Super Hero Tips for Balancing the Generations

Be a superhero for your generationsLife is a struggle for all generations. Most Boomers and Gen Xers cope with retirement uncertainties, social security unknowns, health care instability, and their own daily living. Meanwhile, our parents, spouse, and adult children have their own troubles and turn to us for venting purposes and, sometimes, wisdom.

Most often, we’re there for listening and support. Other times we must rally the time and energy to be their super hero. We love them and want to help them. We do our best to keep up with their emotional, physical, and financial needs. Unfortunately, we are not super heroes. However, you can appear like a super hero when things are on the verge of surging toward disaster. Here’s how:

Super Hero Secrets

Be available: keep your phone handy (and charged) throughout the day. Yes, that even means during the wee hours. Being able to reach you at any hour provides immeasurable comfort to those who need you most. Whether your parents or children are local or out of state, easy access by phone is often the calming solution family members need.

Be patient. Those that reach out to you at odd hours or inconvenient hours will forget you have a life too, especially when there is disaster on their end. Whenever possible, answer the phone. If unable, reply with a text, a voice message, or other means of communication as soon as possible. Most times, the situation isn’t urgent; the loved one simply needs a sympathetic, calm ear.

  1. If you can answer at that moment but the timing isn’t convenient let the loved one know that you are in a meeting, driving, 1 minute from a client call, etc. Get the gist of the emergency, offer one quick tip, back-up caller, or sympathetic (but sincere) comment, and then offer to call back at an appropriate time.
  2. If you are unable to answer, send a similar response by text to let your loved one know you have received the message and will reply within a certain time. Offer a back-up caller, if possible. I usually refer these emergency calls to my partner.

Be firm. Your loved one may misinterpret your availability as you are available at any time and any place. If the ‘emergencies’ turn out to be a false alarm (‘you just have to hear this joke’ or ‘do you want to come over for a movie’) then you will need to set clear instructions on work hours and play hours.

Be positive. One person’s disaster is another person’s inconvenience. Okay—this is a quote modification, but most of the issues your family members call on you for is not a true disaster. Your best option is to listen and offer a calm reflection of the situation. You are often in the ‘outside-looking-in’ position to help the loved one regroup and restructure the next steps.

Follow up. If the disaster occurs at 8am, provide suggestions and offer to follow up by noon. Then do it! By then, the situation has often diffused itself, and life has returned to a level of calm. The person in question will be more at ease knowing that you have their back.

Bonus tip—Keep notes: this is not to say our memory is failing us, but we have our own lives to attend to as well. Keep a list of what’s happening with each person. Most of the immediate emergencies will be forgotten in a matter of hours, but the more serious ones may linger. Judge whether or not to mention them again, but staying on top of the game saves headaches later and clears your head for clear-thinking and meditation.

Remember: You have a life too!

Making Midlife Better
Kristen Edens