sons said I treated the other better but I tried to treat the equally. They are both in college now after being called to duty overseas this year by the National Guard. Both contact me several times weekly which makes a me feel good. I don't know of a teenager that hasn't felt like they got treated worse than their brother, sister or a neighbor, but this will pass and you will benefit from having your Dad around to guide you. May God bless you and give you encourgement.
Thank you all. i have a little bit better understanding.
Well Youngster, Thank yourself for having the courage and caring enough to put it out on the web rather than sulking about it and doing something stupid.....which a lot of youngsters do.............boy, if they only had what you have going for them.
Just remember, your not alone. As you can see, many have walked the same path.
Hey Youngster, Boy I sure wish that I had friends like you have when I was young! Lots of brave, brave men reaching out to you here. I hope you can feel that. They are with you now, because they have been standing in your shoes, wondering the same things. Maybe you can print these strong words of understanding and support and take a look at them from time to time. It looks like you have the makings of a fine brave man too. As they say; "don't quit!"
Howdy, By the time I kicked in here, there were 20 responses to your question and all positive and encouraging. What a super bunch of people who interact in this web site.

Think about what you are reading here. You are getting all this positive feedback from total strangers who are telling it like it is..........we love you and don't even know you. If we didn't, why bother.

I am a very successful senior electronic engineer with a major corporation and did it without a college degree. I was too stupid to get it in the books but in a practical environment I fit right in.....wasn't easy and was lots of work.

The story here is I am what I am because of what I had to do growing up and then raising 4 children (with my wife of course). Every time I had to do something I learned something that I applied later on. It was like climbing stairs. At 62 I can look back and say that things weren't so bad after all when I didn't even know what happened (electrically) when you flipped on the light switch in your room.

Lastly, you have a dad (lots of boys don't)and he may not realize what he is doing to you. In raising my 3 boys (1 girl) I was so busy earning a living I didn't have time for them and did not realize, at the time, that I was depriving them of that father-son relationship. As we get older, we get wiser.

Talk to dad if you can but if it doesn't happen hang in there and you will be a better person. Keep your chin up and as stated by your "friends" think positive...it works.

Lastly, if you are busy, your mind is busy and you don't have time to get into trouble. Lots of youngsters are in trouble today only because they weren't lucky enough to have chores to do like you.


Youngster, some good advice below, DEPENDING ON THE SITUATION. You know your Dad, and none of us do. Is the type of person you can talk to? In my case, my father would take the most innocent question as an attack on his integrity or something. Never figured it out; learned early on to take what he said (or what he meant, couldn't always tell) and go from there. Worked for (and later, with) him until I was 40 years old, 'til we finally split our operations. He was of the generation that never would say, "I love you". Didn't really expect him to, but you'd have thougt one time in 40 years, he could have said, "I'm proud of you" or "You did good". Never happened. He's been gone about 10 years, my wife says my whole personality and outlook has changed since he died. I've got 3 siblings; of the four of us, only one had children; too many bad memories. Can you talk to your Mother about the way things are and why they're that way? I know that at 14, 4 or 6 more years are an eternity......it's been said below, but "life isn't fair" and "this too shall pass". I choose not to post my name; I'm here every day, but a couple of my friends also visit and ......you know.
Hang in there! hope our stories help! If you get lemons, make lemonade. Here is my story-

Both my parents died by the time I was 12. I lived in a series of horrible foster environments where I was treated like Cinderfella. I always kept my eye on the ball though - Study hard, use your brains and be excellent. Always be smarter and figure out a better way. Whether you are a farmer, trucker, athlete, CEO, or astronaut, your brains are your most important tool and will set you at the top of the heap. Once you get there, start using those same brains to be a better husband and father. You WILL change the world towards the better.

I put my self through the world's top colleges and grad schools by working hard and adapted where I had to to get ahead. (I'm no genius) I built a fair amount of wealth and now I have a farm where I spend more than 50% of my time with my kids to break the cycle of my horrible past and to make sure they grow right and are close to their folks.

