will my parents sabotage my job offer?

A reader writes:

I first off want to state that I am a legal adult, over the age of 18. However, I also have parents who have been an integral part of my life for a very long time.

I have recently been presented with an opportunity of a lifetime — a dream job in a dream city. I have received the offer letter and I am in the process of pre-employment with this company.

However, my parents do not agree with the desire that I have to go for this dream job in this dream city. They seem to be hellbent not me not taking this job, stating that it will ruin my career, ruin my future, and ruin my education. I am, however, steadfast on taking this job, as I feel that it is an opportunity that I can not refuse. The thing that I am worried about is whether or not my parents can find some way to get in between this. Could they reach out, call my future employer, and create enough noise to make my employer back out? My parents have been asking to see the offer letter, as well as other documents about this job, and I have been pretty much refusing to show them. Can they demand those from the future employer?

No, they cannot.

Or more accurately, they can try — there’s nothing stopping them from contacting the employer, but the employer is unlikely to share that type of information with them. Most employers will only talk to their employees (or potential employees), not people who call asking questions on their behalf.

As for whether your parents could create a problem that resulted in the employer pulling the offer: Well, possibly. As long as you handle yourself like a model of professionalism, a reasonable employer wouldn’t pull an offer just because you had a meddlesome parent — but ideally you’d know if your parents were contacting them and be able to explain to the employer what’s going on and that it’s not something you’ve authorized.

But it would be a lot less drama if you could prevent that from happening at all. Do your parents already know the name of the employer? If not, don’t tell them. There’s no need to give them the ability to interfere, so stand firm on denying them information if it’s not too late.

I’d also consider taking a very hard line with your parents — as in, “Under no circumstances are you to contact my employer without my permission. If you do that, it will destroy the trust I have in you and make it impossible for us to have a relationship. If you cannot trust me to make adult decisions without your interference, I will not be able to confide in you about anything in the future.”

And to be clear — just in case your parents have messed with your norms around this stuff — they would be wildly out of line to reach out to the employer. It would be a massive boundary violation.

On the other hand, if they’ve thus far only pressured you for information and haven’t given you reason to think that they might go so far as to contact the employer, it’s possible that you’re dealing with more garden-variety meddling and controlling parents. In that case, you might go with something more like, “I appreciate your interest, but it’s important to me to handle this on my own. You’ve taught me well, and I’ll come to you if questions come up that I’d like your advice on. Meanwhile, though, tell me about Aunt Jane’s surgery / your new neighbors / your upcoming trip to Canada.”

Also: I’m wondering if there’s a cultural issue at play here. Any chance that your parents are from a culture where this kind of involvement is adult children’s lives is more common? If so, this can be a really hard thing to put a stop to — but you can do it if you’re determined to.

In any case, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I think your best bet is to severely limit what information you give your parents about your work life (even going forward), so that their ability to forcibly meddle is limited.

{ 353 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.

    Unless you’re signing up for a cult or SeaOrg or something like that, your parents are completely out of line. Best of luck to you!

  2. some1

    Hi LW, I’m guessing your parents have boundary issues with other areas of your life? In addition to Alison’s excellent advice, I would suggest reading Captain Awkward. She has tons of great advice on setting boundaries with your parents.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        I second this book. If you’re not religious, a word of warning that it’s a little Jesus-y. But the principles the book talks about are broadly applicable, and I found it to be pretty helpful.

          1. That Marketing Chick

            +1 to this…and yes, it’s a little Jesus-y, which is why I liked it! :) It really is a great book!

            1. JB (not in Houston)

              I actually think it’s a really great book for Christian women, who–at least in the part of the US I’m from–often feel pressured into saying yes to every request to fit the ideal of a supportive, kindly, Christian woman. The idea that you can actually say “no” to some things and not be a bad person is message that I wish my mom had absorbed while her mom was still alive.

    1. Jacey

      IA w/ regards to Captain Awkward. She’s helped me immensely with setting and sticking to boundaries.

      It may not even be a cultural thing, but more of a generational thing. A lot of my friends growing up had helicopter parents that STILL interfere with their lives, to their detriment professionally and socially. My best friend’s mother actually called her principal and left a nasty voicemail after she was venting at dinner. My best friend was so embarrassed and it was awkward for the rest of the year. I have so many other stories as well.

      1. A Dispatcher

        I’ve told a story here before where I was venting about an employer not calling me back after an application submission/follow up call (yes, the follow up call was at the request of my mother as well) to my parents and only after I got called in for a supremely awkward interview did my father tell me my mother had CALLED THE EMPLOYER to yell at them for their rudeness. I was so mortified, I’m just glad I was ignorant of it while interviewing. To this day I avoid that store because I’m still so embarrassed.

      2. anonanonanon

        Yes! I wish my parents would understand that sometimes venting means I just want to complain about whatever is annoying me. It doesn’t mean I’m asking for them to fix the issue. I was venting the other week about my rude upstairs neighbors and my father was all, “what’s your landlord’s number? I’ll straighten this out” despite the fact that I’m in my late twenties and more than capable of talking to my landlord myself. So annoying.

        1. Lily in NYC

          Ugh, my mom is the opposite. She is a champion complainer but god forbid anyone else needs to vent. If I bitch about work or something annoying that happened, I get completely shut down with something like: “Why are you so angry? Hostility is not healthy, you should stop complaining” – the last time she said it was because I was upset that a bratty kid pushed me in the subway system and I fell down the stairs (he didn’t mean to make me fall). Yet I have to listen to a 5-minute rant about how the deli gave her the wrong turkey. It’s maddening!

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler

            Have you tried using her own words against her? Next time she talks about the deli “Why are you so angry, you should stop complaining”… I don’t let people vent to me if I don’t get to vent back (at least in my social life).

            1. Lily in NYC

              That would not go over well at all. She is so thin-skinned. I’ve started cutting our phone calls short when she gets all judgmental or fake-concerned; that usually helps for a while.

    2. nona

      +.5, I’d rec Captain Awkward with the exception of guest posts and the comment section. The Captain has great advice for settling this kind of thing with parents.

      1. LBK

        YMMV with the comments – I do find them a little nasty when it comes to certain issues but there are often insightful and helpful comments, too.

      2. Zillah

        Ditto. I comment there very occasionally, but I find the commenters there consistently exhausting. I agree with LBK that there are some comments that are insightful and helpful, but for me, wading through the negativity and pessimism isn’t worth it.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Agreed. I’ve actually seen some really useful comments there, but you have to wade through a lot of not so useful ones to find them.

        2. Tinker

          Yeah, I’ve historically avoided Captain Awkward because on some subjects the position there is something that causes problems for me (not to say that it’s a bad thing, but it’s stuff that I’ve had difficulty engaging productively with to the point that avoidance was prudent). However, I think the family advice is generally pretty solid, particularly as it pertains to the not-overtly-dysfunctional-and-yet family dynamic. Though I think if I had to pick one, I’d probably go for Love, Joy, Feminism over CA — it’s not an advice blog, but difficult family dynamics is a major subject there and it’s addressed very well.

      3. ReanaZ

        Huh. I am surprised to hear so many people dislike the comments section on Captain Awkward. I consistently find it to be one of the best comment sections on the internet. (Here too!)

        1. Amy UK

          Personally I find it too quick to get offended. If someone makes a comment that could be taken as even slightly homophobic/transphobic/ableist or in any way judgemental, it’s like blood in the water. And we’re talking a slightly poor choice of words or a politely expressed opinion that doesn’t exactly match the party line, not screeds by bigots.

          Often, the person being attacked meant their post in a completely inoffensive way, but there’s been opportunity for it to be misconstrued if read in a certain way, and other commenters keep beating the dead horse long after OP has said “sorry if I offended anyone, it’s my bad, but I actually meant…”.

          I’m all for debate and calling out bigots, but too often I find that’s not what happens on the CA comment section. CA herself is awesome and I find her advice great, and many of the commenters do have great advice. But I can only tolerate it in small doses.

    3. Anon Accountant

      +1

      From someone else whose parents have major boundary issues it’ll benefit you greatly to get advice on setting boundaries in your life. Congrats on the job offer and good luck! :)

      1. AMG

        And good for you for sticking to your principles and being true to yourself! I don’t know you but I’m so proud of you because I know firsthand how hard that can be.

    4. Annonymouse

      I’m getting the vibe that your parents aren’t so much anti this job but more “this job means you’ll be moving away from us and our sphere of influence”

      And you know they don’t like that.

      You’re an adult, you need to make your own decisions and mistakes. (Not saying this job is a mistake – just a general comment)

  3. UKAnon

    I hope that the conversation with your parents has the result you want OP. I would maybe start thinking of a couple of ways to phrase an apology to your new employer just in case, but I hope it doesn’t come to that!

  4. khoots

    OP- I do have to say I’m curious as to what kind of job you’ve gotten. Maybe it’s something that they may be against or may be considered taboo? That’s just where I jumped to but either way congrats on the new job and I hope it works out wonderfully for you!

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I read it more to be about the move to a new city than the job itself, but if the job was controversial then it might explain the parents reaction, because at the moment I’m lost for words.

      1. A Dispatcher

        That was my thought too – that they’re more worried about her moving away from them and are therefore trying to create any reason possible for her not to take the job.

        Then again, it could be something like the adult industry which hey, if that’s what someone wants to do I’m not going to judge them, but I could understand a parent’s concern (and I would hope the person knows what they are getting themselves into in terms of what can be not only a very exploitative field, but also one that may have future implications on career when transitioning out).

        1. AnotherAlison

          The education mention in the letter made me think it might be something where the OP is going for a job with a BS/BA and they were supposed to go for some type of post-grad education instead of taking this job. As a parent, I can see the parents’ POV and they could be right that this is “ruining” the opportunities they imagined for her, but that’s completely irrelevant. The OP is of the age where she is free to ruin her own life as long as what she’s doing is legal. If she truly is making the wrong choice, she’s of the age to pay the consequences herself.

          1. MK

            Actually, because the OP makes a point of them being a legal adult, I wonder if the OP is just 18 and decided to skip university altogether in favor of getting a job. In which case I would understand the parents’ concern, though of course it’s still the OP’s decision.

            1. AnotherAlison

              I thought of that first, too, but true dream jobs don’t normally come to 18 year olds, so if that’s the case, it very well could be a scam. (With the sheltered life, I don’t see the OP having some unusual connection to a ‘mover and shaker’ in a field who would give an 18 year old a shot at a legit dream job.)

              1. RVA Cat

                It could be. The only “dream job” I can think of readily available to an 18 year old – and that might make parents freak out – would be joining the military.

                1. Meg Murry

                  I was thinking maybe something that paid really low and the parents weren’t sure how OP was going to afford to put a roof over his/her head or eat – like an unpaid intern in Hollywood, or a person getting only a (low) housing allowance for a job in NYC. I have a friend that was a theater major in college, and when he graduated all the positions he was offered gave him room and board, and maybe a small stipend – but that was it, and he couldn’t live on that (or pay his student loans).

                  While in general I agree with the sentiment that the person should go for their dream, I can see a parent trying to inject a dose of reality into the situation. To someone fresh out of high school (or college) I can see how $20, $30 or even $40k can look like a lot of money, but in a high cost of living area that wouldn’t go far at all, and the parent may be concerned for the person’s well being.

                2. Tinker

                  In the realm of funny side notes: One of the things that I file in bin “…Nice Lady… Eating Crackers” with regard to the whole tedious “parents, my relationship with” category is that my mother has a way of going on about my physical appearance in ways that are technically compliments but touch indirectly on certain subjects that are well established as irritating but which she will not let go, and then topping off the litany with “you could have been a model but, regretful sigh, you juuuuuuuuust didn’t want to, shaking of head at foolish squandering of feminine beauty.”

                  I have a feeling that this is one of those places where there is a DISTINCT discontinuity in the extrapolations from the “appearance” litany and those from the “career” litany.

              2. Hattie McDoogal

                I was thinking it was something like AmeriCorps or Katimavik, or working as an au pair in a foreign country — something that has an age cut-off. Or, looking back on what I would have considered a dream job when I was 18, working in a resort of some kind (work as a lift attendant at a ski resort, get free lift passes! What could be better?)

                1. EB

                  I know someone who got an offer to be a tall-ship sailor right out of high school. His father wasn’t thrilled that he was putting off college to sail the seas, but 15 years later, he is a licensed captain for tall-ships, traveling the world, and has completed his degree in the off season. Non-exploitative dream job for an 18 year old.

            2. BRR

              That was my first thought but upon rereading I doubt it. A dream job in a dream city that’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (OP, you’re expectations might be a little high), it’s possible but I’m guessing slightly older.

            3. Ad Astra

              Yeah, the reference to being over 18 (but not specifying that she’s, say, 23) made me think the OP is college-aged and is either interrupting or forgoing undergrad to take this job. That might or might not be a good idea, but I can see how many parents would be horrified to learn their kid is dropping out of college.

              And of course, even if the OP is making a huge mistake (we don’t have enough information to evaluate that), she’s an adult and these are her mistakes to make.

