As a farmer, I don’t generally follow pop culture too much. There just isn’t enough time with everything going on at the farm, but you would have to be living under a rock to have not heard all the scandal around Miley Cyrus. Sunday, Twitter erupted in tweets about Miley Cyrus being pregnant. Could she be? Well with the fact that she is past puberty, of course she could be.
I’ve always been a believer that growing up on a farm gives kids certain protective factors that makes them less likely to do what Miley is doing. Implode. And Miley Cyrus did grow up on a farm in the Appalachias…
Physically, farm kids are way better off. According to a study published in Allergy (Allergy. 2006 Apr;61(4):414-21.), Growing up on a farm was found to have a protective effect against all outcomes studied, both self-reported, such as rhinoconjunctivitis, wheezing, atopic eczema and asthma and sensitization. Another study found that farm kids also had lower dust mite sensitivities (Allergy, Volume 61, Issue 5, pages 640–647, May 2006).
A study done in Australia found that farmers had the highest suicide rate of all occupations in the country, but didn’t appear to have higher mental health problems (Int J Soc Psychiatry December 2005vol. 51 no. 4 340-349). I am curious if there was a difference between small family farms and large factory farms using high rates of chemicals.
Another study found that farming did indeed lower the rates of mental health issues such as depression, schizophrenia and anxiety (Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health).
An overview of small family farm families found that, small, agricultural communities share unique values and characteristics that shape the lives of children. And that families go to great lengths to keep everything within the family, protecting their way of life. This protective mechanism creates cohesion within the family. Approximately 80% of rural families are composed of married couples (Atkinson, 1994; Thurston, 1996) and that is a huge benefit for kids.
Rural children, including farm children, feel a greater a sense of belonging and have more positive feelings toward their parents and siblings than urban children (Elder & Conger, 2000). Rural parents and children spend more time together, participate in more family-centered activities, have more interaction with extended family members, and are more involved in their community than their urban counterparts (Elder & Conger, 2000).
Farm women are more likely to assume the role of homemaker. Therefore, most child care occurs at home rather than in day care centers. When outside child care is needed, farm families are more likely to use family resources, especially grandparents (Atkinson, 1994; King & Elder, 1997).
So with all of these benefits and lots lots more, why is Miley Cyrus doing what she’s doing? Well, first off Miley only visited her family’s farm. She got scooped up by Disney pretty young and there’s no way she could have spent all that time at home. Second, their family farm isn’t a real farm where family has to pull together to make it. That means Miley didn’t get to experience all that family cohesion. Instead, Miley Cyrus experienced the corruption of a celebrity lifestyle that over the years has pulled her farther and farther away from good ole fashion farm values. Let’s hope that a farm foundation will be enough to get her through this.