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Part of a Sandwich
Photo: MorgueFile
The sandwich generation is upon us. This generation is the one sandwiched between their aging parents and raising their children. I’ve read about this and even written about it as a newspaper reporter, but I didn’t think I’d ever become a statistic. But here I am being a part of that sandwich—I’m either the top or the bottom piece of bread. I’m the aging parent in the equation.

My pride makes it hard for me to accept the fact I’ve needed my children to help me out. Since my divorce, I’ve done pretty well on my own. At one point, between jobs, I lived with my daughter for three months until I got a new job and a new apartment. Now, 10 years later, I’m doing it again. I followed my children from California to St. Louis and while finding a place to live, I’ve camped out in their beautiful finished basement. It’s a somewhat humbling experience. On the one hand, it’s wonderful that I’m so close to my grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law. On the other hand, it’s stressful accepting their help and trying to fit into their day-to-day lives. It was all about me— until I realized I’m the one with the easy job.

The fifth commandment reminds us to honor our fathers and our mothers. It didn’t say anything about how to work this out when they’re with you 24/7 and you’ve got a family of your own. All the struggles of maintaining a good marriage with quality time with your spouse and achieving prime parenting is done under the scrutiny of the person who parented you.

Three-generational Family Time

On the one hand, I’m so proud that both of my children have been successful enough to have homes where I could go. On the other hand, how do I gratefully accept their help and let them know how much their kindness and generosity has blessed me during some tough times? How do I accept the three-generational family time and yet know when to give them time alone? Other than applying a gob of duct tape, how do I learn to keep silent? After all, it’s biblical. Proverbs 11:12 says, “It is foolish to belittle one’s neighbor [housemates]; a sensible person keeps quiet.” (NLT)

Of course, these questions are not new. They’ve plagued families for generations and I’m not the first person to become a slice of bread in a family sandwich. And I’m reminded that in addition to “honoring your father and mother” that children, no matter their ages, need to be honored. “Do not provoke or irritate or fret your children, lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated” (Colossians 3:21 Amplified Bible).

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION © and the Amplified Bible.

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