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Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Hey everyone. Welcome the Sandwich Generation Squeeze. Real conversations to support the generation squeezed between caring for children and aging parents. I’m Cris Roskelley, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: And I’m Dr. Dianne Kraaijvanger, a Licensed Psychologist. This episode is brought to you by Freshly, a great meal delivery service.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, I’m really excited to talk about freshly because it feels like meal time seems to come around three hundred times per day in this house.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. One way to ease your daily squeeze is to delegate and outsource your meal prep. I know that it will help so much of the stress in the house if you already have some of those meals already prepared and it takes about three minutes just to get them up and running and on the table.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And, you know, a meal delivery subscription can also be a great thing for aging parents who aren’t comfortable cooking anymore or plain just don’t want to.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. And Freshly offers healthy gluten-free chef-prepared all-natural gourmet meals that are delivered to your doorstep through a weekly subscription model. So please check the show notes for a special promo link for our listeners.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: So today is our first podcast episode.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, we’re excited.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Today we’ve decided to talk about boundaries. We chose boundaries as the first topic because it’s a really important thing for those in the sandwich generation squeeze and something that is really challenging to a lot of people.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, absolutely. Boundaries are about defining lines, right? It just helps to kind of set some limits, which is really important when you’re being pulled in all different directions.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And boundaries really just sets limits on what’s OK versus what’s not OK. And they really protect you from others and others from you.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, [00:02:00] absolutely. And so one of the questions that someone might ask is, well, why would we have this as our very first episode. And I think one of the reasons for that is just to ease the squeeze, right? That’s what we are here trying to do. We’re trying to ease that tension and the stress that many of us who are in the sandwich generation are going through.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Exactly. And so many of us in the sandwich generation really have a hard time saying no. You know, we feel a sense of duty. We want to give back. We might feel guilty. We might not have been taught that it’s OK to say no or take care of ourselves. So we really want to help everybody learn what boundaries look like, how to set them and how to know when they’re not being respected.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. You know, and there’s different types of boundaries, right? There’s a lot of different types. You know, some of them includes physical, sexual talking, listening and emotional boundaries.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And so we’ll just kind of move through them. Sexual boundary is, you know, having that non-negotiable right to say no. And a physical boundary also a non-negotiable right to say no. And I think this one’s really relevant in the sandwich generation squeeze. One example that kind of always comes to my mind is that pressure that we might put on a child to, like, hug a grandparent or a boundary breach when a grandparent is kind of putting that pressure on a child. And as a parent, we kind of inadvertently shame them or guilt the child to do it and teach them not to know how to respect their own physical boundary.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, and talking boundary is another one, which is really about having that filter right between the brain and kind of what comes out of your mouth. And so it also includes speaking in appropriate volume and tones and balancing between talking and listening, which is a big one. Right for people, is that you really [00:04:00] want to try to figure out when you’re in relationships. I always kind of tell my kids it’s almost like a tennis match. You know, you want it to go back and forth. And that’s part of that talking, listening boundary ratio totally. And not just kind of formulating the next point you want to say actually really being present, really listening. Yes, exactly. And I do want to go back that and having a filter between your brain and what comes out of your mouth.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: I think we’ve we’ve all interacted with those people where, you know, they’re kind of having a stream of consciousness out of their mouth. And we we all have thoughts that we might like to say, you know, or things that come to our come to mind. But, you know, we need to have that boundary and knowing what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, absolutely. And then the listening boundary, this this can be a hard one for a lot of people. You know, it’s about taking in what you hear. It’s you deciding whether it rings true for you or not. You know, when it’s functional is you are listening with. Curiosity and objectivity, and you’re able to balance if what you’re hearing rings true or whether it doesn’t.