Family Relationships

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

Friday, July 30, 2010

Families Rejoice in The National Parks

This week's nighttime bear attack on a campground outside of Yellowstone was a dramatic reminder of the power of these wild animals. Estimates are that about 125 grizzly and 500 black bears roam the backwoods in Yellowstone. Yet this unprovoked attack on humans was seen as aberrant behavior by the mother grizzy and her cubs. Rangers say that visitors have a one in 1.9 million chance of being attacked, as long as they follow all the established safety precautions.

So, taking care not to approach wild animals in the National Parks, here are two more tips to help you and your family get the most out of your visit:

Enjoy the people in your life. It's always fun to spend time in the great outdoors together - take a float trip down the rapids or a calm part of the river, make s'mores around a campfire, go for a nature walk with a forest ranger, take pictures of the wild flowers or just go for nice long walk together. Let your family know that their company is important to you.

Immerse yourself in the serenity of nature. Most of us react with awe and appreciation when in the presence of the majesty of nature. When you allow yourself the opportunity to soak in the beauty of your surroundings, you'll feel more centered and ready to face the challenges ahead of you on your return home.

For more tips about enjoying family vacations especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, visit our website, Her Mentor Center. You'll also find information there about purchasing Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success. It's available for download in PDF format.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Families Learn and Grow in the National Parks

Vice President Biden made news this week by visiting Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon with his daughter. Last year, President Obama brought his own family to these majestic national treasures. But you don't have to be a politician or a celebrity to enjoy "America's best idea," as Ken Burns dubbed the National Parks. Make a plan to spend time with your family in the great outdoors - be inspired, educated and motivated to protect our rich environment.

The last post encouraged you to engage in the world around you and find role models to inspire you. Here are two more tips to keep in mind:

Learn something new. The National Parks provide a unique and ideal environment for learning - whether it's about the geysers, hot springs, mudpots or fumaroles of Yellowstone, the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, the waterfalls and giant sequoias of Yosemite or the powerful landscape of the Grand Canyon. If you're more interested in the wildlife of the region, there are bald eagles, bison, bears, moose, elk, wolves to observe and study. The wildflowers and groves of trees can provide endless opportunities for education. Many national and state parks offer kids the chance to become Junior Rangers and you can follow up your visit by reading more about the history of the parks and the Native Americans who once roamed these lands.

Challenge yourself to take some risks. The parks present numerous opportunities to try activities that may be new to you - riding a mule on tenuous mountain paths, whitewater rafting down rapids, hiking up a rocky trail to a waterfall, camping out under the open skies, horseback riding through meadows. You'll find that the excitement of mastering a new skill carries over into a new sense of confidence in the rest of your life. And your children will love the new experiences.

To learn more tips about managing your challenges, especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, visit our website Her Mentor Center. And look for information about purchasing our ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success, which is available for download in PDF format.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Families Are Inspired in the National Parks

Given your limited budget this year, have you made any plans for summer vacation? For some Sandwiched Boomers, squeezed between caring for growing children and aging parents, the choices may be limited.

According to a recent poll, close to 80% of adults believe that family and friends are more important than possessions - in other words, relationships trump 'bling' in creating happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment of the American dream. So, in these tough financial times, families are still taking vacations together yet are managing to cut back on their spending. Many are accomplishing this feat by visiting the National Parks - figures show that attendance has been unusually high.

Whether or not you choose to visit the Parks, this week we'll focus on some ideas about what goals you can achieve by vacationing together. Your kids will grow from the experience and you'll all have fun together.

Engage in the world around you. Join with other families exploring the country or start by becoming more involved in your own community. What are your family's interests and passions? Hiking, history, nature, adventure, native plants and animals? You can learn more about them together and expand your universe at the same time.

Find role models to inspire you.. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum dreamed about creating a memorial to American heroes that would last through the ages. Beginning in 1927 he worked in the mountains of South Dakota, drilling and chiseling until by 1941 he had sculpted Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore, looking out onto the Black Hills and Badlands. These men reflect goals to strive for - courage, freedom, compassion and conservation, among others. And the nearby sculpture-in-progress, commemorating the Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, honors the richness of the Native American culture and the dignity of the tribal people.

