How do we treat the girls? - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition


How do we treat the girls?

by | Oct 5, 2012 | Farm Family Coaching, Farm Succession

“We all knew the farm would go to the boys. We were born in the ‘30’s and everyone expected Dad and Mom to roll it over to their sons. We were given educations, no land.”

“We wondered why my sister and I were not part of the family discussion about who would have the home place. It really hurt. Dad couldn’t understand why I was crying when we talked about it later.”

“The girls in our family all married well. I guess our parents felt we were well taken care of. My brothers got all the dairy quota and the farm. We girls got $10,000. I’m not sure my lawyer today would think that was fair!”

“Out here in dry land Saskatchewan we  wonder if we’re lucky we got cash and we are not stuck with the risk of the farm !”

“We sisters each got one quarter of  land before our parents died, even though we don’t farm. It was part of how our parents defined fairness, as all the siblings always got the same dollar support.  Our farming brother was able to buy land from us and we  gladly held the mortgage.”

“In our family we don’t fight about any inheritance, because our parents have nothing. It’s great. We all get along and we have fun together. The girls have good educations and can make their own way.”

“Dad taught us all how to be skilled on the farm. We had no brothers! He treated us with respect and I think it makes him happy to see one daughter actively farming with her husband and our father.”

As a farm family business coach, I haven’t found much written about the ways girls are treated in succession planning, but I have had lots of vibrant conversations. The culture around the will and estate expectations has changed significantly since the l930’s.

Today, adult children are not happy with the “Nobody Asked Me Syndrome”. This is  where families keep their decision making a big secret, and only the farming adults are involved in conversations about the future of the farm business.

I don’t know the stats on how many people read their wills aloud to their children, but I do know that one in 5 Ontario farmers didn’t bother having a will according to a survey a few years ago. Today, people are encouraged to discuss estate plans openly.

Each family has to come to terms with what works for them. But my drive to write this column comes from the common theme that exiting farmers are asking :  “how do we treat the girls?”

So girls, gals, women, ladies! What are your expectations?

“We want our parents to enjoy their hard earned finances during their retirement and aging years. We  want mom and dad to have some fun  for a change!”

“We expect good health care in place for Mom and Dad, so we want to make sure there is money available to have them cared for. I don’t want to be the primary care-giver for my parents, I have a husband and children to look after already!”

“I accept anything my parents choose to give me as a bonus. They have already helped me get a university education and raised me in a loving happy home. I am proud to make my own way and will finance my own dreams.”

“I’m glad to know that the BANK OF DAD is still open, but realistically, I need to build up my credit rating in registered institutions. Its nice knowing there is some financial support available from my parents if a crisis hits, but I need to do things on my own.”

“I’m the daughter who got the farm. Some days with the tight cash flow I don’t know if that is a blessing. The investment cash my sisters got looks pretty good right now.”

Every family has unique challenges and goals. In most cases, it is the farming sons that take over the family farm. Each family needs to talk about what their needs, feelings and wants are for the next generation of farmers.  Avoid the “nobody asked me syndrome” and have a full conversation with the entire family group .

I am reminded of an Old Byzantine Proverb that seems to apply here:

“He who has bread has many problems. He who has no bread has only one problem.”

Let me know the creative ways you come up with to treat everyone well in your succession process.

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1 Comment

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