Family Relationships

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Financial Uncertainty can Trigger Marital Problems

Are you and your spouse worried in these times of financial uncertainty? During any economic crisis, couples have to face tough financial decisions. This can lead to an increase in stress and exacerbate problems that may already exist in your marriage.

Woman adjusting wedding ring, mid section (focus on hands)

Identify what you are feeling. As a first step, write down the emotions that now regularly surface. What is happening between you and your partner when you are feeling sad, scared, overwhelmed, embarrassed or frustrated? Chances are you have emotions ranging from disappointment to anger, and these are constantly changing. Don't worry - this is perfectly normal. But understanding what you feel and why can be the first step toward improving your situation.

Click on the title of this post to read an article from - Boomer Couples and Change: Re-examining your Relationship.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Jon and Kate on the Road to Divorce

The headlines read: "Jon and Kate ready to litigate?" It was followed by confirmation that the Gosselins, parents of eight and partners in the TV reality show Jon & Kate Plus 8, plan to legally dissolve their marriage. The celebrity gossip machine and fans of pop culture have been speculating about this issue for months. The much publicized episode where they announced the break up of their 10 year marriage hit an all time rating high. Jon and Kate's physical separation has forced TLC to put production of the popular program on hiatus.

Jon and Kate Gosselin throw birthday party for sextuplets in Pennsylvania

You may not be accustomed to an endless stream of headlines about your marriage. But your relationship, too, may have it's share of stress and tension. If the pressures of these tough economic times are affecting you and your relationship, tune in all week as we focus on how to get off the road to divorce.

In the meantime, clicking on the title of this post will take you to and an article on 5 tips for fighting fair.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Video Tips to Thrive in Economic Crisis

Join us next month for free video tips.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Staycations Our Readers Have Enjoyed

Some great Staycation ideas have been shared with us this week by readers across the Untied States. You are welcome to try some of them out yourselves this summer.

A reader from Los Angeles had a unique Staycation activity. "We took a tour of the subway system in Los Angeles. We got off on each stop and looked at the art work in the station. It was really fun for all of us - the kids thought it was a blast!"

We heard from a Chicago reader who plans to repeat one of her favorite activities from last summer. "My husband and I are planning to take the train downtown for a free concert at Millennium Park. We really enjoyed it last summer."

One reader from St. Louis says, "We like to sit in the "cheap seats" at the back of the Muny Opera. It's a great way to enjoy a summer evening - sitting outside, listening to pretty music, and watching the stars."

Another tip for low cost performances comes from a reader in New York. "In Times Square you can line up to get tickets to Broadway shows at half price for performances that day. It takes time, but it's well worth it to save that much money on the tickets."

A mother writes in about last year's Staycation with her kids. "Last summer we did a staycation for the first time. We had a great time doing all sorts of things. But the best was getting a new family pet for the kids. They wanted a dog but my husband is allergic so we compromised on a fish. We all went to the library and then to the pet store to decide on which one to get. The kids learned how to clean the fish bowl, how often to feed the fish, who they named "Swimmy," and even about the life cycle of fish. It's been a year now and Swimmy is still a part of our family. The kids enjoy him (?) every day. We are planning another staycation for this summer. Thanks for some new ideas."

Sally Wendkos Olds, author of "Super Granny" had visited our blog for a Virtual Book Tour on April 30. Now she has added a Comment about some vacation plans she has with her family next month. "I enjoyed reading your post and also your article about family "staycations." In about 4 weeks we'll be taking daughters and granddaughters for a week's vacation on the New Jersey shore. We'll be going to the same community we've been going to for the past ten years, where we've built memories, created crafts items that we all still use, and given the sisters and the cousins a chance to spend time with each other in a setting where people can pretty much come and go as they please since we're close enough for everyone to walk alone to the beach. Every time we talk about doing something else for the week, we can never come up with anything we like as well."

Now that you have heard lots of good ideas for low cost vacations and Staycations, plan to get out there this summer and enjoy yourselves!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Staycations and Vacations

All week we have been focusing on how Sandwiched Boomers and others can keep down the costs of a summer vacation by taking a home-centered "Staycation." With the funds you save by not taking a full-blown family vacation, you can add in some more expensive side trips. You can visit a theme park, if there is one near you. Pack in as much as you can for a fun filled time - rides, shows, food, shopping.

