Family Relationships

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Virtual Book Tour with T.B. Fisher

Today we welcome T.B. Fisher to our blog for a Virtual Book Tour. He'll be answering questions about his book, Bought In: Reignite, Retool, Rebrand. He's got lots of exciting ideas to share so lets get started:

NR: We understand that you promote a unique way of dealing with problems we currently face.

TBF: Today we face challenges that fundamentals alone cannot solve. Challenges that necessitate utilizing our gift of free thinking. We are called to incorporate three new R’s – let’s call them R cubed (R3) – Reignite, Retool, Rebrand.

NR: Just what does that mean?

TBF: My messages focus on empowering those individuals and organizations whose journey has stalled. Stalled due to unkindly economic realities or just Life’s daily grind. Reignite your passions. Retool your burning desire with acquired wisdom. Rebrand yourself to achieve and succeed.

NR: If stalled, how can you help?

TBF: As a writer, speaker and teacher, I use my voice to encourage and empower. I am able to relate how we can combine the wisdom and knowledge gained though life’s experiences with our past passions to achieve our dreams.

NR: Tell us about your past, your passions.

FBF: I was born and raised in Southern California. My youth was well rounded -- an Eagle Scout, AFS foreign exchange student, athlete, musician. I graduated from UCLA with a BS in Engineering and received an MBA from the University of Southern California. I had accomplished my dreams of sports victories and love triumphs. My life passions were well entrenched getting caught up in various social movements from war to hunger. I thought I had seen it all.

NR: And you hadn’t?

TBF: Not even close. The reality of Uncle Sam’s infamous draft lottery opened my eyes. But nothing like surviving events that never occurred to me-- even with my wild imagination – family illnesses, financial setbacks, professional downsizing, sailing in a hurricane.

NR: What other life experiences have you had?

TBF: As an international businessperson, I conducted sales and operations in virtually every country of the world and traveled to most. I am driven by meeting and working with people of all cultures, climates and dreams. My sorrow is being a witness to worldwide rote behavior-stifling creative solutions. My blessing is a loving wife and six terrific children.

NR: Tell us about your new book.

TBF: “Bought In: Reignite, Retool, Rebrand” is a revisit of the Baby Boomer’s adolescent heritage in the '60's, motivating the reader to incorporate life’s acquired wisdom and past passion to achieving rewired goals - ranging from retooled careers to social reform. In this updated version of my 2009 book, we provide a free, downloadable working journal for the reader's personal exploration, "Dream and Do."

Available also in all e-book formats, the book is written in a quick read style of 52 segments containing thought provoking topics, discussion, affirmations and personalized questions. So, the book can either be used to motivate the reader weekly or in one airplane flight.

NR: How does the book parallel your life? Have we all "bought in?"

TBF: Unfortunately my life mirrors most. With kids and therefore bills, I compromised my youthful zeal. I bought in. I gave my energies to my career. We lived the life of a corporate gypsy, moving 20 times in 20 years. There’s a message here for everyone.

We all get so high on ideals, we fall victim to the realities of life. In doing so we aid and abet the Establishment to flourish. The 60’s weren’t about being dissatisfied with life, it was about tackling injustice, bureaucratic behaviour, ambivalence…No different than social issues we face today. But today, we face personal challenges that require us to tap into those deep-seated passions in order to survive.

NR: Who will benefit from these messages?

TBF: Anyone fallen prey to unkindly economic realities and desperately needing to retool their career. People feeling the need to jump-start social desires stalled by life’s daily grind. Those ready to reignite hibernated passions into missions of personal renewal, family unity or social reform.

NR: Well that sounds like most of us! Thanks for sharing your time with us today. Readers, now is your time to ask your own questions of T.B. Fisher - he's graciously agreed to answer them today. So send in your comments and questions and we'll start the dialogue.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

New Ways to Help Your Aging Parents

For all you Sandwiched Boomers out there, we've come across two new creative developments to help you care for your aging parents while you are busy raising your kids. We've tried them out ourselves and want to share with you our excitement about them.