If you are looking for more tips highlighting innovative ways to deal with the realities of the current economic situation, visit our website Her Mentor Center for information about our recent ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success, available to download in PDF format. And tune in again later this week for more suggestions for making the most of your family vacations.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Helicopter Parents Following Kids to College

Precisely who are these Helicopter Parents? They're the ones who pay such close attention to their children's experiences and problems that it's smothering. And when these over-protecting parents are fearful or worried and restrictive, their kids often become too dependent and doubt themselves. Over time, they don't have the life skills to assess risks, make decisions and take care of themselves.
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20: A police helicopter flies over the Sydney Harbour Bridge as HRH Prince William takes a jet boat ride on Sydney Harbour on the second day of his unofficial visit to Australia on January 20, 2010 in Sydney, Australia. HRH undertook numerous engagements during his 3 day Official visit to New Zealand, before arriving for a further 3 days in Australia yesterday. This is the second visit by the second-in-line to the throne, having been here at the age of 9 months with his parents in 1983. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
And what about the parents, themselves? This Washington Post article, written by sociology professor Dr. Margaret Nelson, is called Helicopter Moms Heading for a Crash. She says this parenting style, which she calls "highly personalized care," is extremely time consuming and emotionally demanding, sometimes at the expense of the rest of a busy mom's life.

Such over-parenting can produce children who experience a delayed adolescence and, when the time comes, are not ready to leave home. This can be particularly apparent during the transition from home to college life. Some professors and administrators describe parents' attempts to smooth out obstacles, to the extent that they play an active part in choice of college, roommate and classes.

You may want to look around, a site that offers all kinds of information and support related to college. The forums for parents contain extensive discussions about the pros and cons of parental involvement in this process.

Of course, we've all had situations where giving up control was an issue, and there can be a multitude of reasons - because protecting our kids becomes automatic over time, we think we know what's best for them, it's not easy to let go of old familiar roles. So if you find yourself hovering, not sure where to draw the line, some of these tips may help you back off:

Being too directive fosters reliance. You may want to be involved with their class assignments, extra curricular activities or job searches. But this is the time when developing decision-making skills is paramount to a strong sense of self.

As they make more of their own decisions, let them deal with the consequences. Be supportive as they negotiate roommate disputes and dating dilemmas. Learning how to cooperate, compromise and accept disappointment are all part of the college experience.

Technology makes it too easy to stay connected. If it feels satisfying to both of you, establish a middle ground. Let them know that you’re there if they really need you but don’t enable their dependency.

Be sure that parents' weekend is on your agenda.
During these activities, you'll be able to commiserate with other parents who understand how you're feeling. And meeting with the teachers and administrators is the best way to find out what's going on.

Discover what you feel passionate about. Follow your dream of changing jobs, going to school or volunteering. Join a hiking group or exercise class. Take up bridge or yoga. Now is the time to put you front and center for a change.

There are always two sides to every story. Here's an article from the new NBC website,, that speaks to the need for greater family support in tough economic times. So many adult children have college loans to repay or can't get a job and, according to recent statistics, more of them are moving home than leaving.

Apparently the 20s are the new adolescence and adult children are marrying later. The Today Show interviewed mom, Geri Brin, and her 31 year old son, Colby. She wants to play cupid and is taking a more active role in partner selection - and it's OK with him. She has added a dating component to her website, FabOverFifty. Although some may see that as meddling, Geri says she's just casting a wider net.

