Category Archives: Relationships

Obscure Holiday + Scary Conversation = Pro-activity

epitaph: a brief statement commemorating or epitomizing a deceased person or something past


Today is officially Plan Your Epitaph Day.

What, it’s not on your calendar?


Here’s 5 reasons it should be:

During “real” holidays, people are too focused on travel, food, finances, and traditions.  Room is typically not made for serious discussions (e.g. caregiving, advanced directives, wills, etc.) that can positively or adversely affect a family.

With many people fearing end of life conversations, using this holiday as an opener for a proactive discussion can expand the fearful lens to one of reflection and celebration.

Even if the family is not in one place to celebrate Plan Your Epitaph Day, the sentiments can easily be shared using technology. This allows everyone to easily participate in a low pressure situation.

This time could be used to think about relatives who are no longer physically alive but who are living in your heart and memories. Calling relatives or getting together to celebrate deceased family members’ lives during none typical times  (e.g. high holidays, birthdays, funeral anniversary, etc.) can support a family in properly mourning (meaning – not keeping memories bottled up) and keeping joyful memories at the forefront.

Writing your own epitaph, long before you need it, could potentially motivate you to work on areas of your life that keep getting booted from your to do list. This may include tending to items on your bucket list, mending relationships with family members, collecting family history, or taking steps to improve your health and well-being.

What are your thoughts about planning your epitaph before you need it? How could this be beneficial to you and your family?


Pre-marriage therapy

Love is in the air, folks.

I had the chance to meet up with a long-time friend on a quick trip to Colorado. She was sharing the family joy about her niece’s upcoming wedding and all the fun, special, and multigenerational planning that was going into this event.

This morning I was talking with another friend who passed along the cheerful news of mutual friend’s engagement. We chatted about how great it was this mutual friend is really marrying the man of her dreams.


Last night I was cleaning off the DVR and perusing the April/May 2013 issue of Brides magazine (Yes, I subscribe. Judge me!) when I came across episode 9 of Shahs of Sunset. Yes, I know I’m on the late show with this episode – but hey, I know I’m not the only one who gets behind on DVR recordings.

Other than the chaos, yelling, knife wielding, and overspending of the Shah’s cast –this episode caused me to pause and make a connection with the therapy session between MJ and her mother.


The therapist offered both women clipboards with the prompts:

  • For my mother I want…
  • For my daughter want…

Each woman was allowed a few minutes to write some things down and then they share their thoughts and ideas with each other. The therapist does a great job, in my opinion, of helping both women understand how they are clinging to the past. They both need to update their relationship, learn who each other is right now, and recommit to having a loving and understanding relationship.

This seems like a simple activity, but if each person is open and honest, the impact can be very powerful.

An exercise like this would be a powerful opener for a bride or groom-to-be to have with their future in-laws and I’m thinking about adding it to my multigenerational boot camp series.

I would change the prompts up a bit:

  • For my son/daughter’s healthy marriage I want:
  • To support my son-in-law/daughter-in-law I will:
  • For a thriving relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I want:
  • For an authentic relationship with my mother-in-law/father-in-law I will:

After a rich and deep discussion, it would be great if a visualization board contract could be created. Our society is big on words and how things can or should look – but I think creating a visualization board contract would create more room and space for the *in-laws to be thoughtful and mindful about the relationship they are entering into and how they will stay focused on what they’ve all committed to do.

The visualization board contract can capture feelings, ideas, thoughts, emotions, and moods that each in-law wants to tap into as they enter into this multigenerational relationship (aka – marriage). The board can leave room for the in-laws to continue to learn more about each other and the various ways they want to explore this. Assumptions can potentially fall away. The board can also highlight necessary boundaries they will also support this in-law relationship.

As you entered into your marriage/relationship, what steps did you take to build an authentic relationship with your in-laws?

When you became a mother-in-law/father-in-law, what proactive measures did you take to support your son/daughter’s marriage (or partnership)?


*in-law relationships with siblings could also be included


Grandma is a bad influence

Most of us, as parents, slip up and an inappropriate word is said in front of our kids.

Just yesterday, hubby gave me the *wild eyes (which is usually reserved for the kids) when I was playing an online game with my son and I exclaimed, “Dang!” and “Oh crap!


(No, it wasn’t the F bomb – this time!)

Setting proper examples is our job in this parenting gig and we, as parents, often think this example setting umbrella hovers over the grandparents’ interactions with our kids.

Is this a proper expectation of grandparents – to be example setters?