The first is a new kind of software, made especially for older seniors who are not yet comfortable with navigating the Internet. It's called Seniorama and is made by an Israeli software company, Softarama. Seniorama is a senior-friendly operating system with a very simple graphic user interface that enables the elderly and the disabled to utilize basic computer applications - email, browse the Internet, use Skype, play brain games - allowing them to stay connected with family and friends, sharpen their minds, overcome loneliness and more. You can open up a whole new virtual world to your elderly parents, even those with failing eyesight.

Seniorama transforms any PC into an intuitive, easy-to-use machine, from start-up to shutdown, in a way that is suited for non-computer-savvy older seniors and anyone who may have visual problems, learning difficulties, cognitive impairment or a neurological disease of any sort. It provides a clear format for those who require a larger screen view.

Users easily send and receive email, play brain-fitness games, view family photos, browse the Internet and enjoy video chats. They can also customize their email address book and read Word, Powerpoint and PDF documents. Because it includes voice as well as video calling, there is an option to have emails read out loud. And, also reassuring for seniors, there is 24-hour email support available.

If you think you would like to introduce it to your aging parents, you can find out more about Seniorama on their website. If you decide to purchase the easy to install software, the company is offering a significant discount to you, our readers.

We've also received information about a helpful toolkit called Caring for Your Parents: Senior Emergency Kit. Created by the Home Instead Senior Care network and Humana, it's designed to help organize your elderly parent's medical and financial information in one central place. If you'd like your own copy, you can download the materials from their website at SeniorEmergencyKit. You'll find more helpful resources and information there about reducing the caregiver stress you're likely to be experiencing as a Sandwiched Boomer.

And for a lively discussion with baby boomer T.B. Fisher about lessons he's learned over the years, check in with us on Wednesday for a Virtual Book Tour. He'll be answering questions about his new book, Bought In: Reignite, Retool, Rebrand.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TED Talks and a New Spin on Aging

Today we have a gift for you we think you'll enjoy – some videos of talks from TED conferences. So grab a cup of tea and watch Dr. Bill Thomas as he shares his innovative ideas about growing older. He calls his amusing but ultimately sobering presentation Elderhood Rising: The Dawn of a New World Age.

Half of the baby boomers born in 1946 have now turned 65 and there's a rapidly growing need for gerontologists like Dr. Bill Thomas. He's the self-appointed spokesman for Elderhood. Honored to act as the PRO aging ambassador, he's spreading the word.

According to Bill, our society has an excessive devotion to youthful adulthood. Isn't that obvious in all the ads for toned bodies, plastic surgery and sexual enhancement? But that obsession is misplaced as everyone eventually outgrows adulthood: "Every day we all wake up one day older and further removed from the epicenter of adult power."

Spearheaded by Bill, there is a rapidly growing movement excited about this new stage in the life cycle – Elderhood. After all, we're all aren't we all elders in the making? And getting older is nothing to be ashamed of - it's time to accept and embrace aging.

So you've been forewarned. There's a tsunami about to hit as boomers face the aging process head-on. Bill says, there's life after adulthood and "it is rich, it is real, it is deep, it is ancient and it is meaningful." I like Bill's humor and passion. You can learn more about him and the work he's doing at

Check out the links below if you're interested in other TED talks from experts in aging. Just in case you're not familiar with this great source of information that is bound to expand your brain cells, TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design:

Aubrey de Gray
says we can avoid aging: This talk is sure to pique curiosity and discussion: Cambridge aging expert Aubrey de Gray draws some compelling parallels between growing old and suffering from diseases. From these conclusions, he believes that age can actually be cured, outlining seven particular points that would need addressing. Slowing the process would certainly quell the suffering of billions and (in theory) allow them more time in which to enjoy life and accomplish goals.

Dean Ornish says your genes are not your fate: Sometimes, genetics seems like a ticking time bomb of bioterror, lurking in wait for specific ages to crop up so they can unleash hell. But Dean Ornish believes that mindful and healthy habits — such as chowing down on chocolate and blueberries – may actually override some of these factors. Trying some of the strategies he recommends slow the aging process and bulk up the brain cells, resulting in the longer, happier life most people seem to want.

