Problem:  What do we do when dad or mom are incapacitated and cannot do their job.

Answer: Prepare yourselves to do their job.  And find people who can do the two top jobs.

That can be a tall order when your parents are the only ones who know how to do their jobs.  It is even taller when they have not trained any of the children to do their job.

So, the necessary answer is to make sure someone in the family knows what the parents do.

First.  Write down what the father and mother do and put their descriptions in two different files.  But writing down a job description is not enough.

Make sure the oldest child knows the meaning of the job descriptions.  Knowing what to do is even more important.  That will take some training.  And it will be more time consuming than any one child will usually be able to give to the task.  Answer:

Train every child to do something

In addition to their own job:

Most important tasks for the oldest

And the simpler tasks for younger children.

That is easier said than done.  Because individual tasks do not describe the whole job of either parent.  The children knowing the parental job will help when one or the other needs some help. But to fill in for either the father or mother, it is really necessary to have an adult who can substitute.

Many families have used uncles or aunts who are close in the family order.  Others have found an individual through trusted advisors or an employment agency that has been trained in general business administration.  If that individual has no experience with your family business, a few days of specific training about your two parent jobs may work if the parent absence is not a long one.

But the case of an extended illness of a parent

is a completely different situation.  Few family businesses have been able to go through a complete generation without needing some long-term help at the top of the business.

Are you ready to deal with this?

Out of work or semi-retired business people in a career change have been used by some family businesses.  Get them up to speed with your situation and be prepared to let them take some time off to follow up with leads for their own job search.  Also, have them do some on-the-job training for your children.  (That is the real value of this option.)  They can interview the parents if the parents are not extremely incapacitated and do a good job for the family and train the children while they are with the family.

Have Questions?

Resolving many such complicated issues requires experienced professionals with extended experience working with family businesses.

If you have questions or would like to follow up and learn more, get in touch.


If one finds a job, go back to the employment office.  Good employees find good jobs quickly.  Be ready to use more than one person and this will not be a difficult situation.

Family businesses who have used this option, have generally given it good marks, and so have the children.

Family businesses are used to using some out-of-the-box thinking to get through unusual situations.  This is one of the most important times for that creativity.