my mom wants me to help with her business for free, asking for a new title instead of a raise, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My mom wants me to help with her business for free

Before I moved out, I often got into arguments with my parents over money. I didn’t mind taking out the trash, doing the laundry, cooking, etc. I had no issue with these tasks. However, my parents would often ask me to do things for free that a professional would normally do. These tasks took huge chunks out of time out of searching for a job, and were not compensated. I was told I was being “greedy” when I brought up payment for things like selling things on eBay or painting a mural for them. When I moved out, I was then busy enough that I could claim time to not do these time consuming, often expensive tasks.

However, I’m recently on break due to summer, and my mother now wants me to help with a business where I will be designing things to be sold. She wants me to do the research on the patents, file them in her name, make the prototypes, etc. but has never once talked about payment for all of these things. I know things are slow, but I really don’t have the time to devote to this, especially if I won’t be compensated whether or not this ever gets off the ground. She seems to think this will take off by the end of summer, but I know these things take time and I don’t want to take time off of school and work for this. Am I being selfish and paranoid, or should I set up some parameters before I devote any more time to this?

Nope, it’s reasonable to say that you can’t take time away from work and school for this. (Obviously, this is heavily cultural though; there are cultures that would absolutely expect you to do it.)

I do think that when you’re living in your parents’ house, you should try to be as accommodating as possible to requests for help, even if it’s the sort of thing that you described (i.e., beyond normal chores). It’s part of acknowledging how much your parents have put into supporting you over the years. But it’s not reasonable for them to expect that you’ll do professional-type work for them if it would come at the expense of your own job or school.

That said, I think you’re muddying the waters by asking to be paid. It’s hard to say you don’t have time for this and then say you’ll find the time if they pay you. I’d stick with explaining that work and school aren’t leaving you with enough time to take on anything additional, and perhaps offering to help with a less time-consuming element if you can (like “I can do X and Y, but I’d need to limit it to that”).

2. I got chastised for not letting a company know I accepted a different job offer

I recently applied to several admin jobs and was offered a position a couple days ago, which I accepted.

One of the companies I applied to just phoned me to invite me to an interview. I thanked her for the invite but said I would like to withdraw my application as I have accepted another position elsewhere. The woman then questioned when I had found out this news and said I should have notified her. She seemed a bit annoyed.

Should I have notified her? And do I now need to go back and inform all the other companies I applied to say that I’ve found a job so they need to withdraw my application? I applied to a lot of places, so it would seem like a bit of a waste of my time especially if they were not planning to shortlist me anyway.

This situation has actually happened to me in the past, and the person on the other end of the phone just said fair enough and best of luck in your new job. So I’m a bit confused, what is the right thing to do in this situation?

Nope, don’t let one rude person throw you off. It’s absolutely not expected that you’ll notify every company you’ve applied to when you accept an offer somewhere else. If you’ve been interviewing with someone and are still in their process, it’s considerate to let them know so that they’re not still factoring you into their candidate pool. But even if you didn’t, they shouldn’t chew you out for that. And places that you’ve only submitted an application to? No one expects that. (I’d be interested in knowing how vigilant that person is about letting applicants know when they’ve been rejected…)

3. Should I chase down the stuff my new boss said I’d get before my start date?

I’m starting a new job in three weeks — I’m currently halfway through my six-week notice period. When I was offered the job, I was told to expect a hard copy of my contract in the post, look forward to being invited to for team drinks prior to my start date, and keep the Sunday before I start free for a company event (we’re an events agency, so this isn’t unreasonable).

So far, I’ve received none of these. I contacted my new boss when I handed in my notice to confirm my start date and heard nothing, so chased a week later and got back a “Yes, yes, all good, see you on your start date.” I’m cautious about chasing the other things again as I don’t want to be pushy, but I’m starting to feel cut off from a job I was originally really excited about. What would you do?

Don’t worry about following up on the drinks; it they forget about that, it’s no big deal. Do you have an electronic version of your contract? If so, that’s probably enough, but if you don’t, it’s reasonable to follow up on that. If you have a contact in HR, I’d try that person rather than your new boss, but if you don’t, I’d email the boss and say, “Sorry to bug you! I wanted to check on two things: I know you’d said to expect a hard copy of my contract in the mail, and I wanted to check on whether it’s gone out since I haven’t received it. Also, I’m holding (date) for (event) but don’t have details on it yet. Glad to attend if someone will send me info! Otherwise, I’ll just happily plan to see you on (start date).”

4. Asking for a new title in lieu of a raise

I’ve been at my current job for a year and love it. I’ve struggled with learning the business, which is completely new, and received an overall “average” review from my boss (the president of the company) last year. Nothing in the review was unexpected. We have goals set in place for the next year that are perfectly achievable, and I am confident that he is happy that I’m here and I have a good future at the company.

This is a small company and I’m the only full-time recruiter. There is one part-time recruiter – the owner’s husband – who doesn’t report to me.

My boss mentioned that we’ll have a follow-up meeting soon to discuss a raise based on my review. The thing is, money isn’t that important to me. I’m very well paid for my position, and am happy with the current salary. I’d much rather receive a new title, either Senior Recruiter, Lead Recruiter, or Recruiting Manager – the person who formerly held my position was the Recruiting Manager. Would it be unrealistic to ask for a new title in lieu of a raise this year? If not, how would I phrase it?

Nope, that’s totally fine to do! Small companies are often delighted to save money on raises if a title bump will do instead. Obviously, you don’t want to ask for a title that’s wildly out of whack with what you do, or that would cause weird inequities elsewhere in the company structure (like a change that would make you a VP when other people doing work similar to your level are all associates), but in this case it sounds pretty reasonable — especially since there’s precedent for the title in your role. That said, any reason not to ask for both?

5. My part-time job has turned full-time against my will

I started a new job about two months ago, and I was hired as a part-time employee, with an agreed upon four days, approximately 35-hour week. As of last month or so, I’ve been scheduled for approximately 45 hours a week, which is clearly overtime. I’m getting overtime pay, which is fine but I never agreed to the increase in hours. I’m still considered part-time, and as far as I know this company doesn’t have HR or offer benefits (which I’m also fine with) so a full-time promotion would do very little. I’ve hinted to my boss that I was expecting more time off than I’m currently getting, but that went unanswered. What I really want is my part-time schedule back. How do I get that now that the overtime has become the norm?

Stop hinting! Be direct. Say this: “When I was hired on, it was a part-time job — 35 hours a week. I was happy to help out with extra hours this past month, but I can’t continue that schedule permanently. Can we get me back to the part-time schedule we initially set?”

{ 423 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia*

    I sure wouldn’t forego a raise for a title – if you deserve the raise, you also deserve the title. Why not ask for both? If you deserve the title, you deserve the raise..

    1. Sami*

      Exactly. Add to your retirement account. Travel! Start an emergency fund. Pay off bills and loans. New shoes!

    2. Mike C.*

      I have to agree here. Cost of living is something to think about, and I worry that you may reduce future raises because “you don’t care about the money”.

      1. Alix*

        Can I just say here that I’m really not fond of the whole “I don’t care about the money” thing? You should. I mean, I’m not saying someone ought to only care about money or prioritize it above everything, but I think that it’s really easy to devalue yourself and your work by not caring how much you’re paid – and that kind of devaluation can potentially have knock-on effects beyond you, too.

        /person who may or may not have learned this the hard way.

        1. nofelix*

          Yeah. I think what people generally mean by it is “I don’t want to seem greedy when I am content with what I have”. But like you say, asking for what you deserve is not greedy. And you never know when future life events are going to be really costly and the extra money would be helpful.

          1. Not Karen*

            asking for what you deserve is not greedy

            Amen. Also extends to non-monetary things as well.

          2. Artemesia*

            Once you establish the precedent that you are not ‘concerned about money’ expect them to lowball you on raises for the rest of your time there. No one wants to give people more money; if you make clear you don’t care, you won’t be getting any.

          3. Stranger than fiction*

            And this may be the only opportunity for a raise for a long time. Some places only give them in an event like this.

    3. Dan*

      Yeah, I’m left wondering what OP truly wishes to accomplish with a title bump and no raise. Let’s just assume she can land “VP of Recruitment”. Who cares? So when s/he applies to the next job, it looks impressive? Well, the first question the next job is going to ask is, how many recruiters were under you? Second, they’re going to ask, how many people did recruiting recruit last year?

      And when the next company does hire OP, they’re going to ask, “What’s your current pay?” Me, I’d want that number as high as possible.

      1. Pwyll*

        Meh, there’s something to be said about the emotional attachment we sometimes form over titles. Especially if “Recruiter” implies to people “appointment setting” when she really is doing full lifecycle interviewing, or something. In my past, I felt a WHOLE lot better about my job when it went from “Administrative Assistant” to “Manager” with no raise that year. Mostly because I felt the higher title more accurately reflected my duties (you know, managing people).

        I would probably let them give me the raise proposal first, but it’s not outrageous or even necessarily lack of foresight to ask for a title change, and no salary change, at the end of the first year.

        1. AnotherHRPro*

          While I agree that the OP should probably ask for both, we really can’t say what they value more. If for this particular person, the title is of more value I think we should take that at face value. I personally have gotten to a point in my life where I value a raise more for the message than for the cash value (i.e., more money = the company values me more). I make a very comfortable living and a little more money won’t change anything in my life. I do place a certain value on my title and there are times in my career where that meant more to me. I understand that others are in a different circumstance and may not value the title but an increase in pay is much more important.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep — the letter-writer has clearly stated that she feels she’s well paid and her title is what’s more important to her right now. Money is important, but it’s legitimate for people to value other things too, and to be at a place where more money isn’t the thing they want most from their job. If that’s the case for her, we should take her at her word.

        2. Sam*

          Yeah, I would be much more satisfied with my current situation if I got a title bump. I mean, I would definitely *prefer* the money, but I’d be happy coming out of my performance evaluation with a title that more accurately reflected my position and set me up for more pay in the future.

    4. Christopher Tracy*

      + 1 Artemesia.

      And see, now I’m in the opposite boat. Going forward in my career, I want the money – I don’t care about the title. My bills aren’t going to get paid with a higher title and no money attached.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have been given a title in lieu of a raise before and, well, you can’t save up to fly to Paris on a title.

    5. OP#4*

      I appreciate the comments of everyone here! But honestly, I am paid *very* well for my position. I would say I’m overpaid. And my husband makes a good salary as well. We’re able to put money away in savings every month, pay all of our bills, etc.

      It is more important to me to show that I’ve moved up in my career and not just had the same title of “Recruiter” for the past 10 years, because that would show that there was some issue that kept me from being promoted. In reality, I have Asperger’s and struggled at many jobs before I was diagnosed. Now that I have been, I’m in my first job where it’s freely disclosed, and I want to prove to myself that it wasn’t just a failing of mine that caused me to not succeed at those past jobs.

      Also, I work in software development, and we have had many issues recently of people leaving us for a very minimal salary increase, think $5/hour or less. It is exceedingly frustrating to my boss, and our company is not doing very well right now. It seems like a lot of people out there just want the money and don’t care about company culture, work ethic, etc. Since I would prefer a title change over a raise, and it would benefit the company to not have to raise my salary by much, it seemed a win-win for both sides.

      I did wind up asking for the title bump and told him I wasn’t as motivated by money – I’m just not. I’m motivated by being productive, being valued by the company, work/life balance, being a part of the company “family,” etc. Perhaps that’s my Asperger’s but that’s how I feel.

      It’s not always just about the money.

      1. Kit*

        Man. Making $5 more per hour would be almost a 50% raise for me. Not minimal at all over here!

        1. De (Germany)*

          For a full-time person, that’s something like 8-10K a year. I wouldn’t call that minimal even from my cushy well-paying software development job.

          1. Jennifer M.*

            Exactly. A typical work year is 2,080 hours based on a 40-hour work week. When you multiply that by $5/hr, it equals $10,400/year. Even at $60/hr that is an 8% raise. Not minimal. (and I say this as someone who is also well compensated).

        2. TootsNYC*

          A $3/hour raise is still $6,240.

          If they’re willing to give you a raise, take it.

          For one thing–this may be a way the company keeps its budgets true to the market.

          If I spend less on my budget than they originally gave me, they take it away for next year. And I never get it back.

          Don’t trade away the money–just ask for the title too.

        3. Anxa*

          One org I’m applying to today has such minimal differences between job titles. In some departments, a PhD nets 1 dollar an hour more than a MS. Now, usually I agree with the idea that an advanced degree doesn’t mean much in industry, but these are academic research groups. There’s actually a pretty big difference in how much more experience a PhD has.

          I got a 50 cent raise this year and I got to say, it’s make a HUGE difference for me. It ended up being more than 10 bucks a week, which meant more than 40 bucks a month. That’s a lot of groceries. That’s the ability to make a pretty significant purchase every month on things that had been wait listed. Or a date night out. Or more practically, was enough to help bring me from being just barely in the red every month to just barely in the black (minus student loan debt). I got a few more hours at work at a few more cents and it let me pay off my CC (our rent has stayed steady)

      2. the gold digger*

        people leaving us for a very minimal salary increase, think $5/hour or less. …It seems like a lot of people out there just want the money and don’t care about company culture, work ethic

        But – I think this might be about your company’s culture. (I know you didn’t ask about this, but I am full of opinions. :) )

        That is, even though I think $5 an hour, or about $10K a year, is a lot of money, I would probably not leave my current job for only a $10K increase. Maybe not even a $20K increase. Why? Because I really like my boss, my co-workers, and the work. I have worked for a bad boss before and know how much a good boss is worth.

        I am wondering if there are other issues going on in your company. I don’t think I am the only person who, after a certain salary level – and your people are definitely already up there – does the math and decides, “Not enough to get me to leave a great situation.”

        1. Dan*

          Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’m closer to $50/hr than $60/hr, and even I’m at the point where $10k isn’t enough to get me to respond to your email. $20k gets a discussion, but I’m going to spend a lot of time probing the daily life of your company, because if that $20k requires that I work 60 hours a week and take a cut in my vacation, um no thanks. $30k is enough to get me to move.

          If a software engineer is leaving “for a $5/hr raise”, I can make one statement with some certainty: that $5/hr is what he’s telling you, it’s not the real truth.

      3. auntie_cipation*

        I want to speak up in favor of your attitude about money, OP. It’s clearly counter to the mainstream approach to have a sense of “enough” with regard to money.

        And for many people, their wants are so far distant from their current salary/finances that “more money” is always a positive thing. I don’t judge them for that.

        But as someone who finds great satisfaction in reducing my needs/wants rather than in increasing my intake of money, I have great respect and admiration for your perspective.

        I do think it’s wise, as mentioned already, to be aware of what your company culture is and just how oddly your attitude will be perceived. But unless you decide there will be unacceptable consequences from being known as “the one who isn’t focused on more money”, I encourage you to continue to express your perspective. As long as you aren’t at risk of feeling taken advantage of, and as long as you are known to be doing a good job/committed to the company, I don’t think your perspective will necessarily cause you a problem. And it’s never a bad idea to spread people’s awareness that not everyone’s lives are focused on money!

        1. Alix*

          As one of the people saying take the raise, I need to push back on this a little.

          I’m a minimalist. I live very frugally, because I enjoy doing so. And if offered a raise, I’d take it.

          I’d take it for a few reasons. 1) If I truly don’t need the money, I can donate it to charity. 2) As others have pointed out, it could be a matter of budget, as in “use it or lose it,” and it’s a really bad idea to lose a chunk of your budget for what is, essentially, no good reason. 3) I don’t want anyone to start devaluing labor – not me, and especially not the business. If you don’t accept the money, you can easily end up cutting your fellow workers off at the knees – you turned down the raise so why should they expect them? I’m a bit sensitive to this issue because I’m an artist, and people undercut each other all the time by offering to do work for free, or to work at most for cost of materials. It can get pretty hard to convince people to pay you a fair rate, because others didn’t care about the money.

          Also, frankly, I think this “don’t care about the money, some people aren’t so focused on money!” attitude helps foster toxic approaches to money. Money is valuable. It should be treated as valuable. It’s not the only thing with value, or the thing people ought to value most – but it’s not worthless, or useless, and people who do want more, if they aren’t being over-the-top obsessed, aren’t being greedy for wanting it. And that’s true, honestly, even if their basic needs are being met – because money makes our lives easier in ways beyond just putting a roof over our head and food on our table, and because we all have things like hobbies or vacations we’d love to do, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to do fun things too.

          I’m not saying it’s 100% wrong to ever leave money on the table. I’m just saying that a balanced approach to money is not one extreme or another – and a balanced approach also recognizes that if you turn down that raise (especially repeatedly, or for the same kind of work) you affect more than just your own pocketbook.

          1. Hrovitnir*

            I just want to say this is a great comment. I’m not someone who’s ever been very focused on money and I really dislike people who think money or status should be meaningful measures of your worth as a person (or think it more than your average person because we are all accustomed to it.)

            However money is important: money is needed in our current system and quality of life matters. Actually taking time to live your life and enjoy it is something that should be a good thing – and it costs.

      4. TootsNYC*

        “It seems like a lot of people out there just want the money and don’t care about company culture, work ethic, etc. ”

        You say this as if it’s a bad thing.

        And if I can get a reasonable company culture and $8,000 to $10,000 more….well, I’ll take it!

        I got 2% raise last year–my whole team did. I barely make six figures, so that’s a $2,000 raise. I’d leave if I got an offer for $6,000 more!
        Now, I might not if the place was shaky, because if I get laid off, at my time in my career and with my skillset, I’m screwed. So right now I value stability over more money–but the reason I value stability IS THE MONEY.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I can’t pay my rent with company culture. I can’t make my car payment on work ethic. Fact remains, money is kind of a necessity for survival – so while you may be happy where you’re at, please consider that that’s not an inherently superior attitude, which is what the complaint about people leaving for a “minimal” raise of $10k/yr is sounding like.

          Also, if your company culture is okay but not great, and they can find another that’s equally okay with better pay, I fail to see how that’s a bad decision on the employee’s part. Your emphasis on expecting people to prioritize culture over money only works if your culture is truly exceptional, and if people are leaving your organization over money alone, I seriously question whether that’s actually the case.

        2. Dan*

          If you’d leave for $8k and “reasonable” company culture, does that mean you hate your current culture sucks?

          I have good work/life balance, make what you make, have a good benefits package, and there is no way in hell I’d risk giving that up for $8k. I also have great stability – I’m in my mid-30’s, and many people here have worked for the company longer than I’ve been alive.

