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The radio announcer suggested that the longest relationships we have are with our siblings, 80 years or more, and he hoped they were good ones. Then he mentioned the book “Cain’s Legacy: liberating siblings from a lifetime of rage, shame, secrecy and regret “ by Dr. Jeanne Safer.  “Wow, “I thought,” I wonder what tools Safer has for farm sibling strife” and I bought the book to encourage you.

“When people have what they need emotionally, they do not envy what others have…even brothers who have cheated them out of what by rights was theirs (Jacob and Esau story),” Safer writes. I wonder if she has ever interviewed the farm sisters who are taking each other to court over dad’s will ?

Farm families are in deep angst over sibling strife, and you may be shocked at this next observation.

“Parents are responsible for parenting the sibling rivalry that leads to strife and siblings who have a  legacy of grief with each other. Parents should not ignore the violence or fighting between siblings, and they should defang it. Navigate the wrath!” says Safer.

I would say “discuss the undissusabull .™” Deal with the issues when they are small, and have the courageous conversations to deal with hostilities before they become entrenched in the family history. If one child is saying  “I am afraid that when our parents die, that you’ll take everything and not leave anything for me !” Talk about your estates, succession plans, and possession wishes.

Be conscious. “The most effective strategy is the most elusive: self knowledge and empathy for all combatants” says Safer. What is it that you really want? Can you evoke some empathy to try and understand what your siblings are going through?

The best equipped siblings in strife are those who were well loved themselves ( or understand why they weren’t) and have satisfying lives.” Addressing unfinished business with one’s own siblings is the best way to foster mutuality in the next generation.

What type of sibling relationships are you modeling for your children?

Do you have the awareness of the conflict,  and the will to change the future relationships in your family? Many folks I coach are reenacting the past. Safer challenges us to repudiate Cain’s legacy (Cain killed his brother Abel in the Bible account). She says all we need is “consciousness and a new perspective on the past will open up for us.”

When I work with farm families, I usually ask them to tell me the stories about how the dad and mom got the farm from their parents. I am looking for clues and patterns or perspectives on fairness, and keeping the farm intact. Usually there is a rough relationship between farming brothers, the uncle, and things that the current founders want to avoid with their legacy.

I am curious if you are courageous enough to be more aware of the internal struggle that your siblings cause in you? Anxiety about knowing and revealing unacceptable feelings (like hate) keeps you stuck, and inhibits what you say to your siblings. Likely they already know the truth about how you feel about what is happening.

Could you approach a sibling with : “ Let’s work on our relationship so that we want to be together?”

Here’s some insights that might help you cope:

– Move on.  This is a coaching term that helps people see that things may never change, so they need to let go and move on. This happens when you create a place of your own while maintaining a very minimal role in your farm family home. Essentially you stay connected in a very small way, and build a satisfying life beyond the farm .

-Irreconcilable differences that are beyond repair may teach you to look in the mirror and spare the next generation from the same mistakes. The desire for reconciliation needs to come from both siblings in order to be effective.

-Adopt new “family” or find a surrogate family as Safer calls it. We have found our church family to be a part of our extended family, people who chose to love and care, even when they are not true relatives. Safer feels that “brotherhood or sisterhood should be earned.”

-Grieve your losses. What struck me about Safer’s insights is that “siblings are indelible, they are written in your heart and your history. Severing your external relationships doesn’t mean that you can divest yourself of the internal relationship.”

So the folks that I meet that have severed physical ties with siblings, are still deeply affected by their heart  string struggles of wondering what went wrong.

-Make a choice. “Whatever decision you make about the type of relationship you will have with a problem sibling, make it a conscious choice; you will have fewer regrets later on. Avoiding the painful truth, blaming external circumstances, letting the relationship trail off, or believing it no longer matters prevents recognition, resolution and mourning. Acknowledging reality liberates emotional energy, and this will help you discover men and women who can become your authentic psychological brothers and sisters even is they are not your biological ones.” (Safer, page 211.)

Ten tips to moving from strife:

1. Strive to see the world from the other person’s perspective.

2. Empathize and appreciate what the other sibling has tried to do. Build on the positive.

3.Explain the “why” or the intent behind estate decisions.

4.Don’t let the parents sow the seeds of favouritism.

5.Take initiative to have frequent conversations so that you are not kept apart by silence.

6.Some people love money more than relationship. Let them go. Money does not buy love. Identify the roles your parents played or contributed to the conflict so you can alter the outcome.

7. Embrace honest conversations. Be real. Hurt siblings need to be validated by being seen and heard before forgiveness comes. Rebuilding trust takes time and self awareness.

8.Accept “good enough”.  “Sometimes you have to adjust your notion of the perfect reconciliation to the good-enough one that accepts the other person as she is.” says Safer.

9. Seek common ground or common interests, rather than staying stuck in your positions. What is it that you both really want?

10.Take risks to have courageous encounters that build trust. “Your willingness to hear, undefensively, how the other person sees the situation establishes trust, which is the most potent tool for reconciliation” says Safer.

Be receptive to emotional engagement to search for insights into your sibling strife history. As Dr. Jeanne Safer explains, “ the only person whose involvement you can control is yourself.” I would add that you might also want to pray for wisdom and divine intervention in the process.

 

 

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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

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