Are we putting too much pressure on grandparents to be parents again?

Why these questions?

Because my kids called me into the family room to watch this segment:

I sure hope that mom wasn’t selling granny out as far as teaching that four-year-old to swear like a pro.

If you find the grandparents setting a poor example for your kids, what should you do? How do you approach them? How do you avoid starting a multigenerational war?

Amy Goyer suggests having the grandchildren be the strong influence and set an example for the grandparents. She says,

Grandparents will stop smoking, swearing or drinking because of grandchildren.  But some grandparents have habits that are so ingrained they aren’t even aware that they affect their grandchildren.

Talk gently with grandparents about the habit or behavior that you feel is a negative influence on the children and explain why you feel it is.

Remember that these habits have usually been around a long time and may be hard to break. Be supportive, not confrontational. Acknowledge first that you know they love their grandchildren and would never do anything intentionally to hurt them, but alert them that you think some of their habits may have unintended consequences for the children. Also remember that you, as parents, have the most influence over your kids. Some idiosyncrasies may be unpleasant, but children will not necessarily pick up the bad habits of their grandparents — or aunts, uncles, cousins or any other family member. My grandfather cussed every other word, but I have never once heard my dad or mom swear. We loved our grandfather and giggled when he swore, but my sisters and I didn’t grow up swearing like he did. My dad and mom had much more influence.

Have you had to talk with the grandparents about being a bad influence (in some area) on your kids?

How did you approach them?

What was the outcome (or fallout)?

*wild eyes = the term my 13-year-old uses to refer to her dad giving THAT look


Thank you card etiquette

I love etiquette books and discussing etiquette.

This not because I want everyone to follow “the rules”, but I really like knowing the rules – the history of the rules – and how the rules can sometimes make my life easier.

When having a multigenerational household and getting along with in-laws, I think having common etiquette knowledge and agreeing to certain rules and expectations can help to lessen miscommunication, keep people mostly on the same page, and assist in not inadvertently slighting or hurting someone else’s feelings.

I had to chuckle when I heard Philip Galanes discuss the generational shift around the proper etiquette of writing thank you cards.


Maybe the grandmother (grandparents – to give full credit) who wrote in to Mr. Galanes worked really hard to teach her own children to write thank you cards. Perhaps she had to chase them around their childhood home to get the thank you card task writing done. It is potentially possible that she was chastised at a social function or the ladies’ mixer, in her community, because her kids failed to send out thank you cards on some Passion. And because of all these possible thank you card faux pas – this grandmother is fixated on thank you card etiquette.

And with her own adult children, maybe they hated the entire idea of writing thank you cards. It sucked, it was a burden, and they didn’t get it. If this is the case – it is highly possible these adult parents are not going to encourage or force their own children to go down the thank you card etiquette road.

I’m just making dramatic speculations here because I think the look of sending a thank you card – for this grandmother, adult children, and grandchildren – needs to be expanded.

Yes, the grandchildren should acknowledge the generosity of their grandparents. At the same time, the grandparents can engage in joyful gift gifting without expecting anything in return.

With my kids having grandparents and a great-grandmother living in other states – we get creative with saying thank you. We take a picture of our kids with the gift the grandparents have sent.

We email or text the pictures (hardcopy for their great-grandmother). This is quick and easy thank you feedback. We may even video chat and talk about the gift and have the kids verbally express their gratitude for what their grandparents have sent. With us being busy, going this route keeps us from forgetting  to say thank you.

As our days, weeks, and months are going on – if I see my kids using the gift from the grandparents, I’ll snap another picture and send it to the grandparents to show them the grandchildren are still enjoying the gift.

For myself, I enjoy sending a handwritten thank you card and sometimes my children get in the mood to do the same. With all the things I have to coordinate and navigate for my family – doing thank you card battle is definitely not on my list.

How do you feel about thank you cards?

How do your children say thank you to their grandparents?

Grandparents, what type of thank you recognition would you like to receive?


Empty nesters

Boxes, and peanuts, and tape – oh my!

Yup, that’s my youngest having a snack, watching TV, and lounging in one of my mother-in-law’s moving boxes.

We are about to have an empty nest.

My mother-in-law is heading northeast this month and the rest of us will head west to California, in December.

How long have I known about this?

Since early August.

Why am I just writing about it?

I struggled with what to say and what not to say.

The move for hubby, the kids, and me is great. New job, promotion, more diversity, and new adventures – I’m thrilled!