            4. Tinker

              I think that’s an ambiguous sign in this case. I have been known on occasion to fall back to “look, I am a legal adult” to draw a hard line, in much the same sense as I’ve said “the property is titled in my name”, and I’m in my mid-30s. And my parents are not controlling to the degree that I’d be concerned about them sabotaging a job offer.

              People assert things that are being challenged — older people don’t cite having reached majority entirely because it is not novel anymore, but also because in general people do not treat established adults in a way more suitable to minor children. If that does become an issue, though, sometimes one does break out the reminder of the bottom line.

          2. Steve G

            The letter doesn’t say they have a Bachelor’s, my guess is that they are skipping the Bachelors for now and the parents know it is hard to get back into school mode years down the road. I am picturing a young aspiring model moving to NY when I read this letter.

            1. AnotherAlison

              Oooh, good call. That’s a possibility. Still, the second sentence threw me off that line of thinking:
              However, I also have parents who have been an integral part of my life for a very long time.

              If you were 18, of course they’re still an integral part of your life, so that’s why I am more willing to think she’s older. But, I have very dysfunctional parents who would be happy if my whole family of 4 and my 29 year old sister all moved in with them, so my view is colored for sure.

              1. the_scientist

                Oh, I’m not the only one? I am in my late twenties (living with my SO), my younger sibling is early-mid twenties (living with SO) and my youngest sibling is late teens and away at school most of the year. My dad would be BEYOND thrilled if we all moved back in permanently. All my friends’ parents are enjoying their time as empty nesters. I don’t get it.

                1. Abby

                  My mother would love it if my husband and I moved back in with her (though we’re currently living with my in-laws while looking for a place of our own). In my case, a lot of it is cultural, though– I’m Chinese, and a lot of my friends with Chinese (or really any Asian) immigrant parents are familiar with the idea of three-generation households. It’s really not that unusual for a household to contain grandparents, parents, and kids.

            2. Turanga Leela

              I thought of the finale of Clarissa Explains it All where she gets a journalism internship instead of starting college.

              1. Steve G

                So that’s what happened to her?! I stopped watching all of those Nickelodeon shows when I became a teen. I’m surprised some of them ran for many more years. At least I have a backlog of reruns when I get into the mood for them:-)

                1. Raptor

                  It actually wasn’t a bad episode. I managed to find it and watched it recently on you tube. She is put into a difficult role as a new journalist and she has to prove that she can handle it. She was confidant, assertive, and an agent of her own destiny. This sort of empowering role for young women is not seen often and certainly hadn’t been seen before that show. If it had continued, I think it would have been pretty good, but nope…

            3. TheLazyB (UK)

              And yet I went to uni, dropped out and struggled for years. I strongly think that kids should be encouraged if they don’t want to go. I wanted to take a year out but was told by my parents that I couldn’t :( If I had, I think my 20s would have gone much better – whether I had gone to uni the year after or not.

          3. Ask a Manager Post author

            I really think it’s something like parents want him to be an engineer or lawyer and he’s going to do something different but still professional.

              1. BRR

                My mother in law is semi like this. They don’t like us living so far away (to which my response is they shouldn’t live some place so shitty).

                1. Raptor

                  What I told my mom in the same situation: We have these new devices that are basically flying chairs inside a metal tube. They recline and you can get wi-fi with them now too.

              2. Not So NewReader

                For the parents to be so vehement about the job, then I have to think that there is more to it than the employer. I am wondering why OP doesn’t just ask them why they feel so strongly. It seems that when people go around in circles over a topic it is because of the things that they do not mention, not because of the things they mention.

                1. Amy UK

                  No, some parents are just legitimately that controlling. I can imagine my mother doing the same if I went into a career she didn’t approve of, and I’m the most boring person on Earth so I wouldn’t be doing anything wacky.

        2. neverjaunty

          While that’s a legitimate concern, I don’t see any employer in that industry giving a flying flip about what her parents think.

    2. BRR

      I also wonder if it’s just not in the profession the parents’ want. I work in fundraising, not exactly my parents’ dream career for me. There has been a commentor who went to law school and instead of being a lawyer wants to go into public policy. They have unhappy parents.

      1. Ad Astra

        What’s wrong with fundraising? Did your parents just have extremely specific hopes for you?

        1. BenAdminGeek

          “We had really hoped he’d take up penguin training, but he’s been a disappointment for years.”

        2. BRR

          Well first there isn’t an understanding of the industry. I think they just worry about me being able to support myself. Possibly bragging ability as well.

          1. TrainerGirl

            My mother had a fit when I changed my major from Accounting/Finance to Marketing. She is a retired teacher and didn’t understand anything that didn’t have a finite link to a profession…Pre-Med, Nursing, Education, etc. She didn’t understand what I would be able to do with a Marketing degree. But I wasn’t good at Accounting, and no one hires mediocre accountants. She can appreciate me working in the training field, since it’s related to education, and I think she’s rather proud.

      2. Sigrid

        I’ve said this here before, but I’m probably the only person in med school whose parents are unhappy with their decision. For them, the only legitimate career path is a PhD and then academic research. Everything else is wasting your life.

  5. Masters Degree JD lady

    I know what that’s like, I grew up in a strict household too. My mom removed 42% of every paycheck from my job until last month when I saved whatever I could, separated my finances, and became financially independent. However, she does call too many times too, she tried calling 25 times in a row, and she told me unless my boyfriend goes to law school and comes from a non-divorced family, she’s breaking us up. Haha. He’s neither, his parents are divorced, but we’re coming on 1.5 years strong and very much in love. And financially independent. Tl;dr: I feel your pain.

      1. some1

        I can’t speak for MDJD but I have a friend I can see this happening to. She is the oldest child of immigrants and in her family not voluntarily turning over at least part of her pay to her parents would be tantamount to not helping one of her parents up if they slipped and fell in front of her and were injured.

        1. Masters Degree JD Lady

          Access: began when I was a freshman in college for putting in money in case of emergencies. Now, I pay my own bills/rent etc and have a place of my own and she promised she’d leave enough $ for me to open my own checking account (threshold $1500 required). However, she always took out way too much (so I couldn’t open one). So, I opted for a savings acct then when I saved enough I transferred a bunch to the new checking acct.

          1. TootsNYC

            When my kid was going off to college, we got her a checking account that is linked to mine, so I could easily transfer money to her up there.

            If I wanted to, I could go siphon off some of her paycheck, if it was direct-deposited to that account. I wouldn’t.

            The worst thing I ever did was, the first week she was at college, I tried to get her account number from the online banking (to give to Grandpa so he could deposit spending money for her). And so because I was on that page, I saw that she had only purchased a couple of things w/ her debit card. I told my husband I was going to call her up and say, “Why aren’t you going out for burgers, or buying beer, or unnecessary plastic objects for your dorm room?!?!” I said, “I’m the only mom in America who thinks her college kid should have spent more money.”

            It’s useful; I set up an autotransfer to send her meal money and doctor copay money, etc. I could use it for evil if I wanted to.

            Of course, MY kid would immediately change her direct deposit to some other bank, and never ever speak to me again.

      2. nona

        Not MDJD, but a local bank has bank accounts for kids and teenagers. It’s a really great way to learn to save money, balance a checkbook, and budget, and I can’t really bring it up without recommending it.

        Anyways, when you open an account, your parent can have access to it and variable amounts of control over it. That doesn’t automatically change when you become an adult. I ended up having some issues with my dad’s control of the account when I was 18-19.

        1. hermit crab

          Yep. My mom and I went to the bank to get her name off my checking account around the time I was going off to college. We were told that the only way to remove her name from this type of account was if she died!

          1. TL -

            Yup, my mom’s still on one of my bank accounts (the one with my credit card actually.)
            Lucky, for all my parents’ flaws, they are totally financially trustworthy and this has never been an issue.

          2. MaryMary

            I was told that I would have to go to the bank branch from which the account was opened with both signors to take my Dad off of my former student checking account. At the time I lived in another state, so that was a no-go. Luckily my parents have excellent boundaries. So now it’s just a handy way to transfer each other money without writing a check, like when we all pitched in to get my Mom a vitamix for Christmas.

            1. Ad Astra

              You could also just empty that account and put it in a new one under just your name. It’s admittedly a bit of a hassle to do that, especially if you have direct deposits and automatic withdrawals, but it’s an option if you ever decide it’s worth the trouble.

              1. hermit crab

                Yes, in my case I just opened a new account and put all my money into it. It’s weird how it seems so much easier to close an account and open a new one than it is to switch the names on an existing account!

          3. simonthegrey

            Yeah, I have a joint cornerstone account set up by my grandparent when I was little, and my mom is on it. There is no way to remove her. Luckily my mom is the absolute best, and I have no concerns…and if she did need the money I would gladly give it to her….

      3. The IT Manager

        FYI: I am fairly certain that Masters Degree JD lady has been sharing her struggles with this in the weekend free for all posts over the last year. Hence the excitement at the news of the big step that her mom previously did this. Although perhaps it was under another name or maybe it’s not the same person.

        I am utterly baffled by parents like this. I can’t even imagine because to me it violates a basic tenant of parents wanting what’s best for their children / putting their children’s happiness above their own / wanting them to spread their wings and achieve great things / etc.

        1. Elysian

          I can see it, 100% (though I imaged MDJD as someone with a masters and a JD, so I would have hoped the cord would have been cut sooner than last month!!) When I was in high school my parents lied to me about how much my portion of the car insurance cost so that I would overpay them and lower the amount they needed to pay on their own premium. They refused to show me the bills and eventually I got suspicious and looked at them while my parents were out. This is one of their more minor indiscretions with my finances.

          So I can totally see parents like this. I wish we as society talked more about bad parents outside the context of outright abuse, because not everyone’s parents fit the mold of wanting what is best for their children. I eventually just stopped telling people about my parents and the fact that we don’t get along, because everyone assumes I have some problem with residual teen angst. I’m glad for all the people who have seemingly caring parents, but there are definitely other options.

          1. Connie-Lynne

            I had a friend who found out in her 20s that her credit was ruined because her dad had used her SSN to get credit cards when his went bad.

            Awful.

            1. Three Thousand

              The idea of parents blatantly stealing from and committing identity theft against their children is so baffling to me. I’ve had my own family issues, but I think my parents would shoot themselves before they would take anything from their children.

            2. manybellsdown

              I’m honestly afraid that my ex has done this to our daughter. But she’s just turned 18 so I’m going to have her pull a credit report. Hopefully there’s nothing to see.

                1. Rindle

                  So sorry – my eyes went faster than my brain and I processed, “I’m going to have to pull her credit report.” Mea culpa!

              1. MinB

                Credit Karma’s really good for credit report and score monitoring. It’s free – financial companies pay for advertising – so as long as your daughter isn’t tempted by credit card ads, it’s a great way to keep a close eye out for potential fraud and reporting mistakes.

            3. Ad Astra

              Back when landlines were a thing and long-distance service cost money, my mother had several accounts with phone and cable companies using my name and SSN. After a while I started getting collection calls and I noticed some dings on my credit, but apparently “I was 12 years old when this account was opened so it can’t possibly be mine” isn’t good enough. My choices were to pay them off or file a police report accusing my mom of identity theft.

              She claims these accounts are only in my name because of a mix-up (we do have very similar first and middle names, and our last name was the same at the time). But you typically don’t provide your children’s names and SSNs when signing up for phone and cable services, so it’s hard to believe this was a clerical error.

              1. E

                Have you disputed these with the credit report agencies? I bet the law protects you, if not only for the statute of limitations on going after these debts. Don’t pay anything on them until you’ve tried everything to get them off, they aren’t your accounts to pay.

                1. Ad Astra

                  I have, but I might try again. It’s been a few years since I got a collection call. I realize now that the collection agency might have been trying to get some money out of me by claiming my only other option was pressing charges.

                2. Today's Satan

                  I was able to bail on owing Columbia House* a bunch of money after I took a business law class in college that taught me that any contract I signed before becoming a legal adult was non-binding. In essence, the phone company would be legally prevented from signing (and enforcing) a contract with a 12 year old. Write a letter to the credit bureaus explaining the identity theft; no need to involve the police. And if the collection agency ever calls again, tell them to take a hike.

                  *(The company where you had to “opt out” of them sending you a ton of music cassettes and/or CD’s).

            4. E

              My husband’s mom used his info and his sister’s on her student loan application. They still receive mail from time to time as she hasn’t paid off the loan yet. But they were both under 18 at that time and they didn’t sign anything on the paperwork. Strange things some parents do…

            5. Hlyssande

              That happened to a friend of mine with her then-wife and was part of the reason for breakup. Ex-wife opened a ton of credit cards using my friend’s name and SSN and she’s on the hook for a lot of it because apparently there’s no way to prove that she didn’t open them herself. Super messy divorce.

              1. manybellsdown

                Yeah, my ex did that to me as well, which is why I’m so worried he’s done it to our daughter. I ended up on the hook for about half of it, but then he never paid his half so I had to clear it up anyway.

            6. Honeybee

              I was afraid that my mom had/would do that for a while, because she’s the type. Thankfully she hadn’t gone to that extent. I was reading an NYT article about it a few months back and it’s awful because the only option you have to clean up your credit is to report your parents for fraud.

          2. Kairi

            I totally agree with the need to talk more about what’s actually best for children.

