It is amazing how a family is changed when you add another member to the fold. Whether it be the addition of my new daughter last week (Feb 16 if you want to keep track) and the changes she brings to this household, or the addition of another generation into the family’s farm business, the change is not only imminent, but it can also be drastic, unpredictable, and challenging.
Both situations above involve adding a child, or another child, to what used to be “normal” and “routine.” The similarities don’t end there.
Where Does Everyone Fit?
Bringing another person into the mix creates upheaval. What used to be a shared role could now fall to one person solely. New roles that didn’t exist before now have to be addressed to determine who should fill these roles. This can be stressful, cause tension, and can lead to feelings of inadequacy or inequity.
Can I Understand How This Affects Others, Not Just Me?
We humans, despite being the most intellectually and emotionally intelligent animals on the planet, often struggle with empathy and being able to put ourselves in “someone else’s shoes.” We see ourselves as “up earlier, up later, working harder, taking fewer breaks, taking less personal time, doing more than just the fun jobs, etc.” than our cohorts do. We feel our own plight, get grumpy at our circumstance, and then usually either withdraw or lash out (depending on the individual.) If we were to acknowledge that everyone else in the unit probably felt the same way, we would likely find more patience and understanding for each other and for each other’s quandary.
What Do I Have To Do To Do My Part?
Communicate. Of course, it is much more than just that, but it is critical to communicate with your partners about what you want and what you feel. Most issues in business and personal relationships stem from one or more parties feeling like they haven’t been heard. Being reciprocal is key: if we want to be heard, we must also hear our partners.
Clarifying everyone’s “part” is also important. Assuming that Dad should just keeping doing <insert task here> because he’s just always done it is a recipe for conflict. Does Dad even enjoy that task? Is he actually the best person for that task? Same rationale applies to everyone in the family unit.
To use an analogy, every person is “rowing their own boat.” What are you doing to ensure that everyone in your family (business or household) is rowing in the same direction?
Change is inevitable, even without adding a new person to your business or family unit. How are you ensuring that you aren’t blaming the arrival of a new person for your stress in the face of change?
There is always positive and negative in every situation. The upheaval and change from adding a new person also brings about great opportunity. What are you doing to identify and leverage all of the opportunities that a new person brings to the fold?
From the Home Quarter
The degree of change that comes with the addition of a new person into your realm is monumental, especially if that person is a little baby who is dependent on you for everything. But as we adjust to our “new normal” and a child becomes less dependent, we are no longer suffering under the weight of anxiety of “how to adjust” and actually have to stop and look back once in a while to truly see how far we’ve all come. By working together with a strategy on how to adjust to the new normal, we can accomplish so much more with far less stress and anxiety.
The same holds true in your family farm business. Whether it be a new employee, or a family member who is joining the farm with ownership aspirations, the same tactic applies. Work together with a strategy in mind on how to adjust to this new normal. You’ll find that this new person is more independent than a new baby. Plus, you’ll actually get some sleep from not having to be up every 3 hours.
On a side note, can anyone tell me how adding one tiny person to a household can more than double the volume of garbage produced by 2 adults and a toddler a week earlier? I can’t rationalize this at all.