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Nuclear Family Sandwich

A FinDem reader has told us about the ‘sandwich’ generation. Apparently coined by US columnist Carol Abaya (see her web site http://www.thesandwichgeneration.com/ ) the term refers to midlife generations with upwards and downwards caring responsibilities. The connotation is one of the carefree 50’s couple in the menopausal-red sports car, having a brief flirtation with empty-nest freedom which is abruptly cut short by aged parents requiring intensive caring and children returning to the nest with hand out for money or hands out holding grandchildren for on-demand child minding.

Abaya defines the ‘Traditional Sandwich’ with two slices of bread as caring for parents and children, and the ‘Club Sandwich’ with three slices as caring for parents, children and grandchildren.

In other cultures (particulalry South East Asia) households of extended families have been taken as the norm. In the post WW2 western developed world, the nuclear family model emerged (originated by sociologist William Goode http://www.findem.com.au/resources/displayResourcesArticle.php?id=86 ). This has lead to expectations of self indulgent retirement in early 50’s filled with exotic travel every few months, coffee mornings and regular lunches out. This sounds like fun at first but was probably bound to become a bit boring without some externalising. Caring for a few others is probably going to be a welcome diversion (as long as is not all once!).

Posted Saturday, 25 June 2005


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