We've had a lot of fun this week, exploring separation and individuation within the family. Now it's your turn. Let us hear your thoughts, from helicopter parenting to free range kids and beyond - we know you're out there!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Abby Sunderland: A Free Range Kid

When 16 year old Abby Sunderland attempted to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, there was a lot of controversy - some called it reckless and accused her parents of child abuse. Others who think childhood quests are an endangered species applauded Abby's confidence, sailing prowess and sense of adventure.
Sailor Abby Sunderland (R) speaks at a news conference as she sits next to her brother Zac Sunderland in Los Angeles, California, June 29, 2010. Sunderland was rescued safely from her stricken yacht Wild Eyes in the remote southern Indian Ocean during an attempt to circumnavigate the world. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
You may be interested in learning more about Abby. Here MSNBC traces her journey through articles and video. And Abby talks about her love of the sea and sailing experience as well as her inspiration and motivation.

Who hasn't had dreams of wanderlust? When my husband was the surgeon on a naval aircraft carrier, and our children were toddlers, the three of us followed his ship along the Mediterranean for six months. Here's an article in Politics Daily that traces the history of young and older women who took a chance that resulted in a unique experience. Just like Abby and her parents, they likely weighed the risks and made a decision.

Parenting is about values. It can be a tough choice between assuring kids' safety and encouraging their independence. If you value self-reliance and independence, perhaps you would choose the free-range option. You may decide that you can live with the worry and that the risks are manageable. There is no right answer.

As your teenagers begin to drive and enjoy their newfound freedom, letting go may be harder than you thought. Are you having trouble cutting the apron strings? If you are still trying to protect them from life’s normal ups and downs, begin to take a step back by following these practical tips:

Remember what it was like for you growing up. How did you use your personal strengths and resources to become more self sufficient? Put some of these good ideas to work now. Give your growing kids emotional support but let them explore and learn for themselves.

Give up old habits of micromanaging. Modern technology makes it so easy to stay connected. But you have to let go sooner or later. When you continue to get worried or upset, you’re giving your children the message that you don’t trust they can handle life on their own.

Minimize your financial assistance. Sure, you need to take care of the basic necessities, but encourage your kids to take on more personal responsibility. Beginning in high school, insist that they get a part-time job and open a bank account. Pull back as they learn new time and money management skills.

Teach your children how to problem solve. Negative feelings are sometimes difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be more honesty and a renewed sense of trust. Help them learn to cooperate and compromise. Be flexible in resolving your family issues, as you see the situation from their perspective as well as from your own.

Here's an article from the growing child's perspective. In the Huffington Post, a young woman writes about how comfortable not leaving the nest can be, especially with ongoing financial support. She offers tips to parents about what may motivate their children to move on. Isn't your ultimate goal for them to be on their own?

If you want to read more about how to reach your goals, please join the email list to the left of this post. You can receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and download a free ebook about courage. And if you're wrestling with some of these family issues yourself, how about weighing in?

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Is Raising Free Range Kids Irresponsible or Brave Parenting?

How to parent has always been a hot topic and there are plenty of self help books, full of instructions. Well over 40 years ago parenting expert, Dr. Haim Ginott, referenced a client who described his mother as a helicopter, hovering over him. And the term 'Helicopter Parenting' was defined as an ineffective parenting style in the 1990 book, Parenting with Love and Logic: Teaching Children Responsibility.

Journalist Lenore Skenazy has recently put this subject, once again, in the limelight. She set her 9-year-old son free by himself in the New York City subways and then wrote an article that created a lot of controversy. Her book, Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry is based on her actions as a parent and the public reactions about what a terrible mother she was.
Girl Ready to Travel
Skenazy has a term for those who buy into a money-making market aimed at parents and driven by fear - she calls it 'parental mania.' She now has quite a following and you can read about what she and her fans have to say on her blog, Free Range Kids.

Parenting at its best combines a gentle delivery but firm conviction. Not always easy. And as your kids want more freedom, you may find it's hard to let go. How do we decide when to allow our kids to go places alone? How old is old enough? And how much protection is overprotection? These are hard questions, to be sure. Read this blog post by Jennifer Gresham, a new mom who is trying to figure it all out. And then begin to step back from your growing kids by following these practical tips:

Let your kids make some decisions on their own. In the beginning, these can be as simple as yogurt or nuts for snack, alloted screen time after breakfast or before dinner. It will make them feel more involved, confident and prepared to make choices as they get bigger. It’s been said before, but experience is a great teacher.

