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My Parents Need Help, But What About My Job?



"My parents are quite elderly and living in their original home in the area. They are rapidly approaching a crossroads where staying in their home may not be possible. At this point, they need 24 hour support and probably require an alternate setting to live.

I have a very demanding job and feel obligated to my staff and the company to be at work. While I want to be with my parents and help them sort through this situation, I am torn by my other responsibilities. 

I have been a long term, loyal employee and a very hard worker. Right now, my parents need someone to help them figure things out and move. How do I resolve this dilemma between work and family?"



Caring for parents at this crossroads is something we all need to do. They’re vulnerable at this time and need you to help sort things out and safely transition to a situation in which they are properly cared for. Someone in your family needs to take the time to do this; it’s a very important life decision.

Years ago, when one spouse worked outside of the home and the other managed family business, it may have been simpler. The stay-at-home spouse, usually female, would have likely handled this. These days, most adults have jobs and it’s all a bit more complicated. One reason there is a Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is to assist employees who must care for family members.

Since you have been a long-term employee and seemingly one who hasn’t overused and abused your benefits, it’s likely that FMLA is still available to you for this year. It’s time to visit the benefits coordinator in your human resources department and obtain the paperwork needed to start using them.

As for feeling guilty for not being at work--this is a time when you must care for yourself and your family. Not only are your parents going through a change, but so are you. Take the time to help them and manage the feelings that go along with it. You’re going to be working very hard to make this transition happen. Do that and don’t regret the time you miss at work. Most employers will understand and do their best to retain you as a valued employee even though it is difficult when their best are out for any length of time. Work with your employer on what will meet the needs of everyone. I find that being honest and open with all involved is the best policy. 

These are not easy times for your parents, you, or your employer. Do your best and hope for the best. Your parents need your support now more than ever. It’s all part of life’s journey.


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