What the Sandwich Generation Brings to the Holiday Table

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.

Are you ready to take the family conversation up a notch or two this year and talk more than holiday decorations? Are you tired of preparing Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa dinner and anxious to pass the baton to the younger generation?

Use some of the following tips – those that apply specifically to your family situation – in order to create new holiday rituals:

1. Make a conscious decision to put aside misunderstandings and differences so 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 and your parents talk about what they are thankful for and how feeling grateful can become a part of their daily 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 create a more congruent way of life.

4. Pause to recognize 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 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 while they’re creating customs of their own. Remember to express your appreciation as they develop new family and holiday attitudes.

Whether your emerging adult children decide to create new wave recipes or cook the meal 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.

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