Savvy Gal Spotlight: The Family “Sandwich” ~ Tips for Those Parenting Children and Parents
Are you a certified member of the “Sandwich Generation?” Have you been placed in the position of “parenting” your aging parents while raising your own small children? Well, during the family gatherings, usually one of us is elected to be the hostess of the feast, and we all know how stressful and unnerving that day can become! So in order to keep calm and maintain your sanity, there are three very important things you can do to bring peace to your holiday festivities (without anyone else’s cooperation):
1) Be the Waterfall
Think of yourself as the top of a waterfall. You are the hostess of the family gathering and the one everyone is looking to for direction in setting the tone for the day. So are you going to cascade over your loved ones feelings of being frantic and overwhelmed or relaxed and comfortable? If you are not calm and centered, the older folks will become cranky and the children will start acting out and misbehaving. Your attitude affects their attitudes. They feel your energy spilling out over them. If it’s negative energy, you’re going to see a negative outcome. If it’s positive energy, you’re going to see a positive outcome. So slow down, take your time, and set a pace that allows you to enjoy the fact that your parent(s) are still here and can spend time with you and your children, and vice versa.…next year may be a different story….be thankful!
If you are constantly being bothered by your parents, children and others, the best way to have a peaceful day is to stop caring. This doesn’t mean you stop caring about the people themselves and their highest good, it means that you stop caring and investing your time in the things that they do. If we focus too heavily on the things we don’t get back from the people we care about, all of our attention will be on issues of lack. Give to yourself by taking a break from caring about what other people do. Giving becomes not a depletion, but a circulation of prosperous energy that, as we enrich others, continually enriches us.
Act out the holiday event in your head at least once in the days leading up to it. Envision your parents and children enjoying each other’s company and everything going smoothly in the living room, while you calmly and joyfully cook in the kitchen and set out the food in the dining room. Use as much detail as possible, and it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
2) Stop Seeking Approval
Everything does NOT have to be perfect! It is no one else’s business to approve what we do and how we do it…including your parents. You are an adult with your own household. You are in charge! You are no longer a child. You are not your parents. You are your own true self. You are free to make your own choices and decisions. Seeking approval from them gets us into all kinds of trouble. We agree to do things we don’t want to do out of the fear that they may disapprove of us if we say, “No.” The joke is, they more than likely will never approve of a lot of things we do anyway that we don’t even realize, and they’re too busy seeking their own approval from you! So don’t give your “power” away to your parents or your children or anyone else, for that matter. Remember that you are always in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
Don’t think about the past…you cannot change it, but you can change its effect on the present. We may be clinging to childhood beliefs or experiences that are no longer relevant to our lives or our destinies. We may have old wounds, but we are not prisoners of our pasts, slaves of our memories. We are free at any time to discard those belief systems and behavior patterns that belong to another place and time.
3) Trust in Yourself
Reserve the issue of trust for your relationship with yourself. Use your relationships with other people to teach you about love, honesty, growth, integrity and nonattachment. Trusting others is great in theory, but it’s almost impossible to put into practice. Why? Because most of the time we trust people only when they do exactly what we want them to do. When they act otherwise, we feel disappointed and think they can no longer be trusted. But true trust is not about relying on others to meet our expectations. True trust means learning to rely on ourselves instead, which will help us to accept others for who they are, not for who we want them to be.
Recognize who you are within. Be true to you above all others first and foremost. If we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion, then we will treat others that way, too. It is all very simple, yet very important.
During Autumn, view yourself as a leaf….sometimes we’re vibrant and colorful, sometimes we fall and hit the ground, but we always bloom and grow and start anew. So be still and let the wind carry you in whatever direction it wants you to go, and you will have great peace in your life.
About the author:
Donna Labermeier, a graceful member of the sandwich generation, bowed out of the corporate world in 2003 when her family needed her more than the banking community. She now runs a successful, happy home which includes two beautiful children and continues to be a professional student of life. Though she has studied spiritual development and energy healing for several years now, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. The Healers, her first novel, is a result of Labermeier’s own healing and personal transformation.