Life in the sandwich generation does not have to be too complicated if you plan carefully and communicate well with your parents and children.

All parts of your family will benefit if you take some practical steps to help your dependent children while providing home care to your aged parents.

Are you a member of the sandwich generation?  By that, I don’t mean the type of lunch you eat, but the family members for whom you’re responsible.  If you care for both your children and your parents, you’re the proverbial peanut butter and jelly in the sandwich. 

While it’s difficult to pay for parents’ care, save for retirement, and keep up with the expenses of children, there is hope for those who feel squeezed between conflicting interests.  Careful planning and open conversations may help alleviate some emotional and fiscal tension.

Many families are not only supporting dependent children who still live at home. The 2010 Families & Money Survey revealed that four in ten sandwich generation parents are also providing some level of financial support to their adult children.  Sometimes, it takes the form of subsidizing or buying them apartments, and sometimes it is helping them with some of their bills.  Whatever the reason, the sandwich generation needs to evaluate its priorities in order to juggle its various responsibilities efficiently and effectively.

Parents need to teach their children to be money savvy.  Ideally, this should start when they are young.  But, if this hasn’t happened for whatever reason, and your adult children expect you to pay their cell phone bills, buy an apartment, or finance their new business venture, now is the time to start teaching them about unreasonable expectations.  If your financial situation isn’t as strong as you wish it were, consider bringing in a professional financial planner, budget counselor, or organization like Paamonim to teach the fiscal facts of life.  By enabling your adult children to keep to a standard of living that they might not be able to otherwise afford (and jeopardize your own financial future), you may be perpetuating a negative fiscal cycle. 

 Education and honest conversations are the keys to relieving the financial stress of the sandwich generation.  Tell your adult children what help they can expect from you, explain why, and teach them to make their own wise financial decisions.  And then, prepare your own financial future to make it easier on your children when the time comes.