Family Relationships

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

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Gloria and Marilyn's article, in closing, suggests that you keep the channels of communication open. Dialoguing and sharing experiences requires listening, not necessarily agreeing. Each party needs to be heard and wants to be understood. The challenge lies in working it out in a way that is respectful to family members. The reality is that being gracious takes less psychic time and energy, and you may indeed grow to like, even love, your parent's new spouse or partner. Family harmony often means only relatively minor changes in long held perceptions or entirely new perspectives that genuinely reflect your own maturity.

Most of the Sandwiched Boomers who have made comments over the past few days tend to concur with these observations. Although some of them struggled with questions such as, Will this person take my place? What will happen to my mother's treasured possessions or my inheritance? Will I still be special and loved? Yet, despite initial ambivalence, they want their parent to be happy and are relieved that someone else will share the responsibility as their parent ages.

If your family has already made this sort of transition, share your experiences with others who are facing it now. And if you widowed parent is beginning to date, think about what you can do to take care of yourself and still understand your parent's position. How can you grow to know and accept your parent's new relationship - and still savor the memories of your parent who has died. By giving yourself permission to be open, it's a gift to both of your parents and yourself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I lost my mother at the age of 35 and I never had to deal with the feelings that my father's second wife would take her place. I was not looking for another mother. However, I was not prepared for the changes in my father and his relationship to our family. I was disappointed with his choice and I realized a similar dilemma that many parents face when their children select their mates. I never really accepted my father's wife with open arms but I came to understand how her life's experiences shaped her character and behavior. I always wished he had chosen a different type of person, someone I could love and be close to...someone that would have kept me closer to him. But life takes unexpected turns and twists and it is important to roll with the punches. Barbara

10:14 PM

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Mom died 6 months ago and my Dad is already in a serious relationship. I'm sure she is a good woman, but I'm angry that he moved on so quickly. I'm still in deep mourning about the loss of my Mother - and I think he should be too. Olivia

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Father passed away two years ago and my Mother has been spending a lot of time with an old family friend. Honestly, with three teenagers at home, I haven't paid that much attention. But having read the posts and comments on your blog the past several days, I plan to talk to Mom. I wonder if she's concerned about how I would react and has been waiting for an opening from me.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

My grown children were at first surprised, but ultimately pleased to learn of my plans to commit seriously to another man. Their father, who had died 19 months earlier, was a bigger than life figure to them. My husband and I had had a love affair for 46 years. Since my son and daughter were, and are unmarried, we were central to their lives. My husband had been a leading world scholar, author, professor, professional lecturer, a wise and learned man who was always available to help solve our kids, and my, problems. How could anyone fill his gigantic shoes?

When I explained that my new companion was not taking the place of my husband and their father but instead was helping me to move on with what had become an empty existence, they finally realized that I not only had been grief stricken since my beloved's death, but also, very lonely. Both of my kids were stunned to learn that wonderful memories were now not enough for me, I needed to embrace life again. When they realized this new relationship would help to fill the enormous gap in my life, they understood that it was not "replacement" of dad, but another chapter in living my life to the fullest.

They showed their love for me by fully accepting my companion, not as their dad, but as a wonderful addition to our family life. This has made me to fully appreciate that I am the mother of two fabulous, adult, mature, compassionate people.

12:39 AM  

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