Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"Daddy's Gone and He'll Be Back in October": Farm Women's Experiences of Family Leisure

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

"Daddy's Gone and He'll Be Back in October": Farm Women's Experiences of Family Leisure

Article excerpt

Introduction

Research has identified the value and significance of family leisure on family life. Parents see family leisure as an important way to build and strengthen the family, and mothers in particular, put considerable time and effort into organizing and facilitating family activities (Harrington, 2005; Larson, Gillman, & Richards, 1997; Shaw, 2001). However, most of the research on family leisure has taken place within an urban or suburban context, and has typically focused on traditional white middle-class families. Clearly there is a need to expand this research to other types of families to obtain a more complete understanding of this form of leisure practice (Shaw, 1997).

One type of family that has received little attention in the leisure literature is the rural family, and this study represents a step towards understanding diversity within families by exploring the meanings of family leisure on the family farm. Although research has shown the importance of family in the lives of rural women (Kelly & Shortall, 2002; Little & Austin, 1996), this research has not focused specifically on leisure, and family leisure may have different meanings or different forms in rural settings than in urban environments. For example, geographic isolation, as well as the rhythms and demands of farm work may influence opportunities for family time or family activities.

The purpose of this present study is to examine the meanings and experiences of family leisure from the perspective of farm women. Specifically, an interpretive interview study was conducted to explore the extent to which family leisure is valued by farm women, their perceptions of the positive and negative aspects of family togetherness on the farm, and the advantages and challenges that farm life provides in this regard. Prior research on family leisure in the urban context as well as leisure on the lives of rural women was used to help frame this study and to provide sensitizing concepts.

Research on Family Leisure in Urban Settings

Freysinger (1994) noted, "in contrast with the industrial period when family bonds were primarily instrumental, individuals today look to the family as a source of companionship and psychological gratification" (p. 212). Moreover, family leisure is central to this aspect of family life because of its potential to foster togetherness and intra-familial communication (Daly, 2001; Shaw, 2001). In particular, research has shown the significant role that leisure plays in the lives of families with young children. Parents organize family leisure activities to build and strengthen family relationships through encouraged togetherness and child socialization (Harrington, 2005). Parents also believe that family leisure activities provide a range of other benefits as well, including the inculcation of life lessons and moral values as well as the promotion of children's physical development (Townsend 8c Murphy, 2001). Moreover, some parents hope that family leisure will provide important learning opportunities to aid their children when they become parents and have their own family (Shaw & Dawson, 2001).

However, facilitating the family's leisure activities may not be freely chosen or intrinsically motivated by parents, as there is often a sense of duty or responsibility associated with organizing and participating in these activities (Harrington, 2005; Shaw & Dawson, 2001). Women, in particular, tend to see the facilitation of family leisure as an obligatory part of their parental role (Larson, Gillman 8c Richards, 1997; Shaw, 1992), and in many cases women organize family leisure activities around the needs of their children and husband, rather than around their own personal needs.

The obligatory nature of family leisure, and the expectation that facilitating and organizing such activities is part of the parental role led Shaw and Dawson (2001) to suggest that family leisure should be seen as "purposive leisure", rather than "pure", or freely chosen leisure. …

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