  2. Mando Diao*

    OP1: My fear is that if you don’t do the patent research and such for your mom, she’ll never get the info at all. That could have huge repercussions down the line and could cause a huge headache for you and the rest of your family. You don’t want your parents to get wrapped up in legal nonsense (either because someone else ripped them off or because they inadvertently ripped off someone else) that could potentially drain their estate. Sounds dramatic, but the whole point is that these laws and regulations matter. I’d do the work in exchange for a share in the ownership of the business, and I wouldn’t be quick to design anything. The legal research is somewhat finite, but design work is a consistent job that she needs to hire and pay someone to do.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would be really wary about doing it for a share in the business; then she’ll be tied in even more deeply, when it sounds like she wants distance.

      1. Mando Diao*

        I just see this going the small business route of her mom never getting proper legal information if she’s not getting it for free. It’s better for the entire family if OP ensures that her mom is operating her business on the level, but OP also needs to set a precedent of not doing this stuff for free.

        1. Alix*

          I’d actually suggest it’s better to let the mom fail. At some point, you have to let unreasonable people reap the consequences of their lack of reason, or they don’t ever learn.

          1. nofelix*

            Depends what the consequences for failure are. Are there any business loans secured on the house, for instance? Would the mother be personally liable, or just the limited company?

            1. insert witty name here*

              What do loans on a house that the OP doesn’t own have to do with anything? It’s not her business, it’s not her house, she’s not the one that will be held liable.

              1. AnotherHRPro*

                I think it depends on her relationship with her parents and the long term consequences. I have to financially support my mom because she did not save enough money to retire.

          2. LSCO*

            +1. Let mom fail – if she can’t get the info herself and doesn’t want to pay someone for the info (OP, patent lawyer, whoever), well then that’s her problem. I get that it can affect the family in a larger way, but OP doesn’t live with mom anymore and it’s not OP’s job to protect the family/business from mom’s mistakes, as harsh as that may sound.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              All of this. OP’s mom doesn’t seem to want to invest in this business in any real way, so I can’t imagine it’s going to end well and OP shouldn’t have any part in it when it fails.

            2. CeeCee*

              I agree with this. Mom is a full grown woman who can make her own choices and deal with the consequences. This really doesn’t need to be OP’s problem at all. If the business loans are secured to the house, as someone mentioned above, that’s not OP’s problem. Mom (or Parents) made that decision and are adults. They can deal with the consequences of their actions. It’s not OP’s job to bail them out.

              Treating it that way really sets the OP up for a very unhealthy relationship.

            3. the gold digger*

              I also vote for fail. Of course, some people don’t learn even from that. Primo’s mom and dad invested $250K or so in Primo’s half-brother’s restaurant. Jack is a fabulous chef but neither he nor Primo’s parents have ever been in business. That didn’t stop Sly from spending the money without consulting any experts. (Shockingly, he did not ask Primo to help – although maybe not so shocking, as asking for help would imply that an English professor did not necessarily have the knowledge to buy and operate a restaurant.)(Note to Sly, RIP: It is required by law to pay payroll taxes. You’re lucky you didn’t go to jail.)

              They had to sell the restaurant at a loss a few years later and Sly still didn’t think he needed to consult, you know, a LAWYER or any other professional. Instead, after listing the restaurant with a broker, Sly and Doris were shocked that they had to pay the commission to the broken when the business finally sold, even though Sly and Doris found the buyer.

              I guess nobody ever taught Sly to read a contract before he signed it.

              1. anonintheuk*

                My father once asked me for professional advice, then ignored it when it wasn’t what he wanted to hear, telling me I was ‘being stupid’ and ‘didn’t know what I was talking about’.

                I flatly refused to help him with the fallout when it went wrong. I mean, I wouldn’t want help from someone I thought was stupid, so why would he?

              2. Nervous Accountant*

                Hey, I had no idea your FIL (Sly is your FIL right?) passed away……my condolences.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Thanks, Nervous. (If I may call you by your first name.) It’s been almost a year, but the mess Sly and Doris left (she died two months before he did) is still not resolved. As in, some of their junk is now in my house. And they did disinherit Primo, but still made him executor and then trustee for the four grandkids, who did inherit, until they turn 30. The youngest is 18.

            4. Not So NewReader*

              Mom does not want “help” with the business, mom wants OP to BE the business.

              OP must:
              Design the item.
              Research the patent
              Get the patent
              Design the prototype

              No way. I mean in big bold letters NO WAY.

              I don’t understand why people are skating by this part. This is a huuuge amount of work that would probably keep OP working 60 plus hours a week for an indefinite amount of time. (Years? as mom adds on more and more ?)

              OP, you are their child, not their indentured servant. It appears to me that you have moved out of the house. This is to your advantage. Tell her no, OP.

              Look, OP, my dad designed things. He had dozens and dozens of patents to his credit. JUST the design work alone, kept him employed for 25 years. He raised ME on that income. Other people researched the patent and built the prototype etc. She is asking you to do the work of many people. This is not reasonable.

              If you can do this work, you need to get a paying job where you can use these skills. If you are on your own, this even increases the importance of getting out there and earning money to take care of yourself so that you can remain on your own.

              Yes, we do owe our parents something, but if it costs us our careers, our autonomy or cuts our ability to build our own lives then that is too great an expectation. My friend was in his 50s and his parents were still telling him, “we raised you, you owe us”. Clearly it was a large debt that he could never pay off. The relationship remained strained right up to the very end. My friend never had a relationship with his parents except for the part of what he could do for them. Every time he walked into their house he was hit with a laundry list of things that needed to be fixed or needed some type of attention.

              Yes, this is an extreme example, OP. But think about where you want to be in 10 years, 20 years and think about how your decisions now will impact your ability to get there.

              1. Pix*

                OP, apply the Sheelzebub Principle:

                If you say yes, where do you see yourself in: 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? Would you be happy there?

                OP, I have parents like yours. It is an ongoing struggle to balance ‘what’s owed’ with ‘I need to have my own damn life’ . I suggest investigating volunteer work that coincides with your career aspirations and allows you to network. You never know what connection may or may not get you a job!

          3. Florida*

            This 1000%. Mom can do the research. Mom can hire an attorney to do the research. Mom can find a way to accomplish this, but she is choosing the easiest, most convenient path, which is to ask OP. If you refuse to do it, your Mom will figure it out.

            1. Catherine*

              I agree. If OP is concerned that Mom underestimates the scope of this project, she could say something like “There are lots of legal considerations when undertaking a project like this, and I know I don’t know the half of them. I wouldn’t want to do something (or neglect to do something) and get you in legal trouble. Let’s look together to find a good lawyer who can advise you.”

            2. Rana*

              And if she can’t do this, or isn’t willing to learn how to do this, then she shouldn’t be running a business.

          4. Belle*

            I would also let her either succeed or fail on her own. Running a business takes a lot of work, and if that person isn’t willing to do it or pay someone to, then it isn’t on the daughter to make it succeed. If new issues come up in the future, the mother may push them off on the daughter again.

            My mother actually has the same boundary issues. I finally started pushing back and kindly saying no. Things have gotten better, but I wish I would have had someone tell me to stop enabling her right away. She is the parent, and yet I was regularly fixing things and playing clean up for her.

          5. Lemon Zinger*

            I’m glad you said this. My parents were embroiled in a ridiculous lawsuit for the last few years and they expected me to testify on their behalf in court. I thought they were completely in the wrong and would have refused to say what they wanted me to, if I’d been called to testify.

            Parents don’t always know best.

        2. NJ Anon*

          It’s not OP’s issue. If her parents wants to start getting the business, it’s the parents issue.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Right on. My father put in a bid on a “dude ranch” (back in the day). He came to my house and informed me that WE were going to run a horse ranch together. I said, “What’s this ‘we’ stuff? We know zero, zip, nada about horses. No, just no.”

            My thinking on it is when parents or anyone comes at me in a strong manner that opens the door for me to reply in strong manner.

    2. Zee*

      Hey, I’m the original question asker! I’m reluctant to do that research because it would cost me not just time, but likely money to actually file it all. On top of that, my name would be attached, not my mothers, so all problems would go to me. And, lastly, my father actually has plenty of people who do this sort of thing for a living. Sure, they wouldn’t be free, but I’m not a lawyer and I’d rather not act as one.

      1. Mando Diao*

        How come your dad’s not involved? This is the perfect opportunity to remind him that if your mom ever gets sued by a contractor for non-payment (which is how she’s treating you), it’s his money and reputation on the line too. Pass this on to him.

      2. Artemesia*

        Oh absolutely take this to your father. You don’t want the legal responsibility especially as you aren’t a lawyer. Time to draw a bright line between your life and your mother’s business and make the risks of not getting legal help clear to your father.

      3. Mike C.*

        Yeah, I came here to ask this – how can your mother expect you to act as a patent attorney when you aren’t one? Please understand I’m not trying to be harsh here, but it seems akin to asking you to perform dentistry or something.

        1. Zee*

          That’s how I feel, but they don’t seem to understand that time=money. Since the research would be done either online or with books, they think it shouldn’t cost anything even if it takes 100 hours to do it.

          1. nofelix*

            Mike C’s point is that this is work for an expert, and there are significant risks if a non-expert undertakes it. I don’t know your skill level, but let’s say you filed a patent that your mother’s business relies upon and then later the patent turns out to be invalid. That’d be catastrophic for her business, and how long the work took or whether you were paid for your time is moot. She needs to understand that getting you to do lawyers work is not in her interest.

          2. TootsNYC*

            Don’t worry about whether they understand this.
            Don’t worrya bout whether they ever agree with you.

            Just blow them off, over and over.

            Don’t expect other people to agree with your boundaries; just live them.

            Say no, as many times as you need to, in whatever SHORT way you can. Your mother can’t actually -make- you do anything. You actually control your own arms and legs, your own vocal cords and phone-dialing fingers. Just don’t do it.

            When she brings it up, say no, and then hang up immediately. Or leave their house. Or start packing up their leftovers and getting their coats if they’re at your place (and never invite them over again, not for 6 months or so).

            This is where passivity is your appropriate tool. Don’t say yes, of course–just don’t ever do it.

          3. SusanIvanova*

            Oh, you’d probably love the clientsfromhell dot net website – one thing that pops up frequently there is how often people get roped into doing something free or cheap for family and it turns into a bigger money/time sink than they originally thought. That and the “but you’re just sitting in front of a computer typing/drawing. That’s not really work, anyone can do that!” attitude.

      4. YetAnotherFed*

        You absolutely cannot file a patent for another person if you are not: a) a co-inventor named in the patent filing or b) a registered patent attorney or patent agent. The USPTO and your state’s bar association will view this as unauthorized practice of law, and the USPTO will not communicate with an unregistered attorney or agent. See the Manual of Patent Examining and Procedure, chapter 400.

        1. Allie*

          I will add that, filing and prosecuting a patent application is a long and complicated process, with pendency taking years. LW would: 1. Potentially be signing up for a long process and 2. Would NOT be able to represent her mother in this process in anyour interaction with the examiner, formal or informal.

          If mom really wants expert help, she needs an expert in her field, specifically an experienced and registered patent prosecutor. Having her daughter Google things and do the filings sounds like a good way to waste her time and the filing fees.

          1. YetAnotherFed*

            +10000! LW’s mom would probably lose her filing date priority in this scenario. Which is a really really really bad thing for those of you not in the patent field.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            This time frame is right on, it would be several years before my father learned that he had been granted a patent on a particular submission. And that was back in the 80s. I cannot picture the process being faster now.

        2. Clever Name*

          This is what I came here to say as well. Not only are you looking at trouble with unauthorized practice of law but patent work is very, very specialized. Your average lawyer, without taking a whole second bar exam as well as extensive training can’t do this work. If you are not a patent attorney, you can’t do it on behalf of another.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Everyone in this thread has raised really good point about patent law. This is not an area of law you want to dabble in. If you screw it up, your patent could never go through or could be invalidated. This should be done by a lawyer who specializes in this area.

    3. Wehaf*

      Why is OP1 the only one who should/would be doing this work? Why is he/she responsible for handling part of a business he/she has no part in? If OP1’s mother decides not to do this work herself or have someone else do it, that’s on her – not on OP1.

      1. Mando Diao*

        Families inevitably have to clean up each other’s messes, especially if a legal issue has an effect on the larger estate. Would you be able to walk away from your mom if she blew a bunch of money getting into Arbonne or whatever? Yeah it’s the mom’s own weird decision but most people aren’t going to shut out parents who haven’t been abusive. Better to prevent problems now than to deal with them later on.

        1. Mike C.*

          The OP isn’t capable of dealing with this – the OP is not a lawyer and this is not an area where you can just Google your way through it.

        2. Blurgle*

          No, they don’t. They really, really don’t.

          In this case if mom is in a mess, dad can help her.

          1. Zee*

            My father actually could help her. I just think he’s trying to nicely say its a terrible idea by backing off.

            I actually like her idea and would like to do the design work and set up an etsy shop for her and her friend. Its actually fairly simple and each product could be made in less than 30 minutes by hand. THAT I can do.

            But the legal stuff I think my dad needs to use his own friends because after reading all of this I really think the patent stuff is even more difficult than I realized!

            1. nofelix*

              Put it this way: Patent lawyers are a highly paid specialism for a good reason. If companies could hire someone cheaply to google their way through the work then they would.

            2. JessaB*

              The other end of this is it almost appears to me that mom’s business is going to rely on you to A: design all the things and B: to create all the things and she’s just going to be the management person and get all the credit/money. If I misunderstood, sorry, but this seems like something someone should be paid for if it’s making even a little bit of money. Who is going to pay for the supplies to make all the things?

              If it’s a business you do the legal parts right and if it’s a business you pay for ideas/work in it. Otherwise it’s a hobby. It seems like mom wants to get all the credit and have OP do most of the actual physical work.

              And if I were living at home doing work that a professional would normally do, even if I weren’t paid for it in actual money, I would expect (and back when they were alive and I did this for them, this was the case, if I were saving them actual money rather than just doing general chores) that my rent would be zero or reduced, depending on how much work I actually DID for them. I would not do, and they would not have expected me to do professional work for NOTHING in return (even if the something was groceries or mom doing the cooking (she was a better cook.))

              Families often run on that kind of barter system – I actually lived in a basement apartment that had been built for my late grandmother, rent free, for all the help I gave them. Even had my own entrance, and use of whichever of their cars was in the driveway. In Queens, NY I mostly used the bus/train, so didn’t need my own car.

              If I had been living in their home rent free, I would have done it and considered it my contribution even when I was working a full time job.

              Now if your father considers this a non starter and doesn’t want to engage the help of his professional associates because he doesn’t think it’ll work, it’s kinda on him to either tell mom that or have his associates tell her that. Having him foot the bill for an hour’s consultation to show her where the problems are is not an unreasonable thing for him to do. His being passive aggressive about ignoring her and her wants is just not a fair thing to do to you. He needs to get off his duff and just be honest with her.

              1. I'm a Little Teapot*

                Jessa’s first paragraph is just what I was about to post. OP1, your mother is expecting you to do all the work – and, according to your update above, *spend their own money* on it too – while she gets all the credit and money, relying on guilt and emotional manipulation. Frankly, she sounds like a real user. In my experience with people like this (not, thank God, my mother!), there won’t even be an endpoint to this arrangement and it will never be enough; she’ll expect you to work for her for free forever. Whenever you say no – now or years from now – there will be the same result: manipulation and unreasonable anger. You might as well get it out of the way before wasting too much time.

                Also, for all that your mother is expecting to get all the money and credit, is she also going to take the blame if something gies wrong? If she gets in legal trouble, or the business fails, I wouldn’t be surprised if she decides it’s all your fault and demands that you handle it and pay for whatever expenses come up.

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                This. It doesn’t matter that the product can be made in 30 minutes. It’s YOUR 30 minutes. You own it, and you get to decide what to do with it. You don’t owe your parents complete and total allegiance and 24/7/365 access to your time and effort just because they raised you. When they decided to have a child, they committed to raising that child. It does not commit you to indentured slavery in return.

              3. Rana*

                And, honestly? 90% of Etsy shops are simply outlets for people’s hobbies; they are not viable businesses. It is hard to do well on Etsy, since Etsy as a site comprises thousands of craftspeople, and unless you have an amazing and unique project that has an ongoing and growing market, odds are extremely good that you will spend more making and marketing your products than you will get back.

                I say this as someone who had an Etsy shop and knew what I was getting into and still met with failure; it is just not a viable business model for most serious people. It’s good for hobbyists who want a bit of cash now and then – which makes your mother wanting you to handle the work even more unreasonable.

                1. Simonthegrey*

                  This. My friend and I have a small business and we run an etsy shop. We promote constantly, join tons of groups online to post our stuff to the niche audience, use tumblr, pinterest, twitter, etc. If we did not actually physically attend conventions and events and sell in person, and if we didn’t have things at two different local artist shops in the state, our shop would fail. There are so many sellers on Etsy. For us, we see it as a way for people to buy “that thing they wanted at the con” but didn’t get, and for “christmas is coming” style special orders. Otherwise we don’t rely on it at all.

            3. Allie*

              Patents are very, very complicated. So much so that attorneys who handle patent prosecutions have to have a technical background, take a special exam, and register with the USPTO. No one should make you feel bad for not wanting to try to Google your way through this. It is a completely unfair expectation.

              1. YetAnotherFed*

                Everything that Allie said. OP, your mom is totally out of line here. Please point her and your dad to MPEP 402.

              2. Kelly L.*

                I read that as “Parents are very, very complicated.” Which I suppose applies here too. :D

            4. YetAnotherFed*

              Yes, patent law is very complicated, and the USPTO will tell pro se applicants (I.e. Inventor is Representing themselves without a registered attorney or agent) who are blatantly doing things wrong procedurally in their patent applications to go get a registered attorney or agent. See MPEP section 401 form paragraph 4.10.

              1. Ineloquent*

                Can i just say, I love that you are pointing to specific regulations here to help out OP1. That is awesome. Carry on.

            5. 45 Rabbis*

              What is your moms responsibility in all of this then? It sounds like you’d create the design, build the products, get them patented, and pay for the patent filings. Then just hand them over to your mom to sell and get nothing for it? What exactly is your mom investing? It sounds like she’s only looking for free merchandise she can sell on etsy. A windfall for her a loss for you.

            6. Anon Moose*

              Whatever you do on this project, even if just design work, you will need to cut it off at some point if you are not getting any benefit out of it. If you design it actually, maybe YOU should get the patent. But if not, be very very wary of ongoing work without pay.

            7. Some anonymous attorney*

              Just to add on to what everyone else is saying — patent law is a very specialized area, and you don’t want to deal with the possible percussions from unlicensed practice of law.

              I am not sure what state you’re in, but in mine the state bar or the local country bar associations have a referral line that you could give her to call, and some patent firm might be able to do an initial consultation at a reasonsable fee (for attorney standard anyways). There might be some non-profit legal organizations that provide consultations for small businesses. So you could maybe look them up, and it might be a middle point for you to say “this area is beyond what I can do but here is what I have done.”

          2. Christopher Tracy*

            No, they don’t. They really, really don’t.

