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What the Sandwich Generation Can Bring to the Holiday Table

Aug 17, 2007
Are you wondering if your family dynamics during the holidays are going to scare off your son's new in-laws? Welcoming his wife and her parents into the fold is another chapter in your family's history. And integrating them into the holiday festivities has the potential for its' own complications.

Wendy and Jim started to prepare for their daughter-in-law's parents' first visit right after Thanksgiving. Aside from getting the tree up, the shopping completed, the house in order and the food cooked, there was the emotional piece. Wendy commented, "It's important that we all feel comfortable but, really, I'm the one who has to to relax. I want to let go of my need to have everything just so and truly honor them as guests in our home."

Are you ready to take the conversation up a notch or two this year and talk about more than the holiday decorations? Are you tired of preparing the Christmas dinner and anxious to pass the baton to the younger generation? Use some of the following tips, those that apply specifically to your family's situation, to create new holiday rituals:

1. Make a conscious decision to put aside misunderstandings and differences so that you can enjoy the family time together. Arrive at dinner with an open mind, no complaints and an accepting heart.

2. Before the meal, begin a conversation about gratitude. Have your children, in-laws and parents talk about what they are thankful for and how feeling grateful can become a daily and more active part of their lives.

3. During dinner, deepen the discussion by encouraging each family member to identify his or her core values. A core value is about being, not about doing. For example, you may set a goal of being a more secure and satisfied person rather than one of having a lot of money. Decide to live up to these standards by taking action as you all create a more congruent way of life.

4. Pause to recognize and focus on the talents, skills and positive character traits of others, as well as your own. Serve as a role model for your extended family as you openly acknowledge these personal strengths.

5. If you're ready to be a guest instead of the host, make this holiday season a rite of passage. Whether you're edging your kidults out of the nest or taking a well deserved respite for yourself, begin to shift the responsibility of family get-togethers to the next generation.

6. Pass on the family legacy. Let your adult children know how much you value keeping the family close. Teach by example as they watch how you lovingly take care of your own aging parents.

7. Encourage the younger members of the family to preserve the old traditions and give them your support as they create customs of their own. Try to remember to express your appreciation as they develop new family attitudes and holiday behaviors.

Whether your emerging adult children decide to create new wave recipes or cook in the microwave, it's now out of your control. Sit back and relax - all you have to do is pass the mashed potatoes and gravy.

(C)Her Mentor Center, 2006
About the Author
Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D.& Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are founders of http://www.HermentorCenter.com, a website for the Sandwich Generation, and blog, http://www.NourishingRelationships.Blogspot.com. They are authors of a forthcoming book about Boomer women and their family relationships and publish a newsletter, Stepping Stones, on their website.
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