Dad won’t let go

Posted on: July 7th, 2012 by Richard Cressman

My question for Richard

I have been working with my parents full time for 12 years. I have been married for three years and my wife works off the farm full-time.

The farm business is financially successful and we have gone through a significant expansion in the past three years. Over the past five to six years I have taken on full responsibility for making sure all the work gets completed, but my father will not let go of the control and because he has to be involved in all of the decisions.

He is almost 65 years old and in declining health but when it comes to talking about my future in the business he just refuses to talk. I love farming but I am not sure how much longer I can tolerate not knowing what the future is.


Richard’s Reply

For what it’s worth, you are not alone. Letting go of control can sometimes be the most difficult thing particularly for fathers to do. You mentioned that your father is almost 65 years old.

This indicates that he is probably been farming for close to 45 years and there is an excellent chance that he was making serious management decisions at a very young age. If your father and possibly mother will not sit down to discuss the future, you ultimately will have to make a decision.

Do you confront them with an ultimatum (and this is a very extreme undertaking) that things need to be addressed and that you cannot continue on the way things are going. If you do elect to take this route, there can be serious ramifications.

Father might take it as if you are challenging his authority and digging his heels even further. On the other hand it is possible that he is waiting for you to really challenge him. While this sounds ridiculous, it is a real possibility.

Another option that may work for you is to sit down with father and asked him about what it was like when he was getting ready to start farming and how he and your grandfather worked out the transition. What you are trying to do here is turn the tables and find out from father how things transpired when he was in your possession.

You may find that he went through a struggle to get control and has a belief system that supports a young person needing to stand up to the older generation and give that ultimatum so that he will have proof that you have what it takes to make the financial and management decisions.