The move for my mother-in-law…well, I don’t know what I can say about that. I have never tried to tell her story here – and I’m not starting now.

Why isn’t she coming to California with us?

I’m not so sure about that, either. No clear, succinct, or press release-esque message or response has been provided to me, and I’m not going to push for it.

With this exciting change came a huge wave of discomfort.

Discomfort around:

  • finances
  • security
  • power plays
  • passive aggressive behavior
  • communication
  • openness
  • gratitude
  • familiar structure
  • relationships

Since early August, I feel like I’ve been on this rickety teeter toter of joy, pain, anger, and jubilation. It’s completely exhausting.

What have I gained from all this?


Clarity on what it means to keep family structures positively in place. How to listen intently to the emotions behind the ill-chosen words. How to dig deep and recalibrate a personal lens and shift it to a lens focused on compassion.When to stop talking and let it all play out. How to find internal joy and create space for love in the chaos of change.

It’s been a humbling and lovely experience all at once.

Would I do this all again?

Absolutely – but for a shorter period of time.

Will I continue to write about multigenerational/intergenerational families and in-law dynamics?

Yes! This is a topic near and dear. I greatly enjoy supporting my readers, clients, and community. It’s a full nest will stick around.

Will I ever live in a multigenerational household again?

I’m counting on it!





Email drama {Ask Kanesha}

Hey IAFN Readers!

I’ve  been away a bit due to some presentations, new clients, travel, and all the other life stuff that shows up.

I started a new Ask Kanesha feature and piloted it in a few circles.

The point of Ask Kanesha (yes, like Dear Abby) is to provide a space and place for  multigenerational/intergenerational and in-law dynamic questions and issues to land and be taken up.

I’m hoping to post responses at the start and end of the week. (We shall see.)


Today’s question:

My mother-in-law is a good person but she has a very odd way of communicating. She asks a lot of questions but you can’t do the same with her. It’s annoying because this is so one sided and very immature (in my opinion). So – she and I are at odds right now because I asked her about travel plans and she clammed up on me. Then she sends me these weird, hostile, and childish texts and email messages about how I should stay in my own business and not pry. I’m frustrated and mad – how should I proceed?

-Tired of this dumb sh*t


Dear Tired of this dumb sh*t,

It sounds like your mother-in-law is challenged by open communication. I’m not sure what you asked, in regards to the travel, but based on the information you provided, your mother-in-law may feel judged or under the microscope based on you asking her questions.

When in-law dynamics and intergenerational communication styles are in play, there can be an unsaid tussle as to who has the upper hand in the discussion. Due to social media, many people from younger generations are more comfortable with open discussions and saying any and everything that has to be said. Since younger generations are also used to talk shows (aka the Oprah effect) – they want to have conversations on the spot without missing the opportunity.

Some people from older generations are challenged by this because their mental transitions and values about respect for elders guide their communication style. Even though you (“Tired”) are an adult, your mother-in-law may be evoking the old adage that children are to be seen and not heard. She may also be nervous about upcoming travel plans and discussing the travel with you stirs this up.

You are wise not to respond via text or email. Dave Johnson provides some email dos and don’ts for the workplace. These can be easily applied to the situation you are currently experiencing with your mother-in-law.

I also suggest the following:

  • Send a short response back to your mother-in-law inviting her to talk with you face-to-face. Keep the response short and to the point.
  • Let her know how much time you have to meet with her. This will help to contain any mental “blowing up” of the situation.
  • Ask your mother-in-law where she would like to meet for your discussion. Having a neutral meeting place should keep the discussion on even ground.
  • Be prepared for your mother-in-law to say yes or no to the meeting.
  • If you are unable to meet, let it go. You do not need to get into a power struggle with your mother-in-law about her inability to communicate.

If you have experienced a similar situation, let us know how you handled it. Please leave your comment below.

 Learn more about Kanesha’s coaching services and programs.

Kanesha Baynard Coaching, LLC.
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Kanesha Baynard has responded to this submission to the best of her abilities. However, she makes no representation or warranties as to the accuracy, applicability, or completeness of this response. Kanesha Baynard disclaims any warranties (expressed or implied), merchantability, or appropriateness for a specific purpose. Kanesha Baynard, under no circumstances, shall be held liable for any loss or other damages of any kind. As always, please seek the advice of a competent legal, tax, accounting, medical, or other professional. Kanesha Baynard does not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites or resources listed in this response. All links are for informational purposes only and are not warranted for content, accuracy or any other implied or explicit purpose.