This Shabbos, Gd-willing, I'll be leading the fifth class in our "Parenting from the Torah" series. The topic will be "The Sandwich Generation", and I hope to address some of the big questions that arise when people have the opportunity to care for their parents while raising children.
Here are the vignettes I plan to use:
1. Janet and Jim have three children in yeshiva, at a total cost of $45,000 per year. They are also paying for 24-hour care for Jim's parents, and they are finding that between these two costs, they cannot make ends meet. From a halachic perspective: If they need to cut one of these, which do they cut?
2. Jill moved her mother Susan into her home two years ago, when Susan's dementia began to worsen. She reasoned that the home environment and a daughter's care would be better than Susan would receive in a nursing home. Now, though, Jill is finding that her mother's presence is causing great strain on Jill's marriage, difficulty for Jill's work in her home office, and bitterness between Jill and her siblings. May Jill move her mother into a nursing home?
3. James (age 38), John (35) and Julie (30), all married, are sharing the tasks of looking after their parents. James and Julie are raising children; John and his wife are childless. Although their relationships with each other have historically been strong, they find themselves quarreling over the specifics of who does what for their parents. Is there halachic basis for assigning certain responsibilities to a particular child? If not, how can they reduce their disagreements?
Your thoughts on these vignettes would be most welcome.