Inside Out 25: The Sandwich Generation

12.01.10 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Many of us have reached the age of “the Sandwich.” I figured this out when dinner conversation with friends seemed equally divided between our children’s science experiments and our parents’ assisted living arrangements. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised: over 65 million Americans provide some form of care-giving. One estimate calculates that the care-giving provided by nine percent of women between the ages of 45 to 56 is care-giving for both the generation younger than themselves and the generation older. We are the people in the sandwich---those who seem to know as much about diapers as they do about Depends.

I wish I had been better prepared for this stage of life: no one wants the first conversation about her in-law’s health insurance to take place in the orthopedic surgeon’s office.

So that you will be better prepared than I, I tracked down author Martha Evans Sparks. Sparks is a journalist with advanced degrees in psychology and library science. Her newest book---about grandparents raising their grandchildren---will be released in March 2011. She is already the author of three books of devotionals tailored for those going through life transitions such as empty nest and care-giving. Sparks learned much of what she passes on to us from her years helping her husband of 42 years manage his chronic illness; she served as his full-time caregiver during the last five years of his life. Currently she is a care-giver for her older sister.

Join us for this very practical conversation about how it feels in the middle of the “sandwich,” the practical questions we should ask our parents while they are still healthy, and the ways God has demonstrated His goodness during the times when Sparks felt too exhausted to keep caring for others.

To read Sparks’s 2007 article, “The Sandwich Generation,” originally published in Marriage Partnership magazine, follow this link:

Sparks’s newest book, Raising Your Children's Children: Help for Grandparents Raising Grandkids," will be released in March 2011. For information on the books Strength for Today, Give Us This Day, and Cherish the Days, follow this link:


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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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