            My boyfriend’s parents also made him overpay for car insurance in high school. He lives in NH so it’s not a necessity especially since he didn’t even own a car! He only drove his parents car about once a month so he was paying more than he should for it. He’s also experiencing the issue now of his parents holding co-signing loans for college over his head. Every time they want something they tell him to do it or they won’t cosign.

            1. Elysian

              Mine did that, too, with the cosigning! This is just so familiar to me. After I saw what was happening with the guilt trip there (after my first year of college) I made arrangements to never need another loan from them. I had another family member who would co-sign for me if I needed it, but I just ended up getting a couple extra campus jobs so that I wouldn’t need to take out loans beyond what the government gives (don’t need a cosigner for). Luckily it worked out for me, but it was nuts that I had to do it at all. Then the only bargaining chip my parents had over me was once a year when I needed their tax info for the FAFSA (if you don’t submit it with parent info, you can’t get even the basic Stafford loans, so I had to capitulate to them for that).

              1. Ad Astra

                I have heard of parents refusing to provide their information for their kid’s FAFSA because they’re mad at the kid and/or the kid’s other parent. Horrible.

                1. Not So NewReader

                  Back in the 70s my father would not give me his social security number to get help with tuition costs. The part that did me in was the 30 minutes of “this is not what social security numbers are for!” I was never clear on how one would go about correcting this enormous problem. It was easier to go find my own funding after I moved out.

                2. Honeybee

                  My parents did this to me. I worked with my financial aid office to avoid having to turn in W-2s and tax returns and estimated their finances on the FAFSA every year. It was pretty terrible.

                  And we think we’re going to have to do this again with my cousin, who’s trying to go to college fall 2016. Her mom is being deliberately obstructionist – in fact, I’m currently in Atlanta without her on a college tour she was supposed to take, because her mom decided at the last minute that she didn’t want my little cousin to come out and see colleges because she’s mad at her dad.

        2. Dynamic Beige

          I can’t even imagine because to me it violates a basic tenant of parents wanting what’s best for their children / putting their children’s happiness above their own / wanting them to spread their wings and achieve great things / etc.

          Ah, but that presupposes that all people who decide to have children decide it from a place of emotional maturity, financial ability and life fulfillment. These kinds of parents can distort what’s best for themselves into something that is best for their child. “If I take 42% of my child’s paycheque, it’s teaching her responsibility, respect for her elders and paying me back for all the food/clothes/housing I’ve given her since birth!” “If I scupper my child’s chance at NewJob in BigScaryCityFarAway, then they will be safe and I won’t have to worry about them!” I also think (not having children myself) that for some people, a small child’s helplessness can be kind of addictive. I mean in the sense that the adult knows more (and will always know more) than their child. That child growing up, expressing opinions of their own that contradict the parent isn’t something the parent sees as “normal” but threatening. Your child never really grows up and becomes truly independent of you, you never have to worry about being supplanted by them.

          1. AnonEMoose

            Some people really do seem to see their children (even their adult children) as extensions of themselves, rather than as people in their own right. I’ve never understood it.

            My parents started with the premise that their end goal was to produce an independently-functioning adult, and acted accordingly. So now, several decades down the line, we have our disagreements, but I know they love me and they have my back. And I never hesitate to ask for their advice, because I know they won’t take offense if I don’t take it. They’re human, so not perfect, but I think they’re pretty awesome (heck, my mom has become a sort of surrogate/secondary mother to a bunch of my friends from college.)

            1. I'm a Little Teapot

              Yes, you nailed it: the problem is parents who see their children as extensions of themselves rather than people in their own right. Ir who see their children as investments, or as objects.

          2. Krystal

            My mother expected me to live with her until marriage to a man she chose, at which time we’d buy the place across the street from her so she could see HER GRANDBABIES every day.

            Or I went to law school and moved 2.5 hours away, where people want to live. Instead of, you know, the greater Scranton area.

    1. MK

      Is your mother your employer? Or did you live with her and this was in lieu of rent, etc.? This sounds very strange to me.

      1. Masters Degree JD Lady

        Nope. I work in a different state, employed through different entity.

        ….I blame culture? When I told my mom to stop taking out so much she didn’t understand why; she thought, well, I already can buy stuff for you, and you want for nothing. What could you possibly need to save for?

        (Me: umm…future kids/housing/wedding?) Yeah, I transferred all finances, changed the banking address to my own, linked IRA account/changed address, then emailed both my parents so my mom wouldn’t put up a fight (at least, not in front of my dad who grew up in the US).

        1. Beezus

          I was wondering about you a few weeks ago! I have had too much going on to keep up with the weekend open threads lately. Glad to hear you’ve made so much progress!

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’m so glad to hear that you did this. I’ve been worrying about you in the back of my head ever since you first shared what was going on on the weekend free-for-all. This is great news.

        3. fposte

          So many congratulations for you on taking this step! That is excellent news, and you also sound pretty comfortable with it, which is great.

        4. Not So NewReader

          She’s lucky you did not have her arrested. Am shaking my head, the differences in cultures/nations.

    2. literateliz

      When hearing about stressful situations like this my mind latches on to the smallest weird detail it can in order to avoid dealing with the rest of it. Why 42 percent specifically? Why not 40? Or 45? Or 42.5?!

      *holds head in hands and rocks back and forth*

    3. Anon Accountant

      So glad to hear you are financially independent now and are happy with your boyfriend. Many wishes for continued independence and happiness.

      You definitely had a rough road getting there.

    4. Observer

      Were you able to get back that money she put into “savings” for you? Did you move out?

      I remember your post on the matter. I’m so glad you managed to pull this off.

      1. Observer

        I see you are living on your own. That’s a good thing.

        I hope you got the rest of your money back.

      1. Masters Degree JD Lady

        mid/late 20s. I didn’t get the money she took away as “savings” but I saved every penny of all other paychecks I got, and used part of my money from my IRA as “just in case of emergency” funds

  6. Colorado

    OP: I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope this doesn’t sound harsh but a little distance and independence from your parents may do you all a bit of good. Take the job, leap, and best of luck!

    1. Beancounter in Texas

      Yes! Take the leap! And if it turns out to be a mistake, learn from it and go on with your life. At least you’ll be able to say you tried instead of just giving up.

      THE MAN IN THE ARENA
      It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

      Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt

  7. The Other Dawn

    I just don’t understand this level of involvement and control that parents want and think they’re entitled to. It just boggles my mind. My parents were basically like, “OK, here are some general guidelines about life. Go live your life, make some mistakes, and then let us know if you have any questions.”

    I agree, do not give them any information that would enable them to contact the employer. Just shut it down and then change the subject. It sounds like the more forceful wording Alison suggested might be in order; I really like her wording for that.

    1. Lady Bug

      I’m always amazed too. Once my kids turned 18 I forced them to be in charge of their lives. Need to see a doctor? Call them up, not my job. Don’t know if they accept our insurance, look at the card, it will tell you how to figure it out.

      I fully understand giving career advice. When my son wanted to leave his job to sell heating oil contracts door to door, we highlighted the down sides, but ultimately if he had taken the job we wouldn’t have done anything about it because it’s his lesson to learn.

      OP best of luck! Definitely give your parents as little info about the job as possible. Be prepared to move and support yourself with no help, if your parents are the type who will cut you off for disobeying them. You will appreciate life so much more when you get out and see what you are capable of on your own.

      1. blackcat

        I remember being so overwhelmed when my mom told 16 year old me to make my own doctor’s appointment, and take myself. She only conceded to be involved in scheduling because I didn’t have a car (and had to use either hers or my dads). It was the doctor I had seen for years (family doc, not pediatrician), so there was no paperwork or anything like that. I remember asking, “But what if the doctor wants to speak to you?” She said, “I’m sure he’ll call me if he thinks you have some terminal disease. But this is a regular checkup and you’re 16. He doesn’t need to talk to me. I pay for your car insurance so I don’t have to drive you everywhere anymore. Do it yourself.” And you know what? Everything was fine! I could totally handle taking myself to the doctor. A+ for my mom telling me to take on responsibilities.

        I’m so glad she did that. It also meant that, when I was 20 (!!) and my dentists’ receptionist ask to speak to my mother about scheduling (WTF!?) and wouldn’t take no for an answer (“You’ll never remember an appointment 3 months from now. I need to talk to your mother.”), I had the good sense to go find myself a new dentist. The entire family ended up switching, because the new receptionist was so rude and treated us adult kids like we were 5.

        1. AnotherAlison

          The only issue with this is that parents have to be present for shots for minors, which you can get anytime at physicals without knowing ahead of time. (I think this is a state law, but I had to leave work to go attend a physical of my 17.833 year old son so he could get a meningitis booster last week.) Grrr.

          1. blackcat

            Hmm, I do think I likely got a shot at that one. I guess there wasn’t such a law in my state (at the time, this was quite a while ago now!).

          2. Judy

            It’s likely that under 18, they can’t legally sign the permission form for the shot. I know whenever my kids get shots, or when I get a shot, I have to sign some vaccine awareness papers.

            1. Ad Astra

              Is that a new thing? I don’t recall every seeing anything I’d describe as “vaccine awareness papers,” but I haven’t been a minor for quite some time and I don’t have kids of my own.

            2. AnotherAlison

              Probably. . . I did sign something about the shot. I asked them if I could sign it in advance, and they said no. Meanwhile, on the county health department website, kids getting free shots could download a form and have their parents sign it in advance.

              In this case, I knew about the shot, but there was another time when he called me from the dr’s office and said I needed to be there. He was not getting a shot that day, and I told THEM that I didn’t need to be there, and they insisted I was wrong, made me come down there before they would see him. I got back to the office, and about 30 minutes later, they called me and said they were wrong, and they were really sorry, I did not have to be there. Apologies for the inconvenience. > : |

          3. NewDoc

            Probably a state law; where I work you must get parent/guardian consent but phone consent is acceptable :)

        2. Observer

          Your mother is a champion.

          As for the receptionist, I hope you told the dentist why you left. How utterly rude.

          1. blackcat

            Oh, my mom has plenty of other faults, but she did help me become an adult. I think some of it was that I am the youngest, and there were all sorts of errands that she was just plain tired of doing. As soon as she could pass responsibility to me, she did. (Also, as soon as I could drive myself to school, my parents started taking childfree vacations ALL THE TIME. If I was a less good kid, I could have had SO MANY raging parties. But alas, I was too uptight for that).

            We did (eventually) tell the dentist why we were leaving. It was a whole saga–the receptionist refused repeatedly to release or send our records to a new dentist. It took a strongly worded letter citing the law on this matter SENT TO THE DENIST’S HOUSE to get the records. Because no phone calls, letters to the office, etc, got any response after the original “no”. I think she was trying to prevent us from leaving or reporting her behavior to the dentist. She was spectacularly awful, and got away with it since she was the only non-medical staff person in the office (1 dentist, 2 hygienists in the practice, so tiny).

        3. peanut butter kisses

          I wish more doctors and dentists knew how many patients leave if they are treated rudely by the receptionist, nurse, or assistants.

          1. OfficePrincess

            Yup. OT, but I left a PA and nurse combo I loved because the front desk treated me so horribly and the billing department couldn’t grasp the concept of insurance.

          2. Stranger than fiction

            yes! Occasionally my hmo group sends questionnaires and while I normally hate anything that comes in the mail I sometimes take the opportunity to fill them out if the office staff is subpar

      2. Anonsie

        Man my parents did that stuff waaay before it was time for me to move out. I started doing all my laundry in middle school, in high school I was supposed to pack my own lunches and fix my own dinners many nights as well. I was expected to make doctor’s appointments myself and tell them if I needed anything– no one ever just went out and bought stuff for school or planned on taking me shopping or whatever, I had to say “I need x thing we need to go to x store on Tuesday to get it.” Partially this is because they are wads in general, but it’s not like it’s going to hurt you. At least some portion was definitely good for me, but it also made the really ineffective people in college who took all their laundry home so their mom would sort and wash it for them on weekends and made a big deal about how they didn’t know how to cook anything really hard to tolerate.

        1. Ad Astra

          There’s no excuse for the number of kids (well, legal adults) who come to college with no idea how to do laundry. When you’re tall enough to reach the knobs, you’re old enough to learn how to use the washing machine. It’s like being 18 and not knowing how to work a microwave or a television. How is this so widespread?

          1. AnotherAlison

            In retrospect, I find it amusing that my controlling mom would not let us (the kids) do laundry. She did show us how when we went to college, but she preferred that we just bring it all home for her to wash. WTF? I often do my kids’ laundry because I want to wash full loads, but my high schooler can and will do his own. 10:00 pm and you want those jeans tomorrow? Do it yourself. No drama, no problems.

            1. AnotherAlison

              (I did have to dust, vacuum, clean all the bathrooms, including the master, though, so this was not as if my mom was just a happy homemaker and did our laundry to stay busy.)

          2. Stranger than fiction

            Agreed. I knew how to do laundry but had to teach myself to cook because my mom never allowed us in the kitchen while she was cooking! And to this day I cannot sew

            1. Connie-Lynne

              Ooh, you can take sewing classes so many places if you want to learn: community colleges, fabric stores, and sewing machine stores!

              My mom taught me to sew, but I got so much better at it when I took a costuming class.

