Family Relationships

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

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nurturing Our Sons and Grandsons

As grandmothers of a total of 8 grandsons, we are happy to bring Stephen James and David Thomas back for another day of questions and answers about their book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. And to learn more about bonding with your grandchildren when they live far away, click on the title above to take you to our article, Create Meaningful Bonds with Your Grandchildren Across the Miles, which you will find on our website,

NR: Both of you are fathers of girls and boys. How is parenting a boy different from parenting a girl?

SJ & DT: Parenting boys in the first three stages is just so physical. Parenting boys in these years requires a great deal of physical energy—and a good back. Whereas parenting our daughters is so much more relational and emotional. Both are exhilarating and exhausting, but in different ways.

When I (David) engage my daughter, it’s in sitting in a neighborhood coffee shop talking about her day at school. My boys can sit at the coffee shop long enough to finish a chocolate chip cookie, spill their milk and then we’re kicking a soccer ball across the street at the park.

We talk a lot in the book about boys in motion and how to engage these active, physical beings. Girls need that too, no doubt, but not in the same way boys need it.

We had our families together the other day over at my (Stephen’s) house. At one point all the kids went out in the front yard to play: five boys and two girls in all. There were a number of balls lying around the yard. The boys started playing soccer with one ball and the girls started playing soccer with another. After a few minutes the boys were trying to kick the ball at each other and the girls were off to the side talking to each other. To me that is a great picture of the differences.

NR: What kinds of things can a father do to bond with his son and raise him to be emotionally mature?

SJ & DT: One of the first things we’d challenge a dad to do is to pay attention to his own story. That was a central purpose in our book How to Hit a Curve Ball, Grill the Perfect Steak and Become a Real Man: Learning the Lessons our Fathers Never Taught Us. Unless we understand how our stories inform who we are as men, husbands, and fathers, we stand to make a number of significant mistakes with our own sons. So before a man starts making a list of things to “do” with his son, we’d encourage him to start with himself. That step doesn’t involve his son at all, but is one of the most powerful ways to love and care for him.

That step gives way to the second step. In order for a father to raise an emotionally mature young man, he must be an emotionally healthy man himself. A boy desperately needs a dad who has an interior life. Our culture is flooded with emotionally stunted, emotionally damaged males. There’s no shortage there. Men have a responsibility to lead their son’s in living from their hearts. Women can’t really teach boys how to do this. Mom’s can invite it and encourage it, but the action of it must be modeled by a man.

Thirdly, we’d challenge dads to study his son in search of his boy’s definition of enjoyment. That’s different for every boy. We both have a set of twin boys. Two males with identical genetic ingredients and yet the outcome couldn’t be any more different. These guys, born within minutes of one another, have different passions, different strengths, and different longings. And they experience enjoyment in some similar ways as well as some different ways. We are both on a long journey of discovering what that is. Just as soon as we get a handle on it, it can change just as his development does. So it’s a long journey of studying these boys and pursuing their passions and their hearts.

NR: What mistakes have parents and educators made in their approach to rearing and training boys?

SJ& DT: For me (Stephen) the consistent mistake my wife and I make is that we over explain and over verbalize with our sons. This is a problem that is very common. In parenting boys, adults tend to talk to them and at them a great deal. We talk and talk and talk and end up sounding a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Whah, whah, whah.” In Wild Things we offer a number of different strategies for engaging and educating boys that better match their unique design. Boys learn through experience and physical repetition. They need consistent firm boundaries and loads of encouragement.

As far as school goes we speak a lot in the book that the compulsory model we use for schooling in the United States is generally well-suited to a girl’s learning style. It’s heavy on verbal and written expression, two particular areas of strength for most girls. It involves a good deal of sitting still for extended periods of time with mostly auditory instruction. These methods don’t match a boy’s way of learning or draw on his learning strengths.

NR: How did you come to the conclusions you discuss in Wild Things?

SJ & DT: The book is a combination of science and research, clinical experience (our own as therapists and that of others), and our own journey of parenting five boys between the two of us.

As therapists, we have sat with thousands of men and boys over the years. Our hope was to bring their voices into the content of Wild Things. We have learned so much from the males we’ve had the great honor of working with and hoped to bring their stories into this text. In addition to those, we are still learning so much from living with five of our wild things.

