All posts by Augustine Erpelding

The Farm Effect

I grew up in a large family with 7 siblings. Four boys and three girls, with all different personalities. Not only did we have a large family but we also had many different pets. Everything from dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chickens, geese and ducks that ran around our small urban home. Like all of my siblings these animals also had many differing personalities. So how do you get all of these people and creatures to coexist? You need to build relationships. Easier said than done sometimes. If you ask my family, I am the peacekeeper.
To be successful as the peacekeeper you need to utilize the following skills:
1. Patience
A good example of this was when my brother and sister would constantly argue over who was better at something. My sister was very athletic and my younger brother was book smart. Learning came very easy for him. He never had to study and would always get an “A”. This would infuriate my sister because later in life she discovered she was dyslexic. So to combat this rage she would brag that she was a faster runner. They would compete and argue all the time. I would pull them aside separately and reassure them that they each had their own talents and didn’t need to compete. Every time they would begin their argument I would remind them of these talents. It took patience for me to make an effort to remind them each time. It would have been easy to let them bicker, but I felt it was more peaceful if they got along.
2. Understanding
Another example from my past was how we all had to care for the animals we loved. Well some of us loved. I did not get along with the chickens. I loved the dogs and only wanted to care for them, but we all had to take turns feeding and watering the “farm”. I would try to trade jobs with my sister since she was not scared of the chickens. I would bribe her to help her with her homework if she covered for me. Understanding others needs is important in negotiating.
3. Empathy
To be patient and understand where folks are coming from takes empathy. To keep the peace at home, with so many different people and animals, I must first take into consideration their needs. I tend to be a problem solver and not focus on feelings. I have had to remind myself that problems exist because the issue is important to the person who it affects. I first need to be empathetic to the persons feelings to effectively solve the problem.
Each of these skills together and separately have helped me to build relationships with my GCC family. I remember in my conversations that each individual has needs and I engage my patience and understanding to help solve problems. They say it takes a village to raise a family and I believe it takes skills to raise a farm.