A new daughter-in-law asked… “How long do you have to be married before you get to be family ?” This powerful question is part of Jolene Brown’s new book “Sometimes you  need more than an 2 x 4!…how to tips to successfully grow a family business.”

Jolene Brown and I are friends and colleagues.  We both have strong messages for encouraging farm families to address the tough issues, treat others well, and grow great businesses. I would encourage you to consider her new book as a gift to the new brides in your neighbourhood. ( ) I am asking the young farm women I meet to give me their insights as the “daughter –in-law” for my next book on “daughter-in-law dynamics.”

This week I had the awesome privilege of working with a well-adjusted farm family who sought my facilitation skills as an outsider to help them get more clarity about the farm’s successor, and everyone’s expectations for the future vision of the farm. The mother tearfully asked me to read a special letter to open up the family meeting.

The hand written three page note was dated by a young couple ( now parents ) almost three decades ago, and had been hidden from the adult children, until now. The intent of the letter was to be a guide to the parents to treat their family in a much healthier fashion than what they had experienced as a new couple on the home yard, too close to the founding parents.

I have their permission to share it with you here, anonymously, since they really don’t want the neighbours to figure out who they are !

Use their words of wisdom to craft your own note of encouragement to the next generation, and set healthy boundaries for dealing with family conflict on the farm.

“As parents we will strive to follow these guidelines and if we have trouble doing so we’ll have to think back to the first few years of our marriage and the trouble we saw.

1. Communication: If they are 5 or 20 years old we must treat our kids as friends and always listen to them and encourage them to talk to us. Ask them  “What they think”,
“What happened?”, or “What should you do?”

2.Respect each other and respect each other’s privacy. When they are young, knock before entering their bedroom, for instance. Respect the kid’s opinions—even if they disagree. Don’t pry or snoop.


When the family is out of school and possibly married we must:

-give advice  only when it is requested

-remember that our way of doing things is not necessarily the only way

-accept their right to do things their own way…they are still learning.

-share our experience as information, not as direction

-treat our children’s spouses as our children


If someone in the family wants to farm:

-encourage them to further their education first or try working at some other occupations for awhile to compare and become more aware of life’s choices.

-respect and support their decision and remember—advice only when asked for

-if they still wish to farm and there is enough farm  for two families and you’ll be able to work together then, an operating agreement which recognizes individual contributions to the business must be drawn up with all involved parties not having any uncertainties.

-if it is a married child ( or soon to be ) it will be their decision only whether to share the yard site, but tell them because of experience you would encourage them to have a yard of their own. The new couple having their own yard would lend itself to a quality relationship. We would give any assistance necessary to achieve this.

-management decisions must be shared from the beginning.

-when the children show they are sincere about  farming we shall provide documentation to ensure their eventual ownership of the farm.

-all points on the previous pages apply to this situation also.

Signed, Mom and Dad .


Jolene Brown says :” The business must decide, “What, if any, is the busess role of a spouse ?”  In-law family members must express their wishes, if any, for inclusion or involvement in the business. It’s best clarified before the ring is on the finger.”

So, what is your family’s code of conduct? What expectations do you have of the newlyweds  on your farm team ? How are you treating your successor’s partner…who lives with your adult child and is not married ?

Divorce is devastating to a farm business not to mention the farm family dynamics. Just ask the young farmer who I spoke with on the phone today. Many couples who struggle with in-law relationships early in the marriage don’t go for counseling to help them set healthy boundaries and clear expectations like you read in the letter above.

You might want to buy a copy of “The Language of Love and Respect” by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs, to encourage couples of all ages to embrace their new family.

I give this book to farmers who are asking for help in building a stronger marriage foundation.

Its your farm, your family, your choice. Choose healthy behaviours and guidelines of respect. Tell your daughter-in-law that you are thrilled that she is part of the family, and show her love and acceptance in the way she likes to receive it.

If you are a daughter-in-law or son-in-law who would like to be part of my research team for my next book, please email your story to I’m looking for the good, bad and the ugly, so that we can all learn new tools to feel like we are really part of our new family… even 3 decades later.

Elaine Froese celebrates 30 years of marriage to Wes on July 4th this year. Her new action guide “Do the Tough Things Right…how to prevent communication disasters in family business” is available at Call 1-866-848-8311 to book Elaine for your fall agricultural event. Send cards to Box 957, Boissevain, MB, R0K 0E0 and tell her how you’ve made plans for change ! Elaine is a certified coach and member of the Canadian Association of Farm Advisors.



Fixing Your Time Stress Mess

60 minutes

Workaholics will discover helpful strategies for managing their time stress. Gain understanding for the tensions of your age and stage on the farm. Learn why some problems are not solvable, but just need to be managed as polarities. Self-renewing people are joyful and productive producers.


