Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have you or your partner gone through a mid-life career change? When you're not on the same page about the significance of work, it can impact your relationship. It brings up issues around the division of labor - such as who assumes responsibility for daily chores and who controls the major decisions. Maybe you are once again struggling about who manages the checkbook and who does the laundry, just like you did early in your marriage.

When one of you has been diagnosed with an illness, either acute or chronic, the physical and emotional challenges to both of you impact and threaten the stability of your relationship. You and your spouse may be experiencing shock, fear, anxiety, depression - and at the same time, a sense of deep support and renewed strength.

As Sandwiched Boomers, do you have increased commitments now that either your parents or in-laws are getting older and need more assistance? Perhaps there's conflict about who takes care of what responsibilities or about not having enough time for the relationship or your own needs.

Are any of the above changes or challenges putting stress on your relationship? If so, acknowledge this to your parnter. It can be the start of new awareness and a shift in the relationship itself.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A new study that was discussed on the Today Show indicates that happiness, in large measure, derives from the quality of our relationships. Although we all know that may very well be true, during life transitions stressors can take their toll.

Some eventual disruption in longterm relationships is not uncommon - often initiated by changes in the shared environment or by a more subjective and internal process. what kind of feelings come up as you assume new roles and relinquish the ones that have defined you in the past?

Are you facing an empty nest and trying to adjust to changes in your identity? When your last child moves out, you experience a cascading and wide range of emotions: sadness, the need to hold on, fear, a sense of freedom, the desire to begin the next chapter of your life. Discussing how you feel with your partner and listening to what he has to say can bring you closer during this period of adjustment.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

As the Presidential primaries continue their drive to Super Tuesday and beyond, the emphasis in Florida has shifted to the economy. With both the stock market and interest rates in a decline, Baby Boomers' retirement investments are being hit from both ends. When you are in the Sandwiched Generation, caring for aging parents and growing children, the effects of a slowing economy may have an even more dramatic effect on your financial situation.

Polls in Florida have indicated that the economy is the number one issue to voters there. Consequently, Romney has stressed his successful background in the private sector, Giuliani his results with the New York City budget when he was mayor, McCain his integrity as a straight talker, Clinton her stimulus plan and Obama his promise of change.

Have the candidates addressed this issue to your liking? Take a look at each one's background, history and program for the future to decide whom can best serve your needs. This is the time to consider, among other things, your financial security as you recognize the importance of caring for your self. It's up to you to let your voice be heard.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. today, Americans may wonder how much progress has been made toward realizing his dream, so eloquently stated that steamy August day, 1963, in Washington, D.C. According to a poll done by CNN/Opinion Research, a significant majority of blacks and whites believe that the dream of racial equality has evolved in our society. A full 72% of whites and 61% of blacks are of the opinion that America in 2008 would be accepting of a black President.

According to the same poll, slightly fewer voters, around 63%, believe that we are ready for a woman President. No questions were asked about the likelihood of electing the first Mormon President nor the first multiply-divorced President nor the first septuagenarian President nor the first evangelical minister President. With "change" the new buzzword, it is likely that the chosen candidates will be the "first" in something. It's up to you to help determine what that first will be.

So, Sandwiched Boomers, this is your time to get involved - watch the debates, study the candidates' proposals, learn about their advisors, listen to their speeches, find out about their past actions. Support whomever you think is the best candidate - your choice as a voter may bring to office the next President of the United States.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

As a Sandwiched Boomer, you may be facing tough long term care decisions about your aging parents. Research indicates that most elderly want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible.

Do the ways in which political candidates have looked after their own parents matter to you? Perhaps some of their experiences have helped shape their policies. The family leave act, project independent choices and the independence at home plan are but a few of the programs that have been implemented in various states. What kind of policies would help you and your parents?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Grow up America, it's time we stopped polarizing gender roles. Why do we care so much about whether Hillary Clinton's defining moment was a manipulation, too emotional, real or courageous? Let's give her, as well as all the men who are running against her, credit for walking into a room with a smile on their faces after rejection or breaking the no-tears rule. How about removing the double standard where expressing emotion is seen as vulnerability in men but a weakness in women.

