A woman today may play a wide variety of roles during her lifetime. For example, while she may begin life as a daughter, she also may find herself cast as an aunt, a wife, a daughter-in-law, a friend, a mother, a grandmother or even a great-grandmother. And, more often than not, a woman will be cast as the primary nurturer and caregiver in most of her intra-family roles. It is within the context of such intra-family relationships that a woman may experience the Daughter Syndrome. In this brief article we will introduce the Daughter Syndrome and offer a few observations to help you survive it.
Commonly, the Daughter Syndrome begins when a woman helps rear her siblings and then, perhaps, her own children to adulthood. Thereafter, as her parents and in-laws age, she may find herself cast in the role of chauffer, shuttling them between medical appointments. Not long after that, she may find herself cast in the role of negotiator as she helps coordinate their long-term care requirements. Eventually, the dutiful daughter will similarly care for her husband until his death … and she is left as the last leaf of her generation on the family tree. Question: Who will be nurturer and the caregiver for this loyal and dutiful daughter?
The first step in surviving the Daughter Syndrome is to recognize when you are in it and to accept that you are not Superwoman. Do not try to do everything yourself. Look for assistance within your family; through your church, synagogue, or local support groups; and from the appropriate governmental agencies (e.g., meals-on-wheels programs).
The second step is to have a plan of action. Do you have your own legal and financial planning in order? If you do, then it is much easier to get your loved ones to do the same. In turn, this will make it easier for you to help them without court interference or undue financial hardship.
The third step is to actually implement and maintain your own plan of action. It has been said that talk is cheap. Here you must walk your talk. Your estate attorney can help assemble a team of professional advisors, and serve as their quarterback, to make the process less painful for you and your loved ones.
The Bottom Line
If you follow the three steps outlined above, then you will be better prepared to survive the Daughter Syndrome. As a result, even if you are the last leaf on the tree, then you will have your legal and financial affairs in order. And that is critical, too, these days.
Today’s daughters (and daughters-in-law) often live time zones away, with busy families and outside careers of their own. Accordingly, you should seriously consider purchasing a state-of-the-art Long-Term Care Insurance policy to make sure there will be a caregiver available when you need one. Many policies today cover private in-home care, as well as skilled nursing home care. Do not delay. Your health will determine your insurability.