THE SANDWICH GENERATION
In all ‘care’ situations, whether for a child or an aging parents, parameters for help and behavior need to be established by the sandwich generationer.
Question: My father recently passed away, and my mother, 68, has latched on to me for everything. In between getting my three children to school and my part-time work, I run errands for her. handle her finances, take her to the doctors, and now have no time for myself. I’m stressed and snappy, and my husband is complaining that he feels neglected. I can’t seem to find a balance.
Answer: Your mother is very young, so unless she has physical, health or mental handicaps she should be taking care of herself. My philosophy has always been “the less one does for a parent, given true capabilities and help needs, the better it is for everyone.”
Rather than do everything for your mother, encourage her to do for herself. Teach her to do the things she might not have done before -- such as balancing the checkbook.
It’s hard for a person to adjust after losing a spouse. But too often adult children destroy their own lives by trying to make a parent happy and by setting up unrealistic “help” schedules. You need to set parameters as to what you’ll do. And remember you alone cannot make your mother happy if she is an unhappy kind of person!
You need to differentiate between realistic and unrealistic demands. And certainly don’t feel guilty if you say “NO.”
Some tips from other readers:
- Don’t let a parent run your life.
- Don’t be afraid of your parent. You are both adults.
- Try to understand what is means to lose a loved one.
- Help your parent appreciate what she can do for herself.
- Don’t feel guilty about not doing everything. You create your own monster when you do everything.
- Give love freely.
- Be good to yourself. Don’t let yourself become burned out.
Question: My mother, 76, moved in with us. She still drives and is making new friends at the local senior center. We’re delighted about this. But she has a habit of quizzing me as to what I’’m going to do all day. I resent her checking upon me all the time. Need advice.
Answer: Regardless of how old mother and child are, there is always a tendency to be a mother, to be concerned about that child, even if the child is 50 years old. Don’t you keep track of where your children are and what they do? You’re interested in their activities and concerned about their well-being. Such exchanges can be described as loving as long as your mother doesn’t insist on going with you all the time. You can also identify time in both of your schedules to spend time together, to do something fun. Do discuss your feelings with her. Open communications is very important when several generations live in the same house.