Or visit a zoo, aquarium or water park that offers shows for the kids. They'll learn first hand about the habitats and lifestyles of many species.

You can drive to a lake or the ocean and can spend a day or two with the family enjoying the vastness of the waterscape, the warmth of the sand, the sound of the waves crashing, the smell of sunscreen, the open blue sky.

Or drive to the hills or mountains for full days of hiking and camping in the simple beauty of nature. Park Rangers may be available to give you all informative talks about the flora and fauna you are seeing.

Put yourself in the picture. To read more about how Sandwiched Boomers can plan special vacations with all three generations, click on the title above to take you to our website, and our article, "Creating Special Family Vacations for the Sandwich Generation."

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Staycations Tips for Grown-Ups

Yesterday we looked at staycation ideas you can enjoy with the whole family. Most of them work just as well for you alone - visiting museums, libraries, community events or enjoying the great outdoors. Here are some additional ideas, just for grown-ups.

See a local theater production. Community playhouses often have revivals of classics, musicals or innovative avant guard shows. You can explore small theaters in your city or line up for rush, discounted tickets at the more well-established ones.

Create a summer book club. Talk with some friends who also love to read about setting up your own book club. You can pick "beach books" for the summer, decide to re-read some classics, choose best-selling non-fiction, select beautifully written novels or settle on award-winning titles. The choice is up to you. Your weekly or monthly discussion groups will be interesting and fun for everyone.

Schedule potluck evenings with your friends. Everyone can pitch in with the food preparation to keep down the costs and create a diverse menu. Bring the recipes to share and you've each got new dinner ideas to use during the coming year. Capping off your dinner parties with group games will keep your friends in a good mood.

Look for public tours of civic buildings and corporate businesses. Educational tours of government offices and companies are sometimes available in the summer. You can view beautiful art work and even learn about what goes on behind usually-closed doors.

Start a new hobby. Summer might be just the right time to finally get going on that new interest that has been percolating on the back burner. Have you wanted to start a family tree? Now, take the time to get on the Internet and start researching. Organize your snapshots? Get out those photos and arrange them in an attractive scrapbook or e-book. Learn about the universe and star gazing? Visit a planetarium or observatory - or the library.

Book a romantic getaway. Schedule a joint massage for you and your partner at a local spa. Take a day cruise or a short train ride - just you two. Splurge and stay at a nearby bed and breakfast. You'll find that the time alone refreshes your relationship as well as yourselves.

Visit us at and check in tomorrow here at for more special staycation tips.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Family Staycations

With the effects of the recession hitting government agencies as well as individual families, are you wondering where to turn for help entertaining your kids this summer? In California, the situation is especially difficult. Summer school has been cancelled throughout most of the state and various state parks are also closing. City and county governments are cutting down on the hours certain services are provided, as are municipal governments. So if you need to engage your children this summer, here are some tips for you:

Make good use of your local library. The hours may be cut somewhat but the library is still a good source for hours of fun for the kids. With a library card, you can check out not only books but also DVD's and CDs, rather than buying them. In addition, many libraries are still sponsoring programs that are both informative and interesting for the whole family.

Check out all of the museums in your area. Many of them will likely have admission-free days, particularly for local residents. Plan you schedule around these days so that you can introduce your children to art, history, nature, music and crafts. The bonus is that you will learn something too from these visits and enjoy the time you spend there.

Go outside with the kids. You can get maps of your community and hike in the hills or walk in areas you haven't explored before or bike in the flats around a lake. A trip to the community swimming pool is fun for everyone. Plan to picnic on the grass at home or have an overnight camp out in your own backyard.

Keep your eye out for free concerts in the park and community festivals. Check the local papers for notices about events near you. You and the kids can informally experience all kinds of happenings and ethnic celebrations, maybe for the first time.

Have family game nights. Charades are fun for everyone but you can also pick games based on your children's ages. Younger children will enjoy team games like Jr. Pictionary and On Stage while older ones may prefer Scrabble or Monopoly. If you prefer one-on-one games like chess, you can set up family tournaments.

Do some cooking or baking together. It's always fun to hang out in the kitchen together, even in the summer. Make some tried and true favorites like chocolate chip cookies or teach the kids some of your old family recipes. Instead you all might enjoy finding a new recipe that sounds interesting and trying it together for the first time.

