Family Relationships

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Setting Guidelines with Boomerang Kids

Readers of the article by Tina Peng on boomerang kids, "They're Baaack," had lots of comments about how to make the situation work for both the parents and the kids. Here are just a sampling:

Headface sets the stage for a new realationship when kids move back home. "I think there should be a new set of rules involved. The kids should have to pay part of the rent/mortgage, the same for groceries, do their share of chores, etc. Any parent who lets the dynamic regress back to when their kids were 10 isn't being a supportive parent; they're just being a sucker...and doing more harm to their children than good."

Burbank also encourages family discussions around the issues coming up when kids boomerang back. "If your child moves home after being on his or her own after college or a job loss, then you should remind them that they cannot just come and go as they please. They need to understand that they are not in college any more and that they can help with or do things that you did before they left the first time. Laundry, house cleaning, and being responsible for their behavior to include respect for house rules now that they moved back home. You don't have to treat them like children and they, in turn, must act like responsible adults."

Bradley focuses on how parents can protect themselves in the process. "I think the line needs to be drawn when kids come home and expect food to be put on the table, free rent, and have other daily life expenses covered. That absolutely constrains parental freedoms." Alwaysamom adds her comment, "I agree with the couple in the article that you have to have very clear expectations when adult children return home. They seem to try and fall back into that role where they're dependent and that is not healthy for anyone involved. Communication is very important to not have resentment from anyone." Another parent, Bsolue sums it up, "Hey, our kids will always be our kids. I'm 52 and I have a 21 and 18 year old. If they want to move back home, cool. As long as I can introduce them to the mower and vacuum cleaner, I'm happy."

To read our tips on launching your boomerang kidult, click on the title above.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boomerang Kids

Many of the comments to the article, "They're Baack," by Tina Peng in were based on how the respondent viewed "family." Cool, in her thirties, finds fault with Baby Boomers for "the idea of turning your back on your family for a fresh start somewhere far, far away" and continues, "most people on the planet still live in some form of an extended family." Derrick agrees that the family should be there for their adult children, "You have created an obligation for yourself when you had kids to take care of them when they need you to be there for them." Cougar agrees, "what a shame when someone can't count on their families in their time of need. And your responsibility is over at 18?" Ravenly, pregnant and single at age 23, moved back in with her parents and believes "family will and should always be there fore you."

Not all of those in the younger generation agree. Summer believes "parents should take care of their kids when they are children...someone in their 20"s i not a child. The sense of entitlement in our generation is crazy sometimes." Elistra, age 32, agrees. "what has happened that so many young people value creature comforts over freedom and independence? I'd sooner live under an overpass as to move back in with my parents." Lakoma believes "once children leave home, their parents no longer have to take them back in. My parents kicked me out at 21 and I made my own way. I think that people want to whine because they don't want to take responsibility for the way their lives are turning out." Chris tells her story. "Moving back home should not be an option. I moved out when I was 18 and, yes, times got hard. Even when I lost a job, I did not move back in with my mother. It's like my mother told me growing up, 'Take care of your needs before your wants.'"

Speaking poignantly for the older generation, Gwen responds. "As the mother of five adult sons, I would relish having them come back home. After the sudden death of my husband, the quiet in this huge house is deafening. Home should always be a place that you can return to. The rest of the world has it right. Americans really don't understand the concept of family."

If you want to weigh in yourself, check out the article and comments at and let us know your thoughts on boomerang kids. And click on the title above to read our article giving tips on living with boomerang kids.

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Monday, December 29, 2008 Article

Some of our readers noticed that ten days ago we were featured in an article written by Tina Peng for the online edition of Newsweek magazine. If you missed it, you can still read it, "They're Baack," at Or just click on our blog title above and it will take you there. In her Newsweek web exclusive, Tina notes that today many empty-nesters are hit with boomeranging kids moving back home. She asked for our input to help families dealing with this growing phenomenon. Here are some excerpts of what she included in her article from our interviews with her.

"Those numbers—and the number of working young adults who move home—will continue to increase as the economy worsens, says Rosemary Lichtman, coauthor with Goldberg of an upcoming book about baby boomers who have to take care of both their parents and their children."

"These extended stays can jolt the marital relationships of couples that have settled into happy new kid-free patterns. "It's hard to put their needs on the back burner and have the kids be the first priority again," says Phyllis Goldberg, a psychotherapist and counselor in California. But by not losing focus on themselves, parents can ease the transition and keep their re-lit flame burning."

"How can couples ease the tension? Be a little selfish, advises Lichtman: stay somewhat emotionally detached so it's easier to reclaim your lifestyle. Letting your kids ease back into their pre-college roles as dependents will make you active parents again, rather than partners."