Resist taking on chores that now should fall to them. These too can start small. As much as putting their clothes in the laundry, setting the table and making their beds have been part of your job description so far, it may now be time to pass the baton.

Focus on their positive qualities. Think of reasons to support their evolving ideas as they begin to feel better about expressing themselves. And remember that another part of their training right now is to learn about the joys and responsibilities of more freedom and independence.

Practice open and honest communication.
Talk out any conflicts or misunderstandings. Use the same conversational etiquette that you would with anyone else you care about and respect. Teach your kids active listening skills and sending I-messages - it's a gift that will last a lifetime.

Of course, there is no one right way to parent. But growing children need to learn to rely on their own instincts and independent problem solving. Instead of overprotecting them, let's get back to teaching children how to safely take risks and take care of themselves.

Want to read a delightful article by Roger Ebert? It's in the Chicago Sun Times, entitled Remember When - and has over 350 comments. Log on the rest of the week as we further explore this subject using, as examples, sailor Abby Sunderland and's matchmaking service for her 31 year old son.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Complimentary Ebook on How to Reach Your Goals

Perhaps there's a goal you've wanted to reach for a long time - start a small business, rekindle an old friendship, run a 5K?
At the starting line
When you think about working toward a goal and the inevitable changes that go along with that, you may wonder:

How do I access my strengths?
What can help me grow?
Who will I be then?

If you want answers to these questions, sign our email list to the left, just below this post. And accept these gifts from us - receive our free monthly email newsletter, Stepping Stones, and download our free Ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals.

In this Ebook, you'll find stories about people whose names you probably recognize - Captain Sully Sullenberger, Susan Boyle, Senator Ted Kennedy - as well as practical tips about drawing on your own strengths to create the life you want. Try them on and see how they can work for you.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Sleep-away Camp: Prepares You for the Empty Nest

The longer your kids are at sleep-away camp - and with more time for yourself – are you developing a different perspective? Not having to orchestrate their daily activities or worry about their self esteem, you may be realizing that your protective instincts keep you on edge.
Pensive woman sitting on jetty
Time apart can help you re-evaluate your role as mother. And when the kids come home, you may be ready to start back on a different footing - perhaps expect them to be more responsible and do their chores without being told. After all, camp is a maturing experience. And although you want to treasure the growing up years, it's never too early to help your kids build strengths and skills that will lead to independence.

This newfound freedom you've discovered, after years of non-stop mothering, may very well have given you a taste of what the empty nest can be. This article from the NBC website,, offers tips for soon to be empty nesters - because you, too, need to prepare for greater selfhood.

There was a recent segment on the Today Show about how you can love your children and hate your life. Dr. Gail Saltz discusses how raising perfect children has become a competitive sport, complete with pressure to succeed and guilt about not doing enough. Watch this video. And then commit to nurturing yourself as well as your kids:

Enjoy your family. Bring humor into your daily life and laugh together. Discovering activities that are new to all of you allows each of you to enjoy the process without being critical or competitive. You can laugh at your errors as you learn together.

Use cooperation and compromise. Be flexible in resolving your family issues. Negative feelings are difficult to face head-on, but the rewards can be more honesty and a renewed sense of trust. Resist holding on to resentment - learn to forgive and to apologize for your own mistakes.

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

Build basic trust and loyalty. If you are devoted to your children and to your marriage, your behavior will reflect this deep commitment. Knowing that you are dedicated to the needs of your family can give you the confidence to pursue your own personal goals out in the world.

Work to create balance.
Once you have decided what you want for yourself, let your priorities determine what is realistic. And go for it! Know that you may vacillate between enthusiasm about your new plans and sadness about what you are leaving behind.