Don't even know if they will ever appreciate it, but it is the right thing to do. Bless you - I will think of you


If your dad is basically a good person and drugs or alcohol is not a major problem I would sugges that you. Pick a day that you know that you dad will not be working and ask him in advance to save some morning time for you as you need to discuss some things "father to son". Begin by saying that you love him and want to understand his point of view so you want him to listen to you first. "Dad, I feel like . . . It hurts me when . . . " Then ask how the two of you could work together to make things less stressful for you. Then be willing to listen to him and HEAR what he is saying. I hope this helps you.
I don't have a real answer for you but there are two things you need to realize. 1 life is not always fair. 2 you will survive. We kind of had it like you have it when we were growing up. My brother and I did everything. My daddy didn't do too much around the farm but after all he did work a job every day and the chores were our jobs. Fortunately we did what we liked. I did the pastures, equipment and gardens. My brother took care of the yard (3 acres) and the cars. We both did house maintenance. My sister (youngest) didn't do much. My daddy beat the living crap out of me when I was little, would be considered child abuse now (mama says so, so it must be true). My brother got less and my sister almost none. Bottom line is that today (30 years later) my brother and I are fully functioning men, contributing to society, who can take care of themselves and are what I consider very successful. My brother is the most successful. My sister is basically a parasite. She still depends on her 83 year old mother to pay her bills and bail her out of whatever she gets herself into. I guess what I want you to realize is that you will survive. You can be strong, stable, and self-sufficient if you choose to. Take this opportunity to learn all you can, school, college, home, church, wherever. You sound like a son to be proud of. Wish I had one like you. I do have two daughters that I am proud of however. Good Luck. slim
I don't think this will go over and above, you sound like a very intelligent young man. Keep this phrase in mind......

You are not what you think you are......but what you think.....you are!!!!

Keeping the negatives if the front of your mind will set up a pattern that for the rest of your life you will always be looking at life in the negative sense. Old habits are hard to break!!!!! It's natural and normal to always be looking for the easy way. But when it comes right down to it....the easy way is the right way the first time.

Getting a raw deal???? You might very well be. But by thinking positive, you know you will get through it not too much the worse for wear.

Only you have the ability to be happy. No one can make you happy. They can share your happiness/satisfaction but can't do it for you.

You have more life ahead of you than you have behind you. Get on the right track now, and you won't have to rely on anti depressants later in life.

Not a simple answer to your situation, and definately not exactly what you want to hear I'm sure.

But I will say this. I sure wish I could have gotten that explanation when I was a youngster. At 49, I'm still repeating that phrase to myself on a weekly basis to keep life in a positive perspective.