"Spouses should set guidelines for their boomerang kids, Lichtman and Goldberg say. Hold family meetings to determine how they'll share the home's chores and responsibilities and how they're planning to eventually be independent again. Otherwise, parents run the risk of feeling betrayed and used, which could further strain their relationship with their kids and each other."

The article generated over 200 separate comments from readers weighing in on the issue of boomerang kids. The majority of those commenting were from the younger generation. We will be reprinting some of the comments this week so that you know what your kids have to say about this issue. Feel free to let them - and us - know your own reactions to the story.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

As we come to the end of the holiday week, hold on to the feelings that come from sharing good times with family and friends. And take in some final thoughts about how to care for yourself in tough times.

As Sandwiched Boomers, you may be wondering how you will pay college tuition for your children, help your parents on a fixed income and ever be able to retire. But while you can’t always control what happens, you can control how you deal with it. Your response to the financial crisis depends largely on your interpretation. The sense you make of it all is called ‘reframing.’ And here you do have a choice – either to imagine that circumstances will never change or that you can find a silver lining within the dark clouds.

So, for example, if you’re concerned about the impact on your family, remind yourself that families grow stronger when they weather challenges together. By acknowledging your feelings and thoughts and gently redirecting your attention to the positive, you decrease your stress. And when you’re not feeling so defeated, you'll make choices that will better maximize the opportunities ahead.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

This has been a year of uncertainty, upheaval and change. And this holiday season, especially, is a time to reflect on what you are thankful for and to count your blessings.

Instead of focusing on presents, be present. As you spend time with loved ones, cherish your family traditions. Enjoy the gift of time together and connection.

They say time flies when you're having fun, and we have had the best year - thanks to you, our readers. We appreciate your inspiration and having you as a part of our blogging family. Whether it's Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa you're celebrating, have a great holiday!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One Sandwiched Boomer reading yesterday's post said she's scared because she's lost so much of her retirement money. And she doesn't know how to begin. Finding out all the information you can about your situation is a good place to start. Then take small steps as you make decisions about what you need to do and how to proceed.

Stay proactive by identifying your financial stressors and making a plan. Write down specific means by which you and your family can reduce expenses or manage your money more efficiently. Although putting it on paper can be worrisome in the short term, committing to a concrete plan will gradually reduce your stress.

Get professional support. Credit counseling and financial planning can teach you how to take control of your money situation. If you continue to feel frustrated, scared or overwhelmed, talk with a professional. A therapist or coach can help you understand the feelings behind your financial worries and show you adaptive techniques to manage your emotions.

Times like this, while difficult, can offer opportunities for needed change. Try taking a walk - it’s an inexpensive way to get exercise and more fit. Having dinner at home will not only save money, but bring your family closer together. Through low-cost resources in your community, take a course or learn a new skill that can lead to a better job. The key is to use this time to think outside the box - and to consider new ways of managing your life.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do you remember your grandparents telling you about the Great Depression? Are some of their stories sounding familiar now that you're Sandwiched Boomers facing your own financial challenges? I wouldn't be surprised. Let us hear from you the next few days as we share ideas about how to take better care of yourself.

Evaluate the situation but don't overreact or put your head in the sand. Pay close attention to what’s going on around you. Getting caught up in a pessimistic mindset can result in higher levels of anxiety and poor decision making. Try to stay calm and remain focused on the specifics of what you need to do.

Recognize how you deal with tension related to money. Avoid unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating. Financial pressure can bring about more conflict and arguments in your relationships. If any of these behaviors are causing problems for you, find healthier approaches to deal with your stress.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

These are unprecedented times. With the breakdown of traditional financial institutions, the wildly fluctuating stock market, the Madoff ponzi scheme and government bailouts, Americans are confused about what to do. Some are in denial, not ready to grasp the problems and potential consequences. Others are angry at what they see as awarding recklessness on Wall Street. Still others are in a panic about what they've lost and the gloomy economic forecast. These are all common emotional reactions to loss. And for Sandwiched Boomers, many of whom are financially responsible for their growing children and aging parents, they’re scared as they watch their dreams of a comfortable retirement disappear.

Medical care companies report that mental heath calls due to financial pressure have increased over 100% in the past several months. Early signs of distress - sadness, irritability, lack of motivation and changes in sleeping or eating patterns - can be subtle and easily missed in a busy family. However, as the economic turmoil continues, there can be a snowball effect.