NR: Readers, you’ve gained some valuable advice. If you would like to learn more from these parenting experts about raising boys, you can order a copy of Wild Things through Thank you, Steven and David, for joining us here for the past two days.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wild Things

Looking for answers on how to raise boys? Ever wonder: Why can’t he sit still? Is he hearing a word I say? Why is he angry all the time?

Boys are born to be wild. Their strong spirit, endless imagination, and hunger for adventure are only matched by their deep desire to be affirmed, esteemed, and loved. In their new book Wild Things, therapists Stephen James and David Thomas help parents and educators understand what exactly makes boys tick.

NR: Welcome to our blog today. Can you share with our readers why you wrote Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys?

SJ & DT: Wild Things is an invitation to take a closer look at your son. This book is a comprehensive look at boy development from birth to young adulthood. In addition to laying out the biology of a boy, we also look at the mind of a boy and the heart of a boy. We break down what a boy needs from his mom and from his dad in every stage of his development. We also hit on all the hot topics surrounding boys, everything from the impact of media to substance abuse, the role of sports, and sex and dating.

NR: The subject of Wild Things was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s classic tale Where the Wild Things Are. Why did you find this theme so appropriate?

SJ & DT: If you read closely Sendak’s story, he brilliantly speaks to a boy’s hunger for risk and adventure, how boys crave power and purpose, and how they make sense of the world around them. Sendak’s portrait of boys felt so accurate to the two of us and a unique way of exploring and dissecting a boy’s inner world.

In Wild Things, we borrow from the passion and ethos of Sendak’s book and use that to provide insight and direction for parents, teachers, and mentors in what it means to love a boy well. We also try and give a lot of real life examples from our own lives and from the families we work with in our counseling practices.

NR: You address five key stages that a boy goes through on his journey to becoming a man: Explorer (age 2-4), Lover (5-8), Individual (9-12), Wanderer (13-17), Warrior (18-22). What stage is the most difficult for most boys to navigate?

SJ & DT: Each of the stages holds unique challenges. We worked hard to break down each stage in a way that is easy to digest. We think that that parents and educators will walk away with a clearer understanding of a boy’s unique design in each stage and some practical ideas in how to care for him within that stage of his development.

In many ways Wild Things is the kind of thing that you don’t just read once. It is more like an entertaining reference guide that parents and teachers can go back to time and time again for encouragement, insight, and direction.

But if we had to identify one stage as the most challenging, though, we’d have to say the Wanderer stage (13-17). This window of a young man’s development is plagued by physical and emotional change. A colleague of mine, who is pediatrician, said boys in this stage are 98% hormone, which translates to their being so emotional. A part of their developmental agenda is moving toward independence and pulling away. He’s often times the most distant and hard to read in this stage, which greatly complicates the process of letting him go and trusting him with more independence. And it is during this stage that is has the ability to make decisions that will effect the rest of his life.The risks are real and boys in this stage lack the ability to choose wisely with their future in sight.

NR: Who are the most important role models in a boy’s life?

SJ & DT: There is no question that a boy’s parents play a foundational role in the man he becomes. In Wild Things we have a chapter that specifically address a mother’s relationship with her son as well as a chapter that addresses a father’s relationship with his son. But it doesn’t stop there for boys. There is great truth to the old African proverb that says “it takes a village.” We talk early in the book about how a boy begins to hunger for other voices and a part of our role is to put them in his way, so that he ends up with this community of individuals who believe in him and hold him up.

NR: People often talk about the father’s role in teaching a boy to be a man, but a mother’s relationship is important too. What are some mistakes a mother can make?

SJ & DT: A mother’s role is so very important. That message is woven throughout Wild Things. There is so much to the answer to this question. You’ll need to read the book to get a comprehensive look at your role throughout his development. We talk a lot with mom’s about two unique callings within their role, both of which lend themselves to mistakes and potential harm to the mother-son relationship. To boil it down though to a couple of things we would say 1) the first is being safe and 2) the second is letting go. We break both of those down in great detail within the book. By being safe we mean a mothers ability to let her son be a boy. By letting go we mean a mother’s willingness to let her boy become a man. We speak a whole lot more to this throughout the book. It’s such a big question, and an important question for moms to consider.