Good, sensable advise. Make the most of what life hands you. No matter if your dad is being harsh with you, or if you're just mis-understanding his intentions, he's your father. You only get one. He is most likely treating you much the same as he was brought up. That's another of those "tough cycles to break". Give him the benifit of the doubt. Try to do what it takes to stay in good graces with him. I mentioned in an earlier post, how my father is gone. When he was alive, we didn't always see eye to eye. We had our disagreements. But whaen he was gone, I realized that he respected me and my opinions. He just made me proove my worth at every opportunity. You don't have to agree with everything your dad does, but you DO owe him your respect. Do that, and in time, he will show you the same consideration.
Greetings, youngster! I,m on the other side of the fence and have a 13 yr old daughter and a 16 yr. old son that I can't get to do half of what I ask them without feeling I'm threatening them! When I was 16, my Daddy had me helping service Mack trucks for a friend of his and I cut a one acre yard with a Gravely walk-behind mower for $15.00. What goes around will come around and I suspect one day your brother will wish he'd done more. If you can as suggested in earlier posts try to sit down in a neutral setting with your folks and tell them how you feel without being too loud or angry (cool,calm, collective and objective come to mind). Also when assigned more than task, write it all down so tou won't have memory failure like 47 yr. old geezer as my kids call me! Above all, don't seek revenge or try to justify your actions or his, the good Lord has a rhyme and reason for everything that happens . God bless you and Ihope you get some satisfaction.
When I was your age, I was in the same situation, I always had work to do after school, & my Dad kept me busy building fences, clearing land, doctoring cows, etc.with him on the weekends.My brother never had to do anything. At the time I felt it was unfair. Our Dad is gone now, & I realize I was the lucky one, I learned a work ethic, & got to spend a lot of time with my Dad.
Youngster, I know its easy to find fault with the way your Dad treats you as opposed to how you percieve him to treat your brother. Even if it is true, you may be the lucky one. Years ago, I thought my Dad unfair because he helped my baby sister buy a car, but not me, he helped her with her schooling, but not me, he helped her with an apartment, but not me, he loaned her money, but not me. Today,at age 47, my baby sister is still dependent on our mother to the point that our mother worries herself sick wondering what will become of her daughter when she dies or can no longer meet her daughter's needs. She has no such worries about her only son, because I have always been self sufficient. Perhaps that is your Dad's greatest gift to you. Just be glad you arent afraid to work and that you are willing to help your Dad. Did you ever think that the reasons he asks you is that he knows he can rely on you?
Youngster, Your question brings back a lot of memories and those responding do too.My dad pushed me hard and my sister got the free pass.I got worked like a dog but the old man made me what I am.I tried to take the things I learned from my upbringing to help me raise my daughter and son.(1)Life is never fair.(2)Hard work builds character. (3)Never make the mistakes your parents made, you'll make enough of your own. The teen years are tough,I know I've been there and have gone through it with my kids. Take the lessons the old man gives you,both good and bad ,and learn all you can.In four years you will be on your own and if you can survive maybe the old man did you a favor. Hang in there.
Hey Youngster, It was the same deal for me when I was a boy, and a young man too. It made me so angry and confused. I did more and had more responsibility than my brother or my sisters. I was always first and last in line to get a licking too. In my case it was both my parents whom I felt ganged up on me. They always expected more from me and acted like what ever I did it was not good enough. Like you, I thought it was very unfair. Here's the deal dude; pick a good moment, a quiet time, and talk to your Dad, tell him how you feel. Let him know you want to do your part, and more, but you feel singled out for chores, but not for fun. Talk to your Mom too. Ask her advice. It's important that you approach this in a solid, manly way. Its also important that you take it one day at a time in the same sturdy way. As a boy, I really never got it worked out with my folks. But I did know that I was growing up strong and becoming a man. When my siblings were hanging out and whining, I was doing what needed to be done. I was no hero, lots of times I was just a kid trying to do my own thing. Easy for me now to look back and say it was the best thing for me and it really did work out! You need to look forward. See the kind of man and father you want to be and work toward that a little bit every day. Remember, your Dad love's you and is working hard to do his best every day. Take it easy on him, and on you yourself too. It worked out well for me and it will for you too.
Excellent advise.
And I should have said, don't ever loose your cool while discussing this. Keep it cool and act like a mature person. Maybe try to get Mom and Dad together for a discussion with you. Plan out what you want to say before, maybe have notes so you don't forget. All in all you have some good answers to your questions here, hope you feel a bit better, hang in there and stop back here from time to time.
There will come a day when all the time you spent with your dad will be a wonderful memory. All the problems and faults will not be remembered.
Well, youngster I can relate to that! if you give me 3 things to do I will forget 2 of them. I carry a list in my pocket. It has always been a standing joke wherever I have worked. I am nearly 50 yo so that just proves that you don't outgrow it, you just learn to cope. But hey, the hyperactive ADD kids are tomorrows leaders, so everyone else get in line!
Y'ster, I don't know why your dad treats you and your brother so differently. He may not know why, either, or he may have reasons. (The rest of the story!) You have so few short years of adolescense left living at home, try to may the best of it. Try to do what he asks of you, and respect him, and if necessary, stay out of his way at times.

You will be grown up soon, and better realize for youself your Dad's motives, and even if he is actually the world's worst Dad, some day when he passes on, you will miss him, and wish you could share even one more hour with him. There are always those questions you wish you would have asked, and never did.

Good Luck! (Been there, done that, still miss the old man, even though we had almost nothing in common.)


Hang in there Hoss! Us Dad's ain't all that bad. I know it seems like we are tough on ya but then life is tough. If your Dad is anything like my Dad or like I am for my 2 boys it will all work out. Long and short of this conversation though it is still Dad's place and you are his son. What he says must be obeyed. No questions asked - if you have an issue with it discuss it later AFTER the task at hand is done.

Now that said, as a Scoutmaster and father each of my son's are very special to me. Each has their own talent. I tap each of them for the talents I need to assist me with chores around the place. I often task them both to do things I know that are beyond their skills. It is not so much completion of the task that I am after but the desire to give it your best shot! As long as they HONESTLY try I am satisfied.

NOBODY LIKES A QUITTER OR WHINER!!

Beyond that what I have settled on is switching chores every month. That way each has a fair share of the workload and each can work to get it accomplished. The one that does the best for the month gets a bonus, be it FREE FRIDAY, spend nite with a buddy, no chore weekend, etc. That is then rolled up to who does the best over a quarter (3 month period). This gives my sons a goal to work towards, they must plan and track their own progress and end the end there is recognition of their efforts.