Rave reviews

“A joy to work with, heard loud and clear. When the farmers laughed or asked a great question, I knew they were listening and really wanted to learn from her. Her tips were easy to understand. It was just about understanding that conflict happens, and to have the confidence in yourself to ask for what you want. In the glowing review from farmers after her presentation, I knew they had heard that loud and clear.”
Maddy Berner, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator, National Milk Producers Federation National Milk Producers Federation
“I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your virtual kitchen table chat with Arlan Academy. My wife and I signed up as it was exceptionally relevant to our current journey with potentially transitioning to her parents’ farm. The session was able to cover so many aspects of these crucial conversations and hearing you speak to both sides of the conversation was eye opening for my own perspective on this topic. It seemed to be very well attended and sounded like there were many other people who would echo my thoughts and feelings on it.”
N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
“Elaine helped me allocate $1 Million of assets the night I listened to her. Elaine’s presentation brings value to the use of my services in my office.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
“I recently joined in and listened to your Healthy Farmer Agriwebinar for FMC. I truly enjoyed hearing your perspective and even went and grabbed my Mom, away from her work, to come and listen in on some of your main points as well! One area that really stood out for me, both personally with our own succession plans and with our clients, was your discussion involving "Instant Influence" and how ready are you to change? I loved this concept!”
Annessa Good, FCC Transition Specialist, Alberta
“Elaine Froese truly is the Farm Whisperer. With her big heart and stern resolve, she guides families through uncharted waters and helps them arrive safely at their desired destination. She has been there, done that, and has helped hundreds of families come out on the other side. With your family and your farm legacy on the line, you owe it to yourself to start this conversation. You do not need to do it alone. Let Elaine Froese guide you through. Your legacy is being written day by day. How will you be remembered?”
Tracy Brunet, Host of The Impact Farming Show & CEO of Farm Marketer
“You speak like you’ve been sitting at our kitchen table! You know our family issues well. I am feeling more comfortable understanding what we now need to do. Elaine Froese is real.”
Audience Member,
“I attended the meeting you spoke at in Stratford Ontario recently. We held an emergency family/farm meeting today because of issues that I had enough of. We used a 'talking stick' like you recommended and wrote a chart of rules. The rest of the family thought the idea that we needed a meeting was worth rolling their eyes over, until we got started. The younger ones were quick to clue in that they now have an opportunity to be bluntly honest. The older ones took a bit longer to believe they could truly say what they think. In the end, the meeting needed two sessions because there was so much to talk about… and so many things people didn't realize were a big deal to the others. Your lessons and encouragement have given us the tools we need to get to a better place in our relationships and our business. Truly thankful.”
Kim Martin, Dairy Farmer, Ontario
“Helped me develop my framework to start having constructive and meaningful conversations around the farm.”
Tennille Wakefield, Farm Partner
“Some great lessons, Elaine! You continue to do some remarkable and potentially life-changing work.”
James Mitchell, Principal, Conversations Consulting
“Our family had a good farm meeting yesterday afternoon. Your Fairness video was a great topic of discussion. One of the action items after the meeting was to have my two non-farming siblings watch the video before the next big meeting they are involved with on the farm. It will be a great conversation starter as we catch them up on our current plan. As they are younger, we also hope it will help them to ask new questions that may not have been on their mind.”
G.G., Farm Family Legacy Coach, Alberta
“Elaine gives me excellent tools that help me work with my clients!”
Laurianne Osmack, Financial Planner / Partner, Doell Osmak Wealth Management
“She has a sense of “knowing” quickly what is happening in the family dynamic. Her messages to her audiences drive home what needs to be done next to solve the complex issues of farm transition and conflict resolution.”
Audience Member,
“Eye-opening. Excited to open the door of communication with my spouse and farm family.”
Ashley Hoppe, Farm Partner
“The Strong Farms, Strong Families session gave farm families an opportunity to meet face to face with Elaine Froese... hear her own story, experiences and skill set. From this information packed session and related materials, families could identify areas of success in their journey and other places they need assistance. The greatest take away was that participants could see that Elaine Froese is someone they can trust with the things that they hold most precious.... their family and their farm.”
Nancy Atkinson, Nobleford Ag Society, Alberta
“Elaine’s real-life scenarios help her audiences know they are not alone, knowing there are creative solutions to help them get the life on the farm they have always wanted.”
Audience Member,
“A long time female client who had refined the art of procrastination was so moved by the end of your presentation that she accepted your permission to “drop the bananas.” She contacted me soon after for an appointment to do some planning which included the selling of the family “Century Farm.” A very, very emotional decision on her part that was not likely to have occurred without your presentation.”
Don Forbes, Forbes Wealthy Management
“I just have to say… that your work is amazing and I have never forgotten your teachings from our session in Williams Lake at TRU. It is super important work. I know so many people going through the trauma of succession. I hate to use that word, but I was an “out-law” and know it can get terrible. I continue to forward your emails on to others. Keep doing what you do! You are amazing. You kind of walk into the fire regularly… and with a smile. Proud to have met you.”
Megan, BC Rancher
“As my husband and I eagerly started the course we were optimistic and excited to be taking this next step in our Farm Transition. We were starting to question ourselves and whether or not we were just being selfish and greedy, and if this Farm Transition was still an option for us. We barely got through the first Module and were already having such a huge relief. As we moved through the modulus there were so many times that we just sat back with our hands in the air and thought YES. My husband and I would smile with relief because all of the concerns that we have been struggling with were relevant and came up in the modules. We really enjoyed the course and are excited to move on to the next stages to find our farm resolution.”
Shannon Gilchrist, “Get Farm Transition Unstuck” online course participant
“My hubby farms with 2 brothers and parents, and it’s become a really toxic place. No communication, no respect, etc. Twelve months ago, my husband’s brothers told him they don’t want to work with him anymore and offered him a pay out. His parents did nothing to stop it! He had no choice but to leave. Three months later, we moved off the farm and into town. He has been offered heaps of jobs and is now truck driving and carting hay and grain. We have tried communicating with his parents about what happened but they are not interested. So basically my hubby has lost his family. Very sad but we as husband and wife are overall in a good place and moving on to create our own life. Please continue on with all your wonderful work in helping families on the farm. I continue to tell any farmers I know about you, that they must ‘google’ you, and read your books.”
Donna, Farmer, Australia

Book Elaine
for your next event

Contact Elaine to start the conversation.

+1-204-534-7466 | elaine(at)

Contact Elaine