            Thank you. That is some seriously toxic thinking. If a family member gets into a mess and you want to help them clean it up out of the goodness of your heart, that’s one thing. But you’re not ever obligated to clean up the mess of grown adults who can’t be bothered to help themselves.

            1. CeeCee*

              +10000. I have very messy and toxic parents. After loaning them thousands of dollars over the years (and never seeing a penny of it in return) there is one thing I have learned.

              They are adults. They make their own decisions and deal with their own consequences. In some instances, I am compelled to help them. Others, I have to stand back and watch them deal with their own lives.

              It isn’t easy to do, but it is absolutely necessary. Some people will take and take and take regardless of what you give out of the goodness of your heart and it isn’t healthy to let them take everything you have and leave you with nothing.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Before I learned that I couldn’t make one bit of difference, I wasted a lot of time going between my grandma (to tell her to quit responding to my brother’s middle-of-the-night calls to come pick him up from some trouble he was in) and my brother (to tell him to quit calling our grandma in the middle of the night to come get him). I also tried to tell my grandma to quit pawning and un-pawning the same set of stuff each month to supplement her fixed income, because that practice was like adding an additional monthly expense. She wouldn’t listen to that either. I started giving her a small monthly spending supplement to help her out, but that was because I could afford to and wanted to. It didn’t stop her from maintaining the endless pawn loop, but I was satisfied that I did what I could. I was sympathetic that she wanted more than she had, but I wasn’t going to go down in financial ruin for her.

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  This all especially applies to adults who intentionally and repeatedly cause messes and expect others to clean them up or even deal with the consequences. Sometimes grownup family and friends need our help (or we may need theirs), but generally those that deserve it don’t seek it or need it more than once or twice.

                  So tl;dr version: functional family members may help each other out once in a blue moon, but it shouldn’t be a pattern.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          Well no, they really don’t. My mom’s finances are her problem, her decisions are hers. If she asks for help with something and I’m able to do it without major inconvenience and/or cost to myself (or massive resentment), then sure. But if not… nope.

        4. Tex*

          I’m all for helping families out in regular and tough times…but this far exceeds any reasonable expectations. This isn’t light administrative help, nor is it work that OP regularly engages in and can do a quick favor for mom.

          On another note, this is an annoying situation because anybody can have a great idea, execution is where the real work comes in. A real entrepreneur would be getting their hands dirty and refining/fine-tuning the product and the business; even if certain activities can be turn keyed by contractors, there is still a lot of involvement that is just being thrust onto OP.

          OP – stay away from this, even if they offer to pay. Get another job/volunteer activity/etc if you have to fill up the time.

        5. Alix*

          No, sorry, my mother’s finances aren’t mine, and if she ever did land herself in that kind of hole, no, I wouldn’t clean up her mess. She’s an adult, she’s capable of owning her own decisions. I mean, I wouldn’t abandon her to the streets, but I would absolutely not sacrifice my own life and finances to fix her problems. And I don’t expect her to do that for me.

          My brother frequently bounces between jobs and keeps trying to get me to spot him cash, bail him out of tight spots, or let him crash on my couch for “just a few days.” I helped him a handful of times, but now, barring actual emergency, I help him only with advice – and not the kind that is me doing all the research for him, either. He’s an adult, he needs to learn to deal with his own crap.

        6. Marcela*

          Inevitably? Not at all. I love my parents and they were not abusive. However, when my dad got a second family and my mom decided to shuffle around our home ownership (so the other children could not inherit it), everything that came after, such as taxes or the new registration or the lawyer fees, or the new will, etc. etc. etc. was their mess to clean up. They put themselves in that situation, then good luck with it. I am not “inevitably” condemned to do anything just because faaaaaamily.

        7. Sadsack*

          See YetAnotherFed’s post above. OP absolutely is not qualified or allowed by law to do this. And saying you have to help family with whatever nonsense no matter what is ridiculous.

        8. Natalie*

          Just to address the other part of your concern – just as no one owes their parents help, no one is owed an estate either. It’s Mom and Dad’s money to piss away if that’s what they want to do. Their kids don’t even need to serve as their executors if it’s that bad – just decline to do it and make the probate system figure it out.

          If OP was planning on inheriting something, it might be best if they readjust their expectations and financial planning and assume nothing’s coming.

          1. Artemesia*

            This. My husband expected to inherit about a million; his father who was stingy and mean and didn’t use his money for his own pleasure (alas) had a huge fortune and a half dozen kids. In his later demented years, he and his wife literally lost and mismanaged their wealth so that there was virtually nothing left. What was sad is that they neither enjoyed it nor had the pleasure of giving it to a charity they admired — it just got dwindled through mismanagement when they were no longer capable and then mismanaged by financial people who did things like sell and pay huge capital gains that would not have been paid on inheritance. Bozos. So when his mother died there was little left.

            Luckily I had always insisted we assume no inheritance. We were not entitled and should view it as a windfall if it occurred. We are well retired on my 401K. Always assume you are on your own. I am grateful I didn’t have to support my own mother; I would have, she would have deserved it if she had needed it but she and my father in spite of his long expensive final 15 years of disability managed to make it through on their own dime and leave us a little. Good parents who do their best deserve our help when they need it. That doesn’t make us their indentured servants during their lifetime.

        9. Alton*

          In my experience, trying to bail out family members can do more harm than good, especially in non-emergency situations where the person is capable of making other choices. My mom is estranged from her brother partly because she loaned him money for a business and did free work for him and he never paid her back or seemed to realize the magnitude of his requests.

          And this is far from am emergency. It’s not like the OP’s mom is going bankrupt from medical bills and needs help.

          Family members are not obligated to support each other’s businesses.

        10. Oryx*

          But preventing problems now only prolongs the process of needing to set necessary boundaries.

          Better to set boundaries now than deal with problems later on.

          1. Artemesia*

            Yeah. It is like raising kids. they will push on the boundaries wherever they are so set them so that is makes your life easier.

        11. eplawyer*

          Doing something to protect the estate is actually really selfish. It is just saying “hey don’t do anything stupid because I want your money when you’re dead.” Save for your own future, so you don’t care if your parents leave you anything but the hand print card you made your mother for Mother’s day in kindergarten. How they spend their money while they are alive is not the kids’ business.

          Based on the other things the mother has had the writer do it looks like Mom is always trying new schemes but expecting others to make her rich. Time to stop the cycle. If Mom wants her own business, Mom can put the effort into doing it right.

        12. IT Kat*

          My parents are adults. I wouldn’t want to bail them out of a hole any more than I want THEM to bail ME out of a hole.

          I don’t expect them to clean up my messy choices after I reached adulthood, why should I be expected to clean up theirs?

          This is toxic thinking and twists the parent-child relationship. Parents are supposed to raise their children to be capable adults, not raise little servants who take care of them. Yes, when they get older/need medical help/etc. that’s one thing – but cleaning up their bad choices? Hell no, that’s on them.

        13. Not So NewReader*

          Going with this logic this means that parents can do anything and it up to the kid to fix it.
          No, that is not how healthy relationships work. We are each responsible for our lives right up to our dying day.

          Going one step further, asking a child to give up every aspect of their life for something the parent wants IS abusive. The workload here could be considered abusive if the parent is demanding this of OP.

          If the parent is asking/inquiring then no, I do not do think asking is abusive because asking implies that NO is an acceptable answer.

          But the workload OP has described here is staggering. It is unreasonable to expect any one, no matter what the relationship to give up so much of their life to do this incredible workload for another person without any compensation.

        14. Preux*

          Financial abuse is in fact a kind of abuse, and I would say ‘you produce goods and do all the legal legwork so I can sell it for a profit that you will not receive’ fits the bill.

          Honestly, I get where you’re coming from – my father stole a substantial amount of money from me, forging my signature on checks and cashing them, and I didn’t pursue legal action against him for the sake of the family and my mother who’s dependent on him. But I think you might be overlooking the sheer amount of work you are asking OP to do, and the fact that there is only so much that can be done to protect a fiscally irresponsible and financially abusive parent from themselves.

    4. Susan C.*

      Adding to the refrain of “Uh, no” – no matter what some collection agencies and others would have you think, you actually don’t inherit your parents’ debts and such either.

      Only your business if you want it to be.

      1. Anon For This*

        Unless you’re a cosigner to a student loan in New Jersey and your kid is murdered. Then all bets are off.

    5. Minister of Snark*


      Zee’s mother is an adult. She knows the consequences of not doing the patent research. She just doesn’t care. She would rather Zee feel guilty and do all the work, because that’s the easiest route to “riches.’ And according to Zee’s further posts, this is not the first time Mom has had a “brilliant idea” for Zee to implement that will make lots of money… that Zee will not receive.

      It is absolutely not reasonable to ask someone to design, research, and create products for sale – without compensation – and then collect all the proceeds for those sales because the business is “yours.” You pay people who do that work for you. They’re called employees. Don’t treat people like employees unless they get the full benefit of employment. Otherwise it’s called financial abuse.

      and please don’t argue that Zee will eventually benefit from those sales or inherit the patents. Does Zee have siblings? Other relatives that her parents will leave/give money to? Because the fruits of Zee’s labor could very easily be left to a cat shelter for all s/he knows.

      I write books for a living. I am very fortunate to be able to do a job that I love. I FREQUENTLY have people tell me that they have an idea for a book that’s going to be a HUGE hit. But they don’t have “time” to write it. They say they’re going to give me their random notes and I’m going to spend months writing this book for them. And then I’ll use my contacts in the industry to help get the book edited, packaged and published, but I shouldn’t expect to be paid for my efforts, because afterall, it’s this person’s idea.

      How do I answer?


      And if they push?

      Hell, no.

      My time is money. I write 2-3 books a year. Time I spend writing someone else’s projects is time I don’t spend earning money by writing my own books. Time I spend THINKING about someone else’s project is time I’m not improving my own work. If I said yes to every person who wants me to write the “next Harry Potter” for them -for no pay, because it’s not fair to punish them for not being good writers – I would not earn my own living because I would spend all of my time working for free for other people.

      If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to own a business, you have to put SOME EFFORT into doing some of the work yourself. Or you at least invest money in paying someone to do that work for you. You don’t sit back and expect other people to do that work for free, and then expect to receive all of the rewards because “faaaaaamily” and “if you don’t help me, I could end up creating legal problems for myself.”

      Shame on Zee’s parents. I’m glad s/he’s not living with them anymore.

      1. I'm a Little Teapot*


        I’m also a writer (though it’s a very small secondary source of income for me – congrats on doing it full-time!). And if someone asked me to *write “their” book for them for free* (WTF?) I’d laugh in that person’s face before explaining what an absurd request it was. Some things are too outrageous to deserve a polite response.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        “I write books for a living. I am very fortunate to be able to do a job that I love. I FREQUENTLY have people tell me that they have an idea for a book that’s going to be a HUGE hit. But they don’t have “time” to write it. They say they’re going to give me their random notes and I’m going to spend months writing this book for them. And then I’ll use my contacts in the industry to help get the book edited, packaged and published, but I shouldn’t expect to be paid for my efforts, because afterall, it’s this person’s idea.”

        (at them, not at you!)

        1. Minister of Snark*

          You would be appalled at how often this comes up. And not just to me. Every writer I know has dealt with it at least once.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            Ironically I have never had this happen to me!!! (Crossing my fingers that continues) I do get people who talk about their own ideas and friends who ask for feedback but so far nobody wants free work out of me.

      3. LQ*

        Wait seriously? Not fair to punish them for not being good writers? Um. YUP! In fact SUPER YUP! It is a skill, you can get better. It isn’t magic. (As I keep telling my friend who insists that I just edit all his stuff -no- that you can practice and learn and improve. Not magic. Work.

      4. E*

        Apparently the principle of the person doing the work (writing the book) and therefore getting paid for WORK, is not clearly understood by these folks. Wow. Try telling one of them they can hire you to work for them writing the book, because you get paid to write.

      5. Liane*

        Write the whole thing? C’mon! I look at the Freelancer site about once a week, to see if there is any project I want to bid on. I mentally eliminate anything that begins “Write my novel/paper/thesis/journal article on ABC…” which are not only lazy but, in the cases of the academic ones, unethical. Sorry, you do the hard, honest work of writing & researching, then post an editing/proofreading project & I will be happy to bid. I may just remove Writer from my skillset profile.

        I also know a writer and developer in the gaming industry. I consider him showing me his resume and one of his successful cover letters so I had good real-world examples for the field to be very generous. He will also look at my own articles for the field and give me feedback *when he has time*. But him writing for me. I would never even think of asking.

        1. Minister of Snark*

          I live in an area where 1) there aren’t a lot of writers who make a living at it and 2) writing isn’t considered “real work.” It’s a “fun hobby” I indulge in while everybody else is busy doing real physical labor like farming, construction, driving a forklift, etc. Since what I do “isn’t that hard” they don’t see how they’re asking a lot. Sad but true.

    6. paul*

      that’s on her mom then.

      You aren’t entitled to free labor for life from your kids (or your parents!).

  3. MK*

    OP1, if you, as an adult, were living with your parents rent-free, and especially if they were covering your other expenses too, it wasn’t unreasonable for your parents to expect payment in kind, though all of you should really have discussed the terms under which you would love with them.

    As for now, my advice would be to stay away from your mother’s business, without offering any kind of assistance. Ideally, you might say to your mother, as to any other employer, “I can do X and Z, I expect to be paid Y for them and I can only be available till September Nth”. But it sounds to me that your relationship with your parents isn’t going to allow for that.

    1. nofelix*

      Haha, this is the best typo “you should really have discussed the terms under which you would love with them”. I imagine OP sending them a letter:

      ‘Dear Parents, as you are aware I have been your child for the duration of my entire life and love you both. However, recently my living situation has become such that I must depend on your assistance in providing accommodation from the current day until advised otherwise. If this assistance cannot be relied upon from your good selves, I must make you aware that my love for you will henceforth be reduced by 10%.’

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed and raise you:

        “Child, I have been your parent all of your life. You owe me. In addition to any routine household chores, I expect you to build me a business in MY name, working 16 hours a day for free, for as long as it takes until I reap an income.”

        This is not love. This is not what love looks like.

  4. AGirlCalledFriday*

    I felt really uncomfortable about the question and answer for OP#1. Maybe it’s just the way I was brought up, but barring other circumstances (being taken advantage of, toxic relationship) it’s a matter of course that a person should go out of their way to assist parents who have worked your whole life to assist you. I felt that it was crude to demand payment of your own parents while living with them – I don’t know anyone who would accept payment from a family member even if it was offered…barring the above circumstances.

    This business, on the other hand, seems very time consuming and requires a lot of work. Again, isn’t something that I would feel comfortable demanding payment for, but I could see coming up with a compromise – you do certain things, and your mom does other things.

    Is this just me?

    1. A Signer*

      I don’t know if it’s just you, but I’d bristle hugely if my mom asked of me what the OP’s mom is asking.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        +1000 I am not my mother’s indentured servant just because she a) gave birth to me and b) let me live with her when my only other option was homelessness. Helping out around the house by doing chores in exchange for rent/utilities? That’s fair. Running mom’s entire business without pay and not reaping any of the benefits after? That’s exploitation.

    2. Grand Mouse*

      A lot of parents expect rent from their adult child, or tasks that they’d usually pay for in lieu of that. Part of growing up IS setting boundaries but some concession to your parents, especially when they have supported you so much, seems reasonable.

      otoh getting into legal works seems tricky enough that it’s fair to decide you’re not up for it

    3. YaH*

      My parents frequently pay me for doing things for them- manual labor, using my skills/talents to benefit them, etc. I feel like we have a healthy respect for each other’s time and energy. They know that if there’s urgency or an emergency, I’ll immediately drop anything I can to help in any way (and have done so many times), and they are happy to do the same for me if the need arises.
      However, they also offer fair payment for other tasks- I’m currently cat-sitting for two weeks, which entails an hour-round-trip drive daily to check on the house and refill feeders/water bowls, and I was given a very generous grocery/gas card and Starbucks card as payment. I think the key is that we establish payment amount and details of the work entailed up front before agreeing to take it on, and that even if they’re disappointed when I can’t, they don’t give me a hard time about it.

      1. JessaB*

        Exactly. That’s how adults “business” together. You talk about what they want, what you can do, and what’s reasonable in terms of compensation (whether that’s free rent, groceries, use of the summer holiday house for a week when you have time off, whatever.) And this negotiation happens before the work is done and yes it might be okay for mom to say “look I raised you and spent a fortune, five hours of work is not an unreasonable thing to ask for for totally free.” But this is not a one off, this is going to be a continuing thing if the business takes off.

        And I know someone above made the comment about “not having time vs not having time if not paid,” that’s an okay thing to do also. Time has value. The disagreement is on how much value not the fact that it has some.

        Someone with x hours of free time is allowed to say “Nopity nope, not for free, but if you give me your season tickets to (the game, the opera, the local theatre) for a show/game, etc. I’ll do it. Or I’ll do it for dinner at Luigi’s Excellent Italian Joint (which is way too expensive otherwise, but OMG yummy ziti.) Or flat fee of 50 bucks please.

        1. the gold digger*

          mom to say “look I raised you and spent a fortune

          And this is where I whine, “But I didn’t ask to be born!”

          I am totally against the idea that just because someone gave birth to you that suddenly you are required to do whatever that person wants. There was no offer and acceptance in the birthing, which means there is no contract.

          1. Ada M Key*

            I absolutely agree with this. If there is a cosmic debt for my parents having raised me, I will pay it to my children – the people I chose to bring into the world.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            This, so much.

            I’m close to my parents and we help each other a lot. But that’s because I want to, not because I feel obligated. If they’d ever said I “owed” them assistance because they birthed and raised me, I’d point out that obviously I was a minor when I signed that contract, and it’s null and void. As Chris Rock said (badly paraphrased here), you don’t get extra credit for taking care of your own kids. That’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s the bare minimum. You don’t earn bonus points for that.

          3. Artemesia*

            And then there is Endgame where the protagonists parents are in garbage cans at the side of the stage and when their child whines ‘why did you even have me??????’ The father calmly says ‘We didn’t know it was going to be you.’

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          I hate the idea of reducing the things we do for other people to business transactions, though. It turns personal relationships into an exchange of goods and services and people start expecting “market value” for something that could easily be a favor for someone you care about.

          Dan Ariely had some research on this in his book Predictably Irrational, though the research related more to the introduction of money into the transactions versus the exchange of favors. There is a summary on the book’s wikipedia page here: I had the opportunity to take the “Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior” course he did for Coursera before they went to their certification model, and it was fantastic.

        3. Stitch*

          My dad pays us in smoked salmon and restaurant meals for odd jobs around the house that my boyfriend does. I benefit a lot from that arrangement.