You probably have your own great ideas to add to these suggestions. Let us hear from you about your staycation plans for this summer, Sandwiched Boomer or not, and we'll share them with our readers. Click on the Comment link below. And to read more about Staycations, clink on the Title above.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Taking Staycations in this Economic Environment

With the summer solstice arriving this past weekend, we can now officially be in summer vacation mode. With the most time between sunrise and sunset, we have more daylight hours to spend with our families. But with the unemployment rate above 11% in California and many other states and the recession not showing signs of an early end, everyone feels the need to cut back on expenses. The Auto Club estimates that the traditional vacation in the U.S. costs an average of $244 per day for two people just for lodging and meals. With plane fare, the kids' expenses and other costs thrown in, the price of a weeklong family vacation could reach $10,000.

So how do you enjoy the summer months without draining your funds? This week we will focus on tips to help you take advantage of free and low-cost alternatives to expensive summer activities - the emerging trend of "staycations." Planning and taking a real staycation gets you out of your everyday rut and creates memories for your family in flux to share through the year.

For some great tips on how to plan a "staycation" for your family this summer, read our article entitled "6 Tips for Sandwiched Boomers Planning Summer Staycations." When you click on the title above, you will be directly linked to it on our website, Remember to tune in tomorrow for specific activities for the kids, and on Wednesday for more adult-rated themes. We'll round out the week with feedback from you about the best staycations you have taken. So share your stories here through our "Comment" link.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Honoring Our Dads on Father's Day

We end our week dedicated to improving our understanding of the men in our lives by thinking about fathers. Traditional wisdom tells us that, especially in the past, they were less involved with parenting than mothers. But, looking back at our own childhoods, we recognize that we've gotten so much from them. They taught us how to do things, how to accomplish our goals, and especially how to feel cherished.

Usually they would teach by playing - at first by throwing us up in the air as babies, later by hitting a tennis ball back and forth or teaching us chess moves or how to dive - or any number of other activities we loved to do with them. And even if they didn't communicate as well verbally as our mothers did, they let us know how proud of us they were. As we grew and matured, our relationship changed but the bond of their love was always a constant.

To read more about how the connection with our fathers is transformed as they age, click on the title above to take you to our website, It links you to our article, "How to Shift from Daddy's Girl to Dad's Caregiver." As a Sandwiched Boomer, we hope you will find the tips there helpful in caring for your aging father.

This weekend, if you can, let Dad know how much you appreciate the role he has played in your upbringing. If your father is no longer alive, share stories about him with your children and grandchildren so they will know the kind of man he was. And a very Happy Father's Day to all the men in our lives.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Intimate Relationships We Share with Men

With the divorce rate continuing to hover around 50%, understanding between the sexes is worth the effort it takes from both partners. Encouraging love and forgiveness can sometimes be difficult when men and women tend to cope with the stresses between them differently. While women generally feel more comfortable talking with their spouses about what is bothering them, men often withdraw and pull away to think about - rather than talk about - the issues. This can lead to each making mistakes in the way they interpret each other's actions. The woman may believe that her husband isn't at all interested in looking at the problem while the man may think that his wife is only concerned with complaining about it and that it is so bad it can't be fixed.

When you have a better understanding of your partner's behavior and what motivates him to act as he does, you can begin to consider new ways of responding. Respect his need for distance while still letting him know that you are ready to start a dialogue whenever he is. Once that door is open, learning how to identify your feelings and ask each other for support may be the first steps in resolving the differences between you.

To learn more about how to enjoy and share a close relationship, click on the title above. It takes you to our website,, and our article, "Avoiding Infidelity: 8 Tips to Keep Partners Faithful." And you can find more of our tips about marriage and divorce on Simply click on the link on the left and look for articles by Her Mentor Center.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Men at Work - More than Just a Sign

Linguist Deborah Tannen has written numerous books about the conversational styles of women and men, in families and at work. According to Tannen, problems can occur, especially in a job setting where the members are not as knowledgeable about each other, when men and women don't understand the rituals that define each other's approach.

Women, even in a work setting, generally use conversational strategies that are considerate and sensitive to the other person's feelings, even when giving negative feedback. Demonstrating an emphasis on getting the job done without "flexing their muscles," women tend to downplay authority. Men who are not familiar with this strategy may see them as less confident and competent - and act on that assumption. At the same time, men are more inclined to use oppositional strategies - such as banter, putdowns, teasing - that avoid them being placed in a one-down position. The problem here is that women may then see men who behave this way as hostile and arrogant. All of this makes for pretty complicated communications!