If you're spending time with your family over the holidays, notice how they're feeling emotionally. Talk together about what's going on. We'll be focusing this week on healthy strategies that will help you keep a positive attitude in these tough times.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

This week we have highlighted 8 techniques to help you and your life partner remain faithful to each other. When you take the responsibility to incorporate these into your relationship, you increase the odds of being there for one another through the years. And it's nice to know that your brain function is hard wired to support you in these efforts to stay close to home. So, Sandwiched Boomers, follow the advice of the old idiom, "home is where the heart is," and re-affirm your love this holiday season.

We recently came across a site aimed at providing insights into relationships, Click on the Relationship Quizzes section there for quizzes on romance that can help you identify problems in your relationships as well as find solutions to them. We have provided a link to their site under "Relationship Quizzes" in our listing of Links below.

We wish a Happy Hanukkah to those lighting the first candle this Sunday night. We hope the warmth of the candles and songs brings joy to your heart. And nothing but gimmels!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just like the family car, no relationship runs smoothly all the time. More important than keeping a lid on emotions is learning how to deal with disagreements once they do surface. Here are some more tips for you Sandwiched Boomers as you tune up your marital relationship.

Deal with anger. Once you have expressed negative feelings, find a way to let go of the hostility. Resist holding on to resentment and avoid the emotional baggage of planning retribution. Learn to forgive your partner and to apologize for your own mistakes.

Build basic trust and loyalty. If you are devoted to one another and to your marriage, your behavior will reflect this deep commitment. Knowing that you are dedicated to the needs of each other gives you both the confidence to pursue your own goals out in the world.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Even during the holiday rush, you can carve out some time just for your life partner. Attention is often the best gift you can give to those you love - and it won't strain your tightened budget. Here are some more tips for you Sandwiched Boomers.

Give compliments freely. Sometimes it seems easier to criticize and complain than to praise and acknowledge positive behavior. Adjust your antennae to be more attentive to the actions you want to reinforce. When you are thinking something nice, say it out loud to your partner.

Keep your communication open and honest. Talk out misunderstandings before they become full-fledged arguments. Use the same conversational etiquette with your spouse that you would with anyone else you care about and respect. Practice active listening skills and sending I-messages.

Use cooperation and compromise. Be flexible in resolving your conflicts. Remind yourself to look at the issue from your partner's perspective as well as from your own. Ask yourself if it is more important to be right and win the argument than to protect your relationship.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weather reports across the United States tell us we are in the midst of an artic cold spell this week. How to stay warm? Heaters are good - cuddling with your love even better. Here are some tips for creating a hot relationship with your Sandwiched Generation partner.

Invest in your partnership. Make time for your relationship just as you would for any valuable asset. The efforts that you put into growing and developing it will be returned in multiples. Use each other for support as you are going through the myriad challenges of life.

Keep up the romance. Remind each other why you fell in love. Set aside time to be together and focus on each other. Be free with your affection and warmth. Tap into your sensuality and find new ways of exploring and expressing your sexual relationship together.

Enjoy each other. Be playful and have fun together. Laugh and bring humor into your daily life. Plan some adventures - discover new activities you both like to do. All of these bring more pleasure into your relationship and encourage real intimacy between you.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Even in the holiday season, the news media thrive on streaming information - and gossip - about the exploits of high visibility couples. The general public has been well informed about the on-going splits of Hollywood couples, the infidelity of John Edwards, the visits to call girls by Eliot Spitzer. Polls report that approximately one-third of marriages have experienced an affair by one of the partners. How then do the other two-thirds resist the temptation to stray? As Paul Newman, married over 50 years to Joanne Woodward before he died, explained it, "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?"

Recent research has identified some functions of the brain that make it easier to remain monogamous, particularly for women. When placed in a situation where an outside flirtation is possible, a subconscious alarm is set off and women react by not paying attention to the appealing threat. Instead, they express more commitment to their relationship. Men's brains do not automatically protect their relationships in the same way but can be trained to do so by visualizing and planning how to avoid the enticement. Additional studies have shown that when strong love is at the forefront, it is harder for the brain to pay attention to, perceive and recall the appeal of an attractive outsider.

Are you ready to learn how to keep the romance alive in your relationship and keep you and your partner from straying? With physiology and love on your side, tune in this week for tips to make it easier for you and other Sandwiched Boomers to stay faithful.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

This season, with all the problems facing our country, Sandwiched Boomers may have to let go of the idea of a perfect holiday. But that's not so bad. Even though you may be stretched financially, it always feels good to be able to give of yourself. And you know there are plenty of others much worse off, right?

Volunteer at a place that could really use your help. Get the family or a group of friends together and spend a few hours at a homeless shelter. Bring some toys or warm clothes that are in good shape, and a big smile on your face.