          Though, to be fair, my boyfriend has a very DIY attitude, so it’s almost offensive to him that my dad might pay Home Depot for an installation he can do. :P

          1. Stitch*

            Oh, I forgot my overarching point – which is that my dad knows he has to pony up something to get us to visit home. The “we’ll make you food in exchange for some household maintenance” is an excuse for us to drive 1hr+ each way to visit once or twice each month.

            My mom is much more in the category of “Oh, you’re right down the road! Why don’t we go for lunch every week with the local women’s club?” and she doesn’t really realize how much she’s asking and how little she’s giving in return. My dad understands the exchange that happens with all individuals, whether they’re adults or children. You don’t get aught for free – even parent/child relationships are an exchange of sorts.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              I guess I just think it’s odd that you need an “excuse” or something to be offered as a benefit for you to visit, and I don’t understand how your mom asking you to have lunch nearby on a regular basis is asking without giving. Is she supposed to offer to treat you to lunch to entice you to spend time with her? I don’t have the closest relationship with my mom, but I’d be happy to have the opportunity to have a meal with her a few times a month. Sometimes, all I get is the benefit of her company for a little while.

              I am not that close with my family, but I would find it really weird to treat each interaction with them like it had to have some tangible benefit for me or a promise of future benefit. Every once in a while, we just like spending time together.

              And I don’t know how my poor in-laws would fare under a tangible reward system — we have to drive 8 hours each way to see them, they don’t have a lot of disposable income, and they live in a rural area with nothing to do and in a bit of a food desert. And they ALWAYS ask my husband for some sort of technical support help while he’s there. Shoot, last time, he had to drive his dad to the hospital for planned surgery 2 hours away and wait for 10 hours for the procedure to be completed, then drive home and move a recline upstairs for him to sleep in more comfortably. I guess we could ask my father-in-law for a cow as visit payment next time we’re there? :) (My husband HATES the cows.)

              1. Alix*

                I think it’s more a question of, are your parents acknowledging your time is valuable? Besides just whether or not you like spending time with your parents, there’s also the issue of whether or not they expect you to spend all your free time with them, drop everything just to do what they want, get upset if you turn down that lunch, etc. I don’t think there necessarily needs to be a tangible reward to get children over to their parents’ place, but I know I’d be seriously ticked off if anyone, even my own mother, treated my time so flippantly as “Oh, you’re right here, it’s no hardship for you to get together with me to do what I want!” There’s a difference between actually asking and presuming, even if the presumption is framed as a question.

                1. Stitch*

                  Yeah, Alix has it. It’s the lack of acknowledgement that I might have other things that I need to/want to do with my time, and that sometimes what she’s asking of me is stressful or difficult to manage.

                  I’m totally cool with visiting my family twice a month. The food/labor exchange is an excuse to do so, and not much more. What I’m not cool with is getting a message from my mom a day before a luncheon inviting me to go, or telling me that she already bought my ticket to an event, because that means dealing with 2-3 hours of driving (I hate driving), strangers (I have social anxiety – TBH so does she, she’s trying to get me to go to be her safety blanket), and dealing with my mom 1-on-1. I’ll do a lot for my mom – I’ll take her to doctors appointments when she’s anxious about them, I’ll go to an occasional luncheon if she’s excited about it, and stuff like that, but I can only handle a few events like that per year. I enjoy my time visiting more when it’s my whole family, and not just any one of them. She doesn’t acknowledge that I’m not actually “right down the road”. She won’t drive up to visit me and have lunch where I live. She won’t make an effort to avoid topics that we fundamentally disagree on. There’s no attempt to meet me partway on any of this.

                2. the gold digger*

                  Every time Primo and I visit my mom or stay with one of my aunts and uncles, he ends up doing computer repairs. I am so grateful that he will do this – and so are my mom and my other relatives.

                  With my mom, we are glad we can help her – she asks us for almost nothing and will spend hours trying to figure things out for herself before asking for help. With my aunts and uncles, we stay with them on our way to the cottage we rent every summer. They won’t let us take them out to dinner and they won’t let us pay for the sausage they give us (one set of aunt/uncle owns a venison-processing business and they make the best summer sausage and bratwurst ever), so this is a way for us (for Primo) to return their hospitality.

                  If they called frequently and demanded remote help – as Primo’s parents did, then it would be different. But we always offer and they are always so, so grateful.

                  Primo’s dad called asking for help with something on the computer and Primo told him

                  1. he doesn’t know Macs and
                  2. he was over 1,000 miles away so what could he do really?

                  After that answer, Sly hung up. Ten minutes later, Doris called with the same question. As if Primo’s answer might have changed.

                  Primo’s parents would have a laundry list of chores for him to do every time he visited – clean the shit (literally) off the wall and the floor by the cat box, repair the leaking drain, mend the torn screen, clean the ceiling fans, vacuum inside the closets (because they would not ask their cleaning lady to do that) etc, etc. They died with an estate worth more than $1 million in cash, yet would not pay a repairman. They thought that at least twice a year he should buy a plane ticket, rent a car to drive from the airport (they wouldn’t pick him up), and then spend his precious few vacation days doing their chores.

                  That is the difference: does someone appreciate, acknowledge, and reward your efforts? Or do they get cranky if you don’t hop to it?

                  (As far as the lunch with my mom – I have limited free time. I have from 5:30 to 10 p.m. every weeknight and then I have weekends. I have to do my entire outside of work life in those hours and that includes chores. If I had to spend six to eight hours every month getting to and having lunch with my mom without her ever offering to come out my way, I would get a little bitter.)

                3. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Ah, got it. That makes sense.

                  There’s no rely link on Stitch’s post below, but I can totally see how annoying the presumptiveness would be. One benefit of having parents who are not well off is that they don’t buy anything without checking so us first. I would not be cool with that dynamic either. It’s not the spending time so much as the treating you like an adult with equally important things to do.

              2. disconnect*

                “but I would find it really weird to treat each interaction with them like it had to have some tangible benefit for me or a promise of future benefit”

                This is exactly the aggro against OP1’s mother in the first place. “Do this thing she asks because it’s your duty as a child” is as shitty as “pay me to come visit”.

    4. Mike C.*

      Being asked to work as an attorney without the education and certification is pretty unreasonable though, don’t you think?

      1. JessaB*

        Yes, but I’m not sure mom realises what all is involved. Mom may think it’s just oh you fill out a piece of paper and done. I’m not sure it rises to pretty unreasonable unless she actually knows that it’s serious unpaid legal work by a non lawyer. Especially if OP is going to design the whatsit and would probably be a party to the patent which is one of the exceptions to having to be a lawyer to do this. Even if you should get one anyway.

    5. Zee*

      I left it out, but they would hire me out to others in the extended family, some of whom were trying to help me out and were not looking for free labor. Other things were very time consuming, as in several-week long projects or multi-day but 16-hour-long-each-day. During these projects they would pester me to apply for jobs as well. I eventually had to tell them to back off because I really did need a job and their get rich quick schemes were just not worth my time.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          YES. My God, *hire you out to others in the extended family* (and your mom would get the pay)? 16-hour days for zero pay while *expecting you to apply for other jobs*?

      1. Mike C.*

        Get rich quick schemes? So are you saying that the business isn’t really established, or are these more like side projects?

        1. Zee*

          I think it’s something best sold on etsy. She wants to take it to Shark Tank. So far, she’s tried to start a charity, sell things on eBay, have me ghost write a book (I told them no as I wasn’t about to take a year or more off for nothing), paint a mural (it came out terribly and i begged them to paint over it), etc. This is the most shady as I really feel they need a lawyer, not someone with a laptop.

          1. LeRainDrop*

            Oh no! Actually reading your letter, my first thought was — is this one of those things you see on Shark Tank where the sharks all kind of laugh at the pitch person about their “patents pending” and such? I think it’s fair that if you’re living at home with your parents, you do a reasonable amount of chores and other household errands to help the home and family, but not business/professional work for free. I hope you can set and enforce your boundaries, like how Alison advised.

          2. JessaB*

            Oh dear, it puts an entirely different spin on this if she keeps coming up with “I have the idea, you do the work,” over and over. Nooo. I don’t think I’d wanna be involved in this. Unless of course you get a fee to be on Shark Tank and can take the being laughed at a little? They’re usually not incredibly cruel about it and if there’s money to be had there it might be worth just picking up the fee. (Not actually serious about this, but I have seen maybe two episodes and don’t actually know how the show works in terms of having people on.)

            1. Chinook*

              “Unless of course you get a fee to be on Shark Tank and can take the being laughed at a little?”

              I saw two of those sharks when they were on a less mean version up here called Dragon’s Den (which still films) a I think you are selling a show like that short. If smart pitchers watched that show ahead of time and took the advice to heart, they would be better business people overall. And there is some excellent advice (and up here put some excellent products on the market that normally would never had made it because they were so unique).

              Up north, they have educated a full generation of business owners on what they need to know before they ask anyone (including the bank) for money as well as potential investors what to ask family members before they hand over money. They also point out what makes a good small business and should not be expanded. O’Leary may be a jerk but he knows his financial stuff and has always been clear about how he protects his money.

              But, I believe OP’s mother is one of those pitchers who don’t think that advice is for them and are smarter than the people who made themselves from nothing. I believe she would be picked by producers for Shark Tank because they know she would crash and burn and make excellent reality TV.

      2. Marcela*

        Oh, oh, DH and I know about those get super rich schemes! My parents once tried to raise angora rabbits to sell their hair: my brother and I loved them and they had names and everything…. but my parents didn’t actually research what they needed to get good quality hair, so they could not sell most of what they managed to cut from our poor rabbits.

        There is also another time when my dad tried to create a company to produce small metallic pieces by design: he would be an intermediary between final client and the maker. He didn’t think that the buyer could contact directly the maker as they have been doing forever. And he didn’t think the tax agency would want to know all about his enterprise, so he didn’t keep records of anything, made a mess with this yearly declaration, and then later they sent him to collections and tried to get its money from my mom’s place (they were separated at the time).

        Or the time when he wanted to start a rent a bycicle business with his thief brother. My dad bought several bikes, and put everything in his brother’s capable hands. Who -he lives in an island far away from my dad- would then tell him that the bikes were stolen. It was a pity that some acquaintances of my family traveled to the island and saw all the marked bikes being used by my uncle’s family and friends there, who told them that my uncle was oh, so generous!

        From my in law’s side, there was this idea of buying paintings. They didn’t know a thing about art or good painting. More than 30 years later, most of the paintings are still in my MIL’s house.

        And yeah, they were going to get very rich with every single one of these brilliant ideas.

      3. addlady*

        I’m reading that you were hired out by your parents, and then they would pocket the money. I hope I am reading it wrong.

        1. Zee*

          Sort of. Family members would do favors for them, so in return I’d do a “favor” for the other family member. It actually created some tension as one aunt was being nice and having me do such a huge favor for her for a pittance hurt her feelings.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Seems like it didn’t hurt her feelings enough for her to say you didn’t have to do it, though…

    6. MillersSpring*

      I agree. It sounds like the OP’s priorities are school and work/job search, so I agree with Alison’s advice. But while she’s living with her parents, she should help them with their business as much as her schedule permits. The fact that if she didn’t do the work that they’d have to pay someone to do it is moot to me. Unless they’re horrible people she’s trying to get far away from, she should be helping them. It may not seem fair, but they’ve raised her presumably her whole life, so it seems petty and churlish to balk at helping them.

      1. Mike C.*

        How is it, “petty and churlish” to balk at a demand of acting as a legal professional without the education or certification? The OP isn’t a patent attorney, why should she be expected to do the work of one?

        1. YetAnotherFed*

          +10000. The OP cannot do the work of a registered patent attorney or patent agent, so it is totally unreasonable and irrational for OP’s mom to make this demand.

      2. El*

        She’s not living with her parents though. She’s been at school and is on break (but still not living with her parents). Her mother is also asking her to do things of which some tasks would be better left to a lawyer. You may also want to read some of the OP’s comments in the thread (the poster is Zee) –

        “I left it out, but they would hire me out to others in the extended family, some of whom were trying to help me out and were not looking for free labor. Other things were very time consuming, as in several-week long projects or multi-day but 16-hour-long-each-day. During these projects they would pester me to apply for jobs as well. I eventually had to tell them to back off because I really did need a job and their get rich quick schemes were just not worth my time.”

      3. YetAnotherFed*

        In this case, OP cannot act as the attorney or agent of record because they’re not a member of the Patent Bar or a co-inventor, so the USPTO won’t accept the representation as valid. It won’t do any good for OP to attempt to sign off on the patent application.

      4. Perse's Mom*

        “Petty and churlish” is in the eye of the beholder. Plenty of parents are capable of being petty and churlish if their children don’t drop everything to help them whenever they ask because they raised them and therefore this gives them the right to demand… everything until the end of time?

        There’s being helpful when your parents make reasonable requests (or even *slightly* unreasonable ones, once in awhile), and then there’s what this OP’s mom is asking.

      5. Engineer Girl*

        It isn’t petty and churlish to balk at u reasonable requests, no matter who asks. Watching the dog while on vacation is reasonable. Designing things for a business unpaid is not. Clearing trees after a storm is reasonable. Researching patents is not. Functional family members don’t ask for free help with business on a regular basis.

        1. AnotherAnon*

          “Functional family members don’t ask for free help with business on a regular basis.”

          Thank you. You and everyone else who’s spoken up about this. It took a long time for my therapist to convince me I didn’t have to feel horrible about not always helping my mother with everything she asked (I was expected to be both tech support and marketing for her business, and I don’t know the first thing about how to buy an ad). I still have to remind myself about it regularly; hopefully all these comments will help :)

      6. Jaydee*

        There’s a big difference between spending a couple days a week working at the family restaurant/answering the phone’s at dad’s office/cleaning houses with mom/etc. in exchange for living rent free in their house versus the unlicensed practice of the single most specialized area of law.

        1. Chinook*

          This 100%. I had no problem working as tech support/tech translator for my mom’s new store because it was a) a one of request, b)it took little time and effort and c) I knew I would learn something while doing it (so it also benefited me). But it caused a huge rift and resentment that I spilled to my dad when I ended up working the week before Christmas all day, every day while I was on vacation from my other job for free. Luckily he understood the line creep and negotiated (behind the back) for payment as a real employee, which made Christmas dinner a lot more enjoyable for everyone.

      7. LBK*

        Unless they’re horrible people she’s trying to get far away from, she should be helping them.

        Using your relationship to guilt your child into doing work they aren’t even qualified to do without paying them because you’re too cheap or lazy to get a real employee or learn how to do it yourself sounds pretty horrible to me. Yes, you owe your parents gratitude and assistance for raising you, but that’s not equivalent with eternal indentured servitude and compliance with all requests. Yes, you have to respect them, but they also have to respect you – they’re still just people, and treating them with such a blind level of “respect” that you feel obligated to do every single thing they ask is how emotionally abusive relationships form.

      8. Rusty Shackelford*

        It may not seem fair, but they’ve raised her presumably her whole life, so it seems petty and churlish to balk at helping them.

        Actually, no. They’re the ones who are being petty and churlish. They raised her because it was their responsibility. That doesn’t mean it’s her responsibility to make up their favors to other people, do lots of free work for them, and put herself in a sketchy legal situation.

    7. Alix*

      I totally expect payment from my family members for work I do on their behalf that is above and beyond normal household/family chores. So, like, I’d help with basic yardwork for free, cook for free, clean for free – but if they wanted me to renovate their kitchen, they’d have to pay up. Or, more to the point, I’m an artist, and I might knock out their Christmas cards for free for them, but if they wanted me to do commercial work for them, they need to pay me.

      To be fair, I’ve paid my siblings and parents for doing work for me.

      I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea that parents are owed a lot from their kids. Owed something, sure, but honestly, they’re owed the same kind of things I’d give to close friends or non-family housemates – respect, help with the running of the household, friendly assistance, pitching in during hectic times/emergencies, etc. I am also deeply uncomfortable with the idea of giving your labor cheaply to anyone – stranger, acquaintance, neighbor, friend, or family. You mention toxic relationships and being taken advantage of – it is so easy for favors to fall into those categories, especially the latter, and the more involved the favor, the more expensive it would be to do, the more you are, in fact, being taken advantage of.

      I don’t think it’s unfair to want to be compensated appropriately, even by family. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to not want to be deeply entangled in family projects, even if your family is not toxic.

      1. Aella*

        Yes, all of this.

        My mother and I were, at one point, discussing me helping her out with a book she’s writing. This would have involved me receiving minimum wage for helping her research, because she understands that my time is valuable, and is worth something. There is a distinct difference between helping out around the house in the ways that one expects a roommate to do, and doing work that you might otherwise have to pay a professional for.

        (And, though I understand OP has moved out now, if her parents expected renumeration for housing her in mural painting and EBay selling, they should have agreed that before moving in, not sprung it after.)

    8. anon...*

      I don’t like this answer — I read it with the assumption the OP still lived at home, but residing somewhere means you should help out with the maintenance of the house (cook, clean, pull weeds, etc. Heck, even help retile the kitchen if able, since it’s maintenance of the house). But this was about working for a family-owned business. Even if the task was “Can you open the store for us on Tuesday?” that falls into a different category. That’s not helping to maintain the living space, that’s maintaining a business. If I still lived with my parents, then the shower is that much dirtier from me having used it, so I should do my part to offset that, but nothing about that would relate to the family business.

      1. sstabeler*

        I agree- I will do REASONABLE tasks for my parents- particularly since I live with them rent-free- but I have a limit on both how much I am willing to do (specifically, sometimes my mother will keep adding things once I have finished whatever she wants me to do. It’s happened before that ALL of my free time was taken up doing work around the house. ( it particularly irritated me that my little sister wasn’t asked to do anything- I know she wasn’t because she used the time to try to wind me up while I was doing chores.)

        There’s also a more basic fact that your parents don’t get to impose a rent-in-kind arrangement- you can agree a rent-in-kind arrangement with your kid ( if it was agreed beforehand, even working for the business for free in exchange isn’t inherently unacceptable ( it depends on if the foregone rent would be less than the foregone wages) ) but you can’t turn ” you can live at home for free” into ” do this for me because I’m your mother/letting you stay at home” where the task asked is more appropriate for an actual employee.

        and DEFINITELY if you are functionally employed as a labourer (offering the LW’s services doing a task for free to family) it’s unacceptable. You gave birth to me. That does NOT make me an indentured servant or slave required to do anything you ask me to. (chores are a reasonable request- however, there’s a point where the amount of chores is unreasonable. ( to use an extreme example, in the Harry Potter books, it’s at least heavily implied Harry is given such a list of chores by the Dursleys he has no time to do anything else during the day. That’s far too much.)

    9. Evie*

      Most of my college friends worked a ton of hours during the summer and breaks so they didn’t need to get jobs during school and could focus on that.

