Farming is a way of life - parenting after separation and the challenges for farming families

read time: 4 mins

Parenting following a separation is difficult. There is no magic solution, no one size fits all, and the additional complications of parenting when you live and work on a farm can make it even more challenging.

This article advises how farming families can parent amicably following separation, to reduce the stress on the children.

Present a united front to your children

The reality of separating when you live and work together on a farm can often mean that day-to-day life may change very little. You will probably need to continue to work together on a daily basis, and communicate effectively to keep the business running until the long term plans have been decided. This can mean increased opportunities to disagree and put a considerable strain on the situation. It is essential to prioritise the family and ensure that the children are exposed to as little of the tension as possible. Where possible, you should present a united front and explain to the children the new arrangements. While it is inevitable that the children will become aware of the troubles between mum and dad, the impact upon them can be minimised by supportive co-parents, who work together to put their own differences aside and focus on the needs of the children to live in a happy home. 

Organise living arrangements that are in the best interest of your children

In the long term, parents are likely to live separately, probably with at least one of the parties moving away from the family farm. The arrangement for how both parties are to spend time with the children, and where the children live then becomes the priority. As in any case of separation, the focus should be on finding arrangements which are in the best interests of the children. Ideally, most children benefit from a clear routine so that they can understand when they will be seeing each parent, and where they will be staying. 

Again, in a farming family a set routine can be more tricky. Parties will be need to communicate more frequently and ensure that the arrangements not only focus on the children’s needs, but also take into consideration working commitments, particularly where working hours are irregular. A set routine may not be possible; at certain times of the year, one parent may be less available, or have to change arrangements at a late stage. An awareness and understanding of that need is essential to ensure that the parties can work together and arrangements can be made which are manageable for both, but moreover, still prioritise the children. 

Consideration might also need to be given to children who are actively involved in farming life. Older children might be helping out with the intention of one day taking over the farm, or at least working within the family business. For younger children who have only ever lived on a farm, and spent their childhood so far in a very rural setting, transition to a new home away from the farm is likely to be very difficult, but is probably necessary. Recognition of this by both parties, and a focused intention to work together to support the children can be extremely beneficial. 

Ensure your children’s day-to-day lives are as normal as possible

Finally, it is not just the arrangements for parents to spend time with their children which need to be taken into consideration. Farming is often shared between the wider family, with several generations living together at the farm. Grandparents and other family members may be used to having daily contact with the children, and this should not be ignored. 

One of the ways in which children can be supported through any separation is to maintain as much normality for them as possible. If children are used to having daily contact with extended family members, then arrangements for this to continue should be incorporated into arrangements post separation if at all possible. Grandparents in particular have their own right to apply for arrangements to spend time with grandchildren, and this is an important factor to consider. 

Seek guidance as early as possible

Clear guidance at the outset of any separation, and consideration of the options available is an essential means by which the arrangements for the children can be agreed amicably. Ultimately, if children are involved, both parties will need to learn to work together for a long time into the future and so a well thought out agreement at the outset is likely to facilitate this and lead to happier long term relationships.

For further advice on how to navigate separation, please contact the family team.

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