The ‘invisible labor’ of being an adult daughter

  • New research looks at the 'invisible labor' of adult daughters
  • Allison Alford: Daughters spend a lot of resources caring for their parents
  • Alford: 'Helps relationships flourish but often goes uncredited as work'

(NewsNation) — New research out of Baylor University studies the “invisible labor” of adult daughters in supporting and caring for their parents, finding that they play an integral role in maintaining unity in a family structure.

“Daughters really spend a lot of time on their parents, what we might call their resources on their parents. And when we think about the way that mothers or fathers do that for their children, it’s really obvious to us that that is labor, that that’s hard work,” said Allison M. Alford, the researcher behind the study.

“But sometimes when we think about the way that daughters might do that for their parents, we don’t recognize that as labor or work.”

Alford, clinical associate professor of business communication at Baylor and co-host of the weekly podcast “Hello Mother, Hello Daughter,” joined “NewsNation Live” to discuss her research, saying the labor can sometimes become a burden, and it is important to recognize it.

“Daughters often have the expectation within families to do all of the family planning or the connecting within families. And so daughters can first recognize all that they’re doing and they can see the amount of effort that it’s taking. Once you recognize and see the amount of effort that it’s taking, you can ask other people to help with that,” Alford said.

In her research, Alford refers to “daughtering” as the active way daughters relate to and care for parents and explores the often overlooked role of daughters in mother-daughter relationships.

“It’s that purposeful work that helps relationships flourish but often goes uncredited as work, even by daughters themselves, in part because the efforts are wrapped in misleading language and society hasn’t adopted a lexicon specifically for daughtering,” said Alford.


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