          3. manybellsdown

            My BFF went to college with no idea how to do her own laundry, which was odd to me because she was (and is) supremely competent in all other areas of her life. But for the first two years she just drove home on weekends with her dirty clothes for mom to wash.

            1. Cath in Canada

              I remember being in the laundry room of my residence, first month of university, and running into a classmate who was staring at the machines with great confusion. He said “I seem to remember hearing that there are some things you shouldn’t wash together, but I can’t remember what they are. Is it shirts vs. trousers, or is it something else?”. I explained about whites and darks (same plot line as an episode of Friends, I think!)

              My dad still to this day does not know how to do laundry. He took his clothes home to his mum while he was in university, then had a landlady who did laundry for her tenants, then married my mum. He’ll quite happily vacuum, dust, and clean the entire house, and wash or dry dishes, but he’s somehow managed to turn laundry and cooking into these huge mysterious black hole tasks that only people with advanced skills in the Dark Arts should attempt.

          4. Blurgle

            I think it’s because you can utterly ruin a large, expensive amount of clothing very easily with a washing machine.

            Also there was a push back in the 80s by pediatricians where I lived trying to stop kids from using top-loaders until they were at least 12. Too many kids were falling in, getting their hair and clothes caught in the agitator, and drowning. Since about 99% of washers then were top-loaders…

            1. Revanche

              I could have been one of those kids. I was doing laundry when I was six, and absolutely climbed up the machine to reach dials and knobs.

              1. Jules

                Our parents were definitely of the ‘end result: competent adults’ school: we had to clean our own rooms from the time we could operate the vacuum cleaner (it was pretty heavy!), do our own laundry once we were tall enough to reach the taps, make our own packed lunches (Mom made sure the kitchen was stocked with healthy, lunch-friendly, age-appropriate ingredients, but you had to assemble your own) from the time we needed them (so I was seven….), we cooked at least part of dinner at least once a week for as long as I can remember, and we all did dishes from the moment we could be trusted not to break plates and glassware (short folks loaded the dishwasher, taller ones had to also wash things by hand).

                But then again, we were independent kids – they happily packed us off on summer vacations together (we were 8 and 9 the first trip) to visit our grandparents 1,000km away by Greyhound bus, at 12 I started ironing my dad’s dress shirts for work because I got tired of listening to my mom whine about having to do it (she hates ironing….) and my parents took their first kid-free vacation the day after my older sister got her driving license…leaving her, 16, and me, 15, at home in charge of an 11-year-old. It was only much later that my Mom confessed she spent the whole week worrying by the phone….

                Dad’s contribution to the ‘independent adults’ curriculum was house and car care: how to mow a lawn, change a fuse, wire a light switch, change a tire, fix a leaky toilet, use power tools, etc.

          5. Honeybee

            I had to show my freshman year roommate how to work the washing machines and dryers. She grew up in a wealthy family with a housekeeper, so she never had to do her own laundry. She also showed up with a steamer instead of an ironing board and iron. (We did end up using the steamer a few times for some fancy college events.)

      3. Jen RO

        I think this is totally a cultural thing. My parents were/are not like OP’s, but they (and most parents in this country, regardless of age) would feel like they are abandoning their children if they did that. If you told a Romanian parent that people in the US sometimes charge their children rent, they would be horrified. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good or bad thing, but it’s one of those things I notice a lot when I read American websites.

        (As an anecdote, my brother and I are two years apart, both raised by the same parents, in the same conditions: I started working at 22 and moved out at 24 – long overdue!!! -, while he is still living at home at 28, finishing his second degree [because he “didn’t like” the first one], and working a low-paid job that my dad got him at his workplace…)

        1. Ellie H.

          I’m American and I find it absolutely horrifying too. People really vary on this. There are a lot of Americans who think it’s shameful if you would stay at your parents’ house without paying rent, expect your parents to help you with moving or something, occasionally let your parents buy you groceries, etc. as a younger adult (18+, graduated from college).

          There are definitely kids who “fail to launch” and use parental support as a crutch that unhealthily enables them to stay in a kind of arrested development, not independent, not really becoming an adult with a job/own life/own place etc. But I find it sad and strange to criticize young people who are quite independent and self-actualized, yet still stay with/accept help from parents on occasion.

          1. Anonsie

            Agreed. If I could have stayed with my family during college and in my earlier, poorer years, I would have so much less debt now– and that’s a very long term impact on my financial stability. There is nothing wrong with continuing to help your adult children make smart financial moves as they are getting established.

        2. Revanche

          I understand not charging your kids rent if they already have all the life skills they need to make it on their own but not if they’ve never supported themselves or were responsible for basic life skills that they would need sooner than later. I have cousins who left the house in their mid-20s not knowing how to fend for themselves and I think that’s a real disservice you do your kids. My dad had the same attitude and I think it was terrible for the family.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Some parents have control issues. Then there was the whole self-esteem parental movement where every single little thing was handled for kids so they wouldn’t experience ANY disappointment, negativity, or self-doubt (excessive praise for every. tiny. single. little. thing is a hallmark of this). Kids actually gain healthy self-esteem from learning to handle things–they build self-efficacy from trying and failing and succeeding (or rethinking different ways of handling their own issues)–with their parents’ assistance IF NEEDED, of course. It does not come from being told you are a perfect little snowflake who is the light of everybody’s lives and can do no wrong.

      I agree with the advice not to give the parents any information.

      1. fposte

        And some of it is cultural, as Alison suggests. A lot of cultures don’t have that individuation goal, and it’s really hard to negotiate it if that’s not where your parents are coming from.

        1. Viva L

          Exactly. For a lot of cultures, an intricate interwoven family fabric is just normal (think similar to what we call enmeshment in the US). It provide an excellent safety net for risk-taking behavior, the elderly, the downtrodden, and just general family support etc. It’s not as great for promoting independence. But that doesn’t mean it cant happen, it just takes some extra effort – like you see in second generation immigrants, or simply offspring breaking from the norm.

      2. Cinderella

        My father is like this with much younger stepsister, and it’s INFURIATING. She’s almost 11 and has never had to do anything beyond getting straight As. No chores, no responsibilities, no expectations– even the notion of a regular bedtime is foreign to her! She has zero independence or problem-solving skills because Daddy always swoops in to fix everything, often before she even knows there’s a problem.

        I think it may be because he was mostly absent for my childhood and is trying hard not to make those mistakes… but it’s still really hard to watch him make all new mistakes, and even harder for me to watch my little sister grow up into a textbook spoiled brat.

      3. Revanche

        My culture has issues with letting kids leave, I’m one of the first of all my cousins ranging from age 21-50s who left the house before getting married. All of the cousins I grew up with stayed home until they married out of their families’ homes. And I think there are so many ways that’s now more damaging in today’s world where that simply isn’t the norm anymore. But I see that it leaves many ill-equipped to manage their lives. But I would have that attitude, I’m a black sheep :)

    3. Lily in NYC

      I had strict parents (even though they were oddly lenient about many things). For them, it came from fear that something bad would happen if they didn’t control me. They didn’t care about my grades, but they sure cared about how I spent my evenings. My mom would actually drive to where I was supposed to be to make sure my car was really there. I now realize that part of it was fear and part of it was the fact they they were naughty lovers in high school and used to lie to their parents about staying with friends and then go to a hotel! I never did anything even remotely similar..
      I was never allowed to make my own mistakes, and it led to some wildness the minute I left home for college.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Are we sisters? Because I think we had the same parents. Every plan was checked for accuracy by calling the other parents making sure I’d really be there etc and yes, sometimes my mom would drive to where I was supposed to be too. They also wed because my sister was on the way and I too went wild once at college

      2. Honeybee

        The thing that gets me about is…your parents were naughty lovers in high school and they turned out fine. My husband and I were naughty lovers in high school, too, and we also turned out quite fine. If my kid has a naughty lover in high school…they will probably also turn out fine. I’m not gonna drive all over creation trying to figure out if you’re lying if my suspicion is that you’re just having sex with your boyfriend in a cheap motel somewhere because…hello, that’s high school, lol.

    4. Ad Astra

      I spent much of my childhood and adolescence wishing my parents cared a little more about my comings and goings, so this kind of overbearing parenting is so shocking and foreign to me. Where do they find the time? What do they expect their children to do once they’re dead or too old to dictate every last thing?

      1. Observer

        Some parents don’t think that through. Others assume that if you keep on making decisions for them, without their input mostly, their children will somehow absorb what a good decision looks like.

    5. Ethyl

      My spouse’s mom was like this but not as bad. One thing that has helped both of us was reading up about narcissistic parents. I’m not diagnosing anyone but the suggestions on boundaries and how to cope with the weirdness was sooooo helpful for us, and Spouse was able to have a decent relationship with her eventually until her death.

    6. MaryMary

      Well, and I think can be a difference between head versus heart. My mom had a hard time when I went away to college and when I moved to another state after graduation. Not a dysfunctional hard time, but she was emotional. But as she said later, she raised me to be smart and independent, so she could hardly blame me when I grew up to be a smart, independent adult. She just thought I’d be an independent adult who lived in the same town as the rest of the family.

  8. oldfashionedlovesong

    OP, stay strong! I have parents like this– luckily they’ve never gone so far as you’re describing here, and I managed to extricate myself somewhat after college, but the weight of their involvement in my life can still be crushing at times. As Alison suggests, provide as little information as possible. Be firm and unruffled when they are hounding you.

    Keep your head down and focus on preparing yourself for this amazing opportunity. Congratulations!

    1. oldfashionedlovesong

      I also want to add, please, please don’t let them dissuade you from going for this with gusto if you know it’s right for you. When I was in high school, my best friend was offered a full scholarship for her dream major at a great university far away. Her parents wanted her to stay in town to help with their small business, and they guilt-tripped her so relentlessly that she felt she had no other choice than to turn it down. Her life now is nothing like she wanted it to be, and that breaks my heart. You are on the right track, and you have to believe that about yourself if you’re going to be able to withstand their rhetoric.

  9. AMT

    Would it ever be a good idea to pre-emptively reach out to the new employer just in case OP is absolutely sure that his/her parents will try to cause trouble?

    1. Juli G.

      It would feel very strange if someone told me that outside of a “verge of a restraining order” situation.

      I’d suggest staying as dialed in to your on boarding contact as you can without being obnoxious. For example, “I completed my drug screen and paperwork – is there anything else you need from me?” emails. That way, they know you’re excited without introducing drama.

    2. LBK

      Yeah, I was wondering about this, but I’m not sure how to do it without making yourself seem like a source of drama – even if it’s 110% not the OP’s fault her parents are nuts and she acts like the picture of professionalism, sometimes the employer just won’t want to deal with someone that comes with that kind of baggage. I’m thinking of the stories of spouses who come to their husband’s/wife’s office to scream at them; it really sucks for the person it’s happening to, but at some point you have to weigh that against the burden it puts on the rest of the office.

      Some people are also “inexplicably” followed by drama (read: they cause it) and even though everything is “not their fault” (read: totally their fault) there’s always some issue. It can be hard to know if you’re dealing with that kind of person or someone who’s genuinely just really unfortunate and has bad things/people happen to them outside of their control.

    3. INTP

      I fear that might draw more attention to the drama, or let them know that you have family members who might potentially disrupt the workplace (which could be a red flag for an employer) when it might not happen immediately.

      I think the best course of action is to keep all names, documents, and contact information away from the parents and hope that if they attempt to call, they will be deterred by the general receptionist or operator of the general phone line and never reach someone with influence over hiring and firing.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I really wrestled with that while writing the response, but ultimately decided that it should be a last-resort thing only, lest it inject drama with the employer unnecessarily. The best thing the OP could do is not let the parents have the info that would allow them to contact the employer at all.

  10. Juli G.

    This actual disturbs me a bit. I do wonder if OP would share anything about the employer. There are a few more controversial employers and having them on your resume could limit you a little (i.e. working for Vivid Entertainment means you likely won’t get that role at Focus on the Family) but claiming this job will ruin your career and education (?) is so very far-fetched and over dramatic that it makes me concerned for you, OP. I don’t think you can get away fast enough.

    1. K

      I wouldn’t assume it’s because the employer is controversial, just that it’s not what the parents want. My mother once told me I’d ruin my career and education if I took a gap year in college to travel the world.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Even more ridiculous: I was ruining my life by transferring from one engineering school to another engineering school.

        1. Evan Þ

          I… suppose that could theoretically be the case. For instance, if you were transferring from a full ride at MIT to take out extravagant loans for Noname Local Private? Of course, parents in that situation could explain just why that would be a bad choice…

          1. AnotherAlison

            As a parental unit, I can see that on the surface that seems like a doomsday scenario for your career. But, as a logical human being, I think you have to consider that a kid who was once able to get into MIT is not likely to be a failure in life. I mean, the kid may not end up running LBNL or something, but as long as the kid knows that and knows that running LBNL is not what she wants, it’s their choice.

            Personally, I left an out of state school with a near-full scholarship and graduated from the flagship in state school with a true full scholarship and still met my original 4-year graduation date. Academically and career-wise, no significant difference.