Sleep-away camp can be life changing for your children and for you. Embrace it. And as you welcome your children home from camp, be grateful for their wellbeing. July is National Make a Difference for Children Month. Why not celebrate your kids' homecoming and set an example by giving back as a family to children in need. What could be better for everyone?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sleep-away Camp: Great for Sandwiched Boomers and Their Marriage

Believe it or not, sleep-away camp can be the best thing for you and your marriage. If you're a member of the Sandwich Generation, your life is likely full of responsibility - caring for parents growing older and kids growing up. When was the last time you luxuriated in time alone with your partner?
Now that your kids are successful nestled into camp life, it's your turn. Here are some tips that may help you ease into the comfort and excitement of a totally adult relationship.

Invest in each other. In a family with active children and demanding careers, it's the marriage that usually ends up on the back burner. Make efforts now to develop your relationship, just as you would any valuable asset. Feel more treasured as the emotional dividends grow.

In a article, here's how one mom describes her metamorphosis when she sends her 9 year old son to sleep-away camp for the first time.

Give the gift of time. Focus on each other by planning activities you'll both enjoy. Exercise together - rent a bicycle built for two or take a hike in the mountains. Stretch it out and take a long cut. Or sneak away - leave work early and meet at a museum or enjoy a picnic lunch at the park. Be spontaneous and mysterious - surprise each other and be free with your affection.

Want some more ideas to try out? Happily married readers of share their wisdom about how they keep their love light burning.

Act like kids and laugh a lot. In your daily routine when the kids are home you inevitably get bogged down with meals, laundry, work, bills. It can get stressful, and boring. Whole days go by where you just worry and totally forget to laugh. It's emotionally healthy to let off steam. Now you can be more playful - do something fun, silly or out of the ordinary. It'll force you to remember who you are at your core and remind your partner of why he fell in love with you.

Create romance and intimacy. More of this has likely been on your 'to do' list for a long time, so here's your chance to make it happen. No need now to pencil it in or make love on the run. Cook dinner together, turn on the music, light candles and share that bottle of wine you've been saving for a special occasion.

Sex in marriage can be complicated. Gain more clarity through this article in the Wall Street Journal that explores the relationship between sex, love, desire and arousal. And remember to practice what you've learned.

Time flies, so stay in the moment and enjoy each other. Before you know it the kids will be coming home. And what you've created with your partner during these few weeks will be a distant memory to savor when life, once again, is full of interruptions.

We want to hear from you. Click on 'Comments' at the bottom right-hand corner of this post. Ask questions, share your ideas. And log on Friday for more tips about how to keep a family camp-like feeling all year round.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Sleep-away Camp: Ambivalence for the Kids and You

My first memories are of Girl Guide camp in Canada, where we slept in tents and cooked our meals over an open fire. After many experiences at camp, I met my husband when we were both counselors in the mountains of North Carolina. And camp has been a family tradition ever since.

What about you? Just as you're settling into the lazy days of summer, are you shifting gears to get the kids ready for sleep-away camp? If this is a first, there may be ambivalent feelings all around. In new situations, there are many unknowns, and it's easy to let them get the best of you. Yet camp can be a great opportunity for kids to develop their independence, strengths and interests. 'Camp is full of possibilities,' says one dad who is savoring memories as his sons talk about their summer at camp.
NIZHNY NOVGOROD REGION, RUSSIA. JUNE 27, 2010. A girl leaves for a summer camp. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Denis Rusinov) Photo via Newscom
But, like any new experience, the anticipation leading up to departure can cause anxiety for your kids and for you. Because you focus so much on their needs, it may be hard to step back and not worry: What if the girls in her bunk are mean to her? What if he doesn't shower regularly? Perhaps you'll find it easier to let go if you feel your kids are well prepared. So after you check off the items on the packing list, sew the labels in all their clothes and give instructions about reapplying sunscreen and staying hydrated, read this. Here the Centers for Disease Control provides tips for kids to stay safe and healthy at camp.

You know your kids and what will set their minds at ease. Talking to others about the fun times of camp can be reassuring to a child who's not sure what to expect. Perhaps if they're aware that feeling lonely the first couple of days is normal, they won't be surprised if it happens. Why not write a letter that will be waiting for them at camp, as well as pack a special item from home, so they'll realize that you're thinking about them? And know that the counselors will help them get into the flow of the program. This PBSkids article sheds light on the subject of homesickness.