Talk to your Dad about balancing the workload and if no luck ask him for some consideration on the "Above and Beyond" work you do. Might be your Dad has come to rely heavily on your help and inadvertently is taking the effort for granted. Again, though he is DAD.

I would also strongly challenge your brother to assist - set some goals to achieve. Some of our best goal setting is done right at the supper table. This is where we discuss EVERYTHING, GOOD, BAD OR INDIFFERENT. Kind of hard to argue with a mouthful of good cookin'

Here are some goals adapted for Shep's Place

1. To live in harmony with, enjoy, love and respect the whole creation and our Creator.
2. Create a environment where everyone, and everything is accepted for who, and what they are, will be and what we are becoming together.
3. Provide opportunity for my boys to live on the land, if they desire.
4. Provide educational opportunities, and meet community responsibilities.
5. Make time for family, friends, neighbors, recreation and to do things well.
6. Maintain good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
7. Work at the farm being self-sustaining and diversified.
8. To become debt free.

Again, hang in there. 14 is a tough age when you are going through it. Besides, it could always be worse - see pic :)


Simple,hes a daddys boy!First born and gets the easy way out,youre next in line so you get all the work!You need to talk to your Dad about it and hope he'llunderstand and if all else fails.........Go to MAMA!
It is probably not fair that I am taking a shot at answering this as I don't have any sons, and just one daughter. My thoughts are the next time he gives you things to do, make a written list. After finishing writing the list, ask him if the items on that list are for you to do or to split with your brother?

If he does by chance say that are to split with your brother, wake him before long and let him choose half of the items. Write initials beside which each of you are to do. You may not like having to do just the crappy jobs, but isn't it better than doing them all? Besides you can hand the list to dad when he returns so that he can see for himself what didn't get done, and who didn't do their fair share. You'll probably do brothers items tomorrow.

If your dad says the items are just for you, lump it and remember as others have said, that he sees pontential in you. Do the work knowing full well that someday your work ethic will serve you well when you are in the work force.

Brothers can be the pits, I had two. When the one died a few years ago, I would gladly have given my life if he could have lived instead. Good question BTW.