            1. MIT Student

              MIT in particular is also a very high-pressure environment. The administration has taken student mental health seriously as an issue for a few years now, but there’s a lot of culture around all-nighters and perfect grades and whatnot that’s pretty entrenched. For someone who finds that environment particularly toxic and damaging to their mental health, leaving for a no-name school could be a good, and possibly life-saving, decision.

              Sorry, I know it was a random example. Just goes to show that with almost any decision that’s hard to explain from the outside, there can be extenuating circumstances or situational factors that make it the right one.

            2. mander

              True. One of my high school friends had a full ride scholarship to a hot shot engineering university, but he got hooked on the internet during the first dot-com boom and ended up dropping out. When he told me this I was horrified, because after a few years of being a waiter or ski instructor or something like that he ended up going to the local branch of the state university which had a fairly poor reputation. I thought his life was ruined. However, fast forward a few years and he’s now a senior programmer for PayPal, happily married, and by all accounts on top of the world.

        2. MashaKasha

          I came to the US with a 5-year CS degree, several years of programming experience, and plans to continue working in that field. My parents, who had come here a year ahead of us, befriended a couple my age, who told them that, in order to find a job in my field, I’d have to go back to school first and get a Master’s in CS at a local university. Only then, they said, did I stand a chance of getting hired in my field. Same deal with my husband, who was in the same position. That was in the late 90s. My husband and I were so puzzled as to why we’d have to go to school to get a degree in something we already had a degree and work experience in, that we emailed my parents’ friend while we were still in our home country getting ready to leave, and asked him, “given our education and experience, do we NEED to go to school for two more years? won’t someone hire us as we are? or can we at least fast-track it and take a quick refresher course or something, if you say we need to go to a local school?” The reply he sent us was super wildly inappropriate, along the lines of, “if you don’t want to follow my advice, that’s your prerogative, but know that you’ll spend the rest of your life on welfare then”. Well ok we didn’t want to do that, so I applied to a grad school, took my GRE, then all of a sudden someone I knew hooked me up with a job interview at a small software company and I was hired for an entry level job. Picked up some experience and new skills, changed jobs four times in 3 years, tripled my pay in 3 years, ended up at a large company and pretty much continued my career from there.

          Here’s where it gets weird. The night before my job interview, my parents pretty much staged an intervention. They joined me on what was supposedly a walk with my kids and all of a sudden both started trying to talk me into canceling the interview and not taking the job, because that wasn’t part of the plan. I reminded them that the end goal of “the plan” was for me to get a job in my field; and that the interview was for a job in my field. They still held it against me for a few more years.

          TL;DR: my parents told me I was sabotaging the plan to find work in my field by finding work in my field.

          1. fposte

            Has there ever been a retroactive exploration of what was up there? Not that it has to happen; I’m just curious if they later said, “Yeah, we just panicked, we don’t know what we meant either.”

            1. MashaKasha

              They did, when my family income briefly caught up with their friends’. I’m saying “briefly” because the husband in that family went into banking in NYC, so he’s probably worth millions now. Anyway, one day in a random conversation, my parents suddenly said, “Okay, you were right back then.”

        3. Anonsie

          When I wanted to go to college of out state, my grandmother told my mom I was not allowed to do that. She was just like, “Oh well you told her she can’t do that, right?” and then started coming up with threats my mom could use to keep me from going. Like she just assumed my mom would be furious and wanted to help her come up with ways to keep me from doing such a ridiculous thing.

          1. Artemesia

            We sort of drew a 300 mile circle around big southern city where we lived and told our kids they could go anywhere outside that circle, preferably north. They did and both live in lovely midwest and western cities today; when we retired we moved to the midwest city where one lives.

      2. Juli G.

        No, that’s fair. I have a migraine hangover and I don’t think I was as clear as I wanted to be. I was trying to reassure OP that if it had to with employer, it would really be unlikely to impact long term.

        You’re right that it’s more likely the location they’re worried about and that’s an even more ridiculous concern.

      3. Anonymous Ninja

        Yes, I was told I was “loser” for not going to college immediately after high school graduation – as in, I graduated on a Friday and I was a loser for not starting college the very next Monday. I would be doomed for life. I’d never amount to anything, etc.

        1. Artemesia

          The US educational system has many flaws, but its great virtue is that there are endless second acts. You are never too old to return to get a degree or get a degree in a new field. And there are pretty much no penalties for laying out for a year after high school before going on to college.

          1. Three Thousand

            Yeah, it’s the job market that’s likely to nail you if you do that, not the educational system.

      4. MegEB

        I feel you. When I was applying to colleges and wanted to go to a more expensive private university rather than a cheaper state school, my parents (well, my dad) screamed at me and called me selfish. It was actually really traumatizing. In the end, I did end up going to a public university and it worked out really well for me, but yeah. I haven’t quite gotten over it yet.

        TL;DR most parents do care about their children’s future, but some of them care just a little too forcefully.

        1. Dana

          If your parents were paying for some or all of your tuition, though, they have a much higher stake in that decision (though not to the screaming/traumatizing extent) than it sounds like for OP. It sounds like OP would be moving, getting a job, and presumably supporting themselves so it doesn’t affect the finances of the parents.

          1. MashaKasha

            Hear, hear. I told my kids to apply to wherever and we’ll figure something out (of course in reality I had no idea how we’d “figure something out” to pay for a private school). When they found out that no private school would ever consider us eligible for financial aid, even though, for some of them, judging by my income alone, we were – since all private schools would also factor in my ex’s income – they refused to even apply. I was like, no no go ahead and apply, we’ll split the loan – and they were both, No way, mom. It worked out for Kid #1 and seems to be working out for Kid #2, so it’s all good I guess! And I’m honestly tickled pink to think that my kids are so protective of me and my fragile financial situation – that’s very nice of them.

            Actually now that I think of it, in today’s realities, “a dream job in a dream city” might very well turn out to be an unpaid internship at Very Cool Company in Very Cool (and overpriced) City. So finances might in fact be an issue for OP’s parents too. OP didn’t say anything one way or another.

            1. Mike C.

              On the other hand, there are lots of private schools that hand out tons of aid. My out of state private school was cheaper than my in-state flagship public university.

              1. blackcat

                But the situation described above is particularly tricky–when the non-custodial parent makes a more $$ refuses to pony up.

                I went to an elite college that gave out oodles of aid. My only friend with greater than $10k of debt had $90k. He had a wealthy father who absolutely refused to pay for college. And so he was on the hook for all of it.

                1. MashaKasha

                  Yes, that’s exactly what I am talking about. Ex and I make about the same. But he made it clear up front that he wouldn’t help pay. And private schools assume that he will. My kids ended up getting tons of merit aid at state schools though.

            2. Emily

              I am very fortunate to have parents who were willing and able to pay for my entire college education – but they set limits beforehand! So I knew that they were willing to pay roughly the cost of in-state tuition, but not the cost of out-of-state or private schools sans scholarship.

              I think that it worked pretty well for me – I applied to a variety of schools that I would have liked to attend, including a couple of state schools, and wasn’t heartbroken when one of the good schools I was accepted into turned out to be too expensive.

            1. MegEB

              Sorry, that response was more brusque than it needed to be. My parents don’t pay any portion of my student loans, and never have, nor offered (which is COMPLETELY fine – I figure it’s my education, so I should pay for it). I went into college with the understanding that I would be taking on loans. My mother cosigned one set of loans at first, but when I was 20 and built up a bit more credit, I took her off.

              Also, I’d just like to point out that we actually don’t know if the OP is financially dependent on their parents in any way. It doesn’t seem clear in the post, at least to me. I’m torn between wanting to support the OP’s independence, but I can understand the worry on the parents’ side; what is this supposed dream job is a cult or a scam? Or what if it’s a legitimate company, but it’s an MLM scheme (think Mary Kay) and they’re worried about what will happen? I would love more information about the specific situation here.

            2. AnotherAlison

              What? How is it selfish then? (Not that your dad needed to have solid logic based in fact. My dad is nuts and makes no logical arguments.) I can see advising against it because it’s a big financial burden, but selfish?

            3. MashaKasha

              Wow! If any of my kids did that, I’d 1) understand that I have no say in what school he wants to go to; 2) build a shrine to him in my living room and adorn in daily with fresh flowers and incense. Your dad’s reaction is just weird, inappropriate, and may I say selfish?

        2. Anonymosity

          When I was looking for a job last, my parents helped me out by buying me a better car (not new) so I could have reliable transport to and from work–my old car was crap. I intended to carry only liability on it and be SUPER careful driving it, because I was trying to pay my own bills on unemployment assistance, and not ask them too much for help. Especially after them getting me a car! Once I got a decent job, which the car would enable me to do much more easily, I would change it to full coverage.

          My dad, unbeknownst to me, called the insurance office and told them to change it to full coverage. Let me repeat that: he called the insurance office behind my back and changed my account.

          He was not ever on that account, never paid it, was not on the car title, or anything. Small town, they knew him, so hey. When I found out about it, I changed it back and told the insurance company that no one but me was ever to be allowed to make changes ever again, in life, ever. I couldn’t believe they did that. Imagine if a family member had a grudge on you and cancelled your insurance and then you got pulled over or had an accident? WTH?

          On a visit to my mom’s house, he found out I changed it back, and he screamed in my face so loud that I put my stuff in the car and left immediately. I told my mom if he ever did anything like that again, that would be the last time they ever saw me.

          I changed offices after that–still the same company, but I moved my account to one where I actually live and changed agents. And I told them why, too. The other office is really lucky I didn’t report them. I understand his thinking on it since he bought the car, but once it passed into my possession, it was my responsibility, not his (I am not a teenager or a college student). I could spray paint it pink and purple and stick golden Barbie dolls to it and drive it off a pier if I wanted. The whole thing reeked of “You’re not competent enough to know what you need to do and I need to do it for you.” Nope.

          Mom offered to help me pay the difference for the full coverage insurance, and I accepted her offer until I got a job. That was far more reasonable than what he did.

          1. MegEB

            I’m really glad you stood up for yourself and called the insurance office to explain why that wasn’t okay. I think it can be hard to hold to your principles when the other person is genuinely trying to help, but it’s important nonetheless.

            1. Anonymosity

              Thanks. He doesn’t do shit like that often at all, but when he does misstep, hoo boy does he. He’s getting older now, though, so I basically just try not to let him push my buttons.

      5. INTP

        My dad told me the same about teaching English abroad for a year, but when I got back, it seemed to be a major selling point on my resume. I have to say that after being insulted in a foreign language by a room full of tweens literally opposite the globe from where I grew up, and learning to yell at people in a foreign language so my immigration paperwork could be processed, giving a presentation in English in a meeting was much easier!

    2. Liz T.

      Well even if it is a ‘controversial’ job, she wants it, so more info wouldn’t really help us.

      1. Viva L

        For sure, but perspective from people that arent her parents can be helpful in evaluating her decisions – it’s not like she cant ever change her mind about things like this. When the advice is separate from people who are enmeshed, and say, half of the posters here say similar things, give her things to think about, share there experiences in a similar industry/experience, it can be really helpful in evaluating her own situation, watching out for pitfalls and doing a bit of work to help her be most successful in that decision. Otherwise, why ask anyone for advice ever?

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I worked some controversial jobs in my 20s — marijuana policy and animal rights — and my dad really didn’t like it. But although he wished I’d made different choices and he very much worried about my future, he understood that he’d raised an adult and he never tried to interfere (aside from sending me random job postings for PR jobs that he thought I should do instead), and things turned out just fine.

        1. Observer

          Yes, but there is controversial, and there is downright dangerous.

          The truth is we really don’t know if the parents are nuts, or are actually being very reasonable in their fears, even if totally unrealistic in how they are expressing it, or something in between.

          1. DB

            This.
            My first thought was that the OP is 18 and moving to Vegas to be a stripper. As their parent I too might melt down slightly. I don’t think that indicates I have boundary issues, it seems that more information might be important!

  11. LabTech

    I’ve been there too, with a parent trying to contact my employer. It’s very reassuring to hear Alison say that it’s a massive boundary violation. In situations like this, it can be really tough to assert boundaries. Just remember, this is your life, your career, and your prerogative to make decisions regarding these matters as you see fit (and all that applies even if it’s just run-of-the-mill nosiness rather than actively trying to sabotage your career).

    Finally, congratulations on getting the job!!

  12. Kateyjl

    Please stop telling your parents so much about your adult life. They are only try to have you live their dream life for them. You need to figure out your life and how to live it. They do not have your best interests at heart.

    1. Anna

      I think there’s a difference between oversharing and telling your parents about an amazing job offer in a great city. Most people would share that with their parents. The problem isn’t that she told her parents she was moving; the problem is they took it as an invitation to dictate their feelings on the matter.

    2. MK

      That’s actually a pretty inflamatory statement. Most parents do have their children’s best interests at heart, or at least what they think is their best interest. Also, they could have a point about the OP’s plans being objectively a terrible idea that might make things difficult for them in the long run.

      Yes, people need to make their own decisions and live their own lives. But it’s dangerous to get into a mindset in which you ignore all others points of view.