Small changes can represent a new beginning. The holidays don't have to look like a Norman Rockwell painting. Take heart as you give a little that feels like a lot. And in these hard times, that's a good lesson for all of us.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sandwiched Boomers, what are you dreaming about this holiday season - universal goals like sustaining our planet's resources and gaining energy independence? Or, with the stock market meltdown, are you wishing for some relief from the financial pain? Even in the best of times, the stress that comes with the holidays this time of year can be exhausting. So why not give a gift to yourself?

Take some down time over the weekend. For a couple of hours each day, try not to focus on the problems. Curl up with a great book from the library, watch the ballgame with your teenagers, take your grandkids to the park.

Enjoy peace of mind by paying down your debts. Hold back from buying a lot of gifts or taking the family on an expensive outing. With your children, decide together how to spend a fun and relaxing day. Your family will understand and grow from the experience.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

As Sandwiched Boomers in these challenging economic times, is the commercialism of the holidays getting you down? How would you like to spend less time racking up credit card debt and more time putting heart into your relationships? It is important to honor the tradition of giving. But the accumulation of stuff can't hold a candle to the gift that matters most. This year, recreate the joy of simpler days by giving the gift of connection to your family and friends.

Organize a potluck dinner. Enjoy time with your friends by inviting them over for an evening of fun. Ask them to bring their signature dish. Cut down on expenses by exchanging memories instead of gifts this year.

Create some of your holiday presents. Express yourself and add a personal touch by baking decorative cookies. Show others you care with an IOU to babysit while they have a much needed night out.

Think about the ways you give to others without breaking into your savings account. And let us know some of your ideas.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

As a member of the Sandwich Generation you have a lot on your plate. And with the holiday season fast approaching, you don't want to increase your stress level. Think about what is most important to you about the holidays. The challenge is to keep some balance in your life and still honor Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa.

Begin to lay the groundwork for change in your gift giving rituals. Follow these practical tips to help keep stress in check as you focus on more joy and less stuff:

Give the gift of reconnection. Send a card to someone with whom you've lost contact. Enclose a recent family photo and your email address.

Invest time instead of money. Drive an elderly neighbor to the grocery store, a doctor's appointment or the shopping mall.

Give the gift of yourself. Arrange a regular date with your parents. Invite them to lunch, a museum or the movies.

It's when life is challenging that support and connection mean the most. Bringing cheer to others is a good way to cheer up. And what better time than during the holidays?

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Monday, December 08, 2008

For Sandwiched Boomers, the financial debacle precipitated losses on many levels besides the stock market. And with the holidays just around the corner, the crisis in confidence couldn't have come at a worse time. This week our blog's focus is on how the gift of connection with family and friends can help reduce holiday stress.

Stress is the body's response to any stimulus - external or internal - perceived as taxing personal resources. Think about what's going on for you. Does food become your comfort and challenge, eating the cookie dough instead of baking it? Is gift giving your major source of stress, as you search for the best holiday bargains? At the annual office party, will you be busy at the buffet table instead of networking?

You may be creating more stress for yourself by sticking to old routine and operating on automatic pilot. Symptoms of stress can creep up on you or appear suddenly at any time. Notice if you're feeling the pressure in any of the following ways:

Physiological - headaches, stomach upset

- feeling irritated, overwhelmed

Behavioral - overeating, physical withdrawal

Cognitive - trouble concentrating, memory loss

Log on all week for tips to manage stress that don't cost you anything except time. And let us hear about some ideas that work for you.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Our final tip this week comes full circle to taking better care of youself. The more you do, the better able you are to care for others. Remember what the stewardess says on each plane trip, put on your own oxygen mask before you try to help your children put on theirs.

Take care of yourself. You know what you need to do. Find a way to make it happen. Get a good night's sleep - 6 to 8 hours a night helps you physically, improving your immune response, as well as emotionally. Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grain carbs. Participate in regular exercise to increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood, bring down resting adreneline rates and decrease depression. Increase your social network - going out with friends is not only fun, it lowers your inflammatory responses. Practice daily the stress reduction exercises we have talked about this week - deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation - to reduce your heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones such as cortisol. Work on reframing your thoughts to keep from catastrophizing.

B. Lynn Goodwin has commented about blog this week and added another helpful tip for relieving stress. "Thanks for posting such helpful hints. Stress always rises in December and this year it could shoot through the roof as the economy looms large over all of us. Here's one more technique for reducing stress. Journal about it. Let your fears spill out on paper. As you write you process stress, relax, and solutions emerge. You might find yourself feeling hopeful again. Want a little help getting started? Visit, click on Journaling for Caregivers and explore. Everyone in the sandwich generation is a caregiver for someone. Be a caregiver who takes care of herself. Journal."