Dan Buettner says we can live to be 100+: Blue zones, such as the ones found in Sardinia and Okinawa, boast more centenarians than anywhere else in the world. Dan Buettner has devoted his life to studying their secrets, and uses his lecture time to discuss how these individuals carved out such healthy and lengthy existences. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer lay in their simple, healthy lifestyle habits — some of which even date back all the way to the Bronze Age.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Communication, Generosity and Thank You

Did you know that June is effective communication month? As family relationships experts doing much of our work online, every point of contact is a chance to share our mission - how to help boomers find solutions to the problems of parents growing older and kids growing up. The challenge is to convey information that is practical and motivates our readers to take action.

We want to tell you about, a website that is helping us spread our message this month. They've given us the opportunity to download as many of their photos as we want and feature them in our blog posts, free of charge. This gift will make the visuals on our blog stand out and help us connect with the widest possible audience. If you need photos for your blog, Fotolia has extended their offer to you as well - just click on 'comments' below, let us know if you're interested and leave your email address. We'll get that information to them. You can also check out their website, blog and forums or even put your own exceptional photos on their site.

I've often said that the Internet is like the Wild West, where everyone has a voice but there's no policing agency. Yet we've found it to be an incredibly rich, supportive and generous environment. And how does generosity help make the world go round? Of course, the receiver feels warm and fuzzy. And the giver has a chance to connect, share, and contribute. It's a win/win for everyone. So we're grateful,, and appreciate what you've done!

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Father's Day

We want to give a big shout out to our husbands, sons and all fathers on their special day!

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it's estimated that over 154,000 of the approximately 70 million fathers across the nation are stay-at-home dads. These Mr. Moms, with children younger than age 15, have been out of the workforce for at least a year and caring for the family while their wives work outside the home.

That's a huge shift over the past several years and can create a lot of stress on families. So this Father's Day, don't buy into the commercialism that fancy ties will make the man in your life happy. If you want better communication, be direct about what you want, appreciate your partner's opinions and be willing to compromise. Give the gift of understanding as you build greater communication skills and strengthen your emotional ties.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anthony Weiner and Parenting in the Digital Age

Although Anthony Weiner stated that the women he corresponded with on Facebook and Twitter were all over the age of consent, recently more compromising photos have emerged and information has come out about a 'friend'/'follower' who is in high school. Although he may not have sent her any lewd photos or messages, this highlights the dilemma for parents of teens - how much to monitor your kids' online experience. On the one hand, you want to protect them from danger before it becomes inevitable, on the other, you want to allow them to develop their own autonomy.

Image: digitalart /

With Facebook, twitter and other social media being such a large part of the connections in young people's experience today, parents need to set standards for their teens about how to use these interactive technologies. In a blog post this spring, we talked about the risks stemming from teen's sexting and what parents could do to help their kids protect themselves.

In that post, we pointed out the importance of being concrete with teens about the potential consequences of all risky behaviors - especially because of the slow development in their brain lobes responsible for functions such as good judgment. Sexting in particular can be an impulsive and dangerous activity and it may be impossible to completely erase a post from the Internet. Representative Weiner found this out when he attempted to delete his message after realizing that it was sent to everyone following him, not just the intended recipient.

Weiner has decided that, due to his inappropriate behavior, he requires a "course of treatment to make himself well." It's unclear what his treatment will address but for teens, with peer pressure being such a strong influence, parents can work toward helping their kids increase feelings of self-esteem and develop a respect for their own worth.

