The "sandwich generation" is a term used to describe a group of people who are caught between caring for their aging parents, and raising their own children. This can be an overwhelming and stressful situation, as individuals in this group often find themselves trying to balance the needs of both their parents and children, while often working full-time and managing a household.
This cohort of individuals exists today more than ever, because people are living longer, younger adults are finding it harder to gain financial independence, or people are waiting longer to have children. According to Pew Trust Magazine, more than half of Americans in their 40’s are “sandwiched”, with people in their 50’s close behind (Pew Trust Magazine, September 2022).
When I learned about this phenomenon over a decade ago, I never thought my life would one day fall into this cohort. In the last couple of years, I had been juggling between taking care of my young children and my aging parents. My parents pride themselves on their independence, but when they fall ill or have a medical emergency, they can’t keep up with today's technologically advanced world. I find myself not only assisting in their physical needs, but also assisting with their day-to-day needs. Especially if they find learning the new technological advancements a challenge, such as scanning a document on the iPhone and emailing it, versus hunting down a fax machine….
Now I’m just venting, but in all seriousness, no one tells you how hard it can be to take care of your parents and raise children at the same time. If you are a member of the sandwich generation, it's important to remember that you are not alone. Many others are facing similar challenges. Though sometimes difficult, there are ways to overcome these tough moments and find peace and strength in the midst of it all.
One of the most powerful tools for coping with the challenges of the sandwich generation is spending time with God. Scripture can provide comfort, guidance, and inspiration in times of struggle. Here are a few Scriptures that tell us how we can draw on the wisdom of the Word to help navigate this difficult season of life:
Trust in God's Plan
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight". When you feel overwhelmed by the demands of caring for your parents and your children, it can be tempting to try to rely on your own strength and understanding. I know I struggle with this so much, however, it is important to remember that God has a plan for your life, and he will guide you through difficult times if you trust in Him.
Matthew 22:39 says, "Love your neighbor as yourself". This includes loving and caring for yourself. It's important to take care of your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that you can be a better caregiver for your loved ones. This may include taking breaks to rest and recharge, seeking support from friends and family, or engaging in activities that bring you joy and peace. Guilt is not part of God’s Truth. If you feel guilty when you feel like you need self-care, that's the enemy whispering lies. The bottom line is, you can’t take care of others well if you aren’t taking care of yourself well, so tell the devil, “Not Today!”
Lean on Community
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another". Your community can be a source of encouragement, support, and practical help as you navigate the challenges of the sandwich generation. I am part of two community groups at ONE&ALL. Not only is this my time away from the demands of being sandwiched, but it’s my time to be with people God has placed in my path that can give me perspective on life Biblically. I prayed hard about being in more than one group, and God has blessed me so much with the women in both groups. One group is full of women walking the same life as me, and the other group is multi-generational. I tear up thinking about how blessed I am to be part of a group of older and younger women. I took a leap of faith, and went outside of my comfort zone and trusted that God would place me in the group that would offer so much support and growth. If you are not part of a community group, pray to God to open that door and consider joining one.
Find Joy in Small Moments
Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it". Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, there are small moments of joy and beauty to be found. Take time to appreciate the blessings in your life, whether it's a beautiful sunset, a warm hug from your child, or a kind word from a parent. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude can help you find peace and contentment in the midst of challenging times.
Seek God's Guidance
Proverbs 16:9 says, "In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps". When you are faced with tough decisions about caring for your parents and your children, it can be helpful to seek God's guidance. Pray for wisdom and discernment, and trust that God will lead you down the right path. There have been times when sometimes I’ve had to set a boundary with my parents, but the need to appease my parents would conflict with my decision. Seek God, as He is the only one who knows what your heart desires, and He can offer peace if it’s conflicting with the demands.
Being a member of the sandwich generation is not easy, but with faith, love, and perseverance, you can overcome tough moments and find joy and peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Remember to trust in God's plan, practice self-care, lean on your faith community, find joy in small moments, and seek God's guidance in all things.