      I think it is unreasonable to demand so much of your child they can’t get another job during break and then not pay them. This doesn’t sound like it is a few hours a week that should could do after work.

      She still needs money.

    10. BRR*

      I disagree with this. It can’t stop more complicated when a child is an adult but i don’t feel like i should be obligated to help my parents my whole life because they raised me. They are the ones who chose to have children and that comes with the responsibility of providing for them. I will help them out to some degree but if they didn’t have me so that I could do work for them. thats not a reason to have a child.

      For this specific letter it’s different though now that the lw has provided more details.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        I’ve always felt similar. They chose to have a child, and that comes with associated obligations.

        Of course I help them as needed because I love them, but I’m not an indentured servant.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        As Alison noted, this is a cultural difference. My husband comes from a large family that farms, and they all half-joke that there are so many of them because they needed farm hands to run the place. In the not so recent past, having help with a family business/farm WAS a reason to have children, and, for people who grew up in that culture, there is an expectation you’re going to help out. Both he and I grew up in families that ran their own businesses, and neither of us were paid to help out. It was what kept a roof over our families’ heads and put food on the table. Of course you were going to help. When my husband’s grandfather got older, his kids (12 in total) came up with a rotation to provide care and meals for him and let him stay in his own house. My father-in-law is a dairy farmer and runs greenhouses; my husband refuses to have anything to do with plants or home gardening. He can’t eat tomatoes or strawberries because he says he’s picked too many of them growing up.

        I do think that lending your kids out to other family members without their consent and expecting them to help out with get-rich-quick schemes at the expense of their time to devote to schooling is wrong. But, if your parents are supporting you financially or giving you a place to live (the latter of which I know is not the case for this particular letter-writer), particularly beyond the age of legal majority, I do think that there is an obligation to help them with reasonable requests. (To be clear, I do not think filing patents or many of the other examples provided by OP#1 are a reasonable requests.)

        I just don’t care for the idea that obligation within families flows only from parent to child. My mom did way more than the bare minimum of clothing and feeding me until I was 18, which, along with ensuring a child at least attends public school as a minor, are the only obligation parents have. She went way above and beyond that (as I think a lot of parents do with help with college, clothes/toys/books that are wants not needs, activities, etc.), and I do try to help her where I can, particularly if she asks.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Good one. I am an adult with a good relationship with my mother. Sometimes she asks me to spend a few minutes doing something related to my profession, which I am happy to do. Sometimes I ask her to spend a few minutes doing something related to *her* profession, and ditto. No big requests, just a reasonable back and forth.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          “My mom did way more than the bare minimum of clothing and feeding me until I was 18, which, along with ensuring a child at least attends public school as a minor, are the only obligation parents have”

          That may be the only legal obligation a parent has, but I can’t agree that those are the only moral obligations of a parent.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            And I’d posit that moral obligation flows both ways, in normal, nonabusive relationships.

        3. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I was also thinking along these same lines. While what OP’s parents are asking for seems beyond the normal ask (especially since OP has explained that she isn’t actually qualified to do it), I also initially wondered if OP’s parents were either currently or recently paid for her college education and were asking for OP to help with the family business during her summer break. For instance, my father in law runs a contracting business, and my husband and I manage rental properties – when my brother in law was on summer break from college, or after he graduated, we asked him to help out with some of the manual labor work – his parents in lieu of charging him rent or for the fact that their grocery budget doubled when he was living with them, and we paid him so he could have some fun money or paid back in favors like helping him fix his car.

          But now that OP has listed all the parent’s get-rich-quick schemes – OP, it sounds like your mother has come up with a lot of these, so if you are still financially dependent on her, could you just humor her by telling her you are “working on it” or “looking into it” and then at the end of the summer if she hasn’t moved on to her next idea give her the name of an actual patent attorney and tell her to follow up there? I wonder if OP’s mother thinks she is “helping set up OP for success” by giving her this fabulous idea that she can patent and sell on Etsy and take to Shark Tank , etc – when OP knows that this is a way more complicated idea than her mother realizes and just wants to find a regular day job. I’d treat this more like how I do when my father tries to offer me “helpful” advice on my career or resume that is totally not valid – “gee thanks Dad, I’ll think about that” and then change the subject.

    11. Rafe*

      My mom had an idea for a book. She wanted me to then research and write it, research and solicit an agent, etc. As though the hard part is having the idea rather than putting butt in chair and creating it.

    12. YetAnotherFed*

      Totally just you. There’s a big difference between helping out where you are able and competent to do so and helping out where you are not qualified to do so and you personally know you are not qualified to do so. I’m an attorney and I would never accept a request from my parents to try to practice law outside my specialty/licensing state as it would be malpractice for me to try. Fortunately, my dad was also an attorney so he’d never ask me to do such a thing.

      I would also not be acting as nurse to my parents when I know that I’m not professionally or personality-wise competent to do so — I would go out and find someone who is competent to do so so that I don’t injure my parents because I don’t know what to do. Love doesn’t make up for lack of knowledge or qualifications, and the loving thing to do is to admit “I can’t do this; let me find somebody who can do this.”

      1. Allie*

        My sister and I are both attorneys and have turned down requests from family members (not our parents, they understand why we can’t help them) for legal advice. You don’t put your job and bar status at risk. Not to mention, often, the requests are in a totally different field than either of our normal fields.

        1. LawLady*

          I’ve had multiple cousins tell me “great, you’re a lawyer, now I can call you if I’m in jail!” No. No you cannot. I have no idea how to handle a DUI. I do financing/private equity/transactional stuff for big companies.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Are you sure they didn’t mean “You’ll have lots of money so you can bail me out”? ;-)

        2. Oryx*

          My dad is an attorney. He deals with contracts so when I have one of those that I need read over, I go to him. But anything else legal related, I’ll ask him for a reference but “lawyer” is not one size fits all.

        3. paul*

          is it considered rude to ask for referrals to attorneys, or at least leads?

          I’ve got a cousin who’s an attorney and while I’d never think to ask him for legal advice, I might ask him if he knew a decent firm or at least a place to really start looking.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Not rude at all, as long as you’re not asking at an inappropriate time. All the lawyers I know don’t mind giving referrals.

    13. Alton*

      I think this is extremely culture- and situation-dependent. Helping out with the family business while living at home rent-free might be a reasonable arrangement for some families, but it sounds like the OP was being taken advantage of (and, in any case, is no longer living at home). There’s a difference between wanting reasonable help and compensation and seeing adult children as an opportunity for free labor or extra money.

      I live with my mom right now because the housing situation in my city isn’t great. I work full-time. I pay rent, help pay for groceries, pay my own bills, buy my own food, chip in during house tax season, and offer to help with household chores and maintainance whenever possible (I’d help out more, but my mom likes to do yard work on weekday mornings when I’m at work, and offers to help on the weekend usually aren’t accepted). When I was a student and lived at home, I wasn’t able to pitch in as much financially, but I still worked and did most of the above. I feel no obligation to perform free work beyond doing my share around the house.

    14. Kelly L.*

      OP #1 says she has moved out–it’s not clear to me whether she’s temporarily staying at home again, but in any case, this is expert work that is not in her skill set. I’ve stayed with my mom as an adult for a couple of stretches; if my mom needs surgery, should I operate on her personally? No, because I’m not a surgeon.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And we have a clarification in comments that no, she doesn’t live with them anymore anyway.

    15. Marketing Grad*

      I have a feeling there’s some very dysfunctional dynamics going on here with Zee which makes the compensation thing not as far fetched as it may seem. While other aspects of the mother/daughter relationship may be just fine, the mom seems to believe that Zee should be ready to support her every beck and call. My mother is similar- often asking me to go out of my way in great lengths to do something that will solely benefit her. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy helping out because my mom has done a lot for me, but what I am saying is that when there are dysfunctional relationships going on, boundaries become more important than ever. We do not always have a healthy relationship and it’s necessary for me to express my terms of compensation so I’m not taken advantage of as an adult the same way as I was as a child. Sometimes you need to stick up for yourself. I have friends who would probably wouldn’t expect compensation either, but then again, they have very healthy happy relationships. This isn’t about the money or the time. It’s about the boundaries and what feels appropriate.

      Zee, you keep those boundaries and don’t do the work if you’re not comfortable with it. Those who have never experienced a tough mother daughter relationship will try to tell you “but it’s your family!!!” but they have no idea the careful decisions you need to make to maintain order. Don’t do the work. Express how badly you would like to help, but that you are unable to commit and produce what she is wishing for. If you’re interested, say you’d be willing to discuss some designs over dinner to provide input or something casual and similar. Otherwise keep doing you. You don’t necessarily “owe” your mother this job simply because she’s your mother. It’s a tough lesson to learn. I’m still working on it. But you know accepting this job will make you unhappy.

      1. Jadelyn*

        And honestly, in a healthy parent-child relationship, the parent – if they’re asking something beyond the ordinary “can you pick up XYZ for me at the store while you’re there?” type of thing – will value their child’s time and skills enough to *offer* to pay if what they’re asking is something of that nature.

        I make jewelry – it’s a hobby mostly, but I do sell pieces from time to time – and unless it’s for a birthday, Mother’s Day, or Xmas, if my mom asks me to make her something specific, she *insists* on paying me for my time, or at the very least on buying the materials for me to use, because she respects that my making her something will involve hours of labor and anywhere from $10-50+ of materials depending on the piece. When I asked my aunt to crochet me a shawl for my office (my desk is right under an air vent, so it gets freezing sometimes), I insisted on paying her for her time. That’s part of a healthy relationship: you value the person enough to want them to be appropriately compensated for when they go out of their way to help you with something, rather than wanting to take advantage and get whatever you can for free.

        1. Chinook*

          My grandmother was the same way – she would insist on paying us for things like driving her (she never learned) or anything beyond minor housekeeping chores. We would always try and refuse because she was Memere and we wanted to do these things.

          Then one day , told us about how, when she was an army wife, she would sew my grandfather’s ribbons on his uniforms. Then he started volunteering he skills at sewing to the single guys. She quietly resented it and a one day blew up at him and explained that such fiddly work took time to effort that kept her from the housework. She then insisted on being paid for the work and the single guy willingly did.

          And that is how I learned to willingly take her money and value my time and effort. (She also insisted on loaning money to family with contracts which included repayment plans. She may have been a northern hick, but she she no fool.)

          1. EmmaLou*

            My mother used to say, “If you won’t let me pay for your gas, then I won’t feel comfortable asking you to run my errands for me.” We gave up trying to convince her that one, we’d be going to most of the same places, two, we’d do it anyway and liked to, and, three, for goodness’ sakes, you’re my mom! It helped her feel more independent and we could often turn the money back into something for her again. We all pitched in for stuff around the house, downed trees, branches, mowing the lawns, and they’d give us a great dinner. They never demanded free labor and we’d have given it but had it been demanded… I don’t know.

          2. Oryx*

            My grandma was the same way with loaning money! When I got into grad school she said “My interest rates are better than the banks.” If I hadn’t gotten an assistantship that paid for my education, I probably would have taken her up on that.

            1. the gold digger*

              My mom lent me money to buy a car and charged me the T-bill rate. I am always kind of surprised when I hear parents talking about buying cars for their children. The idea that my parents would have given me the cash for something 1. I didn’t need in college because I have legs or 2. I could pay for myself because I was out of college and had a job is inconceivable.

    16. Temperance*

      My parents were difficult and abusive, and I was raised to put them first. So yeah, not just you. I don’t do that, though, because I put me first now.

    17. calonkat*

      I was also raised with the assumption that you assist family members whenever needed. However this was coupled with the assumption that family members would be self sustaining and not NEED help except in exceptional circumstances. And when I’ve contracted specific services from family members (can you build this for me…), as opposed to using resources (can I use your tools to build…), I’ve asked what the cost would be, so they can include their time if they so choose.
      The speech that Sidney Poitier (as Dr Prentice) makes to his character’s father in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is one you might consider in the parent/child relationship. “I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you’re supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another.”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        All due respect to the esteemed Mr. Poitier and his character, I disagree. I owe my kids love, care, food, making sure they get a K-12 education, and shelter. All the other things I do for them are gravy, and I do them out of that love and wanting them to have opportunities that I did not. I expect them to contribute to the family and the household and have from a young age. I do think that if we buy the food and fix the dinner, asking them to clear the table, do the dishes, or unload the dishwasher is perfectly reasonable.

        The issue with this letter is where the line is drawn — OP#1’s parents are out of the “reasonable request” ballpark by a long shot.

        1. Alix*

          I tend to think that the line for “reasonable request” is – if I took away the family part of this, if this were something with a friend or roommate instead, is the request still reasonable? And I don’t say that because I don’t value familial bonds, but because it is really easy to step way past the reasonable line when dealing with family precisely because we value them. But if you wouldn’t do something for your best friend or your partner, maybe you really shouldn’t do it for your parents, either.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      AGirlCalledFriday, just for discussion purposes, what would you feel comfortable with here?
      Specifically, mom is asking for OP to:
      Design the items
      Do the patent research
      Get the patent
      Build the prototype
      Looking this list where would you jump in and help? How many hours per week would you be willing to do?
      I am being serious, no snark here. How would you protect yourself from legal liability as you worked along?

      BTW, OP is not living with her parents- so she must work a paying job and/or go to school.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        Sorry – I was involved in a cross country move and I don’t think I actually stated my opinion correctly. The OP began by stating that she was wanting to get paid for doing things for her parents that went beyond just regular chores. She never stated what types of things these were, beyond things like “painting a mural”, which I could see doing out of the kindness of your heart while you lived at home. This was before the OP gave more info about being lent out to other family members and being involved in get rich quick schemes, which is way over the line. I did make a distinction between that and the second part, which was the request to help out with mom’s new business. Maybe she can’t design the product, but help point mom in the right direction in hiring a designer. Maybe she could help research the patent process and help mom through it. That’s the sort of thing I would think could be done. Sorry I wasn’t more clear before!

    19. fishy*

      Honestly, I think that if either of my parents were to ask me to effectively be their employee for a business venture, they would be the first to suggest that I get paid for my work! In fact, I know that’s the case because my dad did offer to pay me to help him with a business scheme of his (though I declined because I found the particular venture too risky).

    20. Jadelyn*

      “it’s a matter of course that a person should go out of their way to assist parents who have worked your whole life to assist you.”

      Except that the parents are the ones who made the choice to have a kid, and support that kid. That’s their choice, and I fail to see why adult children should feel bound to unofficial servitude in “exchange” for a decision they had no say in.

  5. AcademiaNut*

    I’m kind of curious about the kind of item that can be designed during summer break, but that will be eligible for multiple patents.

    I don’t think I’d touch a job like this with a ten foot pole, even for pay – it sounds poorly defined, a ton of work, and something that’s quite possibly impossible to do, either at all, or in the time frame given. And my understanding is that patent applications can get pretty expensive.

    I’d be inclined to say something like “Once you have a prototype, I can help you research the patent options” which sounds like an offer to help, but requires the other person to do some reasonable work before hand.

    I do agree with AAM, though, that if you are living with your parents as an adult, with free room and board, then they can reasonably expect you to do more than basic chores in return. There are limits of reasonableness, of course, and favours that cost a lot of money can be one of them, but a demand for pay for services could easily be countered with a bill for market price rent for room and board, or a move-out date.

    1. Zee*

      Oh, I don’t live with them anymore, which is why they’re asking for something this big. Apparently, I now have the room and time for all of this.

        1. LQ*

          Agreed. Thank you for coming to the comments and responding. It is greatly appreciated. And hopefully, is helping to make the advice more useful for you. (Like the thing about not doing it because practicing law without a license which is fascinating to me too.)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        From your other postings, it sounds like they did cross well into unreasonable – I’d consider reasonable requests to be things like pet sitting or watching younger siblings, giving rides, helping with spring cleaning or gardening, helping your mom set up an eBay shop, rather than being rented out to other relatives for 100s of hours of work.

      2. SophieChotek*

        AAM wrote “I do think that when you’re living in your parents’ house, you should try to be as accommodating as possible to requests for help, even if it’s the sort of thing that you described (i.e., beyond normal chores). […] But it’s not reasonable for them to expect that you’ll do professional-type work for them if it would come at the expense of your own job or school.

        This. I do (to some degree, though I know not everyone does here) if one lives with one’s parents…but since the OP Zee does not…that is entirely different.

        Plus these “get rich quick schemes” seem decidedly…odd…

        As AcademiaNut wrote…some things (even if not living at home) might be reasonable…but “renting ot” to other relatives, filing patents, creating the stuff…this all sounds like too much to be asked.

        I’ve told my mother I will set up her eBay shop/list things on eBay or Craigslist for her, but she has to take the picture and write the descriptions, do her own research on prices, tell me the shipping…all I will do is put it in the computer…suddenly she never can get around to it anymore (when she has to do it)–I think then she sees how much work it really is!

        1. Three Thousand*

          My concern is if she did agree to help with this project it would be quickly forgotten and replaced with the next get-rich-quick scheme, and all her time would be wasted. She’d probably be expected to help for free with the next thing too.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        You see, I don’t see this as a big ask in the sense that your Mom thinks you have all kinds of room and time for this… I see this as a way to attempt to reestablish control over you. You got out, well done! Your mother should really be clued into the fact that the days of indentured servitude are over. This is a big project that would require you to spend lots of time with Mom and money on it and what happens if you can no longer afford rent? Of course Mommy Dearest will be right there! She’ll be happy to take you back, because then you’ll be under her roof again and subject to more of her laws and controls.

        Zee, you need to get a part time job — or at least pretend you’ve got one. Get Call Display or give your Mom a special ring-tone. Maybe get used to turning your phone off so that everything just goes straight to voice mail. Yes, she will *hate* that, especially if she’s trained you to always pick up when she answers immediately, but “I’m sorry Mom, my job doesn’t let me carry/use my phone when I’m on shift.” Pick your times for when you call her back, tell her that you can only speak briefly because you are on your way to work/going out to meet a friend/have an appointment. Something like “I need to get groceries” she isn’t going to respond to because she’s more important than groceries! Groceries can wait!

        Seriously, get busy about looking (or actually being) busy.

        And for the next time there’s an important present-giving event revolving around your Mother (birthday, Mother’s Day, whatever), buy her a copy of something like this:

        and a framed image of that Thomas Edison quote “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

        As for your father, he’s doing that “you know what she’s like”/”just humour her and let her have her way” thing. So long as he’s not being inconvenienced, he has zero problem with you stepping into that breach. Happy wife, happy life and if someone else is doing what’s required to make her happy, so much the better for him.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I agree I can smell some control issues going on here. I hope not. I hope that mom just plain does not realize how much she is asking. I guess the clincher for me is how she reacts to NO.

