Family Relationships

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

Resiliency Among the Israelis

You've probably noticed that we often blog about building resiliency and moving forward after experiencing difficult challenges. I'm just back from Israel, a country filled with some of the most resilient people in the world. Native Israelis are called Sabras - after the cactus - tough and prickly on the outside but soft and juicy on the inside. I've been wondering how the Israeli's remain creative, optimistic, and involved in the midst of the stresses they face every day.

We found that the country is filled with people working energetically to invent new technologies, improve the lives of others, create beauty in their surroundings. They seem to focus their energies on innovation rather than stagnation and hope rather than despair. Some say the crane is the national bird of Israel - not one that flies but the large construction machines you see everywhere involved in the new buildings.

As we were leaving, I asked the taxicab driver how he was a able to remain cheerful every day and he remarked, "I look forward not backward. And I'm a dreamer. I try to achieve 60% of my dreams."

How about you? What are your dreams? What are you doing to make them happen? If you're a Sandwiched Boomer, caring for aging parents while you are still raising growing children, your stress levels may make it difficult to nourish yourself at the same time. Tune in on Wednesday and you'll find some tips to help you too work toward accomplishing your goals and building your resiliency when you meet barriers along the way.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Sandwich Generation Takes a Big Bite

As a member of the Sandwich Generation, there's a lot to chew on. Monday we focused on the practical issues as your parents decline and need more support from you, the family and their community. Now here are some ideas specifically for you that may impact your perspective during this difficult time:

Caregiver groups can be a lifesaver for you.
These consist of others who are part of the sandwich generation and understand exactly what your life is like. Led by a group facilitator, you'll get support, information, suggestions. You may even laugh a little as you share experiences.

You are more prepared than you think.
Look back and track the strengths that have worked for you in the past when you have faced difficult circumstances. For the comfort and wellbeing of you and your parents, put them into play now.

Take note of the changes your family is experiencing.
Remain sensitive to what your parents are going through. And come to terms with your own feelings of frustration, anger, sadness or loss. Address unfinished business with your siblings, resolve the issues and get them involved.

Your attitude and behavior impact the challenges.
Recognize the emotional shifts you need to make as well. Talk to friends who are having similar problems with their parents. Seeing the situation from another perspective can normalize your reactions and ease the transition.

Trust that you will find solutions to the problems.
Once you have identified the situations that need to be dealt with, prioritize the specific issues as you adjust to your feelings. Be sure to find others to help, especially family and community resources. And take care of you as you sustain your parents.

Pay attention to your own needs.
As you assume greater responsibility for your parents' care, make nurturing yourself a priority. Renewal gives you more energy and resilience. You'll find that being positive and centered - emotionally stronger - you're more ready to meet the challenges.

This can be a very stressful time in your life. Rely on your coping strengths when you take smaller steps than you would like. Know that by your acts of kindness you'll bring greater joy and richness into your parents' lives. When you spend intentional time with them relish their appreciation, which you deserve. And savor the power of the example that you set as your own children watch how you support their grandparents.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sally Shields is Launching Her Book

Sally Shields is an Internet dynamo and an astute businesswoman. She's also incredibly generous and a great role model for how to give back to others while moving toward your own goals.

Today we're joining with 50 relationship experts and success coaches to help Sally, a best selling author, reach her goal - #1 on Amazon.

Sally is offering a valuable bundle of gifts - free dieting and self-improvement eBooks as well as discounts on fitness magazines and custom jewelry for women who buy her new book, Is She Naturally Thin or Disciplined? Find out about this unique offer by visiting the book launch site.

If you're a card carrying member of the Sandwich Generation, facing the challenges of parents growing older and kids growing up, stress is a given. And with little time for yourself, healthy eating and exercise can take a back seat. Sally's book focuses on first person accounts of women who have found some answers for themselves.

And sign our email list to the left of this post to receive Stepping Stones, our complimentary monthly newsletter.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Three Cheers for the Sandwich Generation

July is Sandwich Generation Month, a chance to pay tribute to adult children who are juggling the demands of raising their own children while caring for their aging parents. The number of Americans 65 and older is projected to increase from 40 million in 2010 to over 88 million by 2050, doubling the ranks of those experiencing this stressful combination of responsibilities.