These times of economic freefall are stressful for everyone. Investors are feeling insecure, not knowing what to expect next. Without a financial safety net, you may feel out of control as credit dries up, your 401K declines to a '201K' and your retirement benefits disappear. It's not easy to keep your emotions in check but you have a responsibility to learn to control your behavior so that it is not abusive. You owe that to your family - and yourself.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

As your anxiety rises from the uncertainty of the economic turmoil, take action to prevent your increasing stress from boiling over onto your family. Here are two more tips, be you a Sandwiched Boomer or not:

Ask for help and get support from those around you in order to reduce the stress in your life. See a financial planner to set some goals and make a concrete plan about how to achieve them. Where you can, take action to relieve your worries. When you are not feeling so overwhelmed by your responsibilities and commitments, your negative feelings are not as likely to boil over. Learn how to say "no" to new jobs and see if you can eliminate some of the tasks you are currently doing.

Practice relaxation techniques on a daily basis to help manage the tensions you are feeling. Make time to go for a walk, exercise at the gym, listen to soothing music or just put your feet up. Learn deep breathing or guided imagery to help you unwind and settle down. When your body is relaxed, your mind follows suit.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The American Psychological Association, in a survey of 2500 people from all across the country, found that stress levels have increased significantly in the past two years, especially in the last six months. Over 80% of the responders said that money was a significant worry for them. And that was before the financial meltdown of the past month. So today we have two more tips for you to avoid feeling pressured and out of control by the roller coaster economy.

Learn stress reduction strategies by attending a seminar, group, meditation or yoga class. Contact your local psychological association to find out what other resources are available in your community such as a mindfulness program. Consult with your religious counselor to discover if meditative prayer is comforting for you. Once you learn a technique that feels right, incorporate it into your daily schedule so that tensions do not build up. Gather information from the Internet or self help books about how to minimize the impact of the financial pressures you are now experiencing.

Keep communication open with your spouse, children and aging parents. Talk out disagreements before they become heated arguments that get out of control. Be honest about stating your needs and desires clearly. Don't put a lid on your emotions, just on expressing them in an aggressive manner. When conflicts arise, agree to be flexible and cooperative - and work toward reaching a compromise if possible.

Tomorrow we look at some additional strategies for coping with the stressful economic environment.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Yesterday came the official word about what families have sensed for a while - Americans are in the midst of a recession, potentially the worst since the Great Depression. Many people who are normally calm are stressed by the financial meltdown and concerned that they are spiraling out of control. If this sounds familiar, you could be emotionally at risk for harming your children, your spouse or elders under your care. If you are worried about your hostile attitude and aggressive behavior - be it verbal abuse or physical - begin to address your own fragility by following the suggestions we will be providing this week. Today we begin with one:

Work with a therapist to develop anger management skills and techniques for dealing with disappointment. Within the protective environment of a professional's office, you can share your hostile feelings, express your anger and then learn how to keep your aggression in check. As you improve communication, using words instead of physicality, you will feel more competent and in control. Psychological sessions will also lead you to insight, and the opportunity to understand the underlying roots of your negative emotions and behavior.

Tomorrow we will introduce additional aids to help you and other Sandwiched Boomers deal with your reactions during these trying times.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Across the United States and around the world, the effects of the financial crisis continue to spread – foreclosures are widespread, banks are being taken over, stock markets are erratic, credit is frozen and bankruptcies are increasing. Even with the planned infusion of trillions of dollars by the government, no one can predict with certainty the long-term effects on the economy. Hope is building that the Obama administration will create solutions but most pundits agree that this collapse will not right itself in the near future.

How is all this affecting you? Are you anxious and angry - on the verge of taking out your frustration over the financial news on those around you? This is a good time for you to look inward and reflect on your actions within the family. Only by becoming aware of the potential for abuse can you honestly assess your own behavior.

While a number of factors have been recognized as causes of domestic violence – mental illness, substance abuse, certain innate personality traits, low self-esteem, poor impulse control and a history of being battered - social stressors have been identified as having a particularly strong impact. Poverty, lack of control and feelings of powerlessness can lead to a perceived need to dominate family members. And this is linked to increased levels of mistreatment. During the current plummet of world markets, those who abuse are more likely to express their feelings of frustration in more belligerent ways.

If you are finding yourself more prone now to yell at the kids or scold the dog or or get annoyed with your aging parents, tune in this week for some tips to help reduce the stress you are feeling so that you don't take it out on those you love.

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