Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Dr. Farmer Gives A Personal Holiday Update

December 24, 2007

Time flies by. We’ve been in Missouri for a little more than a year. It has been a year of transition.

Columns and the family. Many readers inquire about our children and their lives. They read my column at a time when I was writing more personally about adventures in parenting and sharing our own coping dilemmas. Now my emphasis has shifted to more topics related to aging, retirement and grandparenting.

I started writing for a farm women’s magazine in 1982. We had a family musical group, the Farmer Family Singers, that lasted until the oldest daughter graduated from High School. We did some limited touring in the upper Midwest and Canada. We performed an annual show on the stage at Mt. Rushmore for several summers.

I began this column in 1984 with the Rapid City Journal and syndicated it nationally and in Canada. In 1984, our six children were ages 15, 14, 12, 8, 6 and 4. Add 24 on each of their ages and you’ll get their current age. We had our seventh and last child in 1986.

The oldest six are married and all together we have 16 grandchildren in a still growing family circle. The grandchildren range in age from age 14 years to 15 months.

Family reunions and connections. We’ve had two major family gatherings during the last year where we got to see everyone except our missionary son in Argentina. Between moments of chaos and bedlam, we thoroughly enjoyed the time together, the bonding between cousins and showing off the several family friendly attractions of the St. Louis region.

One of our sons and his wife and grandson live in St. Louis. We have a Sunday meal together. They are handy and we have a great relationship with plenty of contact with our grandson. They helped provide overflow accommodations for our out-of town guests. Our relationship is mutually enjoyable and at the same time respectful of generational boundaries.

One of our daughters and her children stayed with us for part of last summer while her family’s home was up for sale as part of a professional move. We enjoyed the closeness we experienced with the grandchildren as they lived in our home.

Being closer to family was one of the main reasons why we chose to leave the Dakotas and relocate to Missouri. It has been rewarding and delightful.

Family update. Our oldest daughter Tara lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina. She is the mother of four children and has a part time dermatology practice. Her husband works as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry.

Trista, our second daughter, lives in Providence, Utah. She is the mother of three children and, though professionally trained as a speech pathologist, functions mainly at a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer. Her husband runs an Internet business, Embroidery.com.

Tassa, our third daughter, lives in Harbor, Oregon, right along the California-Oregon border next to the Pacific Ocean. She is college educated but has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom with her four children. Her husband is the High School principal at Crescent City, California.

Tally, our fourth daughter, lives in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Tally, also a college graduate, has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom to her two children. Her husband is a surgeon with the Air Force at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS.

Tawny, our fifth daughter, lives in Redwood City, California. She is a credentialed math teacher but spends her time tutoring, managing an apartment complex with her husband and as a stay-at-home mom to two children. Her husband is an Occupational Therapist.

Tyler, our first son and sixth child, lives in Ballwin, Missouri. He works for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and is working toward his MBA with evening classes. His wife, like our daughters, is a college graduate and is content to be a stay-at-home mom to their 17 month old son.

Trace, our second son and last child, will be completing a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Buenos Aires, Argentina this coming January. We, along with Tawny and her husband, will be going to Argentina to meet him and tour in Argentina and Chile, before he returns home. He will again study at BYU after his return to the United States.

Our lives. My wife, Darlene, is my tutor in Russian. We take two Russian classes together but she is really there to help me get an accelerated start in learning Russian. Someday we envision missionary service in Russia.

We volunteer one day a week at the St. Louis temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. We both have other church service responsibilities. Darlene teaches a few students piano and works on her own repertoire. We enjoy landscaping and home improvement projects.

Professionally, I write my weekly syndicated newspaper column and provide mediation services to farm and ranch families experiencing conflict in their family businesses. On average this involves one to two mediations a month. I am also an invited speaker to winter meetings of farm and other organizations.

I have two books in print. One is a book on marital advice, "To Have and To Hold" and the second is on farm stress, "Honey I Shrunk the Farm." Both books can be purchased through my website at www.valfarmer.com The website also includes archived columns for the past twelve years of column writing.

That’s the holiday news from Wildwood, Missouri where the grandchildren come from near and far to hear, "Let the wild rumpus begin!"