Family & Education

Dear Next Generation: A Whole Barnful of Shovels

BY Dear Next Generation TIMEJune 14, 2022 PRINT

I really am convinced that a great deal of crime present in today’s world is a direct result of broken families. Children need a village to raise them, but first, a strong family or parent is a must.

I am the eldest of seven children who were blessed with good parents. They were strict and corrected us when we needed it and praised us when we accomplished something of value. My father was the eldest of nine children and was raised on a farm. Although my dad was a very successful contractor, the farming life never left him.

We moved from a residential area in Speedway, Indiana, when I was in fourth grade to a small farm not far from Speedway. The acreage was quickly turned into several large plant-producing areas, which at the time I hated. My father grew and sold tomatoes and green peppers at the local produce market, picking the vegetables in the evening and delivering them to market around 5 a.m. I quickly learned how to stake, sucker, and pick and pack tomatoes as well as tend, wash, and basket peppers. Again, at the time I hated it, but it kept me and my little brother out of trouble. One lunch day, he brought home two weed wackers (they looked a little bit like a golf club with a blade at the end). Dad told us to cut the weeds down. I made the mistake of asking where, and he simply replied, “Just look around.”

My father taught all of us to think for ourselves, which at those times seemed very frustrating but held valuable lessons for me in later life.

One cold Saturday in the fall (I was probably 13 or 14 years old), I decided to take the small bulldozer without asking to the end of our property, which was approximately two blocks away from the house. I don’t remember what my reason was, but I loved to drive all the equipment my father owned. The weather had been rainy and the fields were soaked. When I reached the boundary of our property, I got the bulldozer stuck in the mud. Now, you really have to try to get a bulldozer stuck, but I managed to bury the transom. I tried and tried to get the dozer going but just made the matter worse. What to do?

I decided I would get my father’s help. I would rather eat a bug than ask him for help, but all my options had expired. During my long walk to the house, many thoughts passed through my mind, and they were not good.

Finally I reached the house and found my dad watching one of the high school basketball final games. Remember, I live in Indiana where basketball, particularly high school basketball, is watched with passion: case in point, the movie “Hoosiers.”

I stood up ready to face my father with the bad news and ask him for help. Without moving a muscle, he simply took his eyes off the TV for a split second and informed me, “There is a whole barn full of shovels.” No further discussion. I had no other option but to get the situation corrected myself, which took hours of backbreaking mud shoveling, but in the end, I was successful and took the dozer back to the shed just before dark.

At the time, I was mad and dejected because he wouldn’t help me, but I’ve thought about that situation many times when faced with a difficult situation. What to do? “You got yourself in this mess, now get yourself out.”

What valuable lesson did I learn? Stand up on your two feet and figure the problem out. Too often today I feel that parents trying to be good parents are very protective. Give your kids some slack and let them make mistakes. Let them figure out the problem on their own; in the long run, they’ll appreciate what you did for them.

Jerry A. Rosner, Indiana


What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001.

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