Bonnie Keane's father is terminally ill, he is 72 years old; he lives on the east coast. And her daughter is three years old, she has just come close to preschool age, she lives on the West Coast.
Where to look for Bonnie herself? “I'm somewhere in the middle,” says a 45-year-old psychologist from California State University. And this is only partly a joke.
Because, like many other modern women, Bonnie Keane, Ph.D., found herself in a geographical and emotional trap between the needs and requirements of the outgoing and future generations. It belongs to a generation that demographers have called “squeezed,” a generation of women sandwiched between parents and children.
“This is a sociological phenomenon added by Dr. Keen, who appeared as a result of a clash of three different cultural trends. Parents live longer and suffer from chronic ailments, women later marry and have children at the end of the third decade or after forty years, the phenomenon of“ squeezed ”American women, quickly leads to the fact that the most productive, best years of a woman’s life should be spent on hard labor taking care of all labor.
Women traditionally look after family members who either just leave the cradle or approach the grave, explains Dr. Keen. But in our society they did not expect from them before that they would work from 9 to 5 hours and take care of old and small family members at the same time. Especially if old people and children live in different places at a great distance from each other. "
Unfortunately, the requirements for women who find themselves in such a situation are so great that they have to put aside their own professional or personal plans for later, they have no other choice.
When this happens, some women begin to think that their life is over, says Dr. Keen, although this simply means that you need to postpone your personal development for a while. Intensive work is going on inside you. Most women are leaving this period either already unable to fully recover, or with such an impulse for development that they are gaining height like a rocket. ”
What can you do so that the time spent in a state of tightness becomes for you a launching pad, and not a one-way ticket to where there is no return?
Decide. Define your priorities clearly, emphasizes Dr. Keen. You must know who you are and what you want. Know what you want for your children, yourself and your parents.
Assess the possible consequences. If you decide, for example, to take your father to you, you will need additional time and money that you will have to tear from your children. How will this affect the emotional health of children? Or your ability to pay for their college?
Think about your limitations. Although the commercial says that in the right tights we can do everything, in real life this is far from the case. One of us lacks patience, another lacks free time. Think about your options, Dr. Keen advises. If you constantly exceed them, later you will simply break loose and suffer from guilt.
Discuss what you expect from each other. What do you expect from yourself as a daughter? What do your parents expect from you? In general, what is a “good” daughter? Is this the daughter who invites the old mother to come and live with her? Or does a good daughter arrange with a neighbor to come to her mother and feed her breakfast? Maybe this is a woman who puts her mother in a nursing home? We all have different attitudes to our own actions and to the actions of others, says Dr. Keen. The only way to understand what will be the best way for everyone is to sit down and honestly and openly discuss the situation.
Talk about money. It may be easier for you to talk to your parents about death or sex than about money, Dr. Keen argues. But you should do this before you commit yourself to any care for them. Your relationship will suffer less if everyone knows what they can count on.
Set limits. Decide for yourself what you can and cannot do for your family, and then stay within these limits, regardless of what others say.
Schedule a gathering of all family members. Siblings easily forget that parents in need of care and their parents too. Gather everyone, list all the types of care that parents need, purchase groceries, see a doctor, do laundry, and then calmly ask everyone what he can take on.
Share experiences. Across the country, there are organizations like Caring Children of Aging Parents, Dr. Keen said. You can find other people with the same problems, exchange experiences in caring for parents, learn about new resources and let out couples that accumulate in women of the squeezed generation.