NR: If you could give once piece of advice to parents and educators reading this book, what would it be?

SJ & DT: The study of a boy is such a worthwhile use of your time and resources. Boys are complex, imaginative, mysterious, brilliant, challenging, creative, strong, tender, courageous beings—and each is unique. Parenting and educating them is a wonderful, difficult, complex, enjoyable, physical, emotional, delightful, maddening journey. Our hope is that Wild Things is a useful guide along that journey.

If we have to give one piece of advice it would be for parents and educators to continue to invest in their own emotional and spiritual maturity. Growing yourself is the best gift you can give a boy you love.

NR: Thank you for joining us today. We have so many more questions for you, please come back tomorrow and we will fire away again.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Respect their Boundaries

Follow these tips to develop a bond with your son-in-law that will grow through the years. As an accepted mother-in-law, you can enjoy the connections with your new family member.

Avoid hot button issues like finances, religious observances, and work/home responsibilities. By taking sides, you make it harder for the newlyweds to sort out these issues for themselves. When you have expectations that are not shared by them, recognize that now it’s their turn to make this type of decision.

Be available to help when asked but don't intrude. As the new couple settles into their routine and lifestyle, they may ask for your help or support. Pitch in and be responsive to their needs when you can, but don't overstep the boundaries.

Find support from your spouse and friends. When you’re frustrated, share with others who will understand what you’re going through and use them as a sounding board. When all else fails, laugh together as inductees in the sisterhood of mothers-in-law.

Click on the title above to take you to our article, Boomer Women and Friendship: The Gift You Give Yourself for some ideas about how your friends can help you get through this challenge - and lots of other ones.

These tips can help you build the kind of relationship with your son-in-law that Marian Robinson has with President Obama. He and Michelle respect her and trust her to help with their children. Embrace your new role of mother-in-law. You, too, have the power to make this an enriching chapter for everyone in the family.

And please join us tomorrow as we welcome therapists Stephen James and David Thomas to discuss their book, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Put Yourself in His Shoes

Here are some things to keep in mind as you welcome a new son-in-law into your family.

Move slowly into the role of mother-in-law, remembering that your daughter’s spouse arrives with his own issues, unique temperament and family rituals. Learn more about him and his family rather than expecting him to blend into yours. Remember that family loyalty goes both ways.

Imagine the situation from your son-in-law’s perspective. Recognize that he wants to build and strengthen his new family unit. Doris is trying to let go of her need to continue such a tight relationship with her daughter. “I know she is bonding with her husband, so I don’t snoop or ask too many questions. As an only child I don’t like to go halves with anything, so it’s hard for me to share my precious daughter. But I know that her husband has to be the focus for her now.”

Respect your daughter’s choice and learn to love her life partner. By focusing on how happy your daughter is and on your son-in-law’s positive qualities, you’ll be building on the mutual good feelings. This can serve as an emotional savings account you can draw on later when other situations lead to tension between you.

Hold back on your opinions, advice and constructive criticism, at least until there is more trust in the relationship. This can be a challenge, as Nancy found: “I’m very careful about what I say, so I don’t think my son-in-law knows that I'm holding back. We get along fine on the surface but I hope that some day we can deal with deeper issues.”

Clicking on the title today will take you to our article, Point of View: The Male Boomer and Long-term Relationships, which gives you some insight about what men are thinking. See if you can take any tips from these husbands that will help you understand your son-in-law a little better.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

What You Can Learn from President Obama's Mother-in-Law

Now that Michelle Obama's mother is living in the White House, will the cruel jokes and snide remarks about mothers-in-law finally stop? Will Marian Robinson, as first mother-in-law, be able to pave the way for acceptance, even respect, for this much-maligned branch of the family tree? Only time, and the nightly comedians, will tell.

If you have a new son-in-law yourself, you can use Mrs. Robinson and other successful in-laws as your guides. Let them teach you how to adjust to your new role. It's not easy. Once you've made the final payment for your daughter’s dream wedding, you may find yourself relegated to the back burner.

