Sandwich Generation: Raising Teens & Caring for Aging Parents

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Just as our rambunctious toddlers and kids grow into self-sufficient teens, the self sufficiency and health of our parents start to decline. Dads of the sandwich generation are caught between directing a misguided, angsty teenager and helping a parent with diminishing independence. You’ve inescapably fallen into the role of caretaker for your own mom or dad.

 

Defining the Sandwich Generation

One in eight Americans care for aging parents while tending to their own families, according to the Pew Research Center. An estimated 66 million Americans take care of a loved one, while a third are also raising children, reports the National Alliance for Caregiving.

It’s a stressful responsibility that also evokes strong feelings of resentment, guilt and anger. You’re making sacrifices and engaging in 100 percent selflessness that can create serious health problems, self-neglect and exhaustion. The following pointers can help members of the sandwich generation healthily navigate their roles without the detrimental “caregiver syndrome.”

Be Empathetic

Aging seniors with decaying health can fall into depression and moodiness. A sick parent resents their own increased dependency on others. The growing resentment is a two-way street, and your once vibrant parent may resent needing your help just as much as you resent your parent’s reliance on you. During high-stress moments when your emotions are about to implode, try to remember this isn’t ideal for your parent either. Embrace empathy and compassion — inner strength and calmness will follow.

Let Go

Mother and caregiver Mary Novaria wrote on The Huffington Post that she had a romanticized vision of her family’s three generations of women coming together. She fantasized about her and her mother and daughter sipping tea while dishing on “Grey’s Anatomy” and reminiscing in front of the fireplace. Likewise, you may have picture hitting golf balls with your father while teaching your teenager about the rules of the game. Letting go of an idyllic picture of how you imagined your relationship to be with your parent can help alleviate disappointment, resentment and irritation. Your parent is still your parent, and love is unconditional.

Claim Good Days

Parenthood can make a man want to pull a Christopher McCandless and abandon society to live in isolation with nature. Although McCandless met an unfortunate fate in the novel “Into The Wild,” his escape can be a fantasy for a parent. Parenthood is tough, and you have to savor the beautiful moments. A warm hug from a little one before bed can make up for an entire day of temper tantrums, and the same goes for caregiving. Cherish the good days. Avoid feelings of inadequacy with affirmations that you can’t do it all. It’s a balancing act. Use special moments shared with your parent as a reminder that your mom or dad suffering from Parkinson’s, for example, isn’t a burden, but a loved one.

Move Mom or Dad

Moving a parent out of their home can be devastating decision to make. Conversations with a parent about moving into your home or an assisted living community is commonly met with resistance. An aging parent may be even more reluctant to move from their home if they’re moving across country to be near your family for support. So focus on the bright side of things and drive home that a sunny transfer to assisted living community in Mesa, Arizona or elsewhere, could offer a healthy change of scenery..

Have an open conversation as soon as necessary and share honest concerns about your parent’s well-being. Explain that you’re their advocate. Continue to approach the subject in a way that makes your parent feel like they made the choice, rather than being forced into abandoning their home. Ensure your parent that your family is a caregiving team who your mom or dad can count on no matter what.

Debunking Myths about Only Children + Unlocking the Teenage Brain

[amazon asin=1451626959&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Lauren Sandler, author of One and Only.
Topic:
The freedom of having an only child, and the joy of being one.
Issues: What are only children really like? Debunking stereotypes and myths about “onlies”; the benefits to children, relationships, and society of having–and being–an only child.


[amazon asin=1118343050&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Eric Jensen, coauthor of Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain.
Topic:
Helping underperforming students become lifelong learners.
Issues: Research-based, classroom-tested strategies to strengthen students’ mind, body, and help them become exceptional lifelong learners; how and when to use workarounds; how the brain changes; how increase your student’s effort, build a better attitude, and improve behavior.

Technology Overload + The Great Outdoors + College Applications + Good Teens

[amazon asin=1620876361&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Max Strom, author of There is No App for Happiness.
Topic:
How to avoid a near-life experience.
Issues: Technology has expanded at such a rate that nearly every aspect of our world has been affected–but there has been no expansion of personal happiness. Instead, the wealthiest societies have become depressed, anxious, sleep-deprived, and overmedicated.


[amazon asin=0399161082&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Peter Brown Hoffmeister, author of Let Them Be Eaten by Bears.
Topic:
A fearless guide to taking our kids into the great outdoors.
Issues: A simple, practical introduction to hiking, camping, and exploring that will help parents and kids alike feel empowered and capable. So turn off the video games and rediscover the powerful of going out to play.

[amazon asin=0345498925&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Michelle Hernandez, author of Acing the College Application.
Topic:
Maximizing your child’s chances for admission to the college of his or her choice.
Issues: Understanding the Common Application; how the answer to the “Why” question can make or break your application; the truth about what colleges are really looking for in essays; myths and misconceptions about the on-campus interview.


[amazon asin=0307347575&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Richard Lerner, author of The Good Teen.
Topic:
Debunking the negative myths about adolescents.
Issues: Teens have an undeserved bad rap in the media and elsewhere; redefining adolescence; all teens have the potential to develop in healthy ways; the characteristics of a good teen and what parents and others can do to encourage them.

Yet Another Reason Breastfeeding is Best

breastfeeding is best

Most of us know that breastfeeding has all sorts of great health benefits for kids, including better immune system function, fewer allergies, and lowered risk of obesity, tooth decay, pneumonia, and ear infections. New research from Tel Aviv University has added one more benefit: protection against ADHD in the teen years.
[Read more...]

The Joys of Reading Aloud + Secret Lives of Boys + Trade Husband for a Housekeeper

[amazon asin=014312160X&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook.
Topic:
Helping children become avid readers.
Issues: How reading aloud awakens children’s imagination and improves language skills; the rewards and importance of reading aloud to kids; the latest research about reading–including the good and bad news about digital learning.


[amazon asin=0465002544&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Malina Saval, author of The Secret Lives of Boys.
Topic:
Inside the raw emotional world of male teens.
Issues: Why the author believes that the “boy crisis” we hear about is overblown; understanding the landscape of boys’ social cliques; how parents can get closed-mouth sons to open up.


[amazon asin=B002I4OVWO&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Amy Nobile, coauthor of I’d Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper.
Topic:
Loving your marriage after the baby carriage.
Issues: The challenges of modern parenthood for married couples; a frank look at marriage post-tots; keeping parenthood compatible with marital bliss; how moms can learn to make the most of what they have and love their marriage as much as the husband and kids.

Your Teen’s Rocky Road to Independence + Motivating Teens + Best Birth

[amazon asin=1118228839&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Carl Pickhardt, author of Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence.
Topic:
How to understand, and even enjoy, the rocky road to independence.
Issues: Preparing for the inevitable; a road map to early, mid-, and late adolescence; discipline that does–and doesn’t–work; why constant arguing is better than silence.


[amazon asin=B00263J6SQ&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Janine Walker Caffrey, author of Drive.
Topic:
9 ways to motivate your kids to achieve.
Issues: Getting kids excited about learning; encouraging children to seek opportunities beyond their comfort zone; using rewards and consequences to get results; inspiring children to take charge of their own life.


[amazon asin=0738211214&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Sarah McMoyler, coauthor of The Best Birth.
Topic:
A Guide to the safest, healthiest, most satisfying labor and delivery.
Issues: Understanding the causes of pain and pain management approaches; myths about doctors and the medical team (hint: they’re on you’re side); everything you need to know to make the best, most-important decisions on the biggest day of your life.

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