It's a typical mid-life sandwich. Aging parents on one side, growing kids on the other, and you spread thin in the middle and feeling the squeeze.
Your parents are getting older, they're starting to need you more. You find yourself feeling sad and responsible. Your kids can still absorb all the time and energy you have to spare. You feel worn out and responsible.
Sometimes it seems like you get to be responsible for everyone. When that happens, you can get so absorbed with juggling the needs of both generations and managing the countless practical issues that arise that you don't have a chance to take stock of how you are feeling.
You grow up expecting your parents to look after you. As they start to become frail you can lose that sense of support, you may even start to feel burdened. You may feel terribly sad, as you realize that you and they and your kids are all losing something.
At the same time you might feel pressured to get everything right with your own kids. If you add in taking care of your self and your relationship it can start to feel like there is just not enough of you to go around.
The thing is, you do have a choice about how you approach this. You can focus on your worries about time, money and practical issues; you can focus on feeling tired and sad; or you can pay attention to building the relationships in your family.
What would it be like if your parents and your children became each other's allies and companions instead of competitors for your attention? If you can put some of your efforts into this, you may find you can ease many of the other pressures you are facing.
When Grandparents and grandchildren are awkward together sometimes it's because they are struggling to find common ground. The kids feel like they have to be on their best behaviour and grandparents don't know enough about their grandchildren's interests to draw them out.
You might try getting them curious about the ways they are different. The rapid pace of change makes many grandparents' childhood stories as different and unusual to kids as a fantasy. Most kids love a good story and most Grandparents have a whole life's worth of stories to tell.
Its possible teenagers might be interested in some family history too. If they're busy working out who they are, stories about where they've come from might help them to do that.
Your family doesn't stop growing and developing because a generation is ageing and passing on responsibility. The relationships we build with each other are at the heart of our families. Very often, when those relationships thrive, our sadness and our tiredness, and even some of the practical problems we face become easier to live with.
If you're feeling the squeeze between generations and aren't sure where to put your priorities, contact Relationships Aotearoa on 0800 735 283 or telephone your local office.