Instead of you, your daughter's new husband is now the one who shares her confidences. After spending the past couple of decades as an active and involved mom, do you now feel like a Lame Duck? Even more important, how can you learn to relate to the guy who is now the center of your daughter’s universe? Tune in this week for some tips to get you started with your own son-in-law.

In the meantime, if you have a new daughter-in-law, click on the title above to go to and read some tips about how to improve your relations with her.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's Mother-in-law is Moving In

In this administration, with such a protective mom in chief, one major focus on the home-front will be the first daughters. The goal of these devoted parents is to help the girls find their way in their new environment. And Michelle's mom is moving in for now, to provide a constant presence and keep the girls grounded. When asked about the relationship with his mother-in-law, the president, among other things, said: "I don't tell my mother-in-law what to do." Doesn't it sound like our new president is off to a really good start?

What follows are some ideas that may help you and your family:

Look at your situation and decide what works for you. If you need some time by yourself, be sure to fit that into your plans. When you want to reconnect with your teenagers, plan outings that will appeal to both of you. If your parents are up to it, invite them on a family vacation. Your children will benefit from spending quality time with their grandparents. And it will give you free time and the chance for you and your partner to catch up without distractions.

Do what is necessary to maintain familiarity and continuity. If you nurture your family and stabilize their environment, they will feel more secure. The structure in their lives and the support you give them will relieve feelings of anxiety or stress. Children are resilient and, as you model positive thinking and hope, they will thrive. The rewards can be immeasurable for the whole family.

For additional tips, click on the title of this post and read our article, From Baby Boomer to Mother-in-Law: How to Play Your New Role.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Tips for the Sandwich Generation Family

Our focus this week has been on Obama family values. And their move into the White House, which includes Michelle's mother, marks a major transition for all of them. No Sandwich Generation family always runs smoothly. And there can be problems that aren't that easy to fix. As you evaluate the kind of support and strategies you need right now, keep the following tips in mind:

Make sure your expectations are realistic. You may have very clear ideas about how you want your family to be. But realize that every member will have their own way of handling challenges, conflicts and disappointments. Don't think that what's a priority for you will be the same for everyone. And remember that the present state of affairs won't last.

Be willing to compromise. With a situation you can't agree on in a family relationship that matters a lot, take the time to understand both sides of the issue. Validate everyone's feelings and try to withhold blame. It's not necessary to excuse bad behavior, but show support for what they're going through. If in the past you have gone underground and then exploded later, don't let these feelings fester. Acknowledge the part that you play in the conflict and deal with it. Negotiating an agreement that both of you can live with is often the best way to move on.

Set long-range goals about what you want to accomplish as well as short-term objectives that will help you reach them. These concrete plans provide the basic foundation and parameters for change in your partner, your children, your parents and yourself. As you successfully move forward, step by step, your self-confidence will grow. Ongoing action and a positive attitude will motivate you to stay on track and ultimately reach your family goals.

Tomorrow we'll finish up our set of tips. Log on and let us hear about the family issues you're facing and how you're managing.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Virtual Book Tour for Sandwiched Boomers

We welcome Lynn Goodwin and all Sandwiched Boomers. Lynn's book, YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, gives encouragement, simple instructions, and over 200 sentence starts to get you journaling. According to Lynn, journaling relieves stress, helps you analyze and process your life, and sometimes helps you find joy. Even if you are only taking care of yourself, journaling is a great way to get through stuck places and open up new ideas.

NR: Why do you believe that journaling is such a great stress reliever?

LG: Writing gives perspective and restores sanity. It is a lifeline as well as a record. Journals listen without interrupting. They let you delve into issues and untangle messes. Studies have shown that journaling keeps you healthy by releases mental toxins and deepening awareness. Without journaling, I know I might have lost myself. When you write in your journal, it can be all about you.

NR: What do you do if you have nothing to say?

LG: Look around the room for an image or a sensory detail—the way the sun makes a path on the carpet, the way steam rises off a cup of coffee, carrying the aroma of morning with it. Listen to the high pitched whirring of an omnipresent machine, the tick of the kitchen’s black-and-white, kitty-cat clock—any image at all. Go wherever an image takes you.

NR: How did you turn your journaling experiences into a book?

LG: I think the idea was percolating the whole time I was simultaneously caring for my mother, working in an adult literacy program, tutoring online, and running Writer Advice, Trial and error taught me what worked.