I am going to put a slightly different spin on this. I have 2 sons (18 and 9) and I know I can count on the younger one (even when the older one was the same age the younger one out does him) to do his best job and to carry through til the job is done. I have tried to work with the older one and have come to realize that HE has to make the decision to make something of himself and there is nothing I can do to make this decision for HIM. Therefore, I would suggest that you have decisided to make something of yourself and your dad is teaching you the lessons you need to learn to not only make something of yourself but to ultimately suceede. I know the lessons that you are about to learn are not always going to be pleasant or easy but if you learn them you will only be limited by your imagination. Now that may seem to be a bit of corny but from experience my dad pushed me hard (at times I thought very hard) but I have suceeded and seem to get tapped everywhere I have worked to take on the most chalenging projects because (I will assume) I will get it done and it will be on time, correct and the best that I can offer. The best advise I can offer is don't fight it and soak up everything you can because you never quite know when or where they will come in handy or save your butt!
Hey dont think your the only one like that, im 17 and stil get treated like crap and my brothers which is older gets the daddys little boy title. i know how it is to get craped on so keep it up and itll be over sooner then later. also im in the same situation with my dad cause hes stupid and never listen. in the same boat and not lobving it at all
Remember this: Hard work at a young age is a very good thing for the following reasons, it builds character, you learn that nothing is free, and hard work produces a profit, you get paid for it. Even if your dad is not paying you in money you do get to live in HIS house and eat the food HE buys. I learned from an early age that hard work is good, I was cutting grass at 11 years old making $40/week, (with a push mower) that was 25 years ago. I shoveled snow on the snow days that I had off from school. Some kids today dont have to do anything, and grow up thinking that the world is given to you if you go to college. As far as your brother is concerned, I would recommend that you put in a few hard days work and make sure that your dad sees it. Then approach your dad honestly and say hey why doesnt my brother do as much as me. Also remember that if the neighbors see you working hard they may want you to do work for them and pay you.
Thats a tough one. I will say that you will have a great work ethic and won't have any trouble getting or keeping a job. Your older brother will end up being the opposit, a user, slacker, non dependable and probably end up being nothing. Your dad is doing you a favor, even though he is unfair, he is preparing you for the future work force. Your older brother will not know how to keep a job if he gets one. He also won't know about reponcibility. I don't know if this helps, but hang in there. I wish I had a son like you.
The last line should of said (I wish I had an other son like you). I have only one son, no girls.
I really, really hate to rain on your parade but nowhere is it written that life (or dads for that matter)is fair. Maybe your brother already 'did his time' or maybe he does something else that may seem insignificant to you but does even out. Or maybe he sees more potential in you and pushes you harder. Or for that matter maybe he thinks he messed up with your brother when he was 14 and doesnt want to make the same mistake with you. I really hate to sound harsh but it is your dad's house and like it or not he's your dad. Start making a list (keep a paper and a pen by your bed if you have to). It's also possible that your dad really is being unfair. When I was 10 my dad was my hero and could do no wrong, at 14 he was dumb as an anvil, at 20 he treated me too much like a kid, at 24 he bagan to get a little smarter (but was still an a/h about 1/2 the time. Low and behold now that I'm 36 and he's nearly 80 he has become the smartest man in the world and I hope I can be just as good (and just as tough) a father to my boys as he was to me. Good luck!
My dad drove me relentlessly. Up at 5:00AM, no mater if it was a school day or not. Help milk the cows. Cut fire wood. Build fences. put up hay. On and On goes the list. I have 3 sisters. I was the only boy. My sisters din't have to do a thing around the farm. I never had a day off. By the time I was 15, I wanted to be MILES from the farm, and Millions of miles from my dad. I'm 46 now, and have the ability to make a living with the things my dad "crammed down my throat". I know how to work, and understand that work not only won't kill me, but will make me a better person. My father passed away 3 years ago next month. I would give everything I have to here him giving me an order again. Some day you'll understand that your father is trying to make you a good man. It took one more thing to make me understand the entire proccess. I have a son of my own. He's 24 now. There were a few years that tested my resolve. He was just like me. He didn't want any part of farming, and didn't seem to care too much for my way of doing things. 2 years ago, he had a son of his own. For some "magical reason", he's starting to appreciate the "old man" now. My son gave me my screen-name. He, in the middle of an arguement, called me a "dumb old dirtfarmer". A few weeks ago, he was talking to a friend on the phone. I about fell over when I heard Jason tell his buddy that he was going to spend his years as a "happy old dirtfarmer". Hang in there. Someday things will be a lot clearer. You'll see what your dad is doing. Just be glad you have a dad that is around to push you. Some people grow up without ever knowing their father at all.
Disclaimer: The following is just my life experience, not to impugn any good fathers out there. My old man was a real winner. His favorite saying was "I'll beat you until the blood runs!" And he did - me and my three brothers. But believe it or not, he taught me something priceless: he taught me exactly the kind of man I did NOT want to be. We buried the old man years ago and I buried the memory. I am 35 now with no children, but I bet that alot of dads are probably reading these follow-up posts. Don't leave behind a legacy of hate that will take someone a lifetime to forget.
I needed to read this again tonight, having one of those nights when it's really tough to be a dad. My youngest has gotten it in his head that he is the center of the universe. Whew!
There were seven of us boys, our father treated 6 of us like dirt one son like gold, the third from the oldest, was the chosen one, he got the farm, mach, cows, our mom died 3 years before our dad did , i miss her somthing awfull, she died in 1990, all our dad ever give me was a hard time and a lot of bloody noses, i was the youngest, the next brother older than myself was treated the worst, a lot of beatings that would have put our old man under a jail had anyone knowed about, i growed up hateing my dad, the day he died i was combineing soybeans, the rest of the family was at the hospital, he was a sunday school teacher,song leader, loved by many in public, behind the seens a no good sob, he has been dead around 10 years , i dont miss him, , i have people tell me what a good religious man he was, i would like to tell them just how wrong they are, but i dont,
YOU are a GOOD MAN, I know where you are coming from,Yor post is more meaningful to me than all the others...
Youngster, Wait until your brother is asleep and.....no,no.....dont do that. Just kidding;) I know what your going thru cause thats about the way it was at our house. My Dad told me that he did that because he knew he could count on me and he knew my brother would never amount to a plug nickel. And somehow he knew cause thats the way it turned out. My brother is 46 years old and still today you cannot count on him for nothing. Hang in there little buddy, better days will come and i'm sure your Dad appreciates the things you do but just maybe he is like my Dad was and just doesn't show it very often.
I had much the same problem growing up at home. But in the fullness of time I have been greatly rewarded. Growing up made me realize that if there was any future whatever for me it was someplace outside the community I grew up in. As a result, I left and have been quite successful over the years...

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