Talking To Your Boss

I have a high-pressure job with a lot of responsibilities on top of everything I’m doing to take care of my aging parents.  It’s becoming harder and harder to live my life.  I want to tell my boss about it but I’m afraid of getting fired.  What should I do?

Bill in California, 39

I know that being a working caregiver is a very difficult challenge.  For many employees, talking to your boss about this is the last thing you think you can do.  You believe your boss won’t be able to relate to your situation or worse yet, that he or she will think you are less competent on the job if you admit there’s a crisis at home.  But it’s important that you communicate in a very direct manner.  Bring your boss into your reality by listing out all of your caregiving responsibilities, and I bet he or she will be more understanding.

You have to show your boss how many hours per week you devote to caregiving, whether it’s 5, 10, 15, or more.  Don’t be afraid to look less competent or vulnerable.  Opening up may make your boss empathetic to your situation.  You also need to find out what company resources are available for elder care, either in the Human Resources department or through the corporate headquarters.  American business is waking up to our elder tsunami, and there’s hope since it is starting to come to the aide of working caregivers slowly but surely.

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