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Connected to the community

Many young folks are eager to climb on the bright-yellow school bus, and see the friends they missed over the summer. Farmers are focused on getting a late crop off, praying for an open fall (autumn) and no frost until late October.

Once the busy season has ended, more jobs on the farm will appear as they always do, but what attention are you giving to your friends in your community?

These are the loved ones beyond your family who will listen to your heart’s cry, and share your joys and sorrows of the season. Unfortunately, many farmers are neglecting to take care of the friendships they nurtured in their younger years. Friendships need time and energy to thrive and grow, just like your crops do.

In the next three months, what is your rallying cry to create deeper friendships beyond the farm gate? Without friends and an emotional support group you risk becoming isolated, and mentally distraught. As a farm family coach I have asked several farm men who they go to beyond their spouses, and they typically say “no one.” This puts a lot of pressure on the spouse to meet needs that are sometimes better met by a community of people.

Don’t miss out on the fun of fellowship with folks. Laughter is great medicine. Friends can share their stories and help you realize that you are not alone in the challenges that 2013 farm storms have brought your way.

Friends are great for fun, relaxation, renewal and leisure activities. They provide an excuse for a much-needed break from farm labour. Friends can provide fresh insights and give us an outside perspective on what is happening in our lives and our farms. They can act as sounding boards to bounce ideas off. Watching our friends’ lives unfold, gives us new approaches and perspectives for families, marriages, parenting and farm activities.

Good friends can give both positive feedback and constructive criticism (gently with kindness) when we can’t see it ourselves. Community relationships can reassure that we are not alone, and that people care about us. They can help hold us up emotionally and in practical ways when the storms of life hit. In community the celebrations are sweeter, and the tragedies are more bearable.

Some daughter-in-laws (DILs) take some heat from the farm family when they seek to socialize more often than the in-laws feel is necessary. This tension is really about different core values around connection and friendships beyond the family unit. This fall on October 15 we are starting a seven-week series of telecoaching where you can call in confidentially, and find ways to deal with farming’s in-law factors. I’ll be sharing tools for conflict resolution and role clarity as it relates to mothers-in-law, daughters-in-law, fathers-in-law and sons-in-law. It’s part of our research for my next book which I am writing with Dr. Megan McKenzie. Go to www.elainefroese.com/contact to send me a message that you would like to be part of the coaching teleseminars.

If you need counselling, consider calling your province’s farm stress line to have a professional listener help you to get clarity about what the next steps are for better emotional health. In Manitoba at www.ruralsupport.ca there are many ways to connect and chat. Call their line at 1-866-367-3276 for counselling or stress relief.

In Alberta call 1-877-303-2642 the Alberta Mental Health Help Line.

In Saskatchewan call 1-800-667-4442, the farm stress line.

In British Columbia call 1-800-784-2433, the crisis intervention line.

In any situation… call God. He is always online.

Perhaps you don’t need a counsellor, you just need a good hairdresser… you’ll talk and you’ll leave looking good!

Do it.

1. Take the first step to invite folks over.

2. Start a potluck group and hang out on a regular basis with other families.

3. Call your best friend from high school, and share stories.

4. Go to your neighbours.

5. Join an activity group like a book club, bowling, dance or golf, Bible study.

6. Volunteer with a new community group. September is the time they are looking for commitment.

7. Let go of your farm job list, start making friendship more of a priority… or do stuff together like canning or fencing.

8. http://therecoveringfarmer.blogspot.ca is Gerry Friesen’s encouragement to farmers. Check it out. †

About the author

Contributor

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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