One day I realized that there were plenty of books of prompts for writers, but nothing that addressed the needs of caregivers. I knew writing worked. I knew how to write. I wanted to invite others into the process. I’d been writing sentence starts for a free writing group I call the Berkeley Women, and I knew from their writing and my caregiving experiences that my sentence starts would work. I knew I had to convince caregivers to try writing, show them how, and group the topics into subjects. Looking back, it feels as if the book almost wrote itself.

Now I’m reaching out to all kinds of caregivers. If you know a professional, a support group leader or any kind of caregiver who can benefit from this book, please tell them to check out the Journaling for Caregivers link on Writer Advice, or search for B. Lynn Goodwin at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Thanks for helping them connect with my book.

NR: What are your top three writing tips for caregivers?

LG: It’s hard to pick just three, but here’s a start.

1. Write about anything.
2. Start with what needs to spill out.
3. Write freely. Be specific. Lose control.

There are lots more tips in the book. Ready to get started? Pick up a pen or open a Word document. Write I feel… Then finish the sentence. Write another sentence. You are journaling. See what happens if you write for ten minutes. There is no wrong way to do this.

NR: Does this work for all caregivers?

LG: So far it’s worked for current, former, and long distance caregivers of spouses, parents, and special needs children.

It’s been equally effective for those in the midst of caregiving and those who are now taking care of themselves. Those left alone after a loss seem to find special comfort in journaling and sharing what they write. They are empowered when others relate to their specific experiences. There’s something magic about putting pen to paper, regardless of who you are.

One workshop participant said, “ Writing from the heart seems to be all that is needed.” I agree. Another said, “I can’t tell you how many things I’ve sorted out by being able to write them down.”

This is a great tool for volunteers, nurses, teachers, and those in the helping professions. We are all caregivers in one way or another.

Thanks, Lynn, for your insight and practical information. We know that journaling is a technique that can be of great value to all of us. Now click on Comments below and let us hear from you!

You can learn more about Lynn's e-mail workshops at Click on Journaling for Caregivers. Then click on Workshops/Events. To sign up, send her an e-mail. There’s a contact button on the site.

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The Obama Family and Family Values

In a recent letter to his girls, President Obama wrote: "I want you to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach.….." Now that's a strong message from a father to his daughters.

Some say that the Obamas are the kind of family they would like to be. Michelle has a healthy attitude about parenting that resonates for those with strong family values. And she has talked about her personal struggle of juggling work and kids, not that different from any other ordinary American working mother. More than we might expect, given her training and high-powered career, the division of labor in the marriage has been fairly traditional. Michelle is an involved mom and has said that the wellbeing of her girls comes first.

As Barack tells it, all the men in his life were fragile, but the women could always be relied upon. In his wife, he sees a lot of his grandmother - the practical, no-nonsense woman who raised him. He likes that Michelle insists he be the kind of father he never had. And just as she is a reflection of his values, their partnership is a good indication of the character strengths and listening skills he brings to the White House.

Join us here tomorrow for a Virtual Book Tour, featuring author Lynn Goodwin whose book is called "You Want Me to do What?" She will be answering questions about journaling for caregivers.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

Despite early frigid temperatures, a mid-day sun warmed the crowd of more than two million who came to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as America's 44th president. He took the reins of power in a high-noon ceremony amid economic worries and high expectations.

Obama's inauguration represents a time of renewal and optimism. In his speech, he said the nation must choose "hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord" to overcome the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

His election was cheered around the world as a sign that America will be more embracing. But he warned, "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." And "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

He wove a thread of personal responsibility and accountability through the address. "Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices." He said that all Americans have roles in rebuilding the nation by renewing the traditions of hard work, honesty and fair play, tolerance, loyalty and patriotism.

The crowd in the National Mall, including a lot of multi-generational families watched a longheld dream come true. And if today's enthusiasm is any indication of what's to come, it looks like the American spirit is strong.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Excitement about the Inauguration

With Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th President of the United States tomorrow, some are expecting high drama. This ceremony has always been seen as a sacred renewal but, with our country in crisis and the election of the first African American president, this may be the most exciting one in memory.

