Family members and loved ones have historically taken care of children and even aging parents for decades. The new term “sandwich generation” describes middle-aged adults who are caring for adult children and their gaining parents. They are “sandwiched” between the two generations. The sandwich generation, step-parents, and legal guardians have become surrogates of all kinds. These surrogates take on other’s responsibilities and commitments. Sometimes these responsibilities are carried out with love and care however sometimes they are done out of obligation. If not done with love, these roles can lead to bitterness, resentment, and can make some people become emotionally unavailable.
Children and disabled relatives are not the only thing people need help with taking care of, sometimes its property, pets, or vehicles. Unfortunately holding other’s responsibility can be seen as a prison sentence with HARD times. Caregiver burnout is a real thing and can easily be switch to resentment.
If one is being asked to be a guardian and does not want to accept the offer, the thought of declining the offer can lead to anxiety. The anxiety and depression arises from the thought of letting loved ones down. Anxiety may come from the disapointmnt of not helping our loved ones and friends.
So what can we do?
Learn to set and accept boundaries – boundaries are set in place to help protect us. When things infringe on our families or friends we have no issue asserting boundaries, what makes it difficult when it comes to us, personally? Sometimes we do not feel worthy of saying no, we deserve happiness and a simple no, may create that happiness you did not know that you were missing.
Create some solutions – sometimes the obligations that are given to us are because the other party can not think of solutions. If your neighbor ask you to watch their pet while they attend a vacation, maybe you can help look up boarding places in your town. The pet can possibly stay at the boarder half-time and with you half-time.
Give yourself monthly or weekly maintenance sessions – taking it one day at a time, or even one minute at a time. Create time for self-care, this is an important boundary, you can create. Self-care is a way of taking care of yourself first. The maintenance session can also give you the opportunity to talk to an outsider or a counselor, who can offer unbiased non-judgmental conversation.