Any of this sound familiar to you? If so, perhaps the next time you find yourself in this kind of situation, either at work or at home, don't take it personally. Recognize that the guy - colleague, boss, supervisee, partner, brother, spouse - isn't reacting to you alone. It's just his way. After all, we know how men hate to ask anyone for directions. They seem to be embarrassed by their need for help and see it as a loss of power. The more you understand the motivations behind their behavior, the easier it is for you to get along with and enjoy the men in your life.

To read the opinions of some men about their relationships with women over the years, click on the title above. It will take you to our website, and an article there, "Point of View: The Male Boomer and Long-Term Relationships."

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Competition and Cooperation

Yesterday, in honor of Father's Day, we started a blog series about how to better understand the men in our lives. We looked at how their conversations often revolve around how to fix things, solve a problem, accomplish a goal - that is, when they're not about the score of the latest, or a classic old, game.

Visiting this week with our three young grandsons, it is easy to see how this focus develops early. As we watch them play together, and play with them, it is striking how many of their activities involve competition. Playing H-O-R-S-E on the garage basketball net or hockey in the basement with makeshift goals or baseball at the park - it's mostly about winning, being the best, outperforming the others. Even when we are working together building electric circuits, their need to "be first" - at each and every step - often overwhelms their interest in learning how to create something new. There's no denying that each of the boys seem to feel the need to be at the top of the food chain - it's almost as it their confidence and self-worth depend on it.

We women attempt to socialize the boys and encourage them toward cooperation. But, in most cases, their default is to treat each other as rivals to be beaten. Boys' play tests their abilities to relate to one another through competition as they vie for position. More concrete than girls, they don't generally share their emotions. When they do, usually it's anger and hurt that spill out in response to some slight. Tomorrow, we'll look at how these early differences are reflected in our on-going relations with other males every day.

To read more about grandchildren and our bonds with them, click on the title above to take you to an article on our website,, entitled "Create Meaningful Bonds with Your Grandchildren Across the Miles."

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Men in Our Lives

Last week, we enjoyed Amy Dickinson's visit to our blog and her look at the important role women in her family - "The Mighty Queens" - have played. Now, with Father's Day just a week away, we turn our focus toward the men in our lives - fathers, brothers, husbands, lovers, sons, teachers, grandsons, even colleagues - and consider our relationships with them. We play a vital role in nourishing "our men" and are nourished by them as well. But how much do we really understand them?

John Gray has written about communication problems between men, from Mars, and women, from Venus, encouraging both to come together, celebrate their differences and understand one another. Gray describes men as "Mr. Fix-it," ready to offer solutions to problems without necessarily listening to the whole story and validating the feelings behind them. Women, on the other hand, are more attuned to talking about what is bothering them and are more likely to feel loved and cherished when the men in their life connect with them in this way. These different styles of communication can also mirror different needs for intimacy. Gray describes men as "rubber bands," who draw close and then pull away in their expressions of love. This snapping back and forth can leave women confused and hurt.

So how do we gain understanding of "the guys" and learn how to get what we need from them? Stay tuned in this week as we look at positive ways to experience the men around us. And, to learn more about how men in long-term relationships view communication, click on the title above to take you to an article on our website,, entitled "Father's Day, Boomer Men and Communication."

Tomorrow we start by taking a deeper look at how differences begin early in children's development.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Amy Dickinson Responds to NourishingRelationships' Readers

Plenty of nourishing relationships' readers and sandwiched boomers tuned in yesterday to take part in our interview with Amy Dickinson. We had a spirited discussion with Amy, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them. Our thanks to Amy for being so generous with her time.

You can still read all of the responses, in full, through yesterday's "comments" link at the bottom of the post. Here's a sampling.

Several Readers had concerns relating to their teenagers:

"I too have a daughter and to get a vote of approval like you did from Emily would shock the hell out of me. She’s only 15 so what you say gives me hope."

"I'm raising two teenage sons alone and sometimes I get frustrated and discouraged. What gives you the strength besides the women in your life?"

"I loved how you get to the heart of the emotion in your book. Your daughter has been in college for a couple of years now, I think - mine will be leaving in a few months. A few words of wisdom?"

Amy's thoughtful replies:

I struggle for words of wisdom about letting a child go when its time to go to college, except to say that if everybody has done their job and the relationship is good and solid, I think it’s easier to let go. I miss my girl but, well, she's happy and as a parent that has always been one of my goals. And we write letters back and forth, which has been nice for us.

