The farm itself is not the only solid foundation that keeps a family farm going. Love for one another is essential as well

Don’t like “old man”

At least one reader didn’t appreciate the headline “When the old man is stubborn” on Elaine Froese’s column in the January 12 issue. If you agree that using “old man” is in poor taste and you’re wondering why Elaine would write such a thing, rest assured she didn’t write it. Editor Jay Whetter did.

My theme word for the year is love. Courage, hope and delight have been themes in previous years, and I never know what the current year will hold.

Love is a good theme for me this year as our parents are dealing with health issues, and family dynamics can be strained by the hard decisions ahead.

Gary Chapman’s newest book “Love as a way of life: Seven keys to transforming every aspect of your life” is an interesting read on the key foundation of love. Chapman’s earlier book on the five love languages helped couples understand the way that they would like to be shown love, with time, gifts, actions, verbal affirmation or meaningful touch.

“Each day involves countless interactions with others. An attitude of love may not be your top priority in some of these encounters. But what if the ancient maxim of “love your neighbour as yourself” applied to everyone? By giving love, instead of grabbing for it, you’ll become the person others want to love in return, no matter what their role is in your life.” (www.garychapman.org)

If we could embrace courtesy, honesty, kindness, generosity, humility, and trust in our relationships, our farm families would hum along much more smoothly.

I’ve been tempted to run a boot camp for daughters-in-law who are looking for common courtesy from their in-laws. Then I would also need a camp for the farming sons who feel stuck in the middle, and for mothers-in-law trying to mediate family harmony. The founding fathers want a boot camp for understanding women in general. Are you ready to choose to be more loving towards your farm team?

As I was waiting for a computer repair, I overheard another customer confide to the store clerk that he had a secret credit account that his wife had no knowledge of, thus he could buy electronics. The scary thing was that the clerk confided that she too has a secret credit card. Honesty is not part of the framework for these folks.

What one thing do you think you could work on this month that would make a huge difference in how you love your family?

Love is a choice, not just a warm feeling. We can choose to love our farm family, although we know some are easier to love than others.

I believe that when you love someone, you seek to resolve differences quickly. Having a habit of relaying your intent with words is helpful compared to silencing your thoughts. People don’t want to (and can’t) read your mind. Silence is helpful in sensitive conversations where it “helps to do the heavy lifting.” Silence is brutal when the one you love will not share their true thoughts and feelings.

“Oh Elaine, if the other person would really love me and just change, things would be so much better.” Wrong. Only you can change you. You have no control over manipulating how another person loves you. You can ask for what you need, but the other person gets to choose how he or she responds.

This is what makes life on the farm so interesting. Each farm team member has different needs for love and various ways of showing love. Or they don’t know it takes a conscious effort to choose to love.

CHAPMAN’S KEYS

Here’s a few of Chapman’s keys that I have adapted:

Courtesy would mean treating your farm family better than your friends. Let them speak without interruption, knock or ring the bell before entering the house, pick up after yourself, and put tools away in the shop.

Kindness is bringing extra water out to the field, sweeping out the truck box, and the cab, and asking if there is anything else you can do to make things easier. Kindness may be a note of thanks for being a caring daughter-in-law, raising great grandkids. Many farming sons and daughters are starved for a simple act of kindness expressed with a note of appreciation.

Honesty is expressing your true feelings without fault-finding or blame. Know that being honest will not be held against you, but will create a farm family culture for making great decisions, with respect. No more stealing car gas from the farm bulk tank!

Generosity is the commitment to have a giving hand for financial support, and the giving of your precious time to a good cause. For some farm folks it means doing without so that the larger goal can be accomplished sooner, or being content with what they have. There is also a certain generosity of spirit that is enjoyed when people choose to be optimists and see the positive opportunities, rather that dwelling on the negative.

Humility is having a servant heart and not dwelling on seeking recognition. We all like to be appreciated, yet I see humble successful farmers as folks who choose to serve, build their businesses, and not dwell too long on pride or who gets the credit for success. They are people who lead by example.

Faith, hope and love. These three abide, but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians, 13 ).

Let me know what aspect of your farm family’s love foundation you’ll be working on this month, and for the rest of the year.

Are you willing to take a journey towards being a more loving person? Join me,

I think love is a fabulous theme for every day of the year…and the rest of your short life.

Elaine Froese is a catalyst for courageous conversations as a farm family business coach. Share your thoughts at www.elainefroese.comor call 1-866-848-8311 to book her for your association’s AGM. A book can change your life…order “Planting the Seed of Hope” and “Who wants the farm…and when?” on Elaine’s website.

About the author

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Elaine Froese is a certified farm family coach and farm partner. Seek her out at www. elainefroese.com or call 1-866-848-8311. Buy her books for your mom. Share your stories of how these phrases have impacted you. Elaine wants to hear from you on Facebook at “farm family coach” or Twitter @elainefroese.

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