      1. Tinker

        I think the way the statement is phrased is pretty extreme, but I also don’t think you’re correct in what you’re saying. First of all, you say “ignore all others points of view”, but that’s not what Kateyjl advocated at all — they were speaking to the situation with the OP’s parents specifically (and also, if one wants to be technical, did not suggest ignoring them but rather limiting information sharing with them). In general, it is absolutely necessary to exert discretion in whose perspectives one should take seriously, and there are distinct markers in the OP’s account that indicate that their parents may be a poor bet in this regard. Even if that isn’t true, there are still many people in the world who are not OP’s parents — their friends, for instance, professional or academic mentors, ADVICE COLUMNISTS, folks like that. Removing those particular people from the pool, even in the case where this is not obviously necessary, hardly constitutes shutting out all advice.

        I’ll say as an aside here that, though I am admittedly biased on the subject, I think that once a person is an adult they should consider that their parents are very often not the right people to ask for advice or at least not the best people to ask for advice. Even relatively healthy parents often have to do some work to come up to the neutral stance that most people start from of “This is an adult whose perceptions and judgment should be given the normal weight due other adults barring clear indications otherwise”, and giving advice to a 34-year-old homeowner that implicitly rests in part on the basis that they are eight years old and might potentially fingerpaint the walls is apt to be less than helpful.

        Also, you say “at least what they think is their best interest” as if the distinction between that and “what actually is their best interest” is immaterial. It very much isn’t. For that, I’d recommend to you an excellent essay called “When Love is Abuse” on the “Love, Joy, Feminism” blog, the gist of which is this: Many abusers believe that what they are doing is in the best interests of the person they are abusing; the fact that they think this does not change the fact that what they are doing is causing harm and must be stopped.

        1. LBK

          Well said, as always. Even the best parents don’t see their children’s decisions with clear eyes, and particularly when it comes to a parent/child relationship I think there are huge blind spots on both sides in terms of good intentions justifying bad behavior. It’s hard to accept that the people who raised you might not always be right, and it’s hard to accept that the person you raised might not always think you’re right.

          1. Not So NewReader

            My go-to for stuff like this is “know the WHY”. I think it is good practice to ask people (not just parents) why they prefer x over y, or why they think I should not do abc. Some times their answers will hit me between the eyes- YEAH, that is RIGHT. And other times their answers will solidify for me that I am definitely going in the direction opposite of what they are saying.

            As an adult, I was very fortunate with my father. He would explain his rationale behind his advice. Mostly his advice was how to find the answers I needed for a particular concern- so he was not taking over the problem itself- he was steering me to resources.
            Both my husband and I hugely respected my father’s opinion on matters. So you can imagine what happened when that real estate agent tried to tell me that my father was going to dislike any house I showed him. “He is going to feel that NO house is good enough for HIS daughter!” (Direct quote!) Ha! We had taken my father to see this house. He navigated the stairs (straight down) into the basement (darky, icky) and for some reason he found a nail on the floor. He picked up the nail and pushed it all the way into a main beam using his THUMB (powder post beetles). He came up from the basement and said “not this one!” Poor real estate agent, he failed to grasp that the older, slow moving, simple speaking man, knew a lot about many things. We decided to keep my father and ditch the real estate person.

            FWIW, we picked another house in the same modest price range and my father loved it. That worked out well, because by the time my father was available to see it we had signed the mortgage papers.

            Punchline: Know the person you are talking with. Almost everyone has built in biases. But it’s also true that most people have areas that they excel in, they have extraordinary knowledge/experience. When someone you respect, gives you advice contrary to what you want, just ask them WHY they think that way. Listen to their reasoning. Does it make sense? Are they missing a few pieces of the situation? Are YOU missing a few key points? Go home and sleep on it. Look at in the morning with fresh eyes.

            To this day, I would give my eye teeth to be able to ask my dad’s advice on things.

        2. Nashira

          Yes, this. I’m in treatment for PTSD because of what my mom thought was in my best interests. There is a HUGE distinction between what she thinks and what really is best for me.

    3. MashaKasha

      “I’m moving to another city for a new job” is kind of on the need-to-know list, unless you think the parents should just be left wondering when one day their kid has left town for no reason that they’re aware of.

      This is coming from someone who didn’t plan on telling parents about her second pregnancy until after the baby was born (and did manage to keep them in the dark for five months.) Unless the relationship with one’s parents is absolutely freakin dysfunctional to the point of cutting contact with one another, relocation to another city is something they should be told of.

      1. Career Counselorette

        My mom actually told me about a college friend of hers who came home one Christmas break and discovered a new family living in her house. Her parents had picked up and moved and hadn’t bothered to give her their new address. No explanation.

        1. AnotherAlison

          My husband came home once, when he was 20, and the entire house was empty except his bedroom. His mom was cancelling the lease and moving back in with an ex-husband, but he wasn’t part of the relo. He had to crash with friends for about 3 weeks, get a second job, and cancel his college enrollment. The strangest thing is that that is totally normal behavior for my MIL.

        2. K

          What?? Did she ever find them??

          We once moved while my older sister was away at college, but at least we told her and gave her the new address!

        3. LBK

          I know someone this happened to as well! My friend’s brother flew home to Boston only to discover he’d somehow been left out of the loop on their parents moving to Arizona.

        4. A

          Wow, I thought it was bad that my mom’s parents changed their phone number and forgot to give her the new one (she was one of 6 kids so it was most likely an accident). They also changed it to be unlisted. She drove herself somewhere and ran into car trouble. Well, when she tried to call home for help, the phone had been disconnected. She remembered her mom mentioning they MIGHT change the number so she called directory assistance. Directory assistance refused to give her the number directly but the operator kindly called my grandparents and asked them to pick up their daughter.

        5. Hiding on the Internet Today

          Did your mom go to Cornell? Because this is my mom and her parents.

          It was a small town, so she found her parent’s new house by asking around.

        6. Not So NewReader

          Nothing says “I love you” like leaving NO forwarding address.

          I cannot imagine. So how did this work out, what’s the rest of the story?

  13. AnotherAlison

    I think it’s worth pointing out to the OP that her parents will likely not respond well to anything she says to shut this down. “No” can be a complete sentence. Don’t let them bully you, guilt you, or just run over you and continue to make decisions about your life as if you said nothing. It’s not going to be easy. Once you get that job, you might start seeing a therapist sooner rather than later. That may sound extreme, but coming from the inside of an “enmeshed” family myself, I felt it was normal for parents to want/have that much control, but it isn’t. It’s dysfunctional. I’m 37 and continue to fight regular battles with my dad, usually over how my husband and I are raising our youngest son. It sucks & I feel your pain.

  14. Mena

    This experience is telling you a LOT about the relationship you have with your parents – please listen!

    This sounds like a great opportunity for you simply because it is taking you away from you parents … which, BTW, is why they don’t want you to take it.

    Time to spread you wings and live your life, not the life they prescribe for you. Good luck – it will be fine no matter what!

  15. Artemesia

    Our adult kids share a lot about their jobs and ask our advice. My husband who is an attorney reviews their legal documents. My daughter is in a field I have some competence in so often asks for managing advice and performance advice; my son is in a field I know nothing of, but does ask about managing upward issues. All this happens because it would never occur to us to offer advice unasked (or certainly not more than once) and there is literally no circumstance in which we would ever contact an employer.

    Parents who try to run their kids’ lives as adults deserve to be strangers to all but the superficialities. I hope that the OP (and the first responder here) have their paychecks automatically deposited to accounts in banks different from the ones their parents use and will keep their private information private. The bank thing can be important in small towns where I have heard a number of anecdotes of relative who work at the bank or parent’s friends who work there not keeping information private.

    And set up retirement accounts and max those out and set up emergency fund accounts and max those out so that there won’t be a lot of money lying around available for parents to demand to mooch. A parent who would take 42% (I assume for room and board) has serious entitlement issues and may begin demanding ‘loans’ — insulate your funds from that by not having any to spare through savings accountings, CDs, retirement accountants that ‘can’t be touched’ — money is all tied up in retirement accounts and for bills, I just don’t have any to spare.

  16. Sandy

    Huge caveat: if this is the case, it would be rare, but it is worth saying in case it actually does apply or it applies to someone else down the line, stumbling across this post.

    As part of my job, I deal with human trafficking cases sometimes. A lot of the cases (although not all) follow similar patterns. A young woman, 17-21, depending on the country, gets a “dream job offer”. They will have to travel far from home and far from their support networks. Once they get there, any documents they have been provided turn out to be either fake, unenforceable by law, or they wouldn’t have access to a lawyer, legal aid, court system, etc. and they are forced into work that is far from what they thought it was going to be (secretarial work turns out to be sweatshop work, shipping clerk turns out to be sex work).

    They are legal adults in most cases. I have very little means to be able to help them. I have *no* means to be able to talk to their parents. But the red flags are usually there. Their children were young adults (but still adults), it was a “dream job”, far away, and their spider senses were tingling all over the place.

    If you don’t want to talk to your parents about the details of the job, don’t. If you don’t want to show them the offer letter or other documents, don’t. But consider getting a trusted set of eyes- a mentor, a former teacher, even your local legal aid clinic- to look over things, to act as a sounding board for whether everything is in order.

    And while it’s more common in some places in the world, what I am describing DOES happen in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.

    1. Jcsgo

      I agree… it’s risky to move to a new place without telling anyone you trust about details. If not your parents, you should share details with someone you trust (who you trust to both give you their insight into the opportunity and to also keep the information from your parents).

    2. Beancounter in Texas

      Good advice.
      I saw this happen in the Middle East. A Filipino waitress at the gym cafe spoke English very well. She had a master’s degree in something detailed, like engineering. How was she was waitress?! She was promised a job in her field, something that paid very well. Upon arrival and per her employment agreement, she gave her passport to her employer, who then put her to work as a waitress. And because her employer wouldn’t pay her for months at a time, she’d banded together with some other Filipinos, ten to a one bedroom apartment just to live. She hadn’t been home for two years. I always tipped her more than usual and made sure to put it in her hand, although in retrospect, there’s no telling whether she got to keep it or not. I also imagine that the Filipino embassy couldn’t help, because she probably signed a binding contract without realizing how it could screw her over in the end.

      1. Steve G

        I saw a news story about men from SE Asia lied about in the same way, doing construction work in Dubai. Very, very sad.

        1. Anonsie

          It happens a lot. There is an organization around here that tries to help people who may have been trafficked or are otherwise being exploited by their “employers” that have banner ads all over in many languages explaining your rights and giving ways to contact them for help, and I remember the first time I saw them I had this moment of “oh my god, why aren’t these everywhere?”

      2. I'm a Little Teapot

        OMG. An employment contract that requires you to *turn over your passport* can’t possibly be legal. Or at least shouldn’t be. But regardless of legality scum will take advantage of the young, naive, or desperate.

    3. Steve G

      Thank you for this, I get the feeling that the OP is very young and am also concerned about something like this. I was reading stories on Reddit that touched on human trafficking and they scared the crap out of me. The tactics are so slick. It is hard to get a “dream job” when you are older with experience, many people I know with dream jobs now started at lowly job at the same company. Now maybe the OP considers any job paying a living wage a “dream job” at this point, but I am still suspicious. I’m not sure this is a case of overreaching parents. I think the OP’s feeling the need to assert independence is a sign they are very young, which isn’t bad, but with age, I think people are more comfortable with and actually want to ask other people for guidance.

      1. Tinker

        One thing here though — feeling a need to assert independence isn’t necessarily a sign of extreme youth, when dealing with the situation of a person with overbearing parents. One of the things that can happen, particularly with parents who play a more subtle game in their controlling behavior, is that their child will put off direct assertions of independence that would ordinarily be considered relatively routine for (e.g.) the teens to early twenties in the interests of keeping the peace and/or because various forms of invalidation have made it difficult for them to discern what are reasonable or even permissible positions to take. The result is that the matter of independence is an open question at a later age than would ordinarily be the case, and therefore the need to assert independence (which is a necessary stage to get to the point where said independence is an accepted fact) persists to an unusually late age.

        As far as the matter of actually wanting to ask other people for guidance — is that not exactly what the OP is doing? They perceived that they had a problem that they needed advice on, and they apparently actually wanted to ask some other person for guidance enough so that they selected an advice columnist with a decent track record in the specific area of their concern TO ASK about the matter that they were concerned about. Furthermore, it’s entirely appropriate for an adult to consider advice from another party — whether it was asked for or whether it was spontaneously or nonconsensually volunteered — and decline to take it for whatever reason. If that party is then likely to act inappropriately (e.g. by sabotaging someone’s job) when their advice is declined, that can itself be a problem that requires addressing, and not necessarily by any further consideration of said advice.

        Here is something of a tangent that is relevant to the interpretation of this situation: I read a few forums that relate to problematic relationships between parents and children, and a trend that I notice one of these forums particularly is that people who originally come to the forum with an apparently OK relationship and petty questions that one would ordinarily not expect to be a problem more often than one might expect end up with HUGE problems. As for instance, “How do I ask my mother to use a car seat when she has my children in the car?” ends in the mother in jail after attempting to break into the querent’s house, with a gun and supplies to travel with a baby in the car. Which seems weird. Why does this happen? Far as I can tell, the reason is: people who feel the need to search out a “dealing with difficult relatives” forum to ask an ordinarily-trivial question like that already know at some level that such an assertion is dangerous, and that knowledge (if accurate, and it often is) necessarily indicates the presence of major dysfunction in the relationship. The catch is: the reason the relationship was apparently OK was not because the person being asked about could deal with conflict without flipping out but rather because the person was up until that point never told no ever about anything they were invested in, and the reason they weren’t ever told no is because they absolutely would flip out.

