Last week, The Boston Globe interviewed five working mothers about, “how motherhood has helped them on the job,” as part of its Women & Power package. How I wish they would also highlight how daughterhood helps on the job too.
The mothers featured in the article credited motherhood with on-the-job purpose, delegation skills, self-respect, open-mindedness, and perspective. Although interestingly, the CEO who mentioned perspective referenced her eldercare experiences more than her childcare experiences.
We need to have similar conversations and articles written about working daughterhood. Why?
First, working daughters bring incredible skills to the workplace and we need to highlight that. Too many working caregivers report struggling at work as a result of their caregiving. They try to make it work by changing roles at work to something with less responsibility. Or they take a leave of absence or go part time. When those measures aren’t enough, some caregivers quit altogether and find returning to work to be incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
But think about the skills they could bring to an organization as a result of their caregiving experience. Working daughters are incredibly efficient because they have to be. They in essence work multiple jobs each day – the paid gig, plus the unpaid – eldercare and often parenting too. Working daughters have incredible negotiation skills, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail. They’re not just taking Mom and Dad to doctor’s appointments; they’re administering meds, performing medical tasks, marshaling resources, and managing finances. They know what matters most and they know how to prioritize their time, energy and resources. We need to keep these women at work and that starts with understanding their challenges and recognizing their strengths.
Second, we need better eldercare benefits and more family-friendly workplaces. And to be clear, family friendly isn’t just about supporting workers who are parents. It’s about supporting workers who have parents too. The Boston Globe article included some suggestions on how to support working mothers, including affordable childcare and less judgment. Guess what? Caregivers need affordable eldercare options. They need backup eldercare services so they can go to work when their paid caregivers don’t. They need flexibility. And they absolutely need less judgment when they are making the tough calls daily to show up for the paycheck or the parent. If we don’t raise awareness of the challenges of working caregivers – women and men – then we won’t solve for them.
To be clear, I loved The Globe’s article. I have long touted the benefits of mothers on the job. And, it’s time to recognize the benefits of daughters on the job too.