OPINION: Sisters are doing it for themselves. Once again

A medium, front view of a mature, Caucasian woman linking arms with both of her parents as they are

Harvard University research concluded that the best solution for older people and elderly care wasn’t an insurance policy or money, but a good daughter. - Credit: Getty Images

It’s been a strange couple of weeks for the sisterhood: from the upbeat but slightly outdated International Women’s Day, to Mothering Sunday, and in between that TV interview with Oprah and the murder of a young woman and the subsequent public outcry.

A headline you may not have read in amongst all this was that according to the ONS women have borne the brunt of home-schooling during lockdown, juggling work and running the home.

I’m not sure what any of this tells us, except that change is glacially slow. This doesn’t make it right nor does it mean we should all just give up.

In fact, now it is more than100 years this year since (some) women in the UK got the vote. Fast forward to our ‘enlightened’ times and I wonder if it’s time to dust down the bonnet, corset and placards for a modern day movement I’m calling The Bad Daughters Club.

The last straw for me has been a piece of research by Harvard University the conclusion of which was that the best solution for older people and elderly care wasn’t an insurance policy or money, but a good daughter.

The research concluded that daughters of ageing parents provide as much care as they can manage, while (most) sons do as little as they can get away with. If they have sisters or wives, men are likely to leave it to them.

I would not presume to equate the female lot in 2021 with that of the Suffragette movement despite the current issues. But the irony is not lost either that after all that struggle women still need to challenge the status quo – and themselves.

Membership of The Bad Daughters Club is open to all women, probably in middle years.

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There are only three criteria; the first is juggling any combination of children and family, job, home, life, ageing parents and relatives. Premium membership is reserved for all those with the full range of commitments.

The second criteria is guilt – at not being always perfect, constantly present or performing as ‘Superwoman’.

The third is a feeling of under-achieving – not doing enough, well enough, often enough. The more guilt and under-achievement, the bigger the membership discount.

There are lots of members of the club, most of whom don’t recognise their eligibility to join yet. You will know who you are.

According to Carers UK, women in their 50s have a one-in-two chance of caring for a parent; there are more than 2.45 million women over 45 “sandwiched” between children and parents.

A Care Quality Commission study concluded that care decisions for parents was up there with divorce, death and moving house as a stressful life event.

We all know good and great sons, husbands and dads. Being a good daughter is much harder thanks to all that juggling, guilt and under-achieving, mixed with a dose of other’s expectations.

The Bad Daughters Club is a recognition that even though we’ve got the vote in some respects we’re still back in the dark ages – partly by our own actions.

The Bad Daughters Club won’t be running courses to improve juggling, or sessions to find your inner superwoman; we will be laughing at the irony of actually having it all; celebrating that while we’re bad daughters, we’re great people who happen to be women and we’ll be supporting bad daughters everywhere to do what they do best – doing it all – pandemic or not.

Helen Burgess works for Age Space, the online resource for anyone caring for or supporting elderly parents and relatives. For more information see www.agespace.org

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