Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, December 30, 2000, Image 45

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Notes To Dad
Nancy B. Stevens
Montgomery County
Extension Agent
Being a father today is hard
enough, but many men are also
dealing with being the “wicked
Today about 10 percent of
children in America younger
than 18 live in stepfamilies. That
means we have an awful lot of
men out there trying to sort out
their roles in an “instant family”
or blended family situation not
an easy task!
Sometimes being a stepparent
feels like being the “odd man
out.” Dads can feel left out of the
mother-child relationship. Or
children can resist the idea of the
stepfather playing any parenting
role due to the relationship with
or loyalty to the biological father.
It is a very complex situation for
Dave, a stepdad of about seven
years, stresses the need for pa
tience. He said, “I was lucky be
cause we were able to move into
a different house when my wife
and I married. We avoided the
image of me trying to take over
the biological father’s place in
the home. I would have felt like I
was intruding by sitting at his
place at the table, parking my
car in his spot, etc. The move
was like starting fresh, and I’m
Farm Injuries Builds Frustration Among Farm Safety Specialists
number of traumatic, gruesome
farm injuries involving young
children is causing frustration
among professionals involved in
farm safety and health. During
September and October there
were media reports in North Da
kota and Wisconsin of two chil
dren killed and three with limb
amputations; the oldest of these
kids was 9-years-old.
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sure it helped our relationship
from the beginning.” This move
created a neutral territory for the
family and contributed to the
good relationship they now
Patience is certainly important
and parents should realize that
the first few months, or eyen
years, will have difficult periods.
You simply can’t expect instant
Another stepdad I know said
he was “careful not to try to
‘elbow in’ on the territory of the
biological dad.” In his case, his
stepson and biological father had
a strong common interest in fish
ing. “I stayed away from that ac
tivity and instead introduced my
stepson to one of my passions,
archery. Not only has it expand
ed Tim’s horizons, but has given
us a non-threatening activity that
we both look forward to on
weekends together.”
Stepparenting is usually more
successful if stepparents carve
out a role for themselves like this
that is different from and does
not compete with the biological
Discipline is often a big area of
conflict. It’s important to set
limits and enforce them for chil
dren. The parent and stepparent
need to work out disciplinary ac-
Having grown up on a farm 15
miles north of Marshfield, Wis
consin, Nancy Esser has an ap
preciation for how positive farm
life is for families and children.
But in the last two months, she’s
become aware of several serious
injuries, including deaths, that
have occurred on farms.
“IT bothers me terribly to see
these events described as ‘acci
dents,’” said Ms. Esser. “They
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Redcoats Target National Energy Policy
TRENTON, Neb. A voice
from the heart of farm county re
sounded throughout the national
convention of Women Involved
in Farm Economics (WIFE) as
delegates gathered in Colorado
Springs, Colo., Nov. 15-18.
WIFE’S strong grassroots heri
tage, a belief in the importance
of the family farm, and the right
of farm families to receive a fair
tions in advance and then sup
port each other when the rules
are being enforced.
There are many obstacles, for
sure, when working out steppa
renting roles. Dads and moms
need to accept the fact that a
stepfamily is a different type of
family. They also have to recog
nize that many of the upsetting
behaviors they may see result
from feelings of insecurity and
loss on the child’s part. They
need to remind themselves of this
and keep themselves from react
ing to the words or behavior.
Finally, don’t take all the re
sponsibility for the relationship if
it’s less than perfect. Children
have responsibility, too. There
are two people involved in any
relationship and stepparents
shouldn’t shoulder all the guilt.
Like any relationship, the
stepdad/stepchild relationship
needs lots of open communica
tion and time.
As my friend Dave says,
“learning your role as a stepdad
is just like learning to play any
sport. Things feel a little awk
ward at first and you may not
have the greatest form in the be
ginning. But if you keep trying,
sooner or later it seems a little
more natural and before you
know it, you’ll feel like you’ve al
ways been a player!”
are not accidents. They are pre
dictable and preventable.”