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: And if you have a weak listening boundary, that’s when you’re really vulnerable to what another person might say to you or about you. You know, it can really lead you to feeling bad if somebody says something hurtful and you take other people’s opinions as your truth.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And for many of our listeners, too, I think one of the boundaries that I know you and I have talked about a lot, Cris, is that emotional boundary. And this is kind of the space that people take beyond their physical sense, their physical body, which is really important. It’s really important for people who are caregivers who can be highly sensitive people, people who pick up energy of others.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, I mean, I am certainly very aware, as we’ve probably all experienced, when you’re in a room with somebody and you just [00:06:00] feel energy emanating from them, whether it’s somebody mad and you just feel it coming out of their pores or somebody’s leaking sexuality and it makes somebody feel uncomfortable or, you know, when it comes to something like narcissism when. You know, a narcissist has a weak energy boundary, so they kind of take up and suck up all the oxygen in the room. And so a way to know when that’s happening is when you kind of feel anxious or fearful for a no no reason.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah. You know, in terms of sandwich generation. Right. In terms of the sandwich generation that we’re kind of talking about, is these creating these boundaries? It’s crucial, is crucial to help with burnout, anxiety, depression, feelings of guilt, because it’s really all about authenticity. It’s about personal power. It’s about expression of your authentic self and the ability to express who you are.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, and that’s why I was really excited to have this as that we were going to do this as our first episode because so many people hear the word boundaries and think they’re bad, know it’s like a bad word where in reality it’s a good thing to set limits and it’s a good thing to know your limits. And that’s actually freeing. Yeah. And that actually widens relationships when you’re able to communicate your needs and your limits and you get then the opportunity to see if those are going to be respected.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. Because it helps clarify communication. It really does. And so there’s there’s a spectrum of boundaries. You know, some people can have really rigid boundaries when they’re really not available for connection and they feel walled off. They don’t let themselves be vulnerable in a relationship.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: And then on the opposite side, somebody has no boundaries, right?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, very porous. They kind of overshare that personal information kind of difficulty saying no to the request of others, sometimes even over-involved with others problems and dependent on the opinions [00:08:00] of others totally.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: And that those people can feel really needy to other people. They keep pushing other people’s boundaries.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. And so really, the goal is to have that healthy boundary line, which you value opinions, you have that curiosity, you have that objectivity, and it doesn’t compromise values of others and for others.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And that you just you know, you feel free when you kind of set a limit and set a boundary, it kind of frees you to grow in different ways. When there’s a boundary, you have safety and then you can focus on deepening a relationship or, you know, other ways of growth. If you’re so concerned all the time about having a boundary respect that you get stuck there and there’s no way to to grow that relationship.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. And, you know, and you and I have also talked about cultural and geographical differences that affect boundaries. I know that we have lots of funny stories, both of us, from being from two different coasts. You’re from the West Coast. I’m from the East Coast. So we are representing over here in this podcast. But, you know, I remember telling you about when I moved out to California, moved into the condo, and I was probably there not even 15 minutes. And there was a knock on the door. And being a Boston girl, I really was like, what’s what is happening?Like, am I being evacuated? Who’s coming to my door right now? And it was just a neighbor saying hello. And they were about to have a cookout and they wanted to invite me and my partner down to the cookout. And I remember thinking, wow. And so that is one of those examples of, you know, of that kind of geographical difference of boundaries.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: That’s right. Yeah. And, you know, similar when I was in college back east, everybody would always know that I was from California and I could never figure out why, was it the the language [00:10:00] we use or the way we talk? And then I finally figured out that all the Californians were going around hugging everybody. And, you know, a lot of people think that people on the West Coast are a little too loose. So, you know, there’s definitely some coastal differences in addition to cultural differences. It’s interesting.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. You know, and I think we’re just we’re all just trying to balance, right? We’re trying to balance kids and parents and never mind mixing career into that madness.