Helping Dad Share His Emotions to get Clarity for all - 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


Helping Dad Share His Emotions to get Clarity for all

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Uncategorized

The green of spring and summer in this country goes by far too quickly. Our eldest granddaughter turned 6 a month ago, which means I have just 12 summers left before she launches at 18.

You might be a bit curious about the title of this column. Time is going by. Mom and Dad are aging on the farm, and the next generation needs certainty in planning for their future and understanding the needs of the parents for their well-being.

Emotions affect planning.

Feelings are what we experience and drive our decision-making. Farm coach Pierriette Desrosiers, a clinical psychologist believes 80% of decision-making is driven by emotion.

How can we use the expression of emotion to figure out better conflict resolution?

“Good luck Elaine with getting my parents to share their true feelings!”

I’m taking up the challenge here, based on my Conflict Dynamic Profile guide. This is an online tool we use in coaching to determine positive conflict behaviour.

People who are good at expressing emotions respond to conflict by talking honestly with the other person about their thoughts and feelings. This is helpful for more effective communication, and accurate communication between the two parties. The big bonus is people who express emotions generally feel better about the conflict resolution process when they have a chance to make themselves understood by the other party; honest communication of thoughts and feelings contributes to this.

How can we do encourage compassion and empathy from folks who are “closed up”?

Ask better questions with curiosity and no judgment:

  1. “I am just curious Dad; it seems you are hesitant to talk about stepping back without stepping away. How is this making you feel? Are you afraid? Do you feel stuck? Are you disappointed? Overwhelmed?” The goal here is to let Dad know you need his transparency and honesty to communicate more fully about his expectations and yours. Be careful with your tone of voice, be kind and gentle.
  2. Download the emotions wheel. There are simple ones to help get you started in getting more effective language to express what you are feeling, and you can model powerful words to your family. We need to help everyone understand a wider range of feelings beyond mad, glad, and sad.
  3. Get clear on your own thoughts and feelings you want to communicate. Conflict produces an avalanche of emotions so think clearly about what you want to express. You might write thoughts out in a Word document and compose a script or letter to deliver. (see my blog The Power of a letter to get unstuck)
  4. Choose your words carefully, and keep them courteous and respectful. “I am frustrated and disappointed because we are not getting to the table to talk about what the future of this farm looks like for both of our families. I was promised this ______ and time is flying by. I only have 12 summers left with our oldest child, and I am still not a shareholder in this business. I need the certainty of equity for my family.”
  5. Clarify the emotions Dad and Mom have expressed. “You said you don’t know what you want. When will you know? You said you feel pushed. I suspect you are angry because your silence is deafening…we cannot create solutions for the future if you will not talk to create solutions!” “I don’t think you meant to shut us down, but it sounds as if what you said was …”
  6. Keep reaching out to gain information from your dad concerning how well he understands what you are trying to express. Anger is a secondary emotion stemming from fear, hurt, and frustration. “I can sense you are angry Dad, where is it coming from? Can you tell me why this is so hard for you to address? We have a wonderful family and a great future here for all of us. What do you need in this moment that you are not getting?”

We all need to be leaders on our farms. Great leaders according to Dr. Nancy Tout of the Global Institute for Food Security (speaking at the GFO conference Nov. 2022) need to show up with these qualities:

  • compassion
  • communication
  • optimism
  • authenticity…be who you truly are
  • courage
  • confidence
  • empathy…understand the needs of others
  • creativity and innovation…think differently
  • collaboration…teamwork
  • humour
  • self-care…be proactive with monitoring your health (including mental wellness).

Leading your family from the seat you occupy, whether you are the founders, the successors, or the grandparents is your choice. Take up the challenge of getting better at the expression of your emotions to resolve tension and conflict in your farm team.

Dads who read these seeds of encouragement may feel “called out” but it is not the intent. Everyone gets to take responsibility for their communication and responses to hard conversations.

The conflict avoidance, the silent treatment, and the lack of leaning into leadership to drive the transition process is a choice. As a coach, I am here to light the way to other options for success.

You choose.

Are you ready to start sharing your true feelings and emotions in a safe respectful place to empower everyone in the family circle to create certainty for their future?

I have the gift of seeing men’s tears in my presence. The safe space coaching creates helps eyes leak when the “pain of not knowing the future” becomes too great. It is good to show emotion and have someone listen, so you feel heard.

I invite you to use the time in the fishing boat, the campfire, and the hayfield to share deeper emotions this summer. You may have less than 12 summers left. Do it now.


Elaine Froese now celebrates 20 years as a certified Hudson Institute Coach and 42 years of marriage. Fill in the form on this page to sign up for her insights.

Did you enjoy Helping Dad Share His Emotions to get Clarity for all? You might want to check these articles out too:

How to help Grandpa, finish well
The Power of Perspective
The Gift of Contentment

Follow Elaine on Social for More Helpful Farm Family Advice!


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