Follow TV Tropes


Sent Off to Work for Relatives

Go To

Parents send their kids to work for their relatives in the countryside so they can learn responsibility, do work, and learn some discipline instead of sitting around all day in the city or suburbia. Also, maybe because the kid is the only one old enough or fit enough to send them to work.

This trope is common in Coming of Age stories and it is a subtrope of The City vs. the Country stories. In the first week, they will usually try to get out of doing work or complain that there isn't any TV, games, or any other entertainment they are used to. But they are forced to work anyway. They tend to make a lot of mistakes at first, and their bumbling attempts to do rural work is often Played for Laughs. 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 rural 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 big city so that they can attend school there or learn about urban living. 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, earn money for the family, or learn about living in a different environment.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 (inn). 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.
  • 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.
  • Suzuka: Yamato is sent to his aunt's girl's only dormitory where his duties involve cleaning the baths. His parents sure weren't trying to punish him by sending him to work there.

    Comic Books 
  • An issue of Astro City deals with a city girl from the eponymous City of Adventure, which is crawling with superheroes; sent to spend the summer working on her uncle's farm out in the sticks, where there is a single hero for the entire county.

    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse: Michael is sent to live with his uncle Dan, Ellie's brother, beginning Tuesday 27 June 1991. Ellie grew up on a farm, so she believes her kids should have the same life experience. Michael is initially reluctant, but warms to the farm over the summer. Elizabeth is sent there beginning on Wednesday 17 July 1996. She starts out gloomy, but the place grows on her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Babes in Arms (based on the musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart): This is the fate the protagonists are trying to avoid by putting on a show.
  • Horse Sense: Michael is a lazy, pretty 20-something LA guy with rich parents who 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 to 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.
  • 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.
  • Star Wars: A variation in the sequel trilogy. When Ben was 10 years old, Leia and Han were concerned enough about his mental state and inability to control his Force abilities that they sent him to train as a Jedi under his uncle. They hoped that Luke would be able to help him channel his abilities into something good and find some stability. Unfortunately, Ben felt abandoned by his parents, which made it easier for Snoke to manipulate him.

  • Chocoholic Mysteries: In "Kidnapping Clue", while Lee's mother is getting divorced and preparing to move the two of them to Dallas for her new job, she sends Lee to Michigan to work at her aunt Nettie and uncle Phil's luxury chocolate shop for the summer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Earth's Children: In the Backstory to the 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.
  • Night World: After it's discovered that Blaise Harmon was working illegal love spells, she gets packed off to live with her strict Aunt Ursula at her fortress-like home, the Convent, as punishment.
  • The Year of the Rat: Ryska is sent off to work for Vikiy, her stepfather's brother, on his farm.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gilmore Girls: Played With. Luke's nephew, Jess, is sent From New York to Nowhere because he's been getting into trouble in the city and his mother can no longer handle him. Luke's terms are that he attends school and works in the diner that Luke runs and owns. Jess is reluctant to help in the diner, but this has less to do with his skills and more to due with his resentment towards the situation. Unusual for the trope, Jess's work ethic is fine. His living arrangement with Luke breaks down because he skips school to work a second job, to the point he can't graduate due to truancy. He refuses to retake the year, and Luke kicks him out.
  • Succession: What lands Greg in the Roys' orbit in the beginning, and it actually happens twice in the pilot. He's gotten a job he doesn't deserve at one of the Canadian theme parks that the Roys run due to his name, but gets fired on the first day for smoking weed. His mom forcefully sends him off to New York to beg for his job back or get another one, which he succeeds.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventures from the Book of Virtues: In the episode "Selflessness", Annie is sent by her parents to work at her younger cousins' house.
  • In the opening narration of Gravity Falls's first episode, Dipper Pines explains that he and Mabel Pines are doing in the titular Quirky Town; their parents thought they were spending too much time indoors, so they sent them to stay and help out at Grunkle Stan's Mystery Shack tourist trap in the middle of the woods.
  • King of the Hill:
    • 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 the third episode of the seventh season of King of the Hill, after Connie's bad girl cousin from Los Angeles, Tid Pao (voiced by Lucy Liu), is punished for tricking Bobby into making meth (Connie managed to save Bobby before he could get in trouble with the police), she's sent to live with another uncle of hers, with this one appearing to run some kind dairy farm/ranch in rural Wisconsin. Tid Pao's other uncle gives her this warning while she working:
    "I'm the last Uncle you've got. You screw up here, we ship you back to Grandma in Laos!"
    • 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.
  • What's with Andy?: In one episode, the titular character is threatened by his dad to be sent off to work on his grandparents' farm if he doesn't stop pulling practical jokes.

    Real Life 
  • Benjamin Franklin was apprenticed to his half-brother, a printer. That's why he ran off to Philadelphia from his native Boston.