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, when we’re talking about boundaries, it’s also really important to talk about how to tell when those limits have been crossed.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: So let’s talk about some signs of boundary breaks.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. What are those signs is you justify when somebody is bad, when they have bad behavior. So this is kind of a telltale sign that one of our emotional boundaries have been ruptured or broken.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: You know, an example of that, for instance, for me, my father had lived with us, my husband and my three small children and my mother. We took both my parents and at the end of their lives and my father would be very grouchy and there’d be times when he would just snap or. Say things that were rude and I would always say, oh, you know, it’s just don’t worry about that, that’s not what he means. And I would make excuses for him. I would absolutely justify that behavior instead of saying, you know, I’m sorry that you’re going through this, but it’s still we have to watch how we talked with people.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: All righty, welcome to our halftime show, we’re going to answer an audience question, so here we go. Britney asked us. My parents don’t live with us, but they like to be very involved in our lives. My husband thinks it’s excessive. They call each day and they text me frequently throughout the day, [00:12:00] which annoys my husband. I don’t want the strain on my marriage. What should I do?
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Brittany, this is an excellent question and one that Chris and I have heard throughout the years of our practicing therapy. So the first step is for you to figure out what do you want? Do you mind if they are calling and texting you? So really kind of getting in check with yourself, figuring out what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling about it, identify your reality and then communicate that.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Right. So step two would be taking that reality and then communicating within your relationship. So if you realize from the inside out that you are also not OK with all of the texting and calling, then you and your husband get to define a new boundary together and communicate that to your parents. If, on the other hand, you decide that you’re OK with it and he’s not, then it’s time to compromise and it’s time to set some limits that feel good to both parties. So that might be a less frequent phone calls or not texting during dinner or coming up with a mutually acceptable agreement that honors both people’s feelings. Because just because you don’t agree doesn’t mean that both boundaries aren’t valid.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: So we hope this helps. Britney, thank you so much for sending in your question to us and for our listeners out there. If you’d like to submit a question for our halftime show or suggest a future topic, just head on over to our website at Sandwich Generation Squeeze Dotcom.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Another one is when you blame yourself for things going wrong, and this isn’t when you know you have actually done something wrong, you’re kind of taking responsibility for somebody else’s poor behavior. An example might be, let’s say your teenager gets mad [00:14:00] at you that you forgot to wash their jersey. They need for their sports game and they act out. They mistreat you. And instead of kind of honoring your own boundary and having a discussion about how that reaction is not OK, you justify that in that. Well, it’s my fault. I should have watched the jersey. I shouldn’t have been so busy. And you really take it on and feeling shame.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Feeling shame is another boundary break. An example of this would be, say, for instance, it is one partners chance to go out. So you’ve made an agreement is going to be your every other week. It’s Wednesday night. That’s your night to go out. And then you have the other partner that is calling several times when you’re out and you’re about and you’re supposed to be with your friends and relaxing, this sometimes will cause somebody to feel shame and guilt about having their own space, their own time.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Exactly. And another one is when you start doubting your decision, you know, you make a decision that feels good, you believe in it, and then you start second guessing yourself after someone else is actually questioning it. And I think, you know, you and I have both experienced this in terms of just starting the podcast. You know, we’re getting support from our families that it’s such an important topic and go, go, go. And we support you and rah, rah. And then when it actually comes to that, it takes a lot of time and a lot of time away from our other responsibilities. There is some squawking about, you know, maybe being a little less supportive of having us not be on hand to do everything we normally do.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yes, another one is just sensing. Right. Just sensing something is off.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: This kind of goes back to how we were talking about people who have that emotional boundary, sometimes very highly sensitive people.