Today is Martin Luther King Day, a national day of service to others. The activites building up to the inauguration are taking place close to where King made his famous "I have a dream" speech in 1963. His words inform a lot of the emotion evoked by this election - the idea of volunteering, sacrificing, giving back.

Pundits are calling the president elect AbeBama and he has claim to Lincoln's legacy – high emotional intelligence, open to new ideas and engaging people through plain speaking.

Despite a crisis in confidence and no model for how to fix what our country is going through, there's solidarity around this new leader. Barack Obama says he knows there's work to be done and it's time to do it. He's as hopeful as ever. Are you?

Click on the link above to read about what Oprah's support of Obama has to do with Sandwiched Boomers. And stay tuned as we look at the events of this week in light of the new first family.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Creating Your Own Success

Now that you have decided that you are ready to make a change, planning how to achieve your New Year's resolutions is crucial. Acknowledge your role in the process and focus on the strategies that work for you. As you use these tips to turn your goals into reality, enjoy the satisfaction that comes from your success in 2009.

When you click on the title above, it will take you to the Top Ten Self-fullness Tips for Sandwiched Women, an article in the Nourishing Relationships section of our website, Give yourself permission to take better care of yourself - it will give you the balance you need to make your New Year's resolutions a reality.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Acknowledge Your Progress in Fulfilling Your New Year's Resolutions

Today we give you our final tips to help you keep your New Year's resolutions.

Give yourself credit for what you are accomplishing. You deserve rewards all along the way - for making the decision to change, for taking the first step, for achieving each objective. Acknowledge the difficulty of your mission and congratulate yourself when you reach your goal.

Accept that you are not perfect and that you will fail sometimes. Your path with likely not be a straight line, rather one with several ups and downs. Make a Plan B to use when you can't proceed as you originally intended. Don't be defeated by your slip-ups. They are not a reason to give up on yourself or your goal. Instead, get back on track and think about what you have learned from your mistakes.

You have been working to accomplish the goals you set for yourself in 2009. Click on title above to take you to a article, How to Inventory Your Assets. It will help you focus on your personal strengths and the resources that help you move forward.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Moving Along with Your New Year's Resolutions

Now that you have begun, here are some more tips to keep you moving toward your goal of achieving your New Year's resolutions.

Continue taking small steps. They will eventually get you where you want to go if you keep moving forward. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to make strides that are too difficult. Continue to set short-term objectives as you progress toward your long-term goal. You may need to refine your strategies along the way as you discover what works best for you.

Keep track of what you are doing. Keep a daily journal focused on how you are implementing your behavior change. Record the pattern of your scheduled walks. Develop a detailed budget and observe how you are spending cash. Write down what you eat every day to give you insight and motivation.

Buddy with a partner. Having someone share your journey makes the process more enjoyable. Join a support group where you can talk about your frustrations, particularly if you are working on abusive or self-destructive behavior. Talk with friends and family about your progress or lack of it. See a professional or look to the Internet for information and resources.

For more encouragement, click on the title above to take you to our article, How to Turn a Crisis into a Challenge at It will guide you in setting up some steps to take when you are making changes in your life.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting Started on Your New Year's Resolutions

Do you feel stuck in your tracks when you want to get started on fulfilling your New Year's resolutions? Here are some suggestions to get you and other Sandwiched Boomers moving in the right direction.

Decide on a realistic goal. Make it a specific one you can attain. If you want to be more physically fit, commit to taking a 30-minute walk three times a week. If weight loss is your goal, resolve to lose two pounds a month so that you are 10 pounds lighter by summer.

Make a public commitment. Tell others about your decision. They will support you and encourage you to stay with your plan. Make a pledge to take yourself seriously as you change your behavior and life style.

Begin, even if it is not an ideal start. Often the hardest step to take is the first one. Rather than waiting until the timing or situation is perfect, jump into your new routine. As Confucius observed centuries ago, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

To understand more about why making any change is so difficult, click on the title above to read the article at, Sandwiched Boomers: 7 Tips on Fighting Inertia. It will give you more ideas about how to give yourself the boost you need to begin.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Strategies to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Romans began the practice of making New Year's resolutions when they named the first month after Janus, the god of beginnings. Janus had two faces, one looking back at the old year, the other looking forward to the new one. In order to secure good fortune in the future, January became the time when you ask forgiveness for past deeds and look inward for how you can improve.