I guess I get my strength, if you could call it that, from my faith and my sense of humor, from friends, and from the occasional bottle of wine and box of kleenex. Sometimes, like Scarlett O'Hara, you just have to tear down the drapes and make yourself a new dress. Enlist your sons in the effort to help them raise themselves. And make them help you with the dishes.

Another reader, a nurse asks:

"You write about such serious subjects in your advice column, like the woman today whose classmate attempted to rape her. Do you ever find it hard to leave your work at the office? I'm a critical care nurse and it's often hard for me to clear my head and relax."

Amy here:

It is very hard to leave some of these painful topics behind at the end of the day --especially when a kid writes in with a serious problem. But I'm reminded of something Ann Landers' former editor told me. Ann's words of wisdom on this were something like, "I try to remember that these people's problems aren't my problems. I've got my own problems." That helped. And as a nurse of course you know that in order to do your job, you need to be rested and as non-stressed as possible. Thank you for the important work you do.

Others made comments that reflect Amy's experience as well as their own:

"Having so many wonderful and supportive women around you is a gift. Not all women have that, but for those who don't, creating their own circle is so important. It took me too many years to realize that.

"The energy of women together is always a wonder to behold. How great for you and your daughter to have had that support. I have not read your book therefore ask if your daughter was exposed to any positive male influences as well?"

"Now that your book has been published, is there anything that you would change? Did you omit something that you would include if you were submitting your work for publishing today?"

"I found the interview enlightening and affirming of the wisdom of caring, supportive women. Common sense, sincere interest and the perfect balance of honesty, sensitivity and tact are your hallmarks, Amy. Thank you for sharing that each day in your column. I look forward to reading your book!"

Amy here:

Answering the question about whether I would change anything in my book -- honestly I don't think I would. It's not perfect, but mainly I feel like I said what I set out to say. I feel it's honest and heartfelt, quirky and charming. I still like it when I read it, so that's probably a good sign. Thanks for asking.

Amy mentioned this morning that she's working on another book and appreciates the support of readers -- "this is one of those books that women are passing around and sharing with one another, and that makes me so proud and happy!" Click on the title above to go directly to Amy's website.

If you want more of these sort of events, please add your comments here or email us at And visit our website by clicking on the first link on the left below, "Her Mentor Center."

You can sign up for our newsletter, Stepping Stones, by clicking on the link below marked "FREE Newsletter." We publish a monthly newsletter that focuses on helpful strategies for coping with personal and family issues. Our May newsletter gave tips on how mothers-in-law can improve their relationships and learn from President Obama's MIL. Our June Stepping Stones highlighted how Susan Boyle, an unlikely role model, can be a guide to an emphasis on inner beauty and nourishing oneself.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Ask Amy" Talks with Sandwiched Boomers

Today we are delighted to welcome advice columnist Amy Dickinson to our blog for sandwiched boomers. Amy is the author of “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them.” In her book, according to, Amy “comes across very much as you'd expect an advice columnist to: smart, humorous, common-sensical, not prone to deep self-analysis and - despite having lived in London and Chicago and worked in New York as a television producer - a passionate proponent of small-town American values.” Now see for yourself:

Nourishing Relationships: Why did you write this book, Amy?

Amy Dickinson: I’m a syndicated advice columnist (“Ask Amy”), and by far the most common question I’m asked when people meet me is “How do you know what to say to people?” People are understandably curious about my qualifications to tell others what they should do.

My book is the answer to the question of how I know what I know. It tells the lessons of a life spent watching, doing, and learning from my own mistakes - and I’ve made plenty of those. I didn’t go to school to become an advice columnist (I was an English major), but I have been well-schooled in the fields of relationships, marriage, divorce, and raising my daughter Emily as a single mom. I’ve been in debt and clawed my way out. I’ve picked up and moved households several times. I have been on too many bad blind dates.

Fortunately for me, I haven’t had to take my winding journey alone. Along with my daughter Emily, I am blessed to be from a large family of funny, inspiring, and opinionated women. These are the women Emily christened the “Mighty Queens,” and these are the people who helped teach me what I know.

Rather than write an “advicey” book, I decided to tell my own story. In the course of writing the book, I returned to live in my little home town of Freeville, New York. After living in London, New York, Washington DC and then Chicago, coming home to a village of 458 people has been an adjustment and a joy.