          Upthread I mentioned the horse ranch that my father bid on. After I said my firm NO, that was the end of the topic. I did offer up the idea of finding a place with a FIL apartment, so he could stay with us from time to time. He immediately got interested in that idea. While we were firm with each other there was also an expression of on-going interest in each other’s lives. “I will do X with you but I will not do Y with you.” I think that was the important part, being inclusive of each other. “Yes, you are an active part of my life and you do factor into my future plans.”

  6. Jack the Treacle Eater*

    #5, it’s maybe not relevant but from a UK perspective at least, 35 hours doesn’t sound like a part time job – the range of full time hours is typically from under 35 to 40, avergaing around 37.5. I’d have expected part time to be 16 – 20 hours.

    1. LSCO*

      True.. but even in the UK if I started a job which promised 35 hours/week and I was then scheduled for 45 hours, I@d still be having the conversation.

      It’s also worth remembering that in the states, there’s a whole load of stuff about part-time workers not being eligible for health insurance & other benefits, unlike full-time workers, so the distinction is valid given other information in the letter. (Although interestingly, Wikipedia tells me that in the US part-time work is defined as between 1-34 hours per week, so even by this definition the OP would be classed as full-time at 35 hours/week.)

      1. TK*

        Under the new healthcare legislation, US employers with over 50 employees must offer health insurance to full time employees or pay a tax penalty. But “full time” is defined as 30 hours a week in the law, and if the OP’s employer doesn’t have HR or offer benefits, it’s pretty unlikely they have over 50 employees, so none of this is relevant at all.

        I don’t know of any other US laws about full time/part time that relate to benefits, as there’s no legal obligation for US employers to provide any benefits at all.

    2. Rafe*

      The answer is clickbait and I’m tired of it. 35 hours is generally the start of full-time work according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics and even less — 30 hours — under new suggested guidelines under Obamacare guidelines.

      1. Anon Moose*

        I don’t understand…. Clickbait is usually referred to as a headline on a news piece that over-inflates the nature of the piece within in order to make you click in order to get ad revenue.
        This is none of those things. The headline doesn’t refer to question #5. This isn’t a website that is promoted externally much, and if you’re reading down to question #5 and commenting, Allison has already gotten revenue from ads from you. Its also a tad bit disrespectful to either imply that the OP wrote it only for your reaction to an “obvious” question (instead of giving the OP the benefit of the doubt that maybe they weren’t doing that or maybe they were refering to “part time” in a not totally legalistic way) or that AAM posts these only so that you will comment.
        If you’re tired of Allison answering letters like this, you should maybe stop reading and commenting on this blog?

          1. A Bug!*

            I’m hoping Rafe comes back to clarify, but in the meantime my impression is that Rafe is just using the term “clickbait” to indicate that your question summary is misleading and sensationalistic, because 35 hours per week is already widely considered to be a full-time schedule to begin with. So the question summary gave Rafe an initial picture of someone’s hours doubling or more, while the writer’s situation involves a much less drastic change.

            I had the same mistaken expectation going into that question, but I wouldn’t call it clickbait or misleading in any blameworthy sense. Journalistic sensationalism is something that gets me disproportionately riled up – if you like to watch TV in peace, never watch the news with me – so if Rafe’s sensitive to it too I sympathize.

    3. LQ*

      Yeah 35 hours is a full time job from a lot of perspectives. BOL/Unemployment/etc. But I think that it is still I was expecting X and Y happened. I think that it is just how people think about the work and so it is classified one way in our heads.

    4. LBK*

      The OP is only working 4 days a week, so while I agree that 35 hours sounds like a full-time amount of hours to me, it’s what I would consider a part-time number of days. I think the main point is also that she went from 35 to 45, so maybe “part-time” is a misnomer but the core of the issue is that she’s being scheduled for more work than she’s supposed to.

      1. LQ*

        Do you consider people who do 4 10’s to be part time?
        (This isn’t really relevant! but I’m kind of surprised that the number of days is important to you, I think of the nurses and fire fighters I work, though they all go by the .7/.5/.8/1 whatever to show how much they work, if they are working a 1 or heck if they are working .8 I always figure that is full time even if it is only 3 12s.)

        1. LBK*

          No, I’m just trying to offer an explanation for the semantic difference here. Really what I’m trying to get at is that people are unnecessarily honing in on the word “part-time,” which kind of feels like it’s meant to invalidate the OP’s concern. I’m not sure what the use of debating if the OP was ever actually part-time is when the main issue is that she’s being scheduled more hours than she agreed to.

          Particularly if at the time the arrangement was made, she and her manager were using the term “part-time” with a mutually agreed-on definition of that being 35 hours, then it’s not really our business to debate what that means in a general sense.

          1. LQ*

            That makes sense.

            I do think that the pt/ft thing isn’t the concern the 10 hours difference is the concern. If it was 5-15 or 10-20 or 40-50 all could be a concern.

      2. Michelle*

        LBK thank you for your comment above ending with “that’s how emotionally abusive relationships form.” I live with my parents and I’m facing some of these same issues. I definitely think there’s a distinction between taking out the garbage and doing research on patents (!). I recognize myself in the OP. Our parents call us “greedy” or whatever and then we second guess ourselves. Thanks for giving us some wording to pinpoint the issue and start to make changes. Preach!!

    5. Liana*

      Standard full-time work in the US is typically 40 hours per week, although the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t really take a stand on it, and leaves it to the employer’s discretion (which I think is ridiculous, tbh). At the hospital I work at, full-time starts at 32 hours per week, which is nice, and at the grocery store I work at part-time, full-time is considered 37.5 hours per week.

      1. LBK*

        Well, the FLSA doesn’t define the terms because there’s nothing in it that would require defining part-time versus full-time. In the OP’s case, it’s purely a colloquial difference, as her rights under the FLSA don’t change whether her employer defines her as part-time or full-time, only whether she’s exempt or non-exempt (which is not left to the employer’s discretion).

        It is defined in other laws where part-time vs full-time is used as a relevant classification, like the ACA (which defines it in order to say that full-time workers have to receive healthcare coverage).

    6. Rachael (OP5)*

      So I’m OP5, and I think I can give you more details to better understand my situation. When my boss and I agreed up 4 days/approx 35 hours, I agreed to pick up an extra day here or there, if needed, because that’s what anyone does. My days are also generally 9+ hours and involve me doing work off the clock which I’m being compensated for at later date. Like part of my closing routine requires me to drop off a bank deposit after I’ve clocked out but my time sheet is adjusted when payroll is done to account for the time I spend doing work related things off the clock.
      However, since I’ve written this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am in fact being taken advantage of with the schedule. I guess there’s this mentality that because I’m the new person, I should be getting the raw end of the deal and I should just deal with it.

      It seems blatantly obvious that I’m being screwed….at least to everyone other than my manager. As of yesterday, I found out, I only have two consecutive days off once this month (something no one else is dealing with) and that I still haven’t had a full weekend off and won’t have one any time soon (we’re supposed to be rotating weekends but one of my co-workers and I haven’t had a full weekend off since the beginning of May).

      My new question is, how do I address this with my boss without sounding ungrateful or that I’m being whiny?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        “Hey, Boss, Jane and I have noticed the weekend rotation schedule isn’t working – neither of us have had a full weekend off since May. How can we adjust this to make sure we’re getting the weekends we’re supposed to be getting?”

        “Grateful” is a weird term to use. No one’s giving you a gift. You’ve made a business arrangement, and it sounds like they’re not holding up their end of the agreement.

      2. Artemesia*

        Let me guess. You are a woman? How many men would put up with a 35 hour job that required them to work 45 hours a week and assume that insisting on honoring the agreement was ‘whiny’? If you don’t stand up for yourself, you will be abused in this workplace perpetually. You need to decide if you want a full time job. If you do, you need to sit down with the manager and say. ‘ I agreed to a 35 hour part time job for X$ but the need seems to be for full time work. If I am going to be scheduled routinely for full time work we need to adjust my salary to show that.’ If you don’t want to work more than 35 hours a week then you need to sit down and say ‘I agreed to a 35 hour a week part time job and it has seemed to morph into a full time position. I have other commitments in my off time and I need to know how we can assure that I am not scheduled for more than the 4 days a week we agreed on.’ when he pushes back with ‘well you said occasionally more was okay’ you need to point out that to you occasionally meant once every 3 or 4 months, not every week.

        If you don’t stand up for yourself, you will be their doormat just like the woman who allowed herself to be pushed into the receptionist role. Is the 35 hour a week job without benefits as ‘part time’? If so, you really need to deal with that by limiting hours or insisting on appropriate benefits.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Also, if it’s applicable, “since I’m working full-time now, we need to get me signed up for the same benefits other full-time employees get.”

    7. Rachael (OP5)*

      Also, to directly address the Part Time vs Full Time argument, there currently is a definition of full time, 40 hours per week, while there isn’t one for part time so it’s basically at the employer’s discretion. Because of this, in theory, as long as I’m getting paid properly, I can be scheduled for whatever the company feels like

      1. Stan*

        This is tangential to your question and I’m sure there are others who can speak to this with more authority, but if you’re in the U.S., full time is actually defined as an average of 30 hours for 120 days, at least where benefits are concerned.

        I work for a small business, or well, we thought we were a small business. When the definition of full time became 30 hours a week, we had several more employees qualify as full time.

      2. Artemesia*

        You negotiated 35 hours/4 day weeks. Whatever the boss feels like is how he interprets it. You can either assert yourself here and be unavailable those extra days, or you can be under his thumb. Do you get full time benefits? If not, you are totally being abused.

  7. uh*

    OP4 – I would absolutely think it was weird if I was the boss and you asked me to change your title but not give you a raise. Very likely I am just a weirdo but us weird ones do become managers . . . Are you sure you want to go this route?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Really? It’s not an uncommon thing at all. It’s more common in situations where the company can’t afford to give raises at the moment and so you’re saying “in lieu of that, how about this…” but it’s not generally thought of as a weird thing in general, in my experience.

      1. Dan*

        In every job I’ve ever had, it would be asinine to ask for a title bump and be fine without getting a raise. Nobody I work with would want the extra hassle without the extra money. And if you’re already doing that work? “Recognition” = more money, not a new title.

        I have a question, and I swear I’m not trying to start a shit storm: Do you have any idea if the people who are fine with a title bump instead of a raise tend to be women more than men? If so, then I really have to wonder if that attitude contributes to the so-called “gender pay gap.”

        1. JohnCar*

          I’m not trying to start a shit storm but your comment is asinine.
          Recognition means different things to different people.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hey, please avoid calling others here asinine! (I know Dan called a particular action asinine, but I ask people to avoid making it personal.) Thank you.

        2. Cristina in England*

          I wondered the same thing, Dan. I am a woman and I would probably devalue myself at some point for a title bump because “I am not in it for the money” either. On top of that I am an academic so these norms operate there too because I am expected to just feel privileged to do what I love without any expectation of a competitive salary. Now that I am in the UK that’s eroding a bit as academics are not expected to martyr themselves for their work like they are in the US, but my American upbringing is ingrained.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have worked in Academia and I have noted that men rarely devalue themselves for a title bump and women often do. People who allow themselves to be treated this way get treated this way.

        3. Susan C*

          It seems to me that there would be no ‘extra hassle’ involved – just a different label on the job OP is already doing, which can makes perfect sense, especially if I read this correctly and someone who did the same work before had indeed a different title. It’s pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but the matter of what you introduce yourself as in a business context, and what your job looks like to someone skim-reading your resume is not nothing. (I do consider it odd to treat that and a raise as mutual substitutes – both of these things you can either make a case for deserving, or not, imho)

          Also, just one thing – as someone who habitually takes a deep breath and braces for bullshit when the topic comes up, I’d still advise you against putting the term gender pay gap in scare-quotes. At least if you’re serious about not wanting to pick a fight. (I know it raised *my* hackles, and I happen to think you might be on to something)

        4. LBK*

          And if you’re already doing that work? “Recognition” = more money, not a new title.

          I dunno, if I’m doing the work of a manager, it is pretty important to me to have the title. I wouldn’t be content to just get paid a manager salary while still being called an associate or something. Although obviously the ideal state is to have both, but if I have to choose one or other, it’s a tossup depending on a variety of factors if I’d rather have the money or the title. And for the record I am a man.

        5. No Name Today*

          I am a woman and once asked for a title bump with no raise. I was working on a government contract and all salaries including raises had to be approved by the government client. We were told that any unusual salary increases would not be approved and I had recently gotten my 5% annual increase (that was written into the contract between my company and the gov’t). The company had recently instituted a policy of not paying staff on the government contracts at a rate higher than their bill rate (we were a cost plus contract which means that fringe/OH/G&A and fee were all billed separately from salaries which were billed at actual). In the past they had sometimes paid higher than the bill rate out of the various projects’ fees, but it was disproportionately benefiting a particular group of people and so they discontinued the practice. However, I was planning to leave the project in a year and I really wanted to show progress from Manager to Director to aid my job search. The gov’t client still had to approve the title change because I was Key Personnel but they were fine with the title change.

          I was also willing to cut the company a little slack since they had treated me quite well in the past when I had been on the corporate side – an unexpected mid-year bump of $5+ to even things out when they brought in someone else at the same level with the same quals but had a higher salary history (the company is all about government contracts and the type of contracts that they do require gov’t approval of the salaries billed and the gov’t approves based almost exclusively on salary history). 10% pay bump when I went from corporate pool to working on the contract. And a few other perks along the way.

        6. LawLady*

          I do think this depends on the level of title we’re talking about. It’s common in the venture capital industry to consider founder titles as one of the chips on the negotiating board. People will absolutely take less money (sometimes millions less) if the get to stay CEOs of their enterprises.

    2. Bluebell*

      When I was at a small nonprofit and had just entered fundraising, I knew the budget was tight, so asked for a title bump in lieu of a raise. In retrospect I might have done both, but it turned out fine.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I thought the OP explained her reasoning pretty well in the comment above. She’s already adequately paid, and she wants recognition of progressively better performance.

  8. uh*

    OP5 – I would ask the boss directly however be prepared to be told it will not change because of x circumstance they did not expect.

    1. Anon Moose*

      And then OP 5 can reasonably say that they should have informed them of these changes, and OP is no longer able to do the job with those requirements.

  9. Alix*

    OP 1 – I’m going to be blunt: you do not owe your parents a damned thing.

    This is, admittedly, something of a hot button for me. I hate the notion that you owe your parents/family anything just because they’re your blood relatives, especially when what they are asking for comes with actual costs – and it always does. If they’re decent people, respect them like you would other decent people. If you’re close to them, treat them the way you’d treat other people you are equally close to. But if they’re stomping over your boundaries, or demanding you do things for them that you don’t find reasonable (especially when money’s involved!) – no, you don’t owe it to them to do those things.

    This is how toxic relationships develop. One of the reasons family members get away with so much is that we’re taught to let them.

    You are still allowed to have boundaries. You are still entitled to your own time and money, and to use them as you see fit. You are still entitled to fair compensation for your labor, though of course you get to decide what you consider fair. None of that goes out the window just because they’re family.

    Let me ask this: if this was a friend asking, would you do it? If it was a significant other? If the answer is along the lines of “my friends wouldn’t ask for this from me” or “my sig. other would get dumped like a hot potato,” then stick to that boundary with your family, too.

    1. Marcela*

      I have to confess I sort of hate that idea too. Sometimes my mom would try to demand something under the argument that I owed her. I usually would respond that I never asked to be born. I am very grateful of everything my parents did for me and I always do what I can to help them. But they brought me to life because they wanted to, without my input (although I accept that’s something truly impossible to get). I was almost a perfect child, very obedient and doing most of the house chores for almost 20 years, suffering at the same time all kinds of restrictions over who I was allowed to be friends. I was not even allowed to have a boyfriend (My family says we are only allowed to have husbands… as if you could and should get one without the other).

      I do not owe my parents to be their accountant, caretaker, lawyer, clerk from several registry offices, chauffeur, translator and computational teacher, all things they have asked me to do at one time or the other. Partly because it’s not appropriate, I have a life and a family of my own, but also because I can put us in a mess, for I am not an expert in almost anything.

      1. blackcat*

        Right! Particularly as someone who knows I resulted from a wanted and planned pregnancy, I take the attitude of “You brought me into this world. That was your choice. Being reasonable parents is what you *should* do after having made that choice.”

        I do a lot to help out my parents. I love them. I will take care of them when they get old. But I don’t feel like I “owe” them for raising me. If they were assholes to me now, I wouldn’t be willing to take care of them when they’re old, again, because I don’t owe them anything.

        And long ago, when I was a teen, my dad did hire me to do a one-off large task (~2 weeks full time) at his business. His business had been bought and he needed to organize, scan, pack up and move all records around the end of December before the move in early January. Because of the timing with holidays, he couldn’t hire a temp. He didn’t think I *owed* him and should just give up my winter break. So he paid me. On previous occasions, he’d ask me to do 1-2 hour long tasks in the office (mostly of the sort where he’d pick me up from school, deposit me at his office, and say “There’s a filing back log. Go help So and So.”) I always thought that stuff was about being a team player for the family business. But doing what amounts to a full time job, even if only for a week or so, really deserves to be paid.

        1. JessaB*

          Exactly. If you’re doing a short one off job (or the after school kind where you actually learn a skill or two (filing is a skill and it’s a needed one, seriously,)) that’s one thing. But I would do as you did and draw a line at anything more than half a day once in awhile as being something that needed paying for.

          1. blackcat*

            I would like to give credit where credit is due: my dad drew that line for me. I was about 14, much too young to realize where reasonable lines are. But man, by that age, I was super competent at all sorts of filing. I’d been doing it since I was 9 or so (I had a naturally high level of attention to detail and tolerance for tedious tasks as a child).

            1. YaH*

              My dad “hired” me to be his secretary on Saturdays in my early teens, before I was legally able to get a job. I would do the filing and enter records in the computer, and he paid me well- half in cash right then and there at a very decent wage, and later I found out that he put the other half in a savings account for me for college.

        2. MK*

          I agree, but I don’t think it matters if the pregnancy was wanted and/or planned. Raising a child resulting from an unwanted pregnancy is still a choice the parent makes; and even in cultures where the free choice is compromised, it’s still not the child’s fault or responsibility to make ammends.

          1. Artemesia*

            An unexpected child is solely the responsibility of the people who made her. Virtually all unexpected children are the product of carelessness — it isn’t that hard to not get pregnant. If you do, you have made a choice (you and your partner).

            1. YaH*

              This veers uncomfortably close to pro-choice/anti-abortion argument territory… let’s just agree that a child is the responsibility of whomever the caregiver is, whether that’s biological or adoptive parents, extended family serving as custodial caregiver, majority-age siblings, foster parents, private or state children’s homes, etc.

            2. Hrovitnir*

              Haha, no. Modern contraceptives are great but even 99% isn’t that great when you really don’t want to get pregnant. I know more than one person who have got pregnant while using multiple forms of contraception. The fact doctors commonly block permanent sterilisation of women of childbearing age in particular and men to a lesser degree makes this argument even more bitter to me.

