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Weathering Tough Times: Include All Family Members in Discussions
Keeping Your Family First
During tough times it's often a challenge to communicate effectively, especially with those who prove to be disagreeable or difficult. But during tough times it is essential that communication is successful, because so much is at stake. Families who farm together have extra concerns and responsibilities; they must live and work together and must help provide for each other's livelihood. It's no wonder that a few problems arise over the years with multi-generational farming operations! In order to "weather the storm," a lot of work and commitment is involved as well as developing effective communication skills.
Unfortunately, many families are not resilient families. Many hurt each other with words and actions when expressing angry feelings. Many in-laws mistreat their adult children's spouses or partners to a point where isolation or unfair blaming is a concern. Adult children are often caught between their elder parents and their partner in having to make decisions related to the farm or business. Adult children may not be patient enough to work cooperatively with elder parents and may not respect their experience and advice. There are issues of control over decisions, money, personal time and many other aspects relating to the operation. Personal lives spill over into work lives. The two are so closely intertwined that there is little separation, even when it would be advantageous, such as in record keeping and time management.
Strong families, however, find a way to deal with the unexpected as well as things beyond their control, such as severe drought and water shortages. They refuse to play blaming games and are not purposefully hurtful or judgmental. In many cases they have a spiritual faith that draws them closer together.
Although it may not be appropriate to include all family members in all decisions, each person should be included in discussion. Every one has the right to express opinions and feelings and resilient families respect each other's opinions. This does not necessarily mean that everyone will agree with each other. What it does mean is that they care about each other. They care about working together. They care about the farm or business. They care about their family. They care about preserving family time and their relationships. Resilient families look beyond their immediate family for input and advice. Although they appear to be tight-knit, they open their relationships to extended family, friends and neighbors and value these connections. They also know when to ask for help. They show love and accept love even during tough times. They forgive each other and move forward with hope for the future.
- Dr. Kathy Bosch, Extension Family Life Specialist, University of Nebraska Panhandle Research & Extension Center
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Photo Credit - Rita Shelley