Family Politics

Dear Theresa,

This is Judy. I’m the daughter-in-law, in some camps dubbed the “out-law,” but beyond any family dynamics, I’m the person on whose shoulders falls the responsibility for my husband’s parents’ care. Although I tread carefully and am respectful of the others’ feelings, they don’t live in town nor do they assume any responsibility. I’m not complaining because I deeply care about Mom and Dad. I just need to know how to handle the authority issues that sometimes arise like who should talk to the nursing staff about preferences.
Thanks for listening,

Judy

Dear Judy,

First, you are not alone. Daughters-in-law are often the overseers of their in-law’s care. And you are right; this can be a mine-field. What we’d suggest is that, while your husband is the named person in his parents’ care, he makes sure that your name is listed as having authority in day-to-day care. That is, by the way, different from power of attorney or other legal instruments; it simply allows you the authority to make sure your in-laws are comfortable at their care facility.
Best wishes,

Theresa

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