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Blog: Organizing for Boomers
It's INDEPENDENCE DAY - How Independent are the Members of Your Family?

Today is Independence Day-the birthday of our country. While we are walking around wearing our red, white and blue and munching on hot dogs and chips, here's another thought on independence.

As Boomers, many of us are members of the Sandwich Generation, caught in the middle with responsibilities toward the older generation and their needs, while pondering how much parenting advice we can still dish out to our grown-up offspring and get away with. So let's take a closer look at independence.

As a baby boomer if you have parents who have lived independently for many years, sometimes their independence can waiver ever so slightly with the loss of their spouse, a change in their environment or a health scare. November/December holidays are always a good time to keep an eye on how Mom or Pop is doing. Yet, those winter holidays can get hectic and crowded and sometimes we miss simple clues that are in front of us.

Think of summer as a good time for a check-up on Mom and Dad. By that I don't mean shipping them off to their doctor, though that might be something you determine would be helpful. What I'm suggesting is just taking a closer look as to how they are doing with day to day living.

If they live close enough to you, spending a day with them and zeroing in on how they are operating can be quite revealing. The key here is focusing with realistic eyes. Even the greatest CEO and Manager of the Mob can start to lose some of their zing and zest for life. Age really is just a number; so there's no magic number that one reaches with announcements, like "Hey, there-I just reached ________, and I can't reason any more."

The converse was true when we were growing up. I was taught the age of reason kicks in at age seven. Before seven, I think my folks excused a lot of my behavior (or misbehavior) as childish and immature. Yet, after age seven, I was taught right from wrong and instilled with being responsible for my actions and held accountable.

Some folks can live independently into their 90s, while others seem to need assistance with life in their late 60s. It's up to their adult children to evaluate with EYES WIDE OPEN what their parents are capable of doing and what they can no longer do. This is a tough role and one in which we are hardly prepared. It's role reversal, and whoever heard of taking a class called "Role Reversal" and learning how to do this.

On the other side of the Oreo cookie are our offspring. Some of them have blossomed and bloomed and moved on to find their way in the world quite well. Others may be hovering closer to the nest and for a variety of reasons have not quite formed their own nest.

We think back to our own growing up and often recognize that at their age we were living independently by now. So we have to look at this with EYES WIDE OPEN as well. Are there extenuating circumstances why this "adult child" (now there's an oxymoron for you) has not flown the coop just yet?

What is going on in that person's life that prevents your offspring from, well, springing off to his or her own life and space? Like a mother bird when the baby birds get too big for her nest, watch closely. She often has to coax them or gently nudge them to flap their wings and go for it. Take a look at your nest and see if there are some grown-ups taking advantage of the comforts of your home or not.

Independence is a valued virtue. We love our country and what it stands for. In years past and present people have worked hard to get to this country because of its freedoms and opportunities. Our elderly parents cling to their independence because they do not want to be a burden to us. Yet it is up to us to watch over with eyes wide open and keep confirming their ability to be independent.

We owe our offspring the same opportunities of independence. It's only when we fall and get up and try again that we learn to walk well and steady as a child. When we are of adult age, we have to stumble and fall a few times before we get adulthood down pat.

Don't we owe that to our offspring as well?

Until next time…
Making Your Space a Special Place



posted on: 7/4/2008 12:30:00 PM by Sue Crum
category: Special Populations

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Organizing for Boomers

by Sue Crum

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About Sue:

Sue Crum knows and understands the life of a Baby Boomer all too well. Having served as the filling of an Oreo cookie for many years, she has reinvented herself in San Diego as the owner of The R.E.D. Team, Reinventing Everyday Designs, doing professional organizing, real estate staging, and interior redesign.

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