We had an interesting interview with Carol Tavris, Ph.D. yesterday as she talked about how her book, “Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me: Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts)” relates to Sandwiched Boomers. She has given each of us a lot to think about as we deal with our own family-in-flux.
Carol’s take on how to move past the “I’m right and you’re wrong” scenario resonated with several of our readers. Their comments about how to turn an argument into a real discussion are worth highlighting here. One recognized that “letting go of ‘right vs. wrong’ seems to give rise to the real issues, and leads to resolving them without all of the blame.” Another acknowledged that she was “particularly struck by the concept that in an argument both sides must be willing to stop justifying their way of doing things as the only possible way. I often find when disagreeing with my spouse that only until we each seek to understand where the other person is coming from can we truly find common ground we both can feel good about.” When we are able to let go of the need to be right all the time, we can instead focus on actually listening to our children, parents and spouse to hear and understand their positions.
Another Sandwich Generation reader was reflecting upon her method of coping with the simultaneous time demands of her parents and children. She wrote, “I am the only child of elderly parents who are very needy of my time and attention. I often exaggerate or lie about being busy with my teenagers so that I don’t have to spend time with them. Then I feel guilty. Is that cognitive dissonance and what can I do about it?” Addressing her feelings, Carol responded,”the guilt that you feel about lying to your parents is indeed a part of cognitive dissonance: it stems from the internal conflict you are feeling between “I am a good and loving person” and “I am lying to people who need me and avoiding them.”
Addressing our reader’s question about what she could do differently, Carol suggested, “think of ways to change the way you usually interact with your parents so that your visits are more pleasurable for you. For example, why not interview them formally about their history–singly and then together? That is, turn their focus from you to them. You might all enjoy the results.”
What additional ways have you developed to deal with your own conflicts about how you allot your time and energy between all of those making demands on you? Share them with other Sandwiched Boomers so that we can all learn from your experience.