Now that you have made your own personal resolutions - still an honored ritual at this time of year - how do you avoid another universal tradition - breaking them? We all know that it's easier to say you are going to give up a bad habit than to actually stick to your new plan. As parents have told their children for centuries, "Do as I say, not as I do."

You may have resolved to finally lose the ten pounds that have been plaguing you for years, to start an exercise program you can stick to, to let go of your self-destructive smoking, drinking or over-spending habit. Or, perhaps you're one of the 50% of Americans who vow to spend more time with family and friends this year. So where do you begin? And how do you increase the odds that you will continue? With the New Year, you have a clean page, ready to take your dictation.

Click on the title above to take you to our article, New Year's Resolutions for Sandwiched Boomers. It gives you 9 ideas about setting New Year's resolutions to reduce pressures for members of the Sandwiched Generation. And tune in this week as we give you some tips to help you accomplish your goals.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Irritable Male Syndrome

Does it seem as if your partner is on an emotional roller coaster? In a funk or bad mood at least several times a week? According to mental health experts on the Today Show, he may have irritable male syndrome.

This can be a problem in your relationship - especially if he doesn't want to talk about it. And you can chalk this up to one more male/female difference. Whereas women want to discuss how they're feeling, men often internalize or hold in their emotions.

Your partner may not even know that he's sulking. If he gets mad about a trivial matter, it may represent something else going on. Don't pry and nag, or try to pamper and mother him. Notice what triggers the moods, let him know you're there if he wants to talk, and give him what he needs - which is most likely some space!

That frees you up from having to figure out what to do for him. But if you want to learn more about how to beat the blues - for yourself - click on the title of this post. And talk to us about what's going on - we're here for you!

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers: Making Marriage Work

In an economic downturn there's always the possibility of job loss. Has it happened to you or your partner? Your relationship can be impacted when you're not in sync about work. And issues about control are often raised. Who decides how the more limited resources are spent? Who is in charge of household responsibilities, like managing the checkbook, grocery shopping, cooking meals?

Stress itself can have a ripple effect and those close to you often bear the brunt. If you find yourselves arguing more, click on the title above to read an article on about fighting fair. With the financial pressure, spending more time at home together can be a double edged sword.

More concentrated time together has many benefits. Even though it may cause long term problems to surface, you can use this opportunity to finally deal with them. Marital issues are difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be more honesty, a renewed sense of trust and greater intimacy. This may be the time to go on that couples' retreat or marriage enrichment weekend you've heard so much about.

There is real value in working on your marriage, especially in troubled times. Spend more time trying to understand what your partner is going through - you’ll be glad you did.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Boomers and Stress

Best selling author Ann Coulter is hitting the airwaves, talking about her new controversial book, "Guilty." On the Today show this morning, she told Matt Lauer that most of society's problems are a result of children being raised by single mothers. Although her attitude was abrasive and divisive, she does have a point.

The breakdown of the family is a serious problem and, in these tough economic times, the divorce rate is on the rise. Here are some tips to share with friends and family under stress and struggling in their marriages:

Give your relationship the gift of time. Create moments of calm and pleasure in celebration of your relationship. Feel more treasured as you watch the dividends of your emotional investment grow.

Invite your partner to set aside an afternoon to spend together. Plan an activity that you'll enjoy: rent a bicycle built for two, leave work early and meet at a museum, enjoy a picnic lunch at the park. Take a long cut. Stretch out the event itself and make it last.

Create a romantic and intimate evening at home. This has likely been on your 'to do' list for a long time, so here's your chance to make it happen, time and again. Turn on soft music, build a fire, light the candles. Cook a gourmet dinner together and share that bottle of wine you've been saving for a special occasion.

The pressure on relationships can come from a variety of sources. Click on the title above and read an article about what to look out for. And share this post with others who are important to you.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Sandwich Generation and Finding Perspective

We heard from a reader yesterday, "I've been together with my husband for 30 years, am the mother of a teen-age daughter, and we are dealing with elderly there is much I can relate to! Fortunately, so far, going through various hardships (death of a parent, serious illness) has made us feel closer as we deal with these trials together. Though not to say that there aren't times that we feel stressed and overwhelmed!"