We all recognize that Hillary has a deep hunger for the presidency; however, the appetites of male candidates seem to be selling points. Historically, women were supposed to pretend they didn't want anything at all for themselves. And this notion still has legs - the message for Hillary is act aloof to the point of indifference. Try to pursue the nomination without acting like you're a pursuer.

Granted, voters' reactions to her are complex, sometimes ambivalent. Hillary's presentation can grate on the nerves of even those who agree with her ideas. And this can have a polarizing effect in and of itelf. To complicate matters, women who vote for her are called biased if they do, disloyal if they don't.

But, as Sandwiched Boomers, we all know that nothing is exactly as it seems. We've dealt with family conflict and understood the complexity of different opinions on various issues. We'ver cried and been strong, in the end knowing that it's all part of the human experience.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mitt Romney moved from silver to the gold in his Michigan victory and the look of jubilation and relief on his face was familiar. Haven't all of us, at one time or another, been behind and then pulled into a winning position?

More than ever, the race now appears to be a Republican free-for-all, with each candidate having a different platform and searching for how to win the votes. Lucky for Romney he has deep roots in Michigan and could be himself in his home state. As a successful business man, he used a targeted message by framing the economy as the main issue.

Romney called it the victory of optimisn over Washington pessimism. As Sandwiched Boomers are you feeling discouraged about some family circumstances? If you set a long range objective, that you break into smaller shortterm steps in order to reach it, you will reach your goal. Whether it's establishing boundaries for your boomerang kid who lost his job and moved back home or making arrangements for your Mom to go into assisted living, you do have the tools and experience to creatively work out a solution.

You can't always resolve problems in the same old way and big issues take time. However, the race isn't over until you reach the finish line. By keeping a positive attitude and putting one foot in front of the other, you really can do almost anything you put your mind to.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

As the day approaches for Americans to acknowledge and pay respect to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his accomplishments, Democrats seem to be going from bad to worse as they wrangle over who played the race card first when evaluating Dr. King's legacy. Supporters of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama imply the other's comments brought racism into the primaries. It's hard to say who threw the first punch, but clearly the campaigning is getting dirty.

What happens within your own family when you have conflicts? Do you begin to hit below the belt? Learning to fight fairly is important, especially for Sandwiched Boomers who are stressed daily by the struggles of caring for aging parents and growing children. When you are feeling frustrated and exhausted by your responsibilities as a caregiver to your family in flux, resist the tendency to unload your raw anger on those nearest and dearest to you. Make a commitment to address the issues openly and honestly - but without rancor. You can let others know what you need without blaming them for your situation. Talk about how they can change their behaviors rather than attacking their character traits. As you continue to work on improving the relations within your family, you will all grow in respect for one another. And respecting each person in the family of man honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message every day.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

As a member of the Sandwiched Generation, are you feeling left out by the pollsters covering the Presidential primaries? We're hearing more and more about the importance of the youth vote to the candidates but not much about the value of the Baby Boomer electorate. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are each presenting themselves as the most relevant choice for the first-time voter; John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee are appearing on college campuses in an attempt to win over the youth of the country.

But the reality is that in the 2004 Presidential election, Americans over the age of 55 comprised more than 35% of the voters whereas those under the age of 25 made up less than 10%. And in the off-year 2006 elections, a whopping 52% of all voters were over 50. Older voters in the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Arizona and Nevada make up a greater percentage of the population than the national average - their choices this year will have significant effects.

So what can you do to focus the attention of the pundits and proclaim your relevance in this election? Use your voice to raise the awareness of the media to your power. Educate yourself about the issues that are important to you and the candidates' positions on them. Recognize that the problems you face as a Sandwiched Boomer, caring for your aging parents and growing children, are not unique to you but rather are typical of your group. Advocate for solutions. Check out, an AARP-based nonpartisan website encouraging the midlife electorate to become involved and knowledgeable. Then get out there and demand action.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Leaving the snowy hamlets of New Hampshire behind, the presidential candidates are headed for Michigan and the warmer venues of South Carolina and Florida - all of this before they launch into meeting the voters in the multiple primaries on "super Tuesday," February 5. Based on their results so far, candidates are now re-evaluating strategies, changing staffers or even dropping out of the race completely. Daily, the pollsters and pundits are telling us who is ahead and the spin doctors, why. Is Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama the real agent of change for Democrats? Is John McCain or Mike Huckabee the Republican front runner? How will Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani stage a comeback? It's enough to make your own head spin.

