May 15, 2024


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Being pulled in too many directions?

You have finally retired and you have all this free time, and then your daughter comes to you and says “Mom, Dad, can you help us with the kids?” 

And you find yourself three days a week sitting with your grandchildren. 

Yes, you love them and you want to be with them, you don't want to hurt your daughter's feelings but you and your husband were thinking about traveling and spending more time socializing with friends. 

Or maybe, there's a disagreement between you and your spouse. One of you are ready to get up and go and start to travel and spend more time doing things together while the other one would prefer sitting with the grandkids.  

What's Happening Here?

 Not only is there a time element involved here, but the impact on our health, our ability to keep up with the grandkids, our physical limitations can cause absolute physical exhaustion. 

And then there's the emotional stress when we see how our adult children are raising our grandkids. We might want to say something but we keep our comments to ourself because we don't want to cause a problem within the family. 

But this is not about the family riffs. It's about the difficulty we face setting boundaries with our adult children regarding child care arrangements.  It can cause family relationships to strain if we don't set good boundaries ahead of time. 

Seniors have a very particular dilemma when it comes to setting boundaries that younger folks don't often have. 

Several things that come to mind. One is self-sacrifice. It’s noble and virtuous and we feel compelled to help our adult children out.  I have seen many seniors who always had a great self-worth decline as they age. With this declination comes a low self-worth making it difficult for them to assert their boundaries with their adult children. 

Then I see others who do it out of a fear of abandonment or rejection. These seniors are afraid that their children will see them as uncaring and therefore withdraw the grandkids from their seniors. 

But none of this has to happen.

 Let me tell you the true story about one of our members. 

These grandparents babysat three children while their parents went off to work. This meant on some mornings they drop them off at school and pick them up after school. One of them was still too young for kindergarten so stayed home all day.  We all know the cost of daycare is outrageous so this saved the parents a lot of money. 

Sadly, the husband died and the other grandmother felt that she could not take care of her grandchildren alone anymore.  She had to get through her own grief first and then she had to rebuild her life.  She realized that while she loved her children and grandchildren, she could not physically do what they needed but at the same time she desired her children's approval.   

We told her that hospice provides grief counseling whether you use their services or not. It's completely free. Since Mary still wanted to travel to Florida in the winter to see her friends, she decided to tell her grief counselor about her plans and her dilemma with her daughter. 

This grief counselor had her walk through what was holding her back. She gave her the strength and support she needed to approach the subject with her daughter and son-in-law. At first it didn't go well but Mary knew this because her grief counselor told her this was a normal first reaction. So, with this kind of support, Mary to hold her boundaries and set her limits. 

She told me later it was a really rough patch. In a time in her life when she didn't feel she could lose her daughter and grandchildren since she had just lost John, she felt so vulnerable. But looking back she says, “It's the best thing I ever could do for myself. She said her life didn't stop after the loss of her husband but grew in a new way that helped her keep her health, her strength, and her attitude growing in the right direction. 

Sure enough, her son and daughter eventually came around and saw that Mary needed a life of her own. In fact, there was a new respect there never seen before. 

So, what can you do?

 Some of us are already stuck in our commitments and we don't know how to get out of them. 

But the good news is there are ways to slowly work your way back out to the freedom that you seek. 

Here are a few good quick super simple tips.


#1 - Be Direct and Firm. Do not over-apologize or over-excuse yourself. Just give ONE reason why you can no longer do that commitment.  For example, “I love babysitting but it is costing me in my health, energy, and time so I will need to ask that you find alternative arrangements over the next 30 days.”


#2 - Set Boundaries Upfront.  Lots of seniors do this quite well. They let their children know they have previous commitments and cannot always be available.  When the children ask, the lines are already drawn and the game is in play so our seniors say, “I’m unable to babysit this weekend but thank you for checking with me first.”


#3 - Stand Your Ground. Sometimes, our children expect us to babysit our grandchildren out of “duty”. Family members have told me that they will have to “return the favor” someday when their parents get too old to take care of themselves.  Most of us realize this is not a give-and-take.  We never want our loved ones to take care of us out of obligation.  We ask them to do it out of love and compassion. When I hear these remarks from our members, “It’s a little like saying, “You owe me. Or What?”  And I ask them, “So, you had children so they can take care of you someday?” They realize how foolish this sounds.  And besides that, how healthy is this dysfunctional thought?  Does it not lead to stress, frustration, and anger? 

Because I care about your energy and health, I know you can overcome these limiting beliefs to recognize your inherent value and worthiness, as well as your right to prioritize your own well-being and set boundaries that support your physical, emotional, and psychological health.  

Seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals can help you challenge and reframe these beliefs, empowering you to assert your boundaries with confidence and assertiveness. 

And don’t worry if those you love get mad.  We all get mad at times, but it’s only out of fear.  They fear they may not find another sitter; they fear they may not be able to afford one, they fear the change. 

Once those fears are solved, they all come back to being the loving person they always were! and if not, the good news? You're not held hostage to their demands. 

The Senior Freedom Club™

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The most comprehensive membership, for validating, planning, and implementing your healthy, organized, and balanced life. The Senior Freedom Club™ not only shows seniors exactly how to age like a Super Ager, but how to help family caregivers enjoy a healthy and balanced stress-free life while caring for their seniors. 

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  • About the Author

    Hi, I'm Suzanne. My passion is creating working knowledge to well-informed, well-prepared seniors and their families so they may enjoy the later years with health, wealth, and happiness, I've helped over 10,000 patients, seniors and their famlies like yourselves do just that through my courses, eBooks, the Senior Freedom Club™, and in my physician assistant medical practice.


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