We expect to take care of our growing children. After all, isn't that in the parenthood job description? Even after the last kid moves out and we are settling into the empty nest, if one of them drops out of college, loses their job or separates from a partner and boomerangs back, we let them come home. But with ailing parents it can be even more complicated.

From time to time, we all feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. But for the sandwich generation, that's especially true. The stress, guilt and exhaustion that come from trying to keep so many balls in the air can be overwhelming. One goal of Sandwich Generation Month is to raise awareness. Here are some tips so you don't have to cope with all the demands by yourself:

Encourage your parents' independence. Identify what they really need you to do and what they can handle. Have respect for their dignity, experience and wisdom as they make decisions and take responsibility. Step back so they do as much as they can for themselves.

Find professionals to help you out. Put this into place ahead of time if you live far away or before there is a crisis. Do your parents need a geriatric assessment or the support of a social service agency? Learn about health care advocates, specific gerontologists, in-home help and the continuum of care concept.

There are community resources available. Take advantage of them. Home health and companion care companies help with chores such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. And adult day care centers encourage supervised time for your parents to socialize while you get a break.

Sign the email list to the left of this post and receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, full of information to help you, members of the Sandwich Generation. You can also download our complimentary ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching Your Goals. And log on again Wednesday for more tips that can put your mind at ease.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Musing About Marriage

I couldn't treat today as if it were just like any other. It's my anniversary - 46 years married to the same guy - and it's got me thinking about a lot of things: perspective, the passage of time and especially how couples can "live happily ever after." Here are some of my musings, along with the thoughts of various relationship experts.

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a national poll looking at modern marriage and new family constellations. Although more unmarried couples are living together than ever, marriage is still the gold standard in relationships, with 70% of Americans having been married at least once. The average age of first time marriage keeps rising - for men, it's 28 and for women 26. Couples want to be settled in their careers before tying the knot. Perhaps that's one reason why married folks tend to be more financially secure than couples living together.

While studies show a correlation between marriage and happiness, it's not marriage that makes you happy, it's a happy marriage that make you happy, says psychologist Daniel Gilbert. The investment of time and energy in this intimate social relationship brings a sense of wellbeing, even with the drop in happiness after the birth of a child.

We all have heard that men and women are different in many ways - they're even from separate planets according to John Gray. Men from Mars are usually intent on fixing problems while women from Venus are more attuned to talking about what is bothering them and validating their feelings. With the divorce rate continuing to hover around 50%, understanding these differences between the sexes is worth the effort it takes from both partners.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal contrasted the styles of introverts and extroverts who happen to be married to each other. Each group makes up about half of the population, according to psychologist Laurie Helgoe, so a pairing is quite likely. While both can enjoy time spent with friends, extroverts become energized by being with other people while all that stimulation can be draining for introverts, who instead recharge themselves by being alone. Understanding the needs of your partner's preferred style and allowing for those differences makes for fewer conflicts between you and your spouse.

Encouraging love and forgiveness can sometimes be difficult when men and women cope with the stresses between them differently. While women may be comfortable talking with their spouses about stresses, men often withdraw to think about the issues. This can lead to mistakes in interpreting each other's actions: wives often believe husbands aren't interested in looking at problems while men may think women complain because it's so bad it can't be fixed.

Even if your partner seems to "complete you," most couples need friends as well as each other. Having someone to relate to outside your role as parent and partner can give you a sense of autonomy and self-worth as well as a greater appreciation of your spouse. The opportunity to hear another viewpoint can also enlarge your world and increase what you can bring back to your own marriage.

When conflicts arise, use what you know about your partner's style to help you work towards reconciliation. Once you have a better understanding of what motivates your partner to act as he does, you can consider new ways to respond. Respect his need for distance while letting him know you're ready to dialogue whenever he is. Once that door is open, identifying your feelings and asking for support can be the first steps in resolving differences between you and setting the stage for a long-term relationship.

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! Do you know what Erma Bombeck, the American Humorist, had to say about this special day in history?

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.

We're now six months into 2011. Even if your new year's resolution was to lose weight, a barbeque with traditional foods is the order of the day. Whatever you do, don't look at it as falling off the wagon. Setting goals is great, but be sure they're realistic and you're the one in charge. Enjoy the food, fun and fireworks – you can kick-start your diet tomorrow!

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