Category Archives: Stress

Do you say sorry too much?

When disagreements occur, are you quick to jump in and say “I am sorry”? Even when you might not really be sorry. Maybe you don’t even think you did anything wrong, or maybe you were upset by something the other person said or did but rather than addressing it, you say “sorry.”

It is possible to say “sorry” too much. It can be a quick way to get out of conflict, to avoid the disagreement from extending into another. It is avoidant and it is not healthy. 

Conflict isn’t bad.

Every relationship has some kind of conflict. It is healthy and helps your relationship to grow and strengthen when handled in a constructive way. By constantly apologizing, even when you don’t really mean it, you are creating unhealthy boundaries. You are not addressing things that might be a problem for you. You are not airing your grievances and in turn are likely building resentment. And, you are showing the person you are in conflict with that you can be walked on because you won’t stand up for yourself.

By immediately saying “sorry” you are closing the door to the discussion. You are eliminating the space to make changes that could help you feel happier and help your relationship. 

It is common for people who are not confident in conflict-resolution skills to apologize too much. It becomes a knee-jerk reaction. But, the best way to improve those skills is to try them out and gain confidence. Not only will discussion help to strengthen and grow your relationships, but it will also help you to feel better about yourself.

The first step to ending the cycle of the chronic apologizer is to first recognize and acknowledge it is a problem. Then next time you are faced with conflict don’t jump to the apology, instead take the time to share your side, express your needs and your feelings. You won’t regret it, and even if it doesn’t go as well as you would have hoped at least you are making strides in the right direction. 

The ​Sandwich Generation: 9 Emotional & Financial Stressors It Can Create for Women

It’s a Tuesday morning and you’re sitting at your desk. Your coffee is still hot, almost all of your emails from the previous day have been opened and you’re prepping for your afternoon meeting. Then, in a matter of minutes, a call from the school nurse comes through. Your child is sick and needs to be picked up immediately. As you coordinate those plans, the doctor’s office calls to remind you of your mother’s 2:30 pacemaker appointment for later that day, one that may have slipped your mind. If this scenario, in any variation of it, sounds familiar, you are in what researchers call the “Sandwich Generation.”

The Sandwich Generation can be defined as individuals aged 40 to 59 to who are responsible for raising children while caring for the needs of their parents. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that roughly one out of every eight Americans falls within this category. I’m all too familiar with helping individuals, particularly women, handle the day to day stresses of being a dual caregiver. As women stuck in the Sandwich Generation, the dueling lifestyles can create a number of psychological, emotional and financial stresses. Here are a few:

  • Though men can be in the Sandwich Generation, families are more likely to adopt the “efficiency mentality.” This is the belief that since women are already taking care of children, taking care of aging parents may not seem as big a burden to add on. This mentality grossly underestimates the resources and time necessary to handle both responsibilities.
  • One major factor that has played a role in the steady growth of the Sandwich Generation is that many couples are delaying the point at which they choose to start a family. This is in large part due to the ever-changing economic climate and student loan debt. Women are working to become more established in their careers and financially secure before starting a family.
  • Single mothers are increasingly becoming the dominant demographic of the Sandwich Generation in comparison to married mothers.
  • Advances in the medical field have increased life expectancy, allowing aging parents the ability to live longer and healthier lives. This means more resources are necessary to sustain living. Societal expectations of women caregivers in conjunction with the economy driving women to work have created emotionally and psychologically draining ‘round-the-clock lifestyles for women within the Sandwich Generation.
  • It is very common for women in the Sandwich Generation to experience feelings of depression, anxiety and other symptoms of emotional distress because of worries about outlook for elderly parents, themselves and their own children.
  • The needs of the caregiver within the Sandwich Generation often go unaddressed, creating personal issues in areas such as health and finance.
  • Despite the negatives, it is possible for the Sandwich Generation to meet the demands of child, parent and self. This comes through support networks, communication, prioritization and respite care.
  • A positive that comes from Sandwich Generation is the familial bond created – strengthening the bond between elderly parent and adult children. Grandchildren get to know their roots by being with their grandparents more.
  • Planning, organization and communication are three main skills that help those women within the Sandwich Generation to balance the constant needs of both children and parents.

Are you in the Sandwich Generation? Share your issues, knowledge, struggles and suggestions below. Mabel Yiu is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Women’s Therapy Institute in Palo Alto, Calif.

When Custody Battles Forget the Children

Often times after an emotional divorce a contentious, sometimes brutal, custody disagreement ensues. When it comes to their children, parents become fierce. They love their kids more than anything and dont want to lose any time with them, so they fight. They fight with their former spouse. They demand their children to pick sides. Suddenly. love becomes an extremely destructive energy.

 In an effort to get as much time as possible with their children they forget about the quality of time. The children are placed in the middle, feeling the pull from both sides. They want to be fair to both parents, and they identify with both. Both parents are part of them and they dont want to let either down.

When the children become witness to their parents’ battles or are part of negative conversations surrounding the other parent, harm is done. Hearing one parent bash the other becomes an internal struggle for the child and causes them to form negative views about either or both parents. 

Children always remember these bad, contentious moments. Hostility, even when it’s towards the other parent and not directly at the child, diminish child’s trust. A child cannot trust the hostile parent’s ability to provide emotional safety. In the end, the child may resent the hostile parent and may remain emotionally distant from that parent, even when they still love that parent.  I have many child and teen clients who tell me how they cant wait to leave their hostile parent or the parent who forces them to choose sides. They still love their parents but want to get away from the fighting, the hostility. They want to escape the drama. 

A wise person once told me that 90% of our time with our children is when they are between the ages of 0-18 before they launch into adulthood (that is assuming they dont boomerang back home as an adult due to the economy, but that’s another topic). Parents who are fighting for custody tend to lose sight of this special time with their kids. They waste the last few teenage years by focusing on the quantity and not quality, when they are still in their care, and pull their kids into the fight. Parents often make the teenager choose between one parent or the other, continuing the hostility. They forget how important this time is with their kids. They forget to focus on building harmony and strengthening their relationship with their child. Sure, not all moments are hostile or negative, but every moment counts. 

Children will eventually grow up and all custody battles will eventually end. I often ask parents what kind of relationship they hope to have with their child when their child becomes adult. Think about it, isn’t it sad that we spend all this time fighting for our children and we lose them in the process? Shouldnt we be working to build harmony, for their sake and our future with them?