As a parent, the goal is to be present in your children's lives without overwhelming them with your input - it's a fine line. Just as you recognize their need for independence, you're also aware of the value of supervision at this stage of their development. You'll find more parenting tips for raising children in the digital age on the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

And lets hope that soon this poor example of role modeling by a public official moves off the front page so we can get back to talking with our teens about getting summer jobs rather than about lying and sexting.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Talking to Your Kids About Anthony Weiner's Lies

The recent media frenzy about the behavior of Representative Anthony Weiner highlights the dangers of two activities - sexting and lying - and provides a clear teachable moment to use with our teens. We would hope to have good role models for the actions we want to encourage but given the dramatic effects of the inappropriate messages and photos Weiner sent and the devastating results of his untruthful words, we can talk to our kids about the serious consequences of making bad decisions.

Weiner is under fire by his own party for his behavior, particularly for lying to the press, his staff, constituents, colleagues, friends and family about his participation in the sexting incidents. As parents, we know that young children lie - generally about once every two hours - sometimes to get something they want or to gain attention but usually to avoid getting in trouble and being punished. Often the lines between make-believe and reality become blurred.

But when do youngsters' little 'white lies' become teenagers' big destructive whoppers? And how do those teens behave as adults out in the world? The case of Congressman Weiner provides an unambiguous example of the slippery slope of lying. As Sir Walter Scott wrote two hundred years ago, "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." Once you have begun to create a falsification, it's hard to extricate yourself.

According to the Josephson Institute of Ethics, more than one in five teens reveal instances of lying, cheating or stealing in the past year, with 80% saying they have lied to their parents about something significant. Teens are five times more likely than those over 50 to believe it is necessary to lie and cheat in order to succeed. As they move out into the world at large, these same young adults are two to three times more likely to misrepresent themselves in a job interview, lie to a significant other, keep money mistakenly given to them.

Why do children resort to these kinds of misdeeds? There are many possible reasons. Ethical standards may be seen as flexible guidelines, not rules. Poor role models abound in society, entertainment, political and sports worlds. Kids face high expectations and the pressure to succeed coming from parents and schools. There has been a normalization of certain illegal activities on the Internet - plagiarism of papers and reports, downloading pirated music and videos. And some baby boomer parents have transferred their signature emphasis on "me and my needs" to their offspring.

So what's a parent to do?

Be the role model you want you kids to emulate. And find other good examples of adults behaving well. They can help you reinforce the examples of integrity, authenticity, good citizenship that you want to encourage. Our boys looked up to John Wooden as they were growing up - you can find others in your own community.

As in other aspects of parenting, keeping lines of communication open is a good start. When your children are young, encourage and praise their honesty and let them know clearly what is unacceptable. As they mature, continue the dialogue about the real consequences of their behaviors, including lying. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a white paper with tips for improving communication with your teen.

Help your teens focus on learning for it's own sake without obsessing about tests and grades. Let them know that they don't have to be perfect to be competitive. When self-esteem is low, cheating and lying increase, so check out some tips from the American Psychological Association to facilitate building their self-confidence, resilience and self-respect.

As a member of Congress, Anthony Weiner's good judgment is also being questioned in terms of his use of social media as an outlet for his sexual proclivities. We'll talk more about that and how it affects your teens on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Working Parents' Dilemma with Kids on Vacation

Are you already stressing about how to keep your kids busy while you're working and they're on summer break? Don't forget to count on their grandparents who always want to see more of them. And talk with friends who have the same issues and may want to swap one day a week.

Encourage reading. Talk with your kids and listen to what they have to say about their summer reading ideas. Reading is a great habit to nurture. Most public libraries support a reading program with some sort of positive end result if all the requirements are fulfilled. You can build structure by having your teens read to your younger children or even organize an informal neighborhood book club.

Photo courtesy of Photostock

Assign chores. How about having your kids help around the house with jobs that you don't have time for during the school year – clean out broken toys or box up outgrown school clothes. Have them run small errands or go to the corner grocery store. Let them keep the change and buy themselves a treat. They might like the independence and responsibility.

Limit Internet use. You may be tempted to use technology as a babysitter, but try to institute some tech free days. When kids have unsupervised access to media, it can be at the expense of their growth. Emerging research reveals that technology can short-circuit healthy development in socializing and learning.

