Sandwich Generation: my parent in my house

My young parents in love.

Before Dad died his kids promised him to take good care of Mom, making us part of the sandwich generation. Of course, it was the least we could do. After all, Dad tenderly cared for Mom right up until his last breath. She cared for him right back. But now what? For me caring for Mom means my parent in my house. Perhaps it does for you, too.

Mom moves in

Lately, as Mom moves in at my house, questions consume my prayers. How is this supposed to look, Lord? We want to emphasize her purposefulness and wisdom in our lives, but how? Can our whole family make the transition as comfortable as possible for this dear woman whom we all love wholeheartedly?

I have been searching for answers and they are hard to come by. If you, too, are grappling with what your elder parent may need from you, I suggest some excellent finds.

Finding Resources

One of the best sources for information about the Sandwich Generations is called Passing 50 Talk Radio. Host Robin Boyd invited me to join her for an episode, perhaps believing me to be some kind of expert. Instead, I peppered her with my questions. You can find that episode as a podcast under Media here.

Robin’s mom lived with her family for 20 years after a stroke changed their situation. Robin knows stuff.

“There are so many reasons we may find ourselves in this situation. It may be an economic decision. Maybe one parent has lost their spouse and they’re alone and finding it difficult to find a purpose,” says Robin, “sometimes its due to illness or injury. Sometimes you realize grandma or grandpa is having cognitive decline and it becomes a safety issue.” We wanted Mom’s bright personality to have the embrace of family coming and going. She grew weary of upkeep on a big house. 

With my friend Sandra Beck, Robin did another show which I heartily recommend, too. You can find it on the Passing 50 Talk Radio site under Sandwich Generation. I listened to it with a pad and pencil. I had to punch pause and rewind to catch all the great ideas about how to honor your parents while simultaneously juggling all the family’s needs.

We are not an Inexhaustible Resource

“We are not an inexhaustible resource,” said Sandra, as she offered tips from her experience of having her dad live with her family for the last 10 years. Both shows will encourage you as you make any transitions and get you thinking ahead to next steps for your parents’ comfort.

Transitions Can Be Tough on Us All

Transitions can be tough, especially for elder folks. They may require a new living quarters. You may find yourself in a situation that seems excruciatingly delicate. Helping your elder parent, yet keeping your own sanity, all with grace, requires energy and discipline. Balancing that with the needs of your children and grandchildren takes a miracle! Or a lot of family team work, supplemented with some really great resources.

For example, selling Mom’s house took a whole team of people, some family, some paid. Cleaning out her home unlodged 50 years of memories of our childhood. Plus, we discovered the stuff she brought home from our grandparents in the attic. Imagine the family stories we passed around like popcorn, stories bursting one after another. Lately, too, my friends respond by sharing stories of what they found when they cleaned out their parent’s house. Those stories are a treasure to my heart. Some of them are hysterical!

Compassion and Grace To Share

Compassion is seeing beyond our expectations to the reality of what another human is experiencing. We all want to love our parents tenderly without regret. Finding a great source of information and encouragement, like terrific podcasts, really helps inspire the right heart attitude when the unexpected pops up with an elder parent. We may share some surprises, even some unwelcome ones, but we are traveling this road together in sweet fellowship.

Please send me any ideas you have about being in the Sandwich Generation. Our stories encourage others. Since you read this far, I assume you are facing a transition of your own, perhaps with a beloved elder. Mom and I wish you all the best as you triumph in life’s transitions with joy and victory.

May I pray for you?

Dear Father, the One who is our perfect parent, please bless this dear reader in the transitions of life. Having a multi-generational family is a rich blessing that spans centuries. The valuable, but diverse perspectives can be tricky. Give us strength and patience and wisdom to see life from another perspective. With wisdom, grant us compassion, O Lord! We need grace for today to patiently love the one who raised us. Let us honor You in all our interactions with this elder parent whom You love very much. Thank You for the team of people You provide to help us honor our parents. In Jesus name. Amen.

Cathy Krafve, Texas Author, Columnist, Speaker, and Radio Personality, specializing in Christian Marriage and Family invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.