Daughterhood: The Ultimate Career Disrupter

The idea of “daughterhood” as a career-disrupter occupies little social media, blogging, and media real estate relative to motherhood. BUT, being a daughter can wreck a woman’s professional plans faster than anyone can say, “lean in,” or “play big.”

Taking care of an aging parent is the furtive, not-talked-about “de-railer” of women’s careers — not to mention their own health and sanity. I write and talk a lot about caring for the frail elderly. It’s what I have been doing for the past 20 years.

Here’s what I know about how this new life challenge takes the motherhood-career dilemma and makes it look like small time problems.

It’s all about dignity

Assuming you find a loving, nurturing and competent caregiver, your 6-month- old daughter is not suffering the indignity of being taken care of by another human being. She doesn’t mind if some nice person changes her diaper.

But, the end of life transition from independence to dependence for a frail older adult is terrifying to experience and to observe. Our desire to preserve the dignity of our parents through this process completely and totally dwarfs any professional or personal ambition.

This context makes it really hard emotionally (not to mention financially) to offload personal caregiving tasks to paid staff. Even if you find a trusted caregiver, there is much more angst about how it makes your parent feel to have that person in charge of such personal activities.

That translates into leaning AWAY from professional challenges to protect your parents.

It’s complicated

Once you’ve had to take care of a parent, you should receive the following honorary degrees: MSW, MBA, MD, JD because you will become a social worker, doctor, lawyer and manager for your family. It’s seriously time-consuming.

I have a friend who told me his wife quit her (really good) job to manage a staff of 10 when her mother was in the end stage of Alzheimers.

Any frail older adult is going to have a ton of medical issues that need constant attention and medications that have to be tracked and monitored. You’ll find yourself making medical decisions you do.not.feel.qualified to make.

That’s because the health care system sucks. So the odds of finding a medical team or doctor to actually take ownership over your parent’s medical care, to coordinate this care, to talk to you… are… well … gosh they are ZERO.

It’s crazy lonely

I don’t want to say that motherhood isn’t lonely because it can be. Especially if you are at home with kids. But, from a numbers perspective, there are actually quite a lot of us in this situation – raising kids.

Taking care of an elderly parent is less common. That will shift soon with demographics but, right now, chances are that you don’t have many friends with whom you can compare notes or get advice.

Coming soon is a website that will give you the scoop that I give my girlfriends when they are in this situation. I want you to know what the pros know so that you can survive daughterhood and balance your parents’ dignity and safety with your job and immediate family.

So, please like and follow Anne Tumlinson Innovations on Facebook to get great tips and updates about the new website.