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What Sandwiched Boomers Can Learn from Tim Russert

By Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. & Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D.

There have been non-stop tributes to Tim Russert - from erudite political friends to strangers traveling long distances to pay their respects. He was the toughest interviewer in broadcast journalism and few had come even close to rattling him. He clearly understood how the media game is played. Because he knew an awful lot more - think about what you can learn from his legacy and apply to your life:

1. He knew how to be a good son, father and husband. Tim Russert loved his family and told them so on a regular basis. Placing great value on parenting, he walked the walk. He made certain, above all, that his son was a priority. As knowledge is power, try to better understand the transitions that your own family in flux is going through now. Gather more information about how to manage change from the Internet's search engines and the self-help section of your local bookstore. Talk to friends and family whose opinions you respect and who have gone through similar experiences. It’s an opportunity to get realistic feedback and some concrete advice.  

2. Tim Russert never forgot where he came from. He was proud of growing up in Buffalo, his blue-collar origins, delivering newspapers as a boy. You, too, can dig deep and find your roots. Listen to your inner voice. What does it have to say about who you are, what you want, how to care for your family relationships and still nurture yourself? Set some concrete and specific long-range goals about what you need for you and what you want to accomplish for your family. Identify short-term objectives as you work toward achieving them, step by step.

3. He did his homework - researching every subject he covered so that, when it came time to go on the air, he was very well prepared. It is often said that history is prologue. How can you prepare for what lies ahead? As you look back in review, how have you dealt with major changes in your family life? Think about what has worked in the past. Take the specific strategies that you learned from those experiences and, once again, apply the most effective ones to the challenges you are facing today. A positive attitude will motivate you to stay on track and ultimately reach your goals.

4. Tim Russert was a man of strong faith and felt confident about himself. Look at the many ways you can continue to build on your internal and external assets. Evaluate your basic character strengths and how they have benefited you in other circumstances. Are you fiercely curious and determined to find a solution, no matter what? Discover the resources, such as caregiver programs or support groups, that will help in your decision making process as you deal with the specifics of the family challenges you are facing.  

5. He was a role model extraordinaire - so many in the media gave testimony to how he was their cheerleader and shaped their careers. Co-workers felt close to him, identified with him and his values. He was authentic, nurturing and encouraging. When you are facing what may be a difficult time for your own family, do you also recognize the importance of support? Discussions with friends and family can clarify your needs as you work through this process of change. Getting a second and objective opinion - from a family therapist, gerontologist or life coach - will provide you with further insight, direction and encouragement.  

There was a massive outpouring of emotion and much admiration for Tim Russert at a time when family values have taken a back seat to more immediate gratifications. See this as a teachable moment. Character matters, as does your family. The country responded to a man they didn’t necessarily know but whom they saw as representing them, their struggles and possible solutions to their problems. People felt as if they could depend on him, just as your family does on you. You, too, represent hope for your family and for the future of our country.

© Her Mentor Center, 2008

Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. & Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. are co-founders of a websitefor midlife women and a blog for the Sandwich Generation. They are authors of a forthcoming book about Baby Boomers' family relationships and publish a free newsletter, Stepping Stones, through their website. As psychotherapists, they have over 40 years of collective private practice experience.






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