See this as the first day of the rest of your family life. At camp your kids will gain confidence while making new friends and developing lifelong skills. Trust that they can take care of themselves. In this article about how to love your kidults by letting go, the focus is on emerging adult children. Consider that you're getting a head start - today sleep-away camp, tomorrow college!

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Friday, July 09, 2010

Aging vs. Growing Old: It's Complicated

When growing children are acting out, some may say, "Act your age." But it's more complicated when Sandwiched Boomers are trying to figure out exactly what that means for them.
Boston Legal actress Betty White comes makes her strolls around Los Angeles, California on March 9, 2010. White, always the animal lover, stops to pet a dog. White recently confirmed that she will be hosting Saturday Night Live after the success of fan led facebook campaign. Fame Pictures, Inc

Is age set by the calendar? By your experiences? By how you look? By how you feel physically? By how others define you? By how you think about things? By your vision for the future?

All this week, we've been talking about how to stay young as we age healthfully, but is that too simplistic? Let's look today at some of the complexities involved in setting and reaching that goal.

Don't go overboard in holding on to a past definition of yourself.
The new NBC website, Life Goes Strong, focusing on boomers, has an interesting take on how other family members may react when they see you grabbing on to your past image and refusing to let go. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to feelings of embarrassment when you try too hard to look and act like them.

Seek help when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
We were recently interviewed by the Healthy Place website about how to deal with stress and trauma in your life. You'll find a discussion in the video there about both the symptoms of stress and some of our tips tips about coping with it. And you'll find additional suggestions in articles on our website about how to better nourish yourself.

Include others in setting goals for your future. This may mean those close to you or reaching out to a wider community. A well-know religious leader stays youthful by involving himself with family, friends and the world at large. Betty White, with her lifelong concern for animals and her work advocating for them, has continued to dedicate herself to animal welfare. Draw on your connections to stay involved as you continue your life.

For more tips for aging gracefully, visit our website Her Mentor Center and scroll through some of our articles. And don't forget the sunscreen when you are out enjoying the summer!

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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Aging vs. Growing Old: It Doesn't Depend on the Calendar

Lifetime Achievement Award winner Betty White is in the news again.
Actress Betty White appears backstage with her Lifetime Achievement Award at the 16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on January 23, 2010. UPI/Jim Ruymen
It seems she is following the advice for staying young we gave you earlier this week: cultivate humor in your daily life; hang out with your peers; find the time to interact with younger friends too.

This time, she has jumped into the fray of those making predictions about the future of NBA basketball star LeBron James.

White has joined with her adopted city of Cleveland, hoping to entice LeBron to stay with the Cavaliers for another season. As she teases him in this clip with her Hot in Cleveland costars, she can make it worth his while to stay! At 88 (and ½ as Betty proudly declares), White is the poster child for reminding us to throw away the calendar when we are talking about age.

So here are some more tips for today about aging without growing old:

Work with what you've got to stay in shape. Start slowly, perhaps walking with a friend or exercising on your own. When you're ready, look for a fitness center that has classes for all levels of physical ability - ranging from salsa hi-impact aerobics through belly dancing, stretch classes, and water aerobics to chair classes and tai chi for balance. That way you'll be able to challenge you body no matter where you're starting - and have fun in the process. And incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine will help you feel younger.

Set goals for yourself and do something meaningful. Research shows that people who are sociable, generous, and goal-oriented are generally happier and healthier than other people. Think about what kinds of activities bring you the most satisfaction and plan how you can get more involved and spend more time doing them. You may want to look for places to volunteer in your community through Senior Corps or America's Natural and Cultural Resources Volunteer Portal. Or contact your local school or community center to for opportunities to mentor or tutor children. Sharing your wisdom with others will bring a spring into your step and joy into your life.