Are you wondering what you, a Sandwiched Boomer, can learn from the candidates as they continue their grueling run for President? The challenges you encounter every day as you take care of your growing children and aging parents may be played out on a smaller stage but they are no less stressful for you. January is a good time for you also to stop and evaluate your own progress toward your goals.

As you have no doubt told your children, you can learn from mistakes as well as from successes. If one choice for the care of your aging parents hasn't worked, re-evaluate that decision and institute your plan B. Deep down, you may know that it is time to make a change, but it is hard to do. That's when you need to gather support from the rest of your family and friends. Stay positive and recognize that you don't have to do it all at once - pace yourself in the process. Draw upon your tenacity and strength as you continue your own march forward, one step at a time.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

As the spin doctors continue to review what went right with Hillary Clinton's campaign in New Hampshire, the significant moment seems to be when, exhausted, she choked up, expressing her emotions of frustration, sadness, resignation. The voters saw a person who was not removed and isolated from them, but one who suffered, just as they did, from the complexity of life. Her humanness came through.

Are you afraid to show your own emotions to those around you? As a Sandwiched Boomer you may often be at your wits end, coming to the aid of your ailing parents or growing children. Do you try to protect your family from knowing how hard it is for you? Instead of burying your feelings with a stoic attitude, trust your family and reveal the depth of your feelings to them. You will find that they understand your reactions better when they know more about where you are coming from. And you might even find yourself getting more help and support from those around you as you cope with the stress and challenges you face as a member of the Sandwich Generation. So go ahead and have a good cry, you deserve it. And then let a loved one dry your tears and give you a warm, embracing hug.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yesterday was a day for political comebacks - both Hillary Clinton and John McCain overcame their losses in Iowa and won in New Hampshire, surprising pundits, volunteers and maybe even themselves. As they each addressed their cheering crowds last night, we thought about the support that had sustained them in their struggles. What can we Sandwiched Boomers learn from them to apply to our own stressful challenges?

Chelsea Clinton has been on the campaign trail stumping for her mother all over the state; John McCain specifically thanked each of his seven children for their efforts. The candidates were able to ask their children to pitch in and help them out when they needed it. We too need to recognize that our offspring can step up and have a greater degree of participation in the responsibilities we face. At each stage of their development, there are certain jobs we can give them - with increasing levels of complexity and importance. This reliance on them is a win-win situation for all - our burdens ease as we delegate chores and responsibilities and, at the same time, our sons and daughters mature and learn to depend on themselves. They are then less likely to boomerang back into the nest when they become young adults. It's a matter of first recognizing what kinds of things we can ask of them and then actually doing so, even if they resist at first.

You don't have to wait until you run in a presidential primary to initiate your growing children into the responsibilities of adulthood - you can begin today to create a healthier sandwich. It's not too late to make your own comeback, relying on the support of your family. Bon appetit!

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

John McCain is the Republican frontrunner in New Hampshire. Only last month, when his campaign manager quit and his funds were low, it looked as if his race was over. But just like his tenacity served him while imprisoned during the Vietnam war, it has defined him in this political marathon. Reflect on his example.

As a Sandwiched Boomer, access and rely on your own strength. Dig deep and find your inner voice – listen to what it has to say about caring for your family relationships and nurturing yourself personally. Set some specific goals about what you need from your family and for you. Step by step, work toward achieving them.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

As the presidential campaign heats up the cold New Hampshire winter, our focus is very specific: how the value of support simply cannot be overestimated. As Sandwiched Boomers in the midst of dealing with aging parents and growing children, do you need help in finding support for yourself? Over the next week, through the eyes of political candidates, we're going to teach you how to go about getting it.

Oprahbama, the big O's, Oprah and the Obamas – sounds like a rock band on a road trip. When Oprah hit the campaign trail, her candidate played the celebrity card and their fan base responded. Change is a major pillar of Obama's speeches and his message is spreading like wildfire. And who better than you can grasp the effects of change?