NR: What’s the downside to writing a memoir?

AD: It’s always a challenge and a risk to tell a deeply personal story. And because my own story is littered with incident - many comic, but some sad or serious - the decision to lay it all out there was not taken lightly. Sometimes I cried as I wrote, and sometimes I laughed out loud - and readers tell me that they respond to my book with the same range of emotions I felt while writing it.

I was inspired not only by my own story, but by the many people who write in to me for advice. My readers share with me their deepest dilemmas and their saddest life stories. They also reveal a stunning goofiness from time to time. I share many qualities with the people who trust me enough to write to me for advice, and I wanted to demonstrate that it isn’t necessary to be perfect to live a perfectly good life.

My biggest concern was not about my own privacy, but that of my family’s, because their story intersects with mine. If there is a downside to writing a memoir, it is the fear that I somehow wouldn’t be able to honor other people’s sensitivities. My family is still speaking to me. Of course, it would be very challenging for them to stop speaking - to me or anyone - because we’re big talkers and don’t shut up easily.

NR: How have people you wrote about responded to the book?

AD: “The Mighty Queens of Freeville” has created quite a sensation locally - and otherwise - and local people tell me they scan the book for their own presence in it. One person I went to high school with and mentioned in the book was not happy about her presence in my story, but otherwise it has gone very well. My family members have all been amused by their new-found celebrity and I think they’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice, once in awhile, to be able to cut to the front of the line at Dunkin Donuts.

Most importantly, the two women in my life who are central to my story - my daughter and my mother, Jane, have offered their hearty approval. Emily is now a sophomore in college and when others ask her if she’s mortified that her mom wrote about her, she has responded to them - and to me - that she is proud. My mom said I “got things right,” which is very high praise coming from a woman who led a very tough life, but has almost always gotten things right, herself.

NR: How has the book impacted your life?

AD: I didn’t set out to inspire people. My goal was to tell my own story. But my book has become one of those special books that women pass around to each other.

Every day I hear from people - women especially - who tell me that my story resonates with them and has inspired them to look at their own lives in a new way.

I receive letters addressed to me and sent to “Main Street, Freeville, NY” (I receive them all because it’s just that kind of town) telling me that mothers and daughters are sharing this book, talking about it in book groups, after church, or at the local diner. This is an incredibly gratifying surprise, and I absolutely love it. The themes of my own life - of learning from and laughing at one’s mistakes, women’s empowerment, small town values, and prevailing through tough times - are themes that run through many lives. Women see themselves in my story, and they are nice enough to tell me so.

I’ve also been busier than I thought possible, traveling around the country and meeting readers and book sellers. I’ve always been a reader and so meeting with and talking to other people who read has been a joy.

NR: Thanks so much for joining us today, Amy – and for your honesty and humor. Your tribute to some of our most important relationships is like a breath of fresh air.

We’re also grateful to all the readers and sandwiched boomers who have dropped by. Click on the title at the top of this post - that will take you to Amy's website where you can learn more about her and "the Mighty Queens of Freeville."

If you have questions for Amy - about the most valuable words of wisdom she's given her own daughter, how to find a support network of women, embarking on a new career as a single parent or even the process of writing such an intimate memoir - please click on "Comments" and let us hear from you. Log on again tomorrow - we’ll be summarizing your questions and Amy’s feedback.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Boomers, Retirement and New Possibilities

Retirement Finds a New Purpose

Out of the Ashes, New Possibilities - A new and, in some ways, more optimistic vision for retirement is emerging. 60% of Americans now say they view retirement to be "a new, exciting chapter in life" contrasted with 52% last year. And, 70% want to include working in retirement as a way to contribute, remain stimulated and pay the bills.
Sage Elders Needed - Three-quarters of all respondents think our country would benefit in important ways if retirees were more involved in contributing their valuable skills and experience to our communities, with the most enthusiastic response coming from retirees themselves (83%).
The Emergence of Philanthropreneuring - With growing interest in civic engagement, the majority (57%) of respondents would prefer a volunteer activity that makes use of their full range of work and life skills and experience - rather than basic service and support tasks.