              That said, if you are raising a child absolutely it’s your responsibility to care for that child physically and emotionally, obviously.

            3. AnotherAnon*

              um, no, you’re very factually wrong about that. I know at least one person who was told by doctors a pregnancy was impossible, and those doctors were wrong. when I started birth control, my doctor told me that it would probably work, but if it didn’t, I’d know pretty soon. (I didn’t realise until later that she’d meant I would find out the hard way).

              condoms break. medications fail. pulling-out and abstinence fail a *lot*. nothing is 100% effective. sure, there are careless people, and people who listen to their pants over their head, but there are also a lot of pure accidents. oh, and rapes too. :(

          2. Marcela*

            You are absolutely right. It doesn’t matter. I was not planned, so my take is “you freely took a chain of steps that ended (or started) with me being born. You can’t pretend I was born and you didn’t have any choice to stop that”. Of course, this only works for my parents, for I can very well imagine situations where my statement is not right.

        3. Natalie*

          Yes. As a younger person I worked for both my dad, my mom, and my stepdad’s businesses (small business ownership is a trend in my family), and was paid every time. My mom even used to pay child me to stuff envelopes when she worked at an NFP, 5¢ per completed mailing.

      2. Artemesia*

        There are cultures where children are viewed as lifelong financial support; we raise you and you owe us your life. In the US, we pay it forward. The parent owes the child; the child owes his or her future child. And then there are immigrants who bring the ‘child as bank account culture with them.’ Then there are toxic families that eat their own.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          This is not only an immigrant idea. My husband and I were both raised in families that have lived in the US for quite some time, but family farms didn’t survive without everyone pitching in. Based on an anecdotal sample of people that I know/have discussed this with at work, many families that own small businesses and farms expect the kids to help, usually without pay. I think that having the option to pay your kids for this type of work is a bit of a luxury that some of our families didn’t have the financial resources for. However, most people I know either took a paid position with the family business as an adult or went to work full-time elsewhere and were no longer or minimally involved.

        2. Leslie knope*

          Yeah, in the culture I come from asking your parents to pay you to help them is laughable and living with your parents and pitching in without compensation is expected. Especially if you’re a woman. I always bristle when people act like American standards are typical, and also like it’s just that easy to refuse to help when doing that will often be more stress than it’s worth.

    2. Dan*

      I’m with you on this. Personally, I moved out of the house at 17, and paid for a BS and MS on my own. I really received no financial support whatsoever from my parents after I became an adult — not even a rent free roof over my head while I was in college.

      Do I feel like I “owe” them for being my parents? Oh hell no. What for? Sure, I’ve made some not-the-smartest financial choices (I went to an expensive school as an undergrad, and have lived in high COL cities my entire adult life). But you know what? I’m busy paying for *my* choices, and saving for *my* retirement and *my* house down payment.

      So, do I feel like I owe my parents? Um, nope.

      1. MK*

        I think that the distinction though: what did your parents did for you? No one asks to be born and, when people decide to have (or keep) a child, they sign on for being financially responsible for said child till whatever age the law prescribes; you don’t owe them for that.

        But it’s rarely as clear-cut as that. I would say that parents do have a moral responsibility to help their children get started in life (usually with education), to the degree that they are able to do so without jeopridising their own finances. If they are not able or willing to do that, they should be preparing their kids for the future beforehand. It’s cruel to raise a child in an upper-middle-class environment and at age 17 to tell them they are on their own; at the very least you should have informed them they can’t count on your support once they are of age and helped them make plans. On the other hand, if your parents can’t help you, they can’t help you; you ahould ask them to take on loans to send you to expensive schools. And children are morally responsible to help out their parents (assuming the relationship is loving) in their old age, but again to the degree that they are able to do so without jeopridising their own future. It’s equally contepmtible for a child to accept their parents generosity well into adulthood and then claim they owe their parents nothing, as it is for parents to demand their children serve them their whole lives for the priviledge of being born.

        I guess what I am trying to say is, there should be equity between what family members give and take; not in a “keeping score” kind of way, but in finding a balance so that no one is exploited.

    3. themmases*

      I agree. Assuming that binds of family are special and everyone must “owe” their family is how people end up scolding abuse survivers and making excuses for their abusers. The idea of wanting to personally profit from another person’s work for which you will never compensate them is grotesque. Where is these people’s loyalty to family?

      I know one person who was treated this way (expected to help out with dad’s paid jobs for free, while living at home) and all I can say is it happened in the context of other abuse. The fact that someone is living at home doesn’t make it OK — it is manipulative because it is a demand coming from someone who controls you’re living situation. And it is counterproductive since it prevents the victim from doing or finding paid work that would let them contribute more, unless the goal is to keep that person dependent. If that sounds far fetched to some people, then congratulations on not having any abuse in your immediate family! Cherish your good fortune, seriously.

      Every other person I know who offers that level of help to family is certainly paid. If they do it for free or a token payment a favor, the favor is somehow returned. That’s how good people treat each other.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        The fact that someone is living at home doesn’t make it OK — it is manipulative because it is a demand coming from someone who controls you’re living situation. And it is counterproductive since it prevents the victim from doing or finding paid work that would let them contribute more, unless the goal is to keep that person dependent.

        Yes! Especially the second sentence here. After graduating from college with no job on the horizon, I moved back in with my mom and lived rent/utilities free and she paid all the bills/loans I couldn’t defer. Even after I got a job, she did this so that I could save my money and move the hell out! Lol. She never would have tried to drag me into some get rich quick scheme and make me do all the work so she could take all the benefits – that would mean I would have been stuck living with her for life, and she wasn’t having that.

    4. boop*

      Not to mention that SO MANY parents just do the legal bare minimum for their children and then guilt trip them for it, and then “don’t know why” their kids don’t talk to them anymore.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have seen parents who were very good at taking but not so much on the giving.

      These are the parents that end up in hospital beds that can’t understand WHY they have to have meds or an IV or surgery. They fail to grasp that in the end they are responsible for their own lives. Life is “cruel” in the fact that we are each responsible for how our lives play out right up to our dying day. No one else is going to lay in that hospital bed for us and take our meds/IVs/surgeries for us. It’s an extreme example but the same thing can be shown with a parent who is not responsible about finances/safety issue/personal relationships.
      If OP’s parent wants a business then it is up to her to set up and run the business. It sounds like mom has enough connections to help her do it, she just does not want to pay people what they have rightfully earned.

  10. Sarkywoman*

    It always surprises me to read the responses to the family-related letters. It makes me wonder if I’m strange for having a helpful and close relationship with my family. But then I get to wondering if the commentariat here are generally more skewed towards a professional perspective, given the nature of the blog.

    I’m not saying OP should be helping her mother in ths circumstance, however, but that’s more because it sounds like a bad idea in general and she’s not qualified to give the assistance that’s required. That’s what I would tell my mum if she asked. But when it comes to other stuff like helping her with job hunting, chores, accompanying her to appointments… well, she’s my mum. I tell her if I really don’t have the time but she’s sacrificed enough for me that I can’t say she’s not worth my time without financial compensation.

    I recognise though, that I don’t speak for everyone’s family experiences. Lots of people have reasons for not wanting to assist their family without receiving some sort of benefit. I just wanted to comment on how interesting it is that on other forums you would get an outpouring of “YOU SHOULD LIVE AND DIE FOR YOUR PARENTS!” whereas on AAM it tends more towards, “I wouldn’t do that either without benefit.”

    I may have rambled too though XD

    1. Aella*

      There’s a difference between volunteering to help a parent, and being expected to drop everything and help them. It sounds like OP’s family have gone the ‘I expect you to drop everything’ route beyond what is reasonable.

      1. Sarkywoman*

        I guess my point is that ‘reasonable’ is quite subjective and I’m reminded of that in the comments whenever a family-related letter is submitted.

      2. Jayn*

        This. I think it’s okay for parents to ask for favors, even unreasonable ones, and okay for children to do those favors, but “no” (or “yes if”) needs to be an acceptable answer, especially if there’s more than a minor inconvenience to the child. In this case, the “no” has been given and now the mother has to look for another way to handle HER responsibility, not badger her child for something they are unwilling (and unable) to do for her. She’s the one who wants this done, it’s on her to make sure it happens.

        1. Sarkywoman*

          I just can’t imagine asking my mother for a wage. Either I have the time to help her or I don’t. But I understand that isn’t the universal perspective and I suppose I’m taking the conversation off on a personal and subjective tangent. Sorry Alison!

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            Honestly I’ll guess it’s because Zee’s situation isn’t like what you’re describing above. It’s not going with her to appointments or helping out with household projects. That’s all pretty reasonable to ask in a healthy relationship.
            Zee’s mother is asking her to do ALL the legwork with starting a business, even things she’s legally, at best, discouraged from doing if it’s not outright illegal with no compensation now or later. And this isn’t the first time either. She’s been hired out to friends and family members who were under the impression the money was going to Zee and all sorts of other work.
            My FIL is a business owner and he tries to take advantage of my husband all. The. Time. When he was 13 or so, of course he did stuff for free because the work he was asked to do was fun, super low level, and honestly is done for free by people trying to get into the business anyway (illegally, but that’s an industry wide problem.) But now that he’s 30, live in a different region of the state, has a full time job and responsibilities aside, my husband is much less willing to work 20 or so hours in a week without any compensation at all (especially when he’s also providing equipment and he knows his dad is getting paid several hundred to several thousand for the work.) His dad is surprised every time he asks about money knowing full well how much the gig is worth since HE is getting paid for it. Husband will except less than a person who does this work as their main job, and will do the occassional thing for free if the gig itself piques his interest and doesn’t take any significant time away from his responsibilities, but that’s becoming increasingly rare.
            Coming back around to the point I wanted to make: people with healthy relationships with their parents have a hard time understanding those who don’t. They wouldn’t refuse doing things their parents ask because frankly their parents ask reasonable things from them. What Zee’s parents ask is well beyond the realm of reasonable. This isn’t doing a bit of light filing or helping clean up the yard after a major storm. She’s being asked to do legal work with no training and no pay and this isn’t the first time they’ve taken advantage of her naivete and goodwill (see above: doing work for family members that they believed would benefit Zee but the parents withheld the income. This is actual abuse btw.)

            1. Sarkywoman*

              I would certainly help my mother found a business if I could.

              I didn’t notice that her family withheld pay for services rendered to others though, that’s awful. I guess that does nudge the situation out of ‘pushy parent’ territory and straight into dysfunctional and as you say, abusive.

              (But as I mentioned before, I don’t speak for everyone’s family experiences. Lots of people have reasons for not wanting to assist their family without receiving some sort of benefit. I understand and empathise with people who don’t have healthy family relationships. I just find it interesting that the comments here seem to skew towards people who have faced similar struggles.)

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Bingo. There’s a difference between helping out here and there and giving up your life so you parent can have a cash flow.

                  Washing dishes or helping with a job search very seldom comes with legal complications. Additionally it can be done during no work hours, it is possible to still maintain a job of your own.

                  Annnnd we are not talking about a dying parent who has no one to help spoon feed them. We are talking about a parent who is a competent, fully-functioning adult.

                2. Athena C*

                  Noooooooope. Speaking as someone who is in the same situation as Sarkywoman, where I would drop almost everything for my mum. But my mum is a reasonable human being, and would never *ask* it of me, and I think that’s the important distinction. Zee’s mum is not being reasonable. Zee’s mum is being a user, and Zee doesn’t owe her a damn thing.

                3. Sarkywoman*

                  I mean, I’m not saying Zee should. As I mentioned before, this seems to be an odd request. I just can’t imagine offering to do something for financial reimbursement for a family member. I would do it for free if I could. If I couldn’t then, end of conversation really. I don’t think my opinion on Zee’s best course of action differs at all from what you have said in response to the letter. I was commenting on what I perceived as a trend on this blog towards a more professional approach to family arrangements. I thought it was interesting as my family relationships differ drastically from what I read occasionally here. I didn’t mean to start an argument or imply anything about anyone’s familial relationships and I’m quite embarrassed about how this thread has gone so I’ll just slink away from the blog now. Sorry.

              1. Christopher Tracy*

                Lots of people have reasons for not wanting to assist their family without receiving some sort of benefit. I understand and empathise with people who don’t have healthy family relationships.

                I know many people who have great familial relationships who still wouldn’t work for their family members for free. They have bills to pay and if all their time is spent doing unpaid favors for others, well, they’ll be moving in with that family because their rent and/or mortgage won’t get paid.

            2. themmases*

              This, exactly. I would absolutely do free work for my parents, because they would never exploit me… either something would be willing that they needed the help, or the work would be favor sized that would be reasonable to do for free. From my partner’s abusive family? I’d accept a wage to make Sunday dinner. Doing free work for an exploitative family member is so much more than just the work; it comes with unreasonable expectations, criticism, and the emotional effort of being around someone who makes you feel awful.

              And by the way, I wouldn’t have to ask my non abusive family for a wage because if they asked me to do professional work, they would bring it up themselves. That’s how “not asking for free work” works. It’s just polite on the part of the person who needs the work done. Having to be the one to bring up how you will be paid is awkward whether it’s family or not, as many questions on this site demonstrate.

              1. themmases*

                Sorry, that should say “something would be WRONG that they needed the help…”

          2. LQ*

            I’m with you on not asking my mom for a wage. But for me it is more I would feel bad to charge what my time is worth and it would drastically change the relationship between us. But I am trying to get better at saying “No” when it is something I can’t do (sometimes time, but sometimes it is something else, I don’t have the emotional capacity, whatever, because if I really wanted to I could always find a way to find the time right? If I just moved things around enough/stopped sleeping/stopped working/whatever). Sometimes there just isn’t the capacity to do it for whatever reason and then I say no. But I do think that the dynamic change would be so radically shifted if I charged that I wouldn’t do it.

            But not everyone has that kind of situation, some people are much more comfortable asking for pay (or aren’t charging enough for their time –charge what you are worth!!!) and so that is an easier situation to say I’ll do it if you pay, rather than I just can’t. For some people this is the line to draw or the compromise to make. For me it is a simple “No”. For them it is a $ on their time. Both are reasonable solutions, just different.

      3. Always Anon*

        Exactly. I have one parent who informs me of their expectations. This parent will need to move in with me, this parent needs me to take of work to take them some place, etc. It’s the number one reason why I have limited contact with that parent. And the moment I have a normal conversation with that parent, they think the door is open again for their demands.

        I have another parent, who rarely asks for anything, but when that parent does I always try and do everything I can to accommodate them. This parent isn’t after anything. Sometimes they need help, but they never demand it or expect it.

        And there is a huge difference. For Zee, I think nipping these kinds of requests in the bud is best at this point. It’s best to start boundaries now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I saw the same thing with my own life. Set boundaries and keep those boundaries. Because they never, ever stop asking. And you can kind of tell that OP’s mom will be one of the people who never stops asking. It’s because she wildly underestimates the amount of work she is asking OP to do. It is almost as if she has no understanding of what is involved. And these are the hardest people to help because they have very little respect for any work that is done.

    2. Temperance*

      That’s why I love AAM. I have issues with my extended family and my parents, and I’m so done feeling like a freak because I’m not the dutiful daughter that they raised me to be.

      1. Sarkywoman*

        I hope my comment didn’t make you feel that way! You’re certainly not a freak, I know many families aren’t worthy of their daughters (or sons/sisters/brothers/mothers/fathers/etc)

        1. Temperance*

          Oh you absolutely did not! I apologize if you felt any guilt etc. I’m happy to be able to be open now.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Oh, you are not alone. Aside from a lot of what Captain Awkward has on her site, there’s also reddit/raisedbynarcissists.

        I wish I had had the Internet when I was a kid, it would have saved me so many years of feeling like a freak/bad/guilty/the only one who had issues with her family of origin, and given me hope that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

        1. TempestuousTeapot*

          Here here! LW, If (and this is a really big IF) you decide to do any of this,do it at your pace,in the bits of time (very small) that you set aside. Use it as an example of how you really are busy with your own obligations of self, school, and work. After all, others may demand but you are reasonable and do know better. Also,if you do get to doing it and actually to petitioning a patent, put your name on it. Unless your mum has actual research, designs, sketches, written descriptions (including what problem this solves, how it does so, why it works and is needed- an actual market survey) for this item/protocol/process, then it is YOUR work. You could always allow her use of it for a fee on a set renewing schedule.

          We can’t stop narcissist parents from being overbearing, but we can insist on insulating ourselves. I do get family is family, respect, cultural norms of family as pack against the world, etc. But nothing, absolutely nothing, has the right to tear down one’s self, or one’s future.

        2. anonny*

          I have a feeling RBN would be a great resource to Zee. There are many similar stories of being asked to make heroic efforts to start or continue family businesses for free at the expense of one’s own job, schooling, health, etc. there.

      1. Sarkywoman*

        Huh? I am white and I love my mad family to bits. There’s no need to make racial generalisations, is there?

      2. Florida*

        This has nothing to do with white people (or any other race of people). This is about personalities and family dynamics that exist across races.

      3. Oryx*

        Oh FFS

        This is neither the time nor the place to have this conversation and given the current climate, at least in the US, how DARE you try and bring that here.

      4. Kelly L.*

        I can love my family till the cows come home, but it doesn’t make me a patent lawyer.

      5. CeeCee*

        Are you reading the same AAM page as me? I just see text on a background. Nothing indicative of anyone’s race.

        This was incredibly uncalled for. (Even more so because of the state of affairs in the US today.)

      6. Liana*

        That’s wildly inappropriate and patently untrue. Nothing in this entire letter had anything to do with race, and your comment is mean-spirited and unhelpful. I’m white and I love my family (although I admittedly have a complicated relationship with my dad). Don’t fucking use the OP’s stressful, abusive situation as an opportunity to take cheap shots against all white people.

      7. Panda Bandit*

        Living under a bridge as you do, you clearly have no idea how real people behave. Skin color has nothing to do with this.

      8. YetAnotherFed*

        And why are you assuming that only white people can invent stuff? Which is absolutely and totally wrong in all respects!

    3. Natalie*

      I don’t think your at all unusual, it’s just that people with close, healthy relationships with their family don’t have any reason to write in or necessarily have helpful advice for someone who has a toxic relative, so you’re going to see letters and comments skew heavily from people with messed up families.

      1. Sarkywoman*

        I meant more the comments seem to trend against family connections that demand anything, which isn’t really a concept I’m familiar with. But of course it would follow that the people commenting to express sympathy and empathy with a difficult family situation are more likely to be those who have struggled with family situations themselves.

        1. Myrin*

          I can only echo VintageLydia from above in that I don’t see a “trend against family connections that demand anything” in the comments at all! The “anything” is key here, I believe. As far as I can see, no single comment says “Don’t ever do anything at all for anyone in your family without demanding pay!”. In fact, most comments make a clear distinction between small tasks/tasks that you’d do anyway if you lived with someone, and huge things that demand and extraordinary amount of time/money/being specialised.