These recent events, coming
on the heels of National Farm
Safety and Health Week, led to
multiple phone and e-mail con
versations among many child
safety advocates and farm safety
specialists. Esser and others are
feeling righteous anger as they
question why children have been
near dangerous farm equipment.
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Lancaster Farming, Saturday, December 30, 2000-B9
return for their efforts and dedi
cation was emphasized by Presi
dent Cindy Cruea during her
opening address.
WIFE is entering its 25th year
as one of the nation’s leading
farm organizations. This group
of dedicated farm women has
continuously addressed their
concerns, which so gravely affect
the economic well-being of this
“WIFE was a pioneer in
promoting the use of ethanol,
thus reducing the nation’s de
pendency on foreign oil,” said
Cruea. “Promoting a cleaner en
vironment and expanding the
use of our domestic farm prod
ucts for use in production of re
newal fuels continues to be a
major priority.”
When WIFE was organized in
1976 in Sidney, Neb., ethanol
promotion was a driving force.
Twenty-five years later, the
promotion of renewable fuels
continues to be a leading issue
for the organization.
“WIFE urges Congress and
the Administration to develop a
comprehensive National Energy
Plan that includes renewable
fuels,” said Cruea.
Drought, high fuel prices, and
In other work settings, such as
construction, no one would ever
allow a child to be around heavy
equipment, yet that same stan
dard is not always maintained
around a farm.
“Ninety percent of all farm in
juries are predictable and pre
ventable,” says Gail Scherweit,
safety coordinator at the North
Dakota Farm Bureau and Pro
gressive Fanner Advisory Board
Gail notified Esser of the
3-year-old North Dakota boy
who lost both arms in a grain
auger. Esser said that they had
communicated back and forth
via telephone and e-mail about
this incident and others similar
to it.
“Our frustrations were mir
rored when we read statements
claiming that this was ‘just an
accident and no one is to blame.’
We are looking at strategies to
inform critical audiences that
farm injuries are not just ‘acci
dents.’ An accident is something
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low commodity prices are among
the major factors in the economic
dilemma facing this nation’s
farmers and ranchers.
“I am thankful that the Wash
ington administration is aware of
the mental, physical and spiritu
al stress that farm families are
facing,” said Cruea. “However, I
believe our proud farmers and
ranchers would much rather im
prove their financial situation
through their own investments,
management decisions, determi
nation and dedication.” Cruea
calls on this nation’s producers
to encourage the use of renewa
ble fuels.
“Join us as we fight for family
farmers and ranchers and be
come a “Redcoat for American
The “Redcoats” leading the
organization in 2001 include
Cindy Cruea, president, Pierre,
S.D.; Mary Ann Sheppard, first
vice-president, Shorter, Ala.; Pat
Jones, second vice-president,
Lubbock, Texas; Colleen Rot
tman, secretary, Yoder, Wyo.;
and Ardyth Triplette, treasurer,
Venango, Neb. National area di
rectors are Kathy Herdt, Veter
an, Wyo.; Norma Hall, Elm
wood, Neb.; and Ella Caraway,
Louisville, Ala.
that can’t be prevented. Most of
the incidents which result in in
jury and death can be prevented
by parents making better choic
es,” Esser said.
John Shutske, Minnesota Ex
tension Safety Specialist, de
scribed his sense of anger, frus
tration and hopelessness over
these events. “Working in farm
safety, we often walk on egg
shells. We’re careful not to of
fend farmers with talk about
labor laws or child care options.”
John’s hope is that more tough,
straight talk among farmers,
rural leaders and safety special
ists will lead to the conclusion
that “enough is enough!”
Barbara Lee, Ph.D., Children’s
Center Director, welcomes these
frank discussion. “Having met
with parents who have lost a
child as a result of a farm injury,
it is evident there can be long
term, negative consequences for
the family. And as safety profes
sionals, we often feel ineffective.
We want to console parents on
the loss of a child, but
we cannot condone de-
cisions such as allow
ing children on trac
tors, which resulted in
one of the recent
deaths. We’ve heard of
cases where a district
attorney has filed
criminal child neglect
charges against par
ents, whose lack of su-
pervision or choice of
risky behavior resulted
in a child’s death. We
hate to see it come to
that,” she said.