According to Dr. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave: "There's no question that this past year has been a time of struggle and worry. At this point, most of us are taking a deep breath, assessing the damage and trying to figure out how to move forward. As we reviewed the results, we couldn't help reflecting that this study demonstrates the fortitude and resilience of our country as we re-think the funding, timing and purpose of retirement. Though the study uncovered anxiety and uncertainty necessitating shifting plans and priorities, it also revealed a hopeful outlook as a new, more engaged and sustainable model of retirement is being envisioned."

This concludes our review of the 'Retirement at the Tipping Point' study.

Please log on tomorrow for our Virtual Book Tour, featuring "Ask Amy" syndicated columnist, Amy Dickinson and her book, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them."

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Baby Boomers, Finances and Family Commitment

According to the research conducted by Age Wave, postponing retirement isn't the only issue Baby Boomers are grappling with as a result of the economic upheaval. Fiscal responsibility and commitment to family weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of those who participated in the study:

Needed: Financial Rehab

Lessons Learned - Only 4% of respondents strongly agree that Americans behave in a financially responsible fashion. 81% said that to "live within your means" was the most important financial advice parents could pass on to their children - jumping up from 69% a year ago. "Begin saving at an early age" came in second (65%).
A Call for Financial Fitness at Every Age - An overwhelming 95% of respondents agree that financial management should be a standard part of high school curricula. Although 35 states mandate sex education, only three - Utah, Tennessee and Missouri - have, to date, made personal finance courses a requirement.
Seeking Financial Peace of Mind - A majority of all survey participants (56%) agree that the best thing about having money is "feeling secure." In recent months, we have seen Americans go "back to basics" as evidenced by an increase in the savings rate, now over 4%, twice the savings rate over the past decade, and household credit card debt has dropped almost 10% from the prior year.

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

What We Value Most - The majority of respondents (58%) said that loving family and relationships are at the heart of what we hold most dear today - twice as important as being wealthy (33%) and twenty times more important than wielding power and influence (3%).
Brother Can You Spare a Dime (or $50,000, or a bedroom)? With growing uncertainty about both government benefits and work security, millions of men and women are turning back to their families for financial assistance.
The Sandwich Generation has Turned Into Multigenerational "Rubik" Families - Four out of ten respondents now worry they will have to financially support their parents or in-laws. This growing interdependence extends to siblings, with nearly a quarter of Millennials worrying they will need to provide care and support for siblings as well.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Baby Boomers, the Economy and Retirement

In early 2009, a study about the effects of the economy on retirement was initiated by Age Wave, a thought-leader on the baby boomer generation. Dr. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of the company, wrote about the results in an article for We’ll be sharing them with you over the next few days - we think you’ll find them interesting:

The current economic reckoning has created vast financial losses and uncertainty during the last year, triggering all generations to reassess the funding, timing and purpose of retirement. To learn precisely how this past year has altered Americans' retirement hopes, worries, and plans, Age Wave and Harris Interactive have surveyed thousands of Americans. The results uncovered mounting fears and shifting plans, but also a renewed focus on what's important and an optimistic outlook about the possibilities for retirees' new role in American life.

A new era of cautious self-reliance is emerging from a truly unnerving fiscal dilemma. For many people, their retirement dreams have vaporized. Each of the four generations polled is trying to alter its game plan in fascinating ways to seek peace of mind and to make the best of the years ahead. The study revealed 4 key illuminating findings:

Resetting the Retirement Clock

Seven-Year Money Setback - Nearly 60% of Americans have lost money in mutual funds, 401(k) plans, or the stock market. Respondents think it will take an average of seven years for their investments to recover.
Uncovered Medical Costs are the Retirement Wildcard - The single biggest worry among those 55+ is that they will be unable to afford uncovered medical expenses (46%). This is now a greater concern than either lack of personal savings (18%) or uncertain entitlements (11%).
Retirement Postponed - For the first time in U.S. history, we may witness a significant increase in the retirement age as respondents say on average they will now need to postpone retirement by 4.2 years - which will also adjust the "work-to-retirement ratio."

Log in tomorrow for more results from this timely study. And share some of your own thoughts about the economy's effects on you and your family.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Eliizabeth Edwards: The Value of Perspective and Resilience

The title of Elizabeth Edward's book is Resilience. We've spent the week looking at ways to increase your ability to bounce back in challenging circumstances. It's hard to really know what's going on in other peoples' lives. And, as Sandwiched Boomers, we all know that situations aren't always as they seem.