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: I had it as an example with a dear friend and which I just felt like something was off and we brought it up [00:16:00] to each other and we targeted that. And there was, in fact, a boundary rupture and we were able to address that. But some of us sometimes you’ll get that sense and we don’t know why. We might not know how to articulate it. Besides, something just doesn’t feel right. It feels off. And that could be a telltale sign that there’s been a break.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And the final one is when your decision is just really not honored and it feels like you no longer have the ability to choose. And, you know, that’s kind of a big one going on right now with covered. A lot of people have experienced, you know, for example, a get together. They have made clear that their boundary is they want to stay socially distanced with masks and then they get there and somebody pulls off the mask or somebody comes over and gives a hug and all of a sudden your boundary and your ability to choose has been taken away from you.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: So an important thing, I think, Cris, that we have to really kind of talk about also is what are the signs that we get that we know, OK, we need to set a boundary. What are some of those cues that are triggered within us that we know? OK, time for a boundary. So there’s either a break that’s there or we just have to maybe put in place some healthier boundaries than we already have.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And these are sort of those innocuous feeling states, the first one being anger. You know, if you start to feel like you’re angry, you don’t really know why. You know, maybe you’ve said yes when you meant to say no. That’s a sign that, hey, a boundary is needed here. A good tip for this is just to slow down like a lot of us have a hard time saying no. So if somebody asks if you can do something, your parent asks if you can come over to help them or spend time doing something that really don’t have time to do, slow down. Take a moment and let yourself say no. Sometimes [00:18:00] when you don’t have that pressure to respond right in the moment, you can end up honoring a boundary and not having that anger.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: So another sign would be resentment. This one is we don’t want to assume the role of the victim.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: And especially in the sandwich generation, we have so many things that are pulling us, so many things from scheduling to the kids schedules to your parents schedules to your work schedules.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: And sometimes we get jilted or we feel like we’re getting jilted into doing things. And so then we say yes. And like Cris and I have both talked about today during this podcast, it’s OK to say no. And sometimes if you don’t do that, then a sense of resentment will build up. That sense of victimization will build up. And you really have to try to change that mindset of that. You’re not the victim in this. You are you are absolutely free to choose your response. And that can be very empowering.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, it really is a relief. And another one is when you’re feeling overwhelmed. And this obviously is really common in the sandwich generation. Like you said, when you’re balancing all the different plates and you’re juggling it and you are feeling the squeeze, that is when it is just so important to set the boundaries so you can limit the overwhelm. And, you know, a big part of being able to limit the overwhelm is when you are aware enough to know what limits you need to set. And, you know, sometimes you’re going to need to keep setting them because they might not be respected right away or they might be pushed. But when you’re feeling that overwhelmed, that’s a sign that you need to slow down and start setting some limits.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, we can get feedback, too, right. That’s something that we’re doing is overstepping a limit that’s important. For example, I have two teenage daughters and one pre-teen, and maybe there’s times when I just want to go up and I want to give that hug. Right. I want to like I just need that money time. And so [00:20:00] I’ll go up and I might grab them or when I got to give them a kiss and not as much now with covid, but even that we had a friend over today, obviously six feet apart with masks on. And I kind of went out and I just gave my daughter a little kiss on the head and said, Love you, hon. And she looked at me as if I had two heads, like, thank you, mom. Now you may go inside, but, you know, so we really want to be in touch with that feedback that maybe something that we’re doing is overstepping somebody else’s boundaries as well.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. Let’s talk about when we do need to set a boundary. How how do we do it? What does it look like? Because some people will really push back. Some people experience a boundary as a no or a rejection. You know, we need to look at how do we make a boundary as a request, not a demand. You know, a lot of people are uncomfortable setting a boundary. So they do it, you know, barking instead of of setting just a healthy parameter.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Boundaries are telling others what you will do, not telling another what they must do. I think that is key as oftentimes it feels as if we’re talking at people instead of talking with people. And so when we’re setting those boundaries, we have to really make sure that we understand this. This is in our power, in our control. So what are we going to do and not place that on another? I think that’s an important thing.