Finding perspective is a valuable strategy when you are dealing with family transitions. It helps to take a step back and see the present situation from a different angle. As high expectations are often difficult to meet, be realistic and, like our reader, you and your relationship can grow from the challenges.

For some couples in the Sandwich Generation, the impetus to examine their relationship comes from different energies that each wants to invest in family and career. Don is torn between his own needs and those of his wife: "We're at different junctures right now. My wife worked part-time in nursing when our children were young. Over the past few years she has discovered a passion for business and has developed her own medical registry. The problem for me is, now that she is immersed in her work, I want to cut back and spend more time together. I'm not sure how we can find a balance."

If there is mutual trust in your relationship, both of you can enjoy the freedom of exploring new options and goals. With her husband’s support, Rhonda, for the first time in 22 years, has achieved space within the marriage. “I have arrived at this crossroad with more confidence and trust in my personal choices. I just hope that my being stronger will not weaken our marriage.”

Are you working on finding balance between nurturing your marriage and still taking care of yourself? Click on the title above if you want to read more about this topic from a male perspective. Then start a conversation with your husband. You may be surprised by what you learn about each other.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers Re-examine Marriage

As Sandwiched Boomers with demanding family responsibilities, you have a tough balancing act. You're attending to your kids, parents and personal needs while still trying to nurture your marriage.

If your kids are teenagers you know they still need you, but not in the same way. Your role is different and you're left trying to adjust to changes in your identity. Or perhaps you have greater commitments now that either your parents or in-laws are older and need more help. There may be conflict about how to find the time and energy to help care for them.

Marriage often takes a back seat to the goings-on in a hectic household. And, as the nest empties, you may notice that you and your partner have grown apart. Now is the time to make a fresh start. For the rest of the week, we'll focus on tips that can help you reduce your family stress and reconnect with your partner.

Over the past several years we've published free monthly newsletters - many of them are about this very issue. And on our website,, we've archived all of them. If you want to read about the marriage dance at midlife, click on the title at the top of this post. You'll find the stories of women who are facing struggles in their marriages as well as some ideas about how to assess what's going on in their relationships. Tune in tomorrow for more helpful tips on making marriage work.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Living with Boomerang Kids

As we start the New Year, we wrap up this week's blogs highlighting our suggestions in the article on boomerang kids. Today we hear from a sampling of the parents and kids who commented that they have made the situation work for everyone.

A parent, Ladytechie, writes, "I share an apartment with a grown son. Note the share. We split the bills. I cook dinner (by choice, it's as much hobby with me as necessity), he does all the heavy cleaning, our bedrooms are off-limits to each other. Generally we do keep each other posted on our where-abouts. Both of us have good jobs - it came about because we both found ourselves single, and somewhat at loose ends, and not real happy living alone. It works, primarily because we both recognize that the other is an adult. I think that's the key, and it's much harder to do than one would expect."

Angel tells her side of the story. "I'm 32 and am currently living with my parents until I can find an apartment. If not for my parents, I would have been homeless after my divorce. I thank them every day, with words and contributions to the household budget and chores. Living with my parents is more fun than living with any roommate and is certainly more fun than living alone. I pay my way and do my share. They never have to give me money and they don't change any of their plans on my behalf. In fact, they like to include me in their plans and I often say no so they can have some time together. I shouldn't be made to feel like I'm not a 'real adult' or a 'responsible adult' because I share a home with my mom and dad rather than sharing one with a random stranger who answered an ad in the newspaper. I have been given the chance to get to know them as people rather than just parents. I truly believe that if there is mutual respect, adult children moving back home can be a pleasant and even wonderful experience."

To get more tips on enjoying the empty nest or living with boomerang kids, click on the title above and sign up for our free newsletter, Stepping Stones.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

We wish you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year. Tune in tomorrow as we wrap up our discussion of boomerang kids and the comments on the article. And visit us often at where you can sign up for our Free Newsletter, Stepping Stones. Clicking on the title above will take you to Her Mentor Center where you can browse through the Newsletter Library and the Nourishing Relationships archives. Enjoy!

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