Is what Elizabeth Edwards is doing the best for her family and herself? Maybe not. Although you'd never know it from the media's emphasis, her husband's affair is only one part of her life story. Some say revenge is a dish best served in public. But she may be seeking something more profound than vengeance. Her breast cancer has metastasized and Edwards may be taking hold of the power she does have. Perhaps she's claiming something for herself - presenting the details of a life that mattered, on her own terms.

Perspective is valuable, whether you're hit in the face with a crisis, adjusting to changes in your family or making a transition into the next chapter of your life. A cascade of feelings is normal - anxiety, the desire to hold on, resentment, sadness, fear, even a sense of freedom. If, like Elizabeth Edwards, you have the fortitude to step back, take a deep breath and face the situation squarely, you can't help but grow from the challenges.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers, Support and Resilience

With the challenges she's facing, Elizabeth Edwards has got to be struggling on many levels. Studies indicate that support and resilience are significant factors related to stress reduction. As sandwiched boomers, with parents and children looking to you for guidance, you're likely no stranger to stress. Here are tips that may help you bounce back:

It's important to keep communication open and honest. You may not want to face what’s going on directly, hoping that everything will be OK. But this way of coping can look to others like you’re not interested. Try to talk things over before anyone in the family begins to feel upset, misunderstood or angry. Practice the conversational etiquette and active listening skills that you know well.

If you have negative feelings, consider whether you’re overly sensitive or easy to anger - and what that may be about. Express yourself and then let go of any resentment. Learn to forgive and to apologize for any mistakes you’ve made. Holding on just makes it worse for everyone involved.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tips to Help Sandwiched Boomers Cope

Through her toughest times, Elizabeth Edwards was a Sandwiched Boomer like you. And she probably used tips such as these to cope with her family issues. Let us know if they work for you:

If your aging parents are ailing or your growing children are struggling, you may be fearful of what could happen. It makes sense that you would pull back in order to protect yourself. Unfortunately emotional distancing can feel like rejection, further complicating the circumstances. Although talking about what you are afraid of isn’t easy, it can eventually bring you closer to your loved ones.

Remind yourself to look at what’s going on from others’ perspectives as well as your own. It’s painful to see family members feeling vulnerable or distressed, but try to put yourself in their shoes. Question whether how you’re handling the situation is more for their benefit or for yours. And figure out together what it is that you need from each other. Getting and giving support are crucial to building resilience.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sandwiched Boomers, Family Problems and Resilience

As Sandwiched Boomers, your issues may not be as dramatic as those of Elizabeth Edwards. But you're likely dealing with aging parents and growing children, perhaps marital problems or your own health concerns. Working through the impact of such changes is important to the well being of your family in flux and to yourself. Any crisis in the family is usually accompanied by heightened and mixed emotions. And finding ways to calm down and reconnect are important aspects of resilience.

What sort of effects do you experience in a family crisis? One reader emailed that she bounces back without too much effort: "That's not to say that things don't get me down, but I try to look on the positive side and I don't stay down for long."

When facing a difficult family situation, see if this tip can help you get your resilience going:

It's often hard to fathom what you have to give up when there are family problems. Is it feelings of control and invulnerability, your sense of identity or wellbeing, expectations of what the future will hold? Try to understand your complex emotions and then begin to explain the depth of them to those who care most about you.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

What Elizabeth Edwards can Teach Sandwiched Boomers about Resilience

As Sandwiched Boomers, I'm sure you already know a thing or two about resilience. But we want to add to your repetoire by posting some thoughts about what we can learn from Elizabeth Edwards.

Since her book, Resilience, was published, the media spotlight has been on Elizabeth Edwards' promotional tour. It's her husband's affair and how she's handling the aftermath that gets the most press coverage. And the pundits have been after her – some expressing compassion, others compassion fatigue. But it's the other life challenges she has faced that most symbolize her inner strength and resilience.

Personal pain - on display for all to see - has played out before in the political arena. But Elizabeth Edwards really does have something to say about handling adversity – she has suffered through the loss of her teenage son in a car accident, the recent death of her parents and her ongoing fight against cancer. And her decision to speak out is very complicated. Wanting to leave a legacy for her children is one reason to speak out in public. And with her courage as a role model, she's demonstrating to others that they can get through their pain.

While we're on the subject of role models, clicking on the title of this post will take you to our website,, and an article about lessons learned from Tim Russert.

Log in all week for tips about resilience. And share your ideas about how you bounce back when you're faced with tough situations.

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