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: And it’s also if it’s done relationally, then it’s just representative being healthy and good health care.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. It’s really kind of tapping into your own authentic power to have the confidence to set the boundary and some some phrases that are helpful with that is saying no or stop or I’m not comfortable with that or I don’t want to do that. And, you know, standing your ground. And that takes some practice because that can be pretty unfamiliar and uncomfortable for a lot of people.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, absolutely. You [00:22:00] know, because you feel like going in and talking a little bit about some common scenarios, maybe with sandwich generation squeeze and kind of aging parents, maybe that might be helpful, too, for people who are listening.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah, I think that, you know, there’s a couple very common scenarios in terms of aging parents. Some aging parents will really poll to be taken care of and they might overstep that boundary and look to their child to be partner, doctor, caregiver, all of it, where, you know, it’s really important to remember that you don’t need to fill all the roles and it’s actually not healthy for you or for the aging parent to try to fill all the roles.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. I mean, I remember when my parents live with me and because I am a registered nurse as well as a psychologist, sometimes I would put that pressure, but also my parents putting that pressure on being that everything right and not able to be the daughter that I wanted to be at times. And that can be really stressful. And I think that can lead to some of the feelings that we were talking about earlier, that of resentment and feeling overwhelmed and anger.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Totally. And when you look at it, when you’re so busy being the nurse. To your parents, you’re setting the limit and setting a boundary actually frees you up for more connection. You know, if you’re so busy being the nurse and then you’re able to set that boundary, then you actually get to be present with them and just enjoy the relationship and build those connections instead. So boundaries are a positive thing.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Yeah, exactly. And then on the flip side, you know, there were also times when I wanted to parent them, so and they weren’t comfortable with that. They really wanted kind of their space and for me to respect them and their limits. And so I had to ask myself, kind of, what was that coming from? So balancing that feeling overwhelmed like, oh, I’m expected to be everything. But then at other times very much kind of jumping into the parenting role.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Notably, I’m good at that one. I [00:24:00] find myself trying to parent my parents, and they make it very clear that they do not want that. And, you know, they’re perfectly capable of managing their own affairs or decisions. And especially when it comes to covid, you know, just that I’ve really shared my my opinions and, you know, my wanting them to just be really, really careful. And obviously, it’s coming from a place of wanting them to be here and not have them get sick or have anything happen to them. But at the same time, it can feel like I’m encroaching upon their ability to set their own limits and and crossing that boundary.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s what we’re hoping to for this podcast. You know, I remember when my parents were living with us, I remember thinking there was no time, there was no energy to read something necessarily. There wasn’t there wasn’t enough hours in the day. So that’s what I know you and I were talking about, especially with this podcast in terms of the sandwich generation, is to really have something that people can pop on and they can listen to it so they can listen to this episode. All of about boundaries, which is hugely important, especially when you’re trying to juggle it all, kind of the importance of kind of taking ownership, that clear communication, that definition of in terms of how you relate to others.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: Yeah. And I think, you know, one thing that’s important to remember is boundaries is a big subject. We will be exploring it in different ways in future episodes. But to remember that it takes practice and it can be really hard to set boundaries for a lot of people and with other people, you know, it can be hard to make requests. It’s it requires vulnerability and you need to know your own needs. And others might really push back or their lack of boundaries, their lack of their own boundaries won’t allow them to respect theirs, to [00:26:00] respect yours. So, you know, I think you just have to be prepared to practice and it might not go smoothly. You know, it can create a lot of ripples when you try to set a limit. But we we urge you to keep exploring and keep practicing because, you know, it’s important to ease your squeeze and to try it with people you trust.
Dianne Kraaijvanger, PsyD: So, Cris and I want to thank everybody today. Thanks for listening to the Sandwich Generation Squeeze. Please share us with your friends and be great if you would write and review the show, which helps new listeners find us. And of course, if you’d like to submit a question, which we love to hear from our listeners, for our halftime show or suggest a future topic, just head on over to our website at sandwichgenerationsqueeze.com. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode: Let’s Talk About Sex.
Cris Roskelley, LMFT: All right. Bye for now.