        Same way — and here’s the tie-in — what the OP has chosen to ask their advice columnist for guidance about is “my parents are objecting to this job, can you tell me what affordances they potentially have to sabotage it?” Now, maybe OP is a bit of a nutter (in which case, HOW did they get to be that way, hmmmm?) but outside of that possibility it seems that a person who knows the OP’s parents’ behavior much better than you do thinks that said sabotage may be on the menu. Which is NOT in any sense normal behavior for the parents of an adult, even if they have objections to the job and in fact even if those objections WERE legitimate — which we don’t know. Among other things, this raises a suspicion that OP’s parents are not useful or even safe people to ask advice from, and declining to ask for or accommodate advice from unsafe people is a sign of good judgment, rather than its absence.

        1. AnotherAlison

          This is a really great comment, and such an accurate assessment of dysfunctional parent/child relationship forum behavior (the real life behavior and the odd twists the seemingly normal interactions take).

        2. Not So NewReader

          Yes, it is amazing how much of our lives we expose by asking a question. I have watched this for years now.
          If I am working with someone and have the opportunity to answer numerous questions, I find that I know way too much about their personal lives.

          We all have blanks in our lives, things we did not learn growing up and things we did not see as an adult, either. When I read this question, I wondered what OP’s history was with her parents. Do they have a history of strong-arming or sabotaging? People don’t ordinarily ask how to preemptively protect themselves if there isn’t a reason. BUT, it could be that OP has a really super thing going on and the parents are uncharacteristically over-reacting. I hope this is the case. And I hope OP wades through all these comments, even if she does not comment herself.

    4. T3k

      Does this happen to people in their own country? I was under the assumption she was moving to a city in her own country (like say from Maine to Florida), though she could very well be moving to another country (though I’d have thought she’d point this out).

      But yes, I agree if she doesn’t want her parents to see the details, to at least have someone else look it over if, for nothing else, to make sure the pay is in a good range, benefits are acceptable, etc.

        1. T3k

          Ah, I should have clarified. I know prostitution happens in one’s own countries, but most stories about sex/labor trafficking are usually foreigners promised a great opportunity, then their papers are taken when they get to the country and since they don’t know the language or who to trust, it makes it more difficult for them to get away versus using someone you lured from another part of the country who don’t need papers, know the language, have resources, etc. Like how Europeans learned it was hard to enslave Native Americans because they knew the area too well and escaped (though weren’t hardy to the illnesses brought over).

          1. Ad Astra

            My understanding is that sex trafficking does happen in one’s own country. The part about documents might not not be relevant, or it might refer to a worthless contract rather than falsified immigration papers. The women aren’t desperate for a new life in America (or another more desirable country), but they may be desperate to gain independence from their parents or get out of an abusive home. In some ways, this would be easier and less expensive than smuggling a foreign national into the country. Once these women are isolated from their friends and family, speaking the language and being legal residents of the country won’t do enough to get them out of the life.

    5. Paige Turner

      Thanks for providing this info and for doing what you do. Also, even if this job isn’t a trap, it would be smart for the OP to talk over the position with one of the trusted people that you mention, simply because they aren’t able to talk about it rationally with their parents. I’m an adult, but I always talk over big decisions with friends and family because they might have some insight or knowledge that I don’t have.

    6. cv

      I hope the OP shows up in the comments or sends in an update so we get more details. The language in the letter is vague, and I can definitely read it as coming from a young person being drawn into an exploitative situation. I think in the US it’s much more likely to be “Come to LA, sign on with an agency, and we’ll make you a glamorous model and launch your acting career” than the truly dire situations that you describe, but I am a little worried for the OP.

      1. Jaydee

        But that “modeling” job can be (and often is) an entry into the sex industry. Modeling is one of the most common covers for domestic (versus international) human trafficking.

    7. Ad Astra

      This is good information to get out there, even if it turns out not to apply to this particular OP.

      Tell people you trust where you are, where you’re going, what you’re doing, etc. Even if your parents don’t have this information, someone else should. Don’t isolate yourself.

    8. Not So NewReader

      I think this would make a great stand alone post, or interview, Alison. It would be a good public service for one thing. And there are enough readers here that the information could actually touch their own lives or the life of someone they care about.

  17. MicheleNYC

    As Alison said above there may also be some kind of cultural aspect that is part of their reaction. I know when I moved to NYC from Portland, Oregon they were a bit bummed that I was moving but never did they try to change my mind. First of all it is pretty difficult to change my mind once it is set on something; they also knew it was my dream to live here. I have been here 15 years and have no plans to move any time soon!

  18. Viva L

    This sounds very cultural to me, if I am reading between the lines correctly.

    IF that’s the case, OP, be careful with your use of the words “dream job” in “dream city” – there will be plusses and minuses to this especially if this is your first major foray into independence from your parents. Be prepared for some bumps along the road, even big ones. And be careful how much of those you share with your parents. Im not saying to share nothing, just be circumspect.

    That said – good luck and good for you for branching out!! You are in control and you are going to do great!

    1. Viva L

      Edit: I got the impression the OP had some life/job experience, but if he/she is young and this is the first opportunity of it’s kind for her, then definitely have another mentor check it out. Not to give a yay or nay for the job, but to have some perspective on it. Good luck either way!

  19. Jcsgo

    I think it’s also worth considering your history with your parents — do they tend to overreach/have no sense of boundaries, or is this a new thing that they’re so adamant about? If it’s new, it should be easier to have a reasonable discussion about their concerns, or at least to consider the situation from their perspective. Perhaps they’re concerned it won’t pan out (just not a good fit, city too expensive, hate the job, etc.) and you’ll want to return home while you consider your next steps. They may feel obligated to let you return home if that happens, and thus feel it is right to share their views about your decision now. They are your parents, and if they’ve generally been wise in the past and looked out for your best interest, that’s a good thing to keep in mind now when you’re clashing on this.

    The potential cultural issue Alison mentioned is also very valid – my spouse and I have approached our respective parental relationships very differently for these reasons. It’s not right or wrong, but it does set up different “rules” for what it means to love and respect your parents in a way that often doesn’t jive with mainstream ‘American independence’.

  20. nona

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, OP.

    If your parents might be receptive to this, one angle you can use is that they raised you to have good judgment. They should trust you on this.

  21. Newlywed

    The less your parents know, the less they can interfere, OP. I suggest playing your cards close to your chest for awhile.

  22. Mean Something

    Let me start by saying that I absolutely agree with Alison’s advice: do what you can to draw a clear boundary and to keep your parents on their side of the line.

    I’m curious, though, about what’s behind their conviction that you’ll “ruin” your career, future, and education. Are you taking a job before completing a degree? Joining a start-up or company otherwise without a proven track record? Is there some way, if this job didn’t work out, that you’d be left in a significantly worse position than you were in before?

    This is your decision, not your parents’. I’m just wondering whether there is anything at all about the situation that would raise red flags for you if you didn’t have to focus so hard on managing your parents’ reaction to it. Alison’s questioned the whole “dream job” trope before. Make sure you’re going in alert, not dreaming! And best wishes!

  23. the_scientist

    Having grown up with overbearing parents (my dad remains convinced that I’ve ruined my life because I didn’t attend the university he chose, take the major he picked for me, or go to medical or law school), I made the following assumptions reading this letter: OP has a post-secondary degree of some kind, but lived at home while in college. OP is pursuing this job in lieu of a postgraduate or professional degree. OP is probably at least somewhat sheltered, having likely never lived on their own before and probably pretty new to the working world. OP’s parents for whatever reason (cultural or just overbearing) believe that they have veto power over all of OP’s decisions, indefinitely, because they “know what’s best for her” and/or “don’t want OP to make the same mistakes they made”, potentially with a good helping of guilt (“we’re so disappointed in you!” “you’re not living up to your full potential!”) thrown in.

    Is it possible that this “dream job” is shady? Sure, absolutely. OP- do your research on the company, the job, the cost of living in the new city. Then you know for yourself that you’ve done your due diligence. Consult with a trusted friend if you can, to get some confirmation.

    Is it possible that OP’s parents don’t want her to move because she will become more independent? Yes, and I think that’s the real issue here. Think of it this way, OP: this move will give you a chance to gain some independence from your parents, and help you establish adult boundaries with them, which in the long term will be the healthiest thing you can do.

  24. YandO

    It took moving away, taking a long break from speaking to my parents, and a few years of therapy, before I was able to establish and then keep firm boundaries with them. Oly after that was I able to move back to my hometown and live in peace with them for awhile. I am moving away again and everyone is handling it pretty well.

    I urge you, with all my might, to move asap and seek therapy, even if it is just one appointment and only to say “this is what I am thinking and doing and I am not sure where dysfunctional ends and healthy begins. Please help me see the line”

  25. Anonymous Educator

    While I agree that future employers don’t really care what your parents say, it also depends on just how unethical your parents might be in order to sabotage your chances. Would they go so far as to impersonate you (and write highly inappropriate emails in your name) or to impersonate a supposed former manager and give a bad reference unsolicited?

    1. Elysian

      I’m surprised you think so, I don’t believe it is. I could see this happening to a different version of myself a few years ago, honestly, so I think its a question that others may have interest in. I can certainly see it be hard for a young adult new to the working world to navigate. If the OP went to college, for example, colleges expect your parents to be there every step of the way (it’s weird and difficult if they’re not!) even though you’re a legal adult. This seems to me like an appropriate question for this blog: work-related, of interest to a variety of people, etc.

      1. Shortie

        I agree it’s an appropriate question to answer on this site. It is also fascinating to me to read through the comments and realize how lucky I am, in regard to this issue anyway. My parents prepared my siblings and I to be out of the house and on our own by 18 and not once have they ever meddled in my employment or much of anything else after age 18. Even before 18, the most they ever did was put in a good word for us while also loudly clarifying to anyone who would listen that it was up to us to do a good job and it was fine to fire us immediately if we did anything wrong. :)

    2. Amtelope

      I’m curious, why do you think this letter-writer’s problem is silly? “My controlling parents may try to sabotage my job offer” sounds like a pretty difficult problem to me.

    3. Mean Something

      I don’t think this question is silly, but I do enjoy a silly question now and then! I really appreciate how steady and regular the content on AAM is. I don’t comment often, but I read everything.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m curious to hear more about why you feel that way.

      I think the question is relevant to lots of people, judging by the stories others are sharing, and — totally aside from that — interesting.

      1. LBK

        Indeed, as if only questions of particular moral weight and dire consequence are ever answered here – “How do I get my cubicle neighbor to stop clipping his nails in the office?” isn’t exactly a life or death scenario inquiry. (Well, maybe for the cube neighbor if the LW snaps and stabs them, but still.)

    5. Viva L

      Can you expand on this thought train a bit? Alison had some extreme questions before, but it might reflect the types of questions she is receiving. What is it that is so silly for you?

    6. nona

      Idk, we’ve seen parents interfere with people’s jobs here before. OP’s probably not the only person who wants advice before it can happen.

      If it’s not interesting to you, why go to the trouble of reading it and the comments?

    7. Steve G

      I think people like this site because its about work without being repetitive “5 ways to get a promotion” and “10 things to say in a job interview” type articles that are all over the net.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot

        Haha, exactly! It’s a delightful blend of the practical basics (how do you job search, interview, ask for a raise, etc.) more specific questions for more unusual situations (this one, say) and occasional hilarious WTF (Duck Club! Black magic curses!)

    8. Mike C.

      That’s easy to say if you’ve never been in the situation, and that goes for a lot of different circumstances.

      1. JuniorMinion

        I’ve been through some version of this – and I was 25 at the time with numerous internships and 3 years of full time work experience under my belt. It caused things to really hit the fan with my mom when I moved 1800 miles away. For me, when I was closer to home, I put up with a lot of overbearing behavior / mollified my mom on ridiculous things that I physically couldn’t do from a plane flight away.

        My suspicion with the OP is that she / he is in a similar situation to mine. I think it can be hard for people who have parents who always exercise good judgement and really truly want the best for them to understand that there are very narcissistic parents out there whose children exist merely as an extension of themselves / to make them look good.

        My advice to the OP would be if the job checks out (with whoever in your work / school network you trust the most) to take it if its what you want to do. PS – the job and move my mother objected to was to a known large employer offering a BETTER full time job / skillset than the one I had at the time. She just didn’t want me too far outside her sphere of influence. It remains the best decision I have ever made in my entire life to take that job.

    9. Not So NewReader

      Well, it’s not silly to the person experiencing the situation. And judging from the comments here numerous people have had to deal with similar problems. I’d be willing to guess that there are at least a few people who read and never comment but they will benefit from the advice they see here.

  26. Ive BeenThere

    OTOH, what if the parents are not overbearing, know their daughter better than we do, and the dream job/city is “Come to Hollywood and we’ll make you a movie star!” ?

      1. Observer

        Maybe – but when it’s something so unlikely, it’s likely a cover for trouble.

