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“Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV.

This first week of September I remember my mom who died unexpectedly of an asthma attack at age 65, 24 years ago. I am blessed by memories of her.

“There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers.” Proverbs 30:11.

 Some families are not enjoying harmonious relationships on the farm.

When I wrote about helping grandpa finishing well 10 years ago, it hit a nerve. One fellow was distressed at the bad decisions that tear families apart. I am seeing similar distress when a daughter calls to talk about the bullying that her mom is enduring, and how things for transition to a new chapter for an aging mother are not going well. People have stopped speaking to each other, and mom starts crying when voices are raised.

Helping grandma finish well is about communication and cherishing. We all want to love and be loved. Everyone wants their voice heard, and their opinions to count. The trouble is that with aging, sometimes common sense is not common practice and people get stubborn when they feel pushed around.

Is this true for your mom?

  1. She is frugal. She has money but won’t spend it on herself and would much rather give it to her favorite charity or secretly slip a cheque to a sibling who is struggling financially. The hard part here is family secrets. They create tension and havoc when “fairness” is a core family value. My suggestion is to talk about her living needs, have a financial planner show her where her money is going, and determine how long it is going to last. Talk as a family about “what does fairness look like to you?” No more family secrets.
  2. She wants the family to get along, so she is a peacemaker and cries easily. People don’t talk about the real conflict issues with mom because they are trying to protect her. Mom is not stupid. She may be old, but her intuition and hearing are just fine thank-you. I once coached an over 80 woman who was a bit taken aback by the directness of my questions. Once she understood my intent for clarity and better understanding with her family, she opened her responses and enjoyed the banter. She was taught to be polite, while I was teaching her to be assertive and ask for what she needed. I suggest that you give mom a tissue for her tears and listen to her responses. Avoiding the tough issues that need to be worked through stops now. Let everyone can explain their positions and describe their common interests. What is it that you all want for your mom?
  3. Body and mind are failing, but the spirit is still strong. As mom ages, you should have a power of attorney and an alternate in place, as well as a long-term health care plan. Someone must take charge, with respect. Bullying of elders is going on in the farms across the prairies. Some kids are too keen to be on the home place and are pushing mom to town before she is ready. The other issue is that some moms will never be ready. So, what do you do? Learn to let go. Research the supports you can have in a place like home care. Know the financial needs of moving to a care facility or apartment for independent living. Listen to your mom’s needs and wishes. Confront the bullies and don’t allow nasty behaviour. Let your mom test out new living arrangements for the short term and see how she likes the change. One family gives mom time in town for the winter and invites her back to the ranch for the summer. Assess your mom’s mental health. Don’t let failing memory and forgetfulness go unchecked. Have a sound enduring power of attorney put in place as the farm manager when your mom is younger. Depression is also a factor if mom has circumstances such as family feuding going on that is stressing her out. Don’t try and hide it. Talk about it. Seek professional help and treatment.
  4. Procrastination is costly. Many folks have told me that they wish they would have acted on decisions years ago. Not deciding is a form of avoidance, and in reality, is a decision not to act. If your mom’s marriage was a benevolent dictatorship, she may not be used to the idea of making her own mind up. She will need time to process, and options to consider. Some elderly rural women are tired of giving in to others, and they decide to exert their independence by being stubborn if they are still testing out the strength of having their own voice.
  5. Downsizing a family home chalk full of memories is tough. We all have too much stuff. We like need more loving experiences and fewer things to dust! How about setting aside time to share the stories of Mom’s treasures and allocate the benefactors. What kinds of experiences would make Mom feel treasured? Are there some rituals that would help with letting go? One family planted a tree on the family farm to celebrate Mom’s move off the farm. We have several family trees on our yard to celebrate marriage, birth, and death. I suspect that if you ask Mom what she really wants she would say, “time with my family”.
  6. She will add the successor’s name to the title on her land. Some moms never had many assets in their own name, and now they do. If mom is smart, she will consider adding the successor’s name to the title of the quarters needed by the farm, alongside accounting advise to use her exemptions and gift the land while she is still living. Land deals cause lots of family fights in the farm community. Be clear about who is generating income from the land and give the farmers the right of ownership. Consider the ownership requests of non-farm heirs also. If lack of trust has tripped up your plans, you need to build trust with Mom and have your business plan advisors help implement the business continuance plan. Your mom may be stubborn about transferring land when she fears she won’t have enough financial resources to honour the wishes of her will. Talk about her fears and find out how you can create more certainty and security for her future, as well as yours. Every family dynamic is unique, so seek professional input.

Be thankful you have a mom to hug. Cherish one another and live long in the land you have been given.

***

Elaine Froese and her team of coaches help families find harmony through understanding. Visit here to book a free discovery call. Book Elaine to speak this winter.

Did you enjoy How to help Grandma finish well? You might want to check these articles out too:

The Power of Perspective
How to write a will with joy!
How to talk to your Boomer Dad and Mom

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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.

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“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.”
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N. Oakley, Farmer, Ontario
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Don Forbes, Forbes Wealth Management
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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
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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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