If you have to spend a little money on your kids' activities, it's in everyone's best interests for a safe, fun environment and your peace of mind. A week of camp can build social skills and interests as well as character strengths - and provides a structured and enriching environment so you don't have to worry about what they're up to.

Your kids have their whole summer ahead of them - no schoolwork or having to wake up early. And you deserve to kick back some too. With the long warm summer nights, relax and enjoy spending some quality family time together.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Balancing Kids' Summer Plans with Your Work Life

Like most of us, you must be wondering where the time has gone. Didn't it seems like only yesterday you were buying backpacks and lunch boxes in preparation for the school year?

For families, June is a busy month with graduation parties, little league finals and music recitals. And right around the corner is summer vacation - lazy days for kids but stressful for working parents. If you haven't made your plans yet, here are some ideas to help you create a work/family balance:

Photo courtesy of Photostock

Stay flexible. To minimize your anxiety and maximize time with your kids, try to negotiate a flexible work schedule. Even if you only take the odd morning off or leave early once in a while, find someone to cover for you. Downtime to rejuvenate is important for you and for the wellbeing of your family.

Arrange creative child care. There must be plenty of responsible teenagers in your neighborhood who are looking for a part-time summer job. Or why not organize a co-op or a weekly swap with friends? Don't forget your kids' grandparents or other family members who always say they want to see them more often.

Plan a staycation. Arrange a family meeting and encourage a discussion about what activities they would like. With a democratic process and everyone having a voice, you'll ensure cooperation. Think about visiting a local museum, playing beach volleyball, attending an outdoor concert. If money is an issue, several day trips or weekend camping trips can make the whole family feel recharged and reconnected.

Embrace boredom. Encourage your kids to use their imagination and discover their own ways to keep busy - a lemonade stand on the corner, watching home movies, planting a small garden, walking the dog, swimming in the community pool. It could be fun to play board games, ride bikes or shoot hoops with friends on the block.

We want to hear from you - click on "Comments" at the bottom of this post and share your ideas about how to keep your kids engaged during summer vacation. And log on Wednesday for more practical tips about reducing your summer stress.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Heroes in Your Family

With Memorial Day commemorated earlier this week, the summer season is now unofficially open - the barbeque is back in service at home and families are beginning their annual trips to the beach. Yet even with the shift to summer fun, there are still lessons we can take from the combat veterans we honored on Memorial Day. As we respect their unique bravery and reflect on the ideals of service, courage and camaraderie, we can apply these principles to those closest to us.

If you're a Sandwiched Boomer, stressed by the responsibilities of caring for aging parents and growing children, you may feel like there's no time to step back and take a deep breath. When you do, here are some things to keep in mind as you enrich your family relationships:

Recognize the importance of revealing the love you have for each other. Those who have been in harm's way know the meaning of the words, "it's too late." Don't put off sharing your love; decide to make it a priority. Each day, acknowledge those you love, and who love you, as if it were your last. The joy you create and receive in your close relationships can sustain you through hard times. You can find out more about the value of these positive connections on the Authentic Happiness website.

Express the gratitude you feel for what your family has given you - protection, opportunities, love, strength, enjoyment of life. You have doors open to you now because of them. This can begin with something as simple as a heartfelt "thank you," and develop into a more textured and thoughtful recognition of what you are grateful for. Begin by taking the steps to express your gratitude - it benefits both you and the loved ones you single out to thank.

Understand the value of friendship. Those in the Service have trusted and leaned on each other as they've shared their experiences and relied on their camaraderie. Know that we are here to take care of our friends and family - close and extended - difficult though it may be at times. Friendship is the gift we give ourselves and each other. It helps each of us achieve a longer, healthier, and more satisfying life.

Community support is there for the taking when you know how to ask for it. On Monday, we highlighted organizations providing support to Servicemen and -women. Be open to the reality that you too might need to utilize the input and generosity of others. You are not diminished when you allow another to help you.

To read stories of modern day heroes and how they coped with challenges in their lives, click on the email list box to the left. You can sign up there for our monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned, which showcases tips and strategies to use in your own family.

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