        The advice to have a trusted other set of eyes look at this is a good idea, unless that parents have a history of over the top boundary violations.

      2. Chriama

        If the parents will be paying for the OP to get back on her feet, it’s perfectly reasonable that they express their concerns now. Given the information, we don’t know the OP’s age, education level, supposed ‘dream job’ or financial state. The parents do. It’s possible that they’re being unreasonable, but it’s also possible that they’re just reasonably concerned parents.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Ah, that’s an old argument my parents held over me. (As in, they weren’t going to give me any financial help *ever* since I was doing what I wanted instead of what they wanted.) Guess what. They never have and I’ve never needed any. Parents aren’t legally required to swoop in and clean up after adult kids make a mess of their lives. Parents often get burned by doing this (i.e. adult kid does another thing you personally don’t agree with and you’re pissed because you thought you had control again once you gave them $5,000 for that other thing). Don’t pick up the pieces. Let the kid sleep in a car. That’s life.

          (I don’t mean that to be so ranty at you personally, Chriama. Just a sensitive subject for me.)

        2. Ad Astra

          Calling your child’s employer to try to get them fired (or I guess un-hired) is unreasonable, regardless of whether the parents’ concerns are legitimate or not.

        3. Tinker

          Ah yes, the money glove over the iron fist. It sounds perfectly reasonable up until you get to the point where it perfectly justifies you holding an intervention with your 29-year-old kid because, while on vacation, they wore shorts and sandals to travel by plane to Houston in July. Here’s how this breaks down:

          First of all, the adult child gets to say no. It’s properly in the domain of an adult to decide what sort of risks (or “risks”, about which more later) they are willing to take, including that if their venture fails and they have to ask for help, help may not be forthcoming. It is also properly in the domain of an adult — in fact, a very necessary thing for an adult to do — to decline to help or to drastically limit the scope of help because one cannot afford it and/or because the best analysis of the situation indicates that certain forms of “help” will deepen the problem.

          Ordinarily this is the sort of thing that parents are called upon to do with a heavy heart when their offspring is hooked on smack. But in that case, or if they decide it is time to pull that particular ripcord because their child wants to live in X-city over Y-city — so be it. The kid can decide not to wear short-waisted blazers with heavily reinforced chest shelves and be disowned if it comes to that. And on the note implied here…

          Second thing is this: With my mother, it is not hard at all to get from any given thing to “and I would be FINANCIALLY WIPED OUT by paying for you”. The aforementioned cargo shorts incident, for instance, seems to have been more or less due to “does not look feminine on vacation” -> “will not look feminine at work” -> “people at work will think is a lesbian” -> “an amorphous step here involving the way some companies actually would force out women thought to be “lavender” back in the 70s and also perhaps that no man will marry an unfeminine woman” -> “FINANCIAL RUINATION FOREVERRR” -> “retirement of parents spent on support of unemployed spinster”. The future is intrinsically uncertain, particularly for a person with anxiety issues, and consequently there isn’t really any part of a person’s life that can be excluded from the reach of “I might ‘have’ to pay for you in future, and therefore you must entertain my input now.”

          The proper conclusion that follows from “if the parents will be paying for the OP to get back on her feet” is not that the OP has to let her parents run unchecked, it’s that the OP has to accept that they may not help later if the risk they’re taking is particularly egregious or personally unacceptable to the parents. Whether this in due time turns out to be more like “You didn’t marry the guy I wanted you to, so I’m not helping pay for your cancer treatment” or “Sorry, I told you that smuggling diamonds was not a good career choice and I’m not going to send you commissary money to buy canned tuna now” is a judgment that the OP’s ultimately going to have to make.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Here is how to instill anxiety in your child.
            Step #37. Be sure to tell them how each and every little decision they make will bring about the apocalypse.

            I am so sorry you went through this crap. You are a very strong person. And smart, too!

    1. Ad Astra

      There is some useful advice upthread about due diligence and making sure the job is legit, but short of something extreme like sex trafficking, these are the OP’s mistakes to make. All a parent can do is give their best advice and maybe cringe a little if and when things fall apart.

      Plus, some people do leave for Hollywood and become stars.

  27. MaryMary

    Someone up thread said they were picturing OP as a 19 year old model moving to NYC, and I’ve been thinking something similar. Would our advice change if OP is in her late teens/early 20s and leaving school for an opporunity in a field where it can be difficult to succeed, like entertainment or the arts?

    Mine wouldn’t. You’ve landed this opportunity, OP, go for it. Hopefully your parents will come around. The only other thing to think about is that if you are working in the entertainment industry, they’ve probably already heard from every kind of overinvolved family member possible. Even if your parents do get a hold of your employer, it might not seem that odd. Good luck!

    1. Cath in Canada

      My niece moved across the country (Toronto, not NY) at 19 to be a model. Many family members (including me) were concerned that she was making a poor decision, but after her Dad checked out the agency who’d recruited her and deemed it to be legitimate, we let her know that it was her decision and we were there if she needed us. That was a few years ago – she tried it for a while, decided it wasn’t for her, waitressed for a while, and is now starting college as a mature student. No harm no foul.

  28. Emmie

    Do you think there could be any merit to your parent’s job related concerns? Ensure you do your own research to verify that the company is legit, and this opportunity lines up with your career goals. When parent’s opinions are loud and overbearing, it’s hard to determine whether any of their underlying concerns have merit. I hope you have a trusted mentor, or other adult to discuss professional endeavors with. Good luck!

    1. Dana

      This is fantastic advice. You still have to do your own due diligence. Your parents’ concerns could be coming from the overbearing parents angle or the older/more life experience angle. Make sure you also aren’t getting more excited about this job just to spite them because of their initial reaction.

  29. ImprovForCats

    Sorry, OP. I have over-involved parents too (heightened a lot due to me becoming seriously ill just before hitting adulthood). If it’s an option, at some point some counseling might really help you feel more confident setting boundaries and navigating situations where they will be prone to want to jump in, and also to help you figure out if/when there is actual valid or useful advice underneath all the static.

    Also, I would recommend doing as much prep work for the move/research about the city, neighborhood, etc as possible, so that if you have any snags in getting situated you already know where/how to get help and advice. Even when you know your parents are being unreasonable or controlling, it can be really hard to break the cycle, so having resources and support already at hand can help give you a buffer.

  30. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    I have a relative who was accepted to a very prestigous business school – far from home.

    What he (and his wife) did was to apply to OTHER schools as a smokescreen – then “at the last minute decided to accept” the one on the other coast.

    In reality they had made the decision months before, but kept it under their hats, lest other family members go to work on them to talk them out of it.

    1. JuniorMinion

      Oh yah. This was my tactic as well. I was “moving back home in a year” as I was buying living room furniture and a car 1800 miles away…

    2. Artemesia

      When my brother was accepted to Harvard Business School my Uncle who was a high school principal and so should not have been utterly clueless actually said ‘why does he have to go all the way to Boston, (local community college) has an excellent course in business.’

  31. BuildMeUp

    I feel like there’s a higher than normal amount of second-guessing the OP today! I agree that if she hasn’t already, she should make sure her new company and job offer are entirely legit.

    But I’ve seen it happen a lot where it’s really difficult for people who grew up with a generally “normal” relationship with their parents to understand and accept that some parent-child relationships just don’t work that way, and some parents unfortunately don’t have their kids’ best interests at heart. I feel like that might be where some of the second-guessing is coming from. Just because the OP is young doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what her parents might be capable of.

    1. cv

      It’s a hard balance to strike between providing too little detail and too much, but I think a lot of the second-guessing is due to the lack of detail in the letter. It’s impossible to tell whether the OP has a good job offer and unreasonable, controlling parents or whether she’s headed off into something sketchy and her parents have concerns that most people would regard as reasonable. So I think a lot of the commenters are responding based on their own experiences.

      The parents’ desire to look at the official documents specifically worries me a little, as opposed to just objecting to the job in general – I think many controlling parents would do that, but it is also what I would do if I thought one of my kids was heading off to join a MLM/get duped by a modeling agency/take a “marketing” position that is actually door-to-door canvasing and not an office job.

      1. LabTech

        To be fair, if she’s already having to guard information about this potential job from her parents, it would make sense not to divulge details online.

        1. cv

          Sure. But if she’d mentioned something about how much she liked the company when she flew out for an interview, or that it was a great entry-level job in a difficult-to-break-into field, or that her parents want her to go to med school but she’s chosen something else, or any similar detail, I think a lot of commenters would be much less likely to second-guess. But as it is, there’s so little detail that it’s possible to construct all sorts of possible scenarios, some of which aren’t great.

    2. Anonsie

      But I’ve seen it happen a lot where it’s really difficult for people who grew up with a generally “normal” relationship with their parents to understand and accept that some parent-child relationships just don’t work that way

      Absolutely.

      I think a lot of the questioning is just being unsure of the situation. Are their parents usually extra controlling, or is this unusual? We’ve probably all seen both, and there isn’t any detail so it’s hard to give solid advice without really knowing which way this falls.

        1. AnotherAlison

          Or the inside! My parents had their issues, and it seemed my four best female high school friends were similarly raised. One friend’s dad made her quit her job during college and move back home (“made” like the OP’s situation). Well, my dad telling me I’m an idiot and berating me for not following his advice is normal and not at all abusive. Just look at J’s dad. That guy is the real jerk.

  32. Nervous Accountant

    I really want to hear from the OP (If he/she hasn’t already posted). I come from parents who are very super involved, although maybe not as much as reflected in the comments here.

  33. CoffeeBot

    I’m inclined to think that the parents are simply meddlesome. If there were a legit concern, such as human trafficking or a cult, they probably would be talking to her about how it’s dangerous, not how it’s going to ruin her career. Plus, I had emotionally abusive parents who freaked out when I took a job working a third shift in a coffee shop, because according to them I’d be stuck in a cycle of poverty forever if I did, and supposedly it was beneath me. (It was not beneath me, I am successfully employed elsewhere now, and I’m glad I took the job.) In reality they just didn’t want me to have independence, so when I took the job my mother retaliated by deliberately screaming at me when I was home so I couldn’t sleep. :D (She has not heard from me for 6 years.)

    1. Observer

      I’d also be willing to bet, though, that your mother didn’t do this around anyone else. The rest of the world probably can’t understand why you would be so nasty to your sweet parents. No?

  34. Van Wilder

    Reading this, and some of the stories in the comments, raises my blood pressure. I’m grateful for my only average-level meddling parents.

  35. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    I think two things are relevant to this – otherwise we’re all just speculating.

    OP says “she’s over 18” — that could mean 18, 19, 22, 30 , 50 — HOW FAR over 18? If she is just 18 – to go to a “far away city for a dream job” is rather wide open.

    Is it to be a model (or under the guise of being a model?) — or something specious? Or something that is a great career entry-path?

    We MUST know before we can advise. OP, can you come back in?

    1. frequentflyer

      My guess is that OP is pretty young with limited working experience, maybe a fresh grad? I mean, I think anyone with a few years of working experience under their belt would be able to tell that your parents have no say in your workplace.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think OP’s concern is that her parents’ behavior with the employer could cost her the opportunity because the employer thought her parents were a mess and by extension she would be too much effort to keep on staff. The employer does not want helicopter parents, they just want an employee.

  36. mel

    I’m so glad you mentioned “just in case your parents have messed with your norms”, because it’s amazing what kind of horrible things that parents can normalize.

  37. LoremIpsum

    When I was 21 years old, I was given advice from a relative who is one of the most successful professionals I know. Their advice: Move at least 150 miles away from home. Do anything, wait tables, do any job and get out of your comfort zone.

    I didn’t do that, and I now feel that is valuable advice in hindsight.

    No regrets: I put myself through graduate school, I have built my career, and I wouldn’t have met my wonderful spouse, had I done that.

    But if this opportunity is not exploitative or illegal, I think they should go for it. As for those parents, you have to give your kids wings. Let them know that they can always come back if they need it. But the OP needs to figure out how the world works firsthand. Life is about going out, kicking the tires at bit(maybe that expression doesn’t work anymore since fewer young adults drive now) and failing sometimes. Get in the arena!

    Quite a few of the comments from ‘enmeshed’ families resonated too. My parents live 10 miles away. I see them every week and sometimes more than that. And yet it is never enough. They are actually talking about moving closer. I like the distance, even though it is 15 minutes. And I hate to say this, but there is no way that I can live with them again.

    I’ll also add that I’m one of those whose dad’s name is still on one of my bank accounts. I’m over 40 years old.

    1. Observer

      But if this opportunity is not exploitative or illegal,

      That is what is bugging me with this letter. There are a lot of red flags here, and although some of them are about the parents, some are about the LW. From the limited information it’s hard to tell if the parents are just a pair of overbearing meddlers who don’t get / care what their child really needs, the LW is a total idiot whose about to walk into a real disaster (ie exploitation, illegal activity etc.) or somewhere in between – eg LW is being an idiot but the parents are wildly over-reacting.

  38. Bri

    I love the Alison blue boxes. Would it be possible to do OP in Red? I really want to hear more from this person.

  39. Jacob

    I find it completely bizarre that people have jumped to “obviously the parents are just worried that the OP is going to be sold into sex slavery.”

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