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Ask the Expert: Alyson Schafer on managing family demands

If you’re currently raising children while taking care of your aging parents, you’re in what’s referred to as the Sandwich Generation. More and more adults are finding themselves strapped for time and sapped of energy as they struggle to balance the complex demands of parenting, caregiving, and working. To help provide support and guidance, LifeSpeak expert, parenting guru, and author, Alyson Schafer, joined our Ask the Expert session today. Alyson is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and CTV News Channel and Alyson sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine and is a regular contributor at Today’s Parent. Alyson is the best selling author of Breaking The Good Mom Myth and Honey, I Wrecked The Kids and her latest, Ain’t Misbehavin’. She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at

Here are the highlights from our webchat with Alyson Schafer. Please keep in mind all user participation is anonymous.

Finding your tribe as a stay-at-home parent

QUESTION — “I chose to be a stay-at-home mom and I find that a lot of my friends and acquaintances judge me because I don’t have a career. How can I get them to respect my choices and be less judgmental?”

Alyson Schafer — “Oh dear, it never feels good to be judged and to feel we are not valued for the important work of parenting. Find a group of other stay-at-home moms who are also making those life choices. Remember that you don’t need other’s validation to live your life the way you want to. We have to look within ourselves for acceptance. I find that if we stop judging others, we, in turn, feel less judged.”

Preparing for the retirement home

QUESTION — “When do you know whether it is time to put someone in a retirement home full time?”

Alyson Schafer— “Big decisions like putting someone in a retirement home require many discussions with all the stakeholders. Start the discussion with your family and the primary medical practitioner. Open communication is key, and the decision has to feel like all were consulted. This is not all on you. You may be surprised at how early open dialogue can ease the pathway to a decision that may only be made years later.”

Understanding teen behavior

QUESTION — “Any suggestions on helping a 12-year-old girl who seems to be shutting down a bit? She doesn’t tell me much anymore, but I get the feeling she doesn’t have many friends this year at school. She used to be much more talkative at home, and now she kind of seems sad. Asking her what is going on is useless as she says everything is fine. Not sure if I should stop asking…”

Alyson Schafer — “Welcome to adolescence! It’s a whole new ball game for parents. It is common they want more privacy, and they share less. But never stop showing an interest or asking how they are doing!! Often you have to wait LONG periods of time before they build the courage to talk. Just hang out as much as you can (like reading in her bedroom while she does homework), and she may start talking eventually. Let her know that she can always talk anonymously to KidsHelpPhone via text message. Friendships are of the biggest importance, and if she is not feeling she has friends, that is a big deal. It may be time to see if she would like to find new friends outside of school via clubs and social groups. Let her know that you can see she is not her old self and you just want for her happiness… that you have her back no matter what.”

Don’t miss our next Ask the Expert session!

If you weren’t able to catch our webchat with Alyson Schafer, you can always sign into your LifeSpeak account to read the transcript. And be sure to log in March 26 at 12PM EST to chat with Bob Gavlak, who will be answering your questions about getting your personal finances in order. If you don’t have a LifeSpeak account, please have your HR team reach out to us about your company subscribing.

What is Ask the Expert?

Our Ask the Expert sessions allow our users to have regular access to our experts in real time, which allows them to have their pressing questions answered. This opportunity provides our users with practical and easily implemented tips to help them make real changes in their lives. To learn more, don’t hesitate to book a walk-through.