Parents send their kids to work for their relatives in the country so they can learn responsibility, do work, and learn some discipline instead of sitting around all day. Also, maybe because the kid is the only one fit enough to work to get more money.
This trope is common in Coming of Age stories. In the first week, they will usually try to get out of doing it or complain that there isn't any TV, games, or any other entertainment they are used to. But they are eventually forced to work anyway. They tend to make a lot of mistakes at first. But, when they go through a Hard-Work Montage, they get the hang of it and receive Character Development.
The kids are usually sent to work on the relative's farm, ranch or some other business. The child is usually a City Mouse if the story is set in the country and may complain or try to get around going to the relative's place.
In other stories, a Country Mouse kid might have to be sent to the city so that they can have some education in a school there. They are sent there so they can work for the relative, and won't be a burden, when the rest of the family can't work or get enough money to support themselves. The child in this story tends not to have as many problems as the City Mouse. They also might actually look forward to being in the city. Although, sometimes the Country Mouse will be just as lazy and uncooperative as the typical City Mouse.
This is Truth in Television, as sometimes parents want the children to get work experience or earn money for the family since they are unable to.
- Suzuka: Yamato is sent to his aunt's girl's only dormitory where his duties involve cleaning the baths. His parent's sure weren't trying to punish him by sending him to work there.
- Birdy the Mighty: After everyone in her family/household is dead, to causes both related and unrelated to the plot, Sayaka is sent to work on a farm with relatives.
- Hanasaku Iroha: Ohana's mother runs away with her boyfriend and sends Ohana to live with her grandmother who owns a ryokan. And then the grandmother forces Ohana to work there. At first it seems somewhat cruel, but grandma's point actually was to not make Ohana privileged over other people who work there.
- In Love Hina, Keitaro is more or less kicked out of his parents' house because they're tired of supporting him. He goes to stay at his grandmother's hot springs resort with no real intention of working. but quickly becomes the live-in manager since his grandmother has retired and his aunt who lives nearby has her hands full with her own restaurant.
- In the 2006 film The Ultimate Gift, one of Jason's first "gifts" is the gift of hard work. He is sent to a ranch in the middle of nowhere, to work for a close friend of his grandfather's, until he understands the value of hard work.
- In Horse Sense, Michael is a lazy, pretty 20-something LA guy with rich parents is asked to show his young cousin Tommy from Montana a good time. Michael ends up ditching Tommy at every opportunity, preferring to spend time with his girlfriend and her father rather than some relative he met once or twice. He also ends up rear-ending another car while pulling out of parking and accidentally leaving incorrect insurance information. At home, he lies to his dad that it was a hit-and-run. After Tommy goes back to his mother's ranch, Michael's parents learn the truth and, as punishment, send him to Montana help out on the ranch. Michael, who has never worked in his life, now has to get up early, shovel manure, and do lots of other dirty work, made more difficult by Tommy taking revenge and deliberately withholding information that would make the job easier (e.g. "you mean you didn't see the tractor right there?"). Michael eventually learns that his aunt is about to lose the ranch to the bank and uses what little he remembers from business class to convince the bank manager to give the ranch to his aunt as a land trust due to the wild mustangs living on the territory.
- In the backstory to the Earth's Children series, as a teen Jondolar got sent to his divorced dad's new settlement to learn a trade after he got in trouble for beating up another character so bad it knocked his teeth out.
- Discworld: This is standard practice for dwarfs, who are sent to their already-established relatives in (usually) Anhk-Morpork, learning a trade and sending money home. Others stay in the mines, but there's little connotation of punishment. Carrot Ironfoundersson was sent to join the Watch as he was a human raised by dwarfs.
- The Chronicles of Prydain:
- Taran works Craddoc's farm thinking mistakenly that Craddoc is his real father.
- Eilonwy is sent to the Isle of Mona to learn to be a lady, "working" at being a princess for several years.
- In the Rodgers and Hart musical Babes In Arms, this is the fate the protagonists are trying to avoid by putting on a show.
- Adventures from the Book of Virtues: In the episode "Selflessness", Annie is sent by her parents to work at her younger cousins' house.
- ''King of the Hill:
"I'm last Uncle you got. You screw up here, we send you back with Grandma in Laos!"
- In one episode, Connie Souphanousinphone, the nerdy Laotian girl next door, is desperate to get a summer internship with Peggy because the alternative is spending the summer on a "family fishing boat in Laos" because her father Kahn thinks it will look good on her college applications.
- In a later episode of King of the Hill, Connie's badgirl cousin from LA, "Tid Pao" (voiced by Lucy Lui) is punished by being sent to work on her Uncle's ranch, who gives her a stern warning upon arrival:
- Believe it or not, it came up a third time. When the family visits extended family members who own a ranch, Hank fantasizes about sending Bobby off to be a ranch-hand during the summer, with him coming back taller (and quieter) each fall.
- Benjamin Franklin was apprenticed to his half-brother, a printer. That's why he ran off to Philadelphia from his native Boston.