Lately I’ve had a lot on my mind regarding my family. We’ve been sandwiched between the concern for our parents and the duties to our children and the stress of this economy only makes it worse. Luckily both my parents and in-laws are in stable health, though they do suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and other major issues that loom overhead like a dark shadow. They are all still working as well but some will retire within the next year or so. Many of their generation have seen their financial security compromised by falling home values and the stock market decline. All these changes bring anxiety over downsizing homes, fear of health issues, or what to do with the newly found free time so they don’t get bored and depressed. We, as their children, have to deal with these concerns. We try to give advice, offer emotional support, and be there more to help.
Yet, our own futures are shaky as well unless you are in the top 1% or even 2%. We want to snap our fingers and alleviate our parents’ concerns over aging, health and finances but we also worry about how we will put out kids through college with the sky-rocketing education expenses. We think about whether to upgrade to a larger home, knowing that houses are no longer considered a good investment as they were when our parents were buying. We also know that there may be no social security benefits when we retire and wonder how we will manage to save enough to support ourselves. All parents want their kids to have more success and a better future than they enjoyed but I wonder if this economic environment will allow that for our kids.
Every generation has children and elders to think about so why is our’s the ‘Sandwich Generation‘? It is because our parents had fewer children than the generations above them. Now there are fewer children to share the care of the parents. On the other side, the future of our kids is also a bigger concern than in prior generations. With education becoming more costly and many graduates not able to find jobs, many children will have lesser lifestyles than their parents. This means that we may need to support our children longer and hope that things get better over the years.
We are definitely lucky overall. Our problems are those of the ‘First World‘ and we don’t have to worry about the basics. Yet, in a capitalist economy where your health, education, retirement aren’t taken care of by the government, we still have many things to stress over and plan for. Though, living in another country doesn’t seem like a great option either since Europe and others seem to be suffering as well. I guess we just do what we can, live and spend responsibly, and hope for the best!