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Sandwich Generation
Thursday, July 1, 2021 by Joan Munro

Sandwich Generation is defined as adults who care for and/or support aging parents while raising children at the same time! This “sandwiching” is a challenge, even in the best of circumstances. All 3 generations have unique needs, concerns, and hopes. Juggling 3 familial groups, even in different locations, can be exhausting or enriching...stressful or satisfying...frustrating or fulfilling,  in unexpected ways for all.

            

 I’ve been there...sandwiched in between my parents and my children while trying to live out relationships with integrity, service and commitment. My children have been given priority, as has my marriage and my parents. But the focus and emphasis shifted, ebbed and flowed like the tides.  Sometimes more, sometimes less. Nothing was fair!

I never felt I got it completely correct or made the right decisions, all of the time. I didn’t.

 If you have been or are in this Familial Sandwich, you know it’s stressful and overwhelming at times.  It’s easy to get lost, squished, and discouraged in managing the needs of aging parents or children at home.  You feel cheated of your own time, or you might feel resentful or be unaware of that resentment, until the steam erupts suddenly.

I found myself asking: What about me?  My spouse?  My friends? Work? Self care? Social events? Sleep?

Asking these questions or verbalizing them is one step.  Reflecting on and analyzing the changing tides of duty, obligation, love, service, sacrifice, grace and guilt are key.  Chronic illness or medical complications happens.

Clarity, wisdom, and divine direction aren’t in a quick prayer or in the middle of the night. However, I found that asking God for His wisdom and help was crucial. The Serenity Prayer was one I could quote and believe, but living it out was much harder.

                        God grant me the wisdom to change the things I cant,

                                         to accept the things I can’t  

                                 and the wisdom to know the difference.

 The following verses became prayers of my heart, to move forward and embrace what was my heart’s cry of love and service as the parent, daughter, wife, and mother.

 Ephesians 6:2 & 4a

“Honor your father and mother -- which is the first commandment with a promise --”

“Do not exasperate your children”  (NIV

I Timothy 1:12

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He considered me faithful, appointing me to His service.”  (NIV)

I had to have honest conversations and ask questions of my parents and my children.  I needed to hear them, and not talk at them. By asking and validating their feelings and fears, it became a two-way exchange to help prevent more misunderstandings later.

Second, I had to line up help..outside help, church or community help, resources for hands on and practical services.  I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it all. Open the door to support, even if you think you are somehow capable of doing it all.

Third, I needed to educate myself and ask questions of the medical personnel, the school guidance counselors, teachers and investigate what other options were possible.

Fourth, self -care was just as important as caring for others.  I needed extra sleep or down time. Yoga and meditation times  gave me a safe place to just breathe.

Spiritual encouragement and compassion became key. I needed a prayer partner and a person to vent to! Close friends gave me grace, listened empathetically.

Particularly following the CoVid pandemic, it is important to have a person who can stand with you in your life transitions, without judgment or criticism.  Contact me at [email protected] for support in your journey.

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Comments

Gretchen From NC At 1/30/2021 11:04:40 AM

Salve to my wounded and weeping soul as I walk this very lifestyle right now

Reply by: Forward Steps in Life

The journey is uneven, unpredictable and unusual. But God hears, sees and understands. I think of His heart when He sees us struggling through our ages and stages.

Subscribe to Joan’s Newsletter for Forward Steps in Life and receive a free copy of “Reframing What Ifs?”


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