Although studies have found that there may be a gene for long life, you don't have to worry about the calendar, even if you're a Sandwiched Boomer. Instead, enjoy your age whatever it is and follow this week's tips to feel as young as you can.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Aging vs. Growing Old: Betty White as a Role Model

A real standout this summer on TV - amidst all the youthful faces or wanna' be's botoxed, lifted, heavily made-up ones - has been Betty White on the new sitcom Hot in Cleveland. As Betty said in a recent episode, "I had to wait until I was 88 to learn I had game." Paired with blind date Carl Reiner, also 88, the two personified the goal of aging without growing old.

How does she do it?

With the population of older adults growing, the percentage of adults over 65 is projected to grow from the current number of 12% to 19% of Americans in the next twenty years. Given this expected exponential growth, the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has compiled numerous reports providing the results of current research and suggestions for achieving healthy aging.

If you're looking for some ideas about how to age without getting old, we've got some tips for you this week. Here are three to get you started - using Betty White as your role model:

Cultivate humor in you daily life. Enjoy some belly laughs, even if the joking is aimed at you. Be playful, have fun and do something silly for a change. If you don't have friends with a good sense of humor, watch a comedy movie or TV show, read the newspaper "funnies," get a book of jokes. The more pleasure you bring into your surroundings, the happier you will feel. You may even be increasing your lifespan and improving your health, indicates the National Institute on Aging.

Hang out with your peers. You'll find, like Betty and Carl did, that you have lots of shared memories and can relate to the same music, references and events. Studies show that, even though it's heartwarming to spend time with your adult children and grandchildren, active seniors sometimes prefer relating to others in their own cohort. To meet new friends with similar interests, contact your local university or community center for a schedule of their life-long learning opportunities.

Find the time to interact with younger friends too.
You'll enjoy their different perspectives and the challenges they may open up to you. If you share the same interests and hobbies, the fact that you are from different generations is less important than what you can each contribute to one another. When Betty White hosted Saturday Night Live, she had fun, the show registered it's highest ratings in years and it recharged her career.

And for some tips about how to increase you brainpower as you age, especially if you are a Sandwiched Boomer, visit our blog on Vibrant Nation. We've gots lots of good ideas there to help you keep your mind young an active.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Michael Jackson's Kids: Doing the Best They Can

Michael Jackson often experienced the emotional turmoil that can accompany global fame. He was grateful for the the wisdom and strong support of his mom. Although your family may not be in the public eye, if your adult children are in trouble and you're suddenly cast into the role of parent, you could be feeling the stress.
The children of the late Michael Jackson seem to be adjusting to their new lives as they departed from a karate lesson with Jermaine Jackson's kids all sporting yellow belts in Los Angeles, CA on April 14, 2010. Pictured: Blanket Jackson AKA Prince Michael Jackson II Fame Pictures, Inc
There will be a huge void to fill and you may be confused about your role now. Don't be afraid to see a family therapist, child psychologist or parenting coach. Understanding your particular circumstances and learning new skills can make a big difference the second time around. And talking with an expert with an objective perspective can truly be a lifesaver.

While Michael Jackson was alive, a main priority was to protect his privacy and his children. And their grandmother has had their best interests at heart, knowing their pain in losing the only parent they knew. Without a lot of fanfare, Katherine Jackson has made a coordinated effort to bring stability to the children's lives. Hearing her talk about the activities and attributes of all three of them, she sounds like any proud parent would. Apparently they will do some traveling over the summer and be in private school, instead homeschooled, in the fall.

In accepting Michael's posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award last January, Prince choked up while thanking fans for their support since his dad's death. And Paris spoke about her love for her dad. What little information the media has received about the family this year – and that's a good thing for the Jackson children - makes you think that they're all doing the best they can.

Here's another video from Fox News about how Jackson's children are managing. The newscaster talks about Prince, Paris and Blanket being less reclusive, listening to their dad's music and spending time with their cousins. Even though they're growing up in the spotlight, don't you think they deserve to live a normal life?

With Independence Day around the corner, take your cues from Jackson's mom and respect the growing independence of your grandchildren. And whether you are celebrating with family and friends, or enjoying a quiet and relaxing day, happy 4th of July!

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