1. Knowledge is power, so try to fully understand the difficult transitions your family in flux is going through. Begin by talking with them.
2. Gather material from the Internet’s search engines about how to manage change. Find the niche websites and blogs that address the family issues you are managing.
3. Scour the self-help section of bookstores for titles and table of contents that address the problems you are facing. Then buy the book and apply what works for your particular situation.
4. Engage in conversation with friends and family who have gone through similar experiences, in order to get realistic feedback. Implement their concrete advice about how to proceed, step by step.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

This ends our posts of how you, as Sandwiched Boomers, can take care of yourself as you juggle family responsibilities:

1. Draw upon your strengths – both personal and spiritual – as you put one foot in front of the other and do what you have to do each day. You know best what sustains you in difficult times – love, duty, loyalty, faith, hope, compassion, bravery, forgiveness.

2. Create boundaries to protect yourself. Don't beat yourself up for the mistakes you make - learn from them. Rather than give up, allow yourself the opportunity to regroup and try something else. Keep in mind that you are human and not all knowing. You deserve another chance.

Remember that this stage of your life, as are all others, is a process of inevitable movement. One day your children will be grown and your parents will be gone. What you will have then are the memories you have collected today. Resolve to take care of yourself this New Year so that they will be ones you will cherish.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

As you pay attention to nurturing you, notice how you feel stronger and better about yourself. This inevitably will lead to your feeling more self confident and deserving. That doesn't mean there won't be difficult times ahead - those are the moments when you need to pull from external and internal resources:

1. Reach out to your friends for social support. When you are at a low point is the time to receive rather than give. You have been there for close friends when they needed you in the past; now let them take a turn at comforting you.

2. Find something to be joyful about each day. Laughter is, in fact, a potent medicine and much easier to swallow than a handful of pills. Surround yourself with people who approach life with a positive attitude. Let your creativity flourish as you engage it.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

We hope that these tips, like the ones in yesterday's post, sound practical and reasonable. As Sandwiched Boomers, time is of the essence, so start slow. Break the ideas you choose into smaller objectives - each step you take will bring you closer to your ultimate goal.

1. Set limits. Paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, you don't have to please all of the people in your family all of the time. Trust yourself to know when it is ok to say "no" to your parents or your children and to say "yes" to yourself.

2. Take care of yourself – your body, your mind and your spirit – through exercise, proper food, rest and relaxation. Set aside quiet time for yourself and do whatever pleases you – garden, listen to music, soak in the bathtub.

3. Bring gratitude into the forefront of your daily routine by acknowledging your blessings. Make a detailed note, each evening, of three positive experiences of the day. As you do, appreciate what you have to be thankful for: the connection to friends and family, the meaning that comes from being needed, the fullness of your life.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Miranda, a Sandwiched Boomer, feels physically and emotionally exhausted and vows to make some changes in the New Year. "I love my parents dearly and want to help them out as much as I can but I need to be there for my kids too. Impossible as it may sound, the only way to do both is to set aside some time for me too. I know that I'm absolutely no good to anyone if I don't take care of myself."

Like Miranda, you can address your particular concerns and set some goals for yourself. Elizabeth wrote in that she's not making resolutions, just keeping track of some things. She touches on a good point. It's important to make changes in the way that is best for you.

We'll be covering a couple of tips a day that will help you deal with the pressures of the Sandwiched years. Discuss them with others or work with them yourself - and let us know how you're doing.

1. Recognize that you don't have to do it all alone. Decide to get help when you need it from other family members. Be firm about asking your siblings to lend a hand with your parents; clarify your partner's responsibilities in caring for the children. The Internet can be useful in identifying local community resources that are available to you.

2. Use part of the Serenity Prayer as your new mantra. Make an effort to “have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” To remember the phrase, write it down and leave it where you can see it – on your night table, the refrigerator, the front seat in your car, your desk at work.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Are you like the millions of Americans who, year after year, make New Year's resolutions that they don't keep? Have you made a vow to lose 25 pounds, exercise four times a week or save monthly for your retirement?

Noble goals - but do you keep them past the end of January? More crucial than setting broad goals is setting achievable ones and then putting them into practice.

As 2008 begins, we're going to focus on how, as Sandwiched Boomers, you can make your resolutions work for you. By tomorrow, all you need to do is take a few minutes of quiet time, reflect on the biggest challenges you're facing and write them down. We'll take it from there.

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