Daughter-in-laws don’t work the same

Posted on: April 12th, 2011 by Richard Cressman

My question for Richard

I am the mother of a farming family and both of our sons have gotten married in the last two years. Each son manages a separate part of the business and at this point in time it is not possible to split up the business. The concern I have involves both our daughter-in-law’s. One of the young women works off farm in a well-paying job. When she comes home she continues to put in long hours working in the barn. She loves what she does. She comes from a farm background.

Our second son’s wife quit her job soon after they got married and helps around the barn when necessary. She was raised in the city and has no farming experience. Her lack of drive to help her husband is a concern and we are not certain how to handle this issue.

Each daughter-in-law receives a set salary per month. They both get the same amount.


Richard’s Reply

I am assuming that you have an expectation that wives should work in the barn in your farming business. You are correct in attempting to address the disparity between the two daughter-in-law’s before it does get out of hand. It sounds like the second son whose wife puts in a small amount of time is not concerned about his wife’s lack of interest in the farm.

The most direct way to circumvent problems is to establish an hourly pay schedule and have each daughter-in-law record the amount of time they are working. Coming up with the hourly rate may be challenging. Typically, farmers shy away from paying high wages. In your particular case it would be advantages to set up a schedule that is at the higher end of what individuals would make if they were working on a farm. By doing this you allow each young woman to feel that they are being remunerated fairly for every hour they put in.

From your comments there is opportunity for working lots of hours if each of them would choose to. If one decides she is not going to put in more than a few hours per week it is her choice and she and her husband will for go that income. On the other hand the daughter-in-law who is working in town and wants to come home and put in more hours on the farm is going to see her bank account grow significantly.

By taking the approach of a higher than average hourly rate, you eliminate the possibility of the one daughter-in-law feeling she is putting more into the business from a sacrificial standpoint than her counterpart.

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