        2. AFT123*

          This is an interesting sentiment. Maybe I can share my logic behind this attitude – I grew up borderline poor. Welfare, food stamps, free lunch, etc. I was not deprived and never “felt” poor – in fact I didn’t even really realize it until I was an adult. My parents were great. However, when I was younger, as you can imagine, we (the kids) had to help out a ton around the house and if we wanted spending cash, we had to earn it for ourselves. I learned to be very independent, not just financially, but also in most all endeavors. As an adult, I feel that if you can’t handle the things you choose to take on, it is your responsibility to figure things out – not rely on others to fill the gaps for you. Example – if you’re my mother, and you buy a big house and plant a big garden, it is your responsibility to maintain the house and garden without relying on your kids to help you. Either you do it yourself, or you hire someone to do it. If neither option is feasible, then you are out of luck and probably shouldn’t have purchased that house or planted that garden.

          In an emergency situation (example: basement flooded after storm, someone gets hurt, etc), my tune changes and I will bend over backward to help. However in the daily scheme of things, personal responsibility, independence, and self-awareness are probably my top values in life. That is why I would hesitate to do favors for relatives when they choose to take on projects they are unable to do themselves or hire people to do.

          1. AFT123*

            I would make the assumption that many people in professional, successful positions (or people seeking these positions) likely got there on their own accord and thus, have similar values. I may be off base, but that would be my guess as to why the commentariat here in particular would have similar perspectives overall. We are a group of generally successful professional people, or people working hard to achieve professional success, and I’d tend to guess that many of us are pretty independent and self-starting people and value those traits in others.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I think you are on to something here AFT 123, this is probably a group of people here who are well aware of their own limits. They do not take on large projects and become a burden to others. And we see this on Fridays and Sundays where people say, “I want to do X. How do I do this for myself?” We rely on ourselves first and foremost, not other people. I think it’s something we have in common here.

              OP’s mom has too much reliance on OP for her new biz. I don’t see an exit plan for OP to step out and mom to take over the reins. And I don’t see what part of the workload mom is doing.

        3. Dynamic Beige*

          But Sarky, this isn’t about the occasional requests or needs of reasonable people, this is about the unwillingness of unreasonable people to see that other people have needs and are fully autonomous from them.

          Just to challenge yourself, think of a list of a bunch of outrageous things that you would say no to, such as, if you parent(s) lost all their money gambling and they demanded you sell your house and move in with them so that you could pay off their debts, would you do it? I bet you’ll have a difficult time with coming up with stuff because it sounds like your parents are the decent sort who would never impose upon you (or others) to an unacceptable degree.

          This is a post from a few years ago. The only differences between Zee’s situation and this poster’s is that the business isn’t started, Zee isn’t working in it and the OP of that situation is getting a wage (albeit not as much as an employee should be making for doing the jobs of 4 people).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. It’s funny/odd you should mention the gambling story. My first thought was, “Child, I have bought this huge house that needs remodeling. So I want you to gut and redo every room. I want the wiring and plumbing done, plus the heating. I want everything re-sheet rocked. You have time. You’re not doing anything this summer. And you ARE my kid so you owe me. Oh, what do you mean it will cost money for materials?”

          2. LBK*

            Yes! I’ve been thinking about that letter while reading all the comments on this one. OP needs to GTFO before she’s in that situation (and what’s happening now is exactly how it starts).

        4. Ultraviolet*

          If I understand correctly, you’re not talking so much about the comments that are specifically addressing Zee’s situation, but the ones saying that in general people owe their parents nothing, right?

          I think that if you are in (or grew up in) a family situation where your parents demanded a clearly unreasonable amount from you or didn’t respect boundaries, then accepting that you don’t owe them can be a really key moment for you. It’s also not really the mainstream view from what I can tell–it’s more common to believe that you owe your parents at least a little bit. So there’s a certain solidarity in reinforcing other people who are saying you don’t owe your parents, as well as a desire to help people who might benefit from hearing it.

    4. Naomi*

      Different online forums will vary. If OP sent this letter to Captain Awkward, the comments section would look very much the same.

      I, too, have a healthy and loving relationship with my family, but I absolutely see where everyone is coming from on this. Helping with household chores or running small errands for free is perfectly reasonable, particularly when I’m staying in their house (even if it’s just for a short visit). But if my parents were setting up a business and wanted me to act essentially as their employee, then I would certainly expect money for it, though I might agree to a “family discount” from what I would ask anyone else to pay me.

    5. Kyrielle*

      I think it also may be because people who write in here are often in an extreme situation relative to this (at least, the ones that get published), and because this is a work-related blog so the questions often involve the working world aspect of it. We’ve seen lots of questions about parents, but not, “My parents are demanding I do cleaning and other household chores, it’s eating up 5-10 hours a week, help” and then it turns out they’re living at home rent-free and are an adult. I think those would get very different responses.

      My parents were awesome. I would have done a lot for them (and, in fact, I wish they had told me more that I could have done that might have been useful – I feel like I didn’t do enough, but I was ignorant of some of the need). But I wouldn’t have done anything close to what the LW’s mother is asking without pay, because it *would have used up time I otherwise needed to spend earning money*. If I did it free, not only would I lose the money from that job, but also the experience and upward career trajectory (if that applied; sometimes it doesn’t), in the name of helping family. That’s a lot to lose.

    6. LawLady*

      But the cases that get written in to advice columns tend to be extreme. Helpful family relationships exist where both sides of the transaction (i.e. both mother and daughter) are trying to help each other. I grew up on a cattle ranch, and still come home to help with big cattle drives, brandings, etc. I basically work at the family business without pay. But I can have that relationship in part because my parents would never take advantage. They’re very mindful of me launching myself and taking care of my career. And they help me where they can.

      But cases like in this letter are about families where there isn’t that reciprocity. The parents aren’t caring about the child launching and being successful, just what the child can do for them. That’s where healthy people put up boundaries.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I would never ask my mom for a wage, and my mom would never ask me to do anything so extreme that I felt like I deserved a wage for doing it. But the OP is not in this kind of relationship.

  11. Random Lurker*

    OP 1 – thanks for adding more context. Reading everything, I don’t think this sounds like your mom has a “business”. What it sounds like is she has is a product to bring to market. I don’t think that really changes the crux of your concern, but this is a point in time where there may not be money to pay. That’s why I think you talking about money in this is really going the wrong route here. What you should be focusing on first, and foremost, is the fact that you do not have the expertise/skills to do this. Second should be your time. These are both irrefutable facts. Alison nailed it – the money focus really muddies the water here.

  12. Temperance*

    LW #1: unless I’m reading incorrectly, your mother wants you to develop new ideas, file for the patents …. and give her credit? While wasting vacation time from your own job? Heck no.

  13. HR Pro*

    #3 – My HR department would have emailed you a formal offer letter by now, so that’s reasonable to ask about. But three weeks ahead of the Sunday event might be a little early to be worried about not having details – depending on how formal the event is, they might not really be organized enough to send you details until closer to the time.

    #4 – With an overall “average” rating I personally wouldn’t be thinking of a salary increase or a job title. They mentioned a salary increase, but I would expect it to be small (and then be pleasantly surprised if it’s larger). Most companies reserve their larger salary increases for people who are stronger performers than just average. Similarly I wouldn’t ask for a larger title — which could be interpreted as a promotion — with just an overall average rating. But maybe my view is skewed by the fact that I’ve always worked in nonprofits? Alison’s response indicated that she thought these were reasonable requests.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I had the same thought with regard to #4 but couldn’t figure out how to phrase it. I think it’s weird to ask for a title promotion based on mediocre performance.

      My bias on this front is that I inherited a department where title adjustments were based solely on years of experience, so I got mediocre people with better titles than stellar people. I have spent years reversing course on this and am just now getting there, and giving someone average what amounts to a promotion would set me back in trying to move to a merit-/skills-based system.

  14. Florida*

    OP #1 – there was a time where I was in a situation similar to yours. My mother would ask me to help her with her teapot business. I was even interested in the teapot business. It started off (since I was a kid) where I did work for free. Eventually, she paid me a fair wage. That didn’t work out. She will never view me as more competent than an 8-year old.
    Today, I refuse to have anything to do with her teapot business. If she asks me what color we should paint the new teapot, I say, “I’m not going to discuss your teapot business with you.” Even very simple questions or tasks, I absolutely refuse to engage. That’s the only thing that worked for me (and I’ve tried hundreds of things).
    It’s very hard. Sometimes you will feel like a jerk for not engaging, but it’s the only thing that worked for me.
    Also, my mother used guilt tactics like, “I’m too sick to keep doing the teapot business. If you don’t help me, I’m going to have to sell the whole business. Then you and your siblings won’t get to inherit it.”
    I just repeat my mantra, “It’s really better for me if I don’t get involved in your business.” Miraculously, she has managed without me.
    Good luck to you.

    1. Librarianna*

      My husband was in a similar situation. One summer when he was in college, he came home to help his dad with his latest scheme, which involved making wooden pencils. His dad promised that he would get paid when they sold the pencils and made a profit. He spent the whole summer making wooden pencils, and was never paid anything for it. He is still resentful 10 years later. The next summer he got an internship far away from his parents. OP #1, don’t get into a situation where you will be resentful years after the fact.

      1. Anxa*

        I don’t feel like my parents every used me for labor, but I never felt like there as a clear hierarchy or clear parental duties in my family. Part of that is personality, part has to do with family dynamics through a divorce, and I think part of it has to do with having had a family business.

        Maybe it ended up being a negative thing to grow up like that, because in my teens and early 20s I felt like I never had the appropriate amount of selfishness that a teen really needs (I mean I was quite selfish in many ways). I think I was way too grateful to set appropriate boundaries. I also felt like my mom and I were on the same team so much. Maybe because we worked together and faced a few hardships together where we had help each other out to make it through.

        I HAVE helped my mom put things on eBay. I don’t blink of doing whatever I can to help her out.

        But I think the difference here is aside from this request being totally unreasonable (the patent parts), it’s not even really helping her Mom.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I love that inheritance threat. That presumes the kid wants to inherit the company/property/whatever.

      1. the gold digger*

        Several times, my husband’s parents, who hated me, threatened to disinherit him if he didn’t “get [me] in line.” He finally got exasperated and told them that if they didn’t stop with the threats, he would never visit them again. Not that he cared about an inheritance, but he didn’t like the bullying and he did not like the implication that he visited his parents because he was hoping for money someday.

        (He visited them because they had the totally codependent relationship children have with their alcoholic parents.) (I keep telling my mom to spend it all before she dies – I don’t want her not to enjoy what she has!)

        His parents died last year. We discovered that not only had they disinherited Primo, they had never inherited him in the first place. The will had been written in 2005, before Primo and I met, and he was not even in it then.

        Whatever. People get to do what they want with their own money, but threatening your own kid that way? That’s ugly.

  15. Recruit-o-Rama*

    Op #2- my standard response to an applicant or candidate in any phase of the process who tells me they’ve accepted another offer is “congratulations!” The person who chastised you is an ass, don’t give it another thought.

    Op#4- your letter does not indicate whether this is your first recruiting gig or if you’ve been a recruiter before and if so, for how long. But, if you’ve been a recruiter for one year total, you are not “senior”. I would not take a title bump instead of a raise, especially in this case. We recently added a recruiter to our team and believe me, your number of years experience, number of people recruited, type of recruitment and other metrics like retention were what we focused on, not titles. After 20 years in this business, I have a pretty senior title but I still just say “recruiter” a lot. In some industries and positions the title matters a lot, it means virtually nothing in recruitment, go for the moula!

    1. OP#4*

      I’ve got 10 years in the recruiting industry and have been looking to move into a management role, which he was aware of when he hired me.

  16. Joseph*

    OP#2: Don’t think anything of it.

    I’ve never heard of contacting people who submitted applications to apologize that you’ve taken another job. Why? Because most job seekers apply for far, far more jobs than they ever get interviewed for and most employers get far more applications for each opening then they could afford to interview.

    Frankly, I can’t even imagine why the interviewer would want to contact/be contacted by every single applicant.
    1.) By the logic, if she expects you to contact her, she would also therefore be bound to contact every single applicant. As AAM pointed out, it’s unlikely she does this.
    2.) If she wasn’t planning on interviewing you (position filled, you’re not a strong candidate, whatever), the fact you’re no longer interested is totally useless information.
    3.) It’s a huge time waster. Most companies have literally dozens (hundreds?) of applications per opening. Even if you assume each is one simple email or phone call (probably not true, see #4), that could add up to wasting literally hours of her time involved with letting applicants know they aren’t in the running or reading applicants’ emails saying they aren’t in the running.
    4.) Statistically, at least a few of the applicants are not going to be a simple one-and-done contact. Maybe she tries to convince them to stay in the running. Maybe the person is a verbose emailer. Maybe the person writes the email in a way that’s not clear and she has to follow up. Heck, maybe the person is more of a phone person, so now she’s stuck on the phone with someone (people who prefer talking on the phone to email often tend to stretch conversations out).

    I think this is a really, really dumb request. I’d just chalk it up as someone who’s not experienced at hiring.

    1. calonkat*

      My thought was not experienced, and maybe has had EVERYONE she called that day say they already found other work. She should not have taken her frustration out on OP #2, of course, but I just imagine the poor woman who was told to schedule interviews with the top 3 candidates and was on her 14th call trying to find one who was still available :)

      1. Joseph*

        Good call. That’s pretty plausible actually.

        Though if you’re really having that many candidates say “Nope, found other work already”, the hiring process is probably far too lengthy for the type/level of job involved.

  17. EmilyG*

    What rubs me the wrong way about OP1’s situation is that it seems like her parents aren’t trying to help her establish herself and make her own way in the world, but instead are trying to take up her time/effort for themselves–and not in a very smart-sounding way either. My parents, who are awesome, had me do some things as chores growing up, and some things as little job offers (“I’ll give you $20 if you trim that annoying hedge because it’s July when it’s hot and none of us want to go outside”). But whatever they asked me to do, it was in the overall context of making sure I was ready to be a competent and independent adult. Not to say that my family is the “right” way, but it sounds like OP1’s parents’ requests are clearly undermining her attempts to find/have her own job, and that’s why she’s bristling. I would too.

    1. VintageLydia*

      I agree. I’m all about family helping family but not so much that it actively jeopardizes one’s future.

      1. Chriama*

        That’s the thing! It sounds like the mom is being *selfish* here – and although I love my parents, it was kind of eye-opening when I realized that not all parents love love their kids and that they can indeed be selfish. She’s putting all these obligations on OP and then turning around and nagging her for not having a job. I suspect that this is a dynamic that’s existed for a long time — it doesn’t sound like OP knows how to set reasonable boundaries with mom either. I wouldn’t do hours and hours of free work for my parents (heck, I won’t even work for my mom while getting paid because I hate the work so much!) but I’m living at home for free and if I was unemployed I would definitely help out for part of my free time, or at least be more active about going above and beyond with household work. It’s not about ‘owing’ people, it’s about the give-and-take that is in any relationship.

  18. OP#4*

    OP#4 here – Alison, thanks for answering my question! I’ve got 10 years in the recruiting industry and have been looking to move into a management role, which he was aware of when he hired me.

  19. Mental Health Day*

    OP, are you sure you want to do this? If you want a title change that is more reflective of your duties and responsibility level, then by all means you should push for that. But, I think if you ask the title change instead of a raise (that it sounds like they are already planning to give you anyway), you are setting a dangerous precedent for yourself. Signaling to your employer that raises are not important to you pretty much sets you up to never get another raise again (unless you backpedal later on and claim that you NOW want a raise). Don’t paint yourself into a corner like that. The extra money may not be important to you now, but are you sure it won’t be in a year or 5 years? Life is chock full of unexpected events…
    Secondly, I am often baffled when people believe that a mere title is some kind of reward or favor that an employer bestows upon the employee. A title that is accurate and reflective of your actual duties should come standard with any job (just like a desk, computer, or any other basic equipment required to do your job). They aren’t doing you a favor by giving you a title. If you do not feel that your current title is representative of your role, then by all means, you should push for this change, but it shouldn’t be in lieu of anything else.
    Best of luck to you.

    1. Mental Health Day*

      But, hey, I’m reading through some of the other comments on this topic and I guess titles are a lot more important to some other people than they are to me. And that’s totally fine. Perhaps I’ve just had one too many employers try to give me an inflated title in lieu of a long overdue raise. So, each unto their own. But for me, titles don’t pay my bills so I want to see cash on the barrelhead.

    2. OP#4*

      I appreciate the comments of everyone here! But honestly, I am paid *very* well for my position. I would say I’m overpaid. And my husband makes a good salary as well. We’re able to put money away in savings every month, pay all of our bills, etc.

      It is more important to me to show that I’ve moved up in my career and not just had the same title of “Recruiter” for the past 10 years, because that would show that there was some issue that kept me from being promoted. In reality, I have Asperger’s and struggled at many jobs before I was diagnosed. Now that I have been, I’m in my first job where it’s freely disclosed, and I want to prove to myself that it wasn’t just a failing of mine that caused me to not succeed at those past jobs.

      Also, I work in software development, and we have had many issues recently of people leaving us for a very minimal salary increase, think $5/hour or less. It is exceedingly frustrating to my boss, and our company is not doing very well right now. It seems like a lot of people out there just want the money and don’t care about company culture, work ethic, etc. Since I would prefer a title change over a raise, and it would benefit the company to not have to raise my salary by much, it seemed a win-win for both sides.

      I did wind up asking for the title bump and told him I wasn’t as motivated by money – I’m just not. I’m motivated by being productive, being valued by the company, work/life balance, being a part of the company “family,” etc. Perhaps that’s my Asperger’s but that’s how I feel.

      It’s not always just about the money.

      1. Mental Health Day*

        Fair enough. Sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into your particular situation. Very best of luck to you.

      2. Chriama*

        I’m glad you’re able to get what you want, but I would caution you not to dismiss a $5/hour raise. That works out to ~10k a year before taxes, and even after taxes would be more than $300 a month. I would leave a job for that, especially if I felt unappreciated in other ways or it had been a few years without a raise.

        Anyway, given your circumstances I think it’s fine to say you want a title bump. But I agree with others that I wouldn’t plant the idea in your head that you’re not motivated by money. Just request the bump and don’t mention a raise at all. And if they offer you a certain amount unprompted, at that point you could ask for the title.

  20. AF*

    OP#1 – I understand the point that many have made that you have an obligation to help your parents because they raised you, etc. I agree that this topic is different in different cultures, but also agree that you should not put your life on hold to help them. However, my mother raised me, and without getting into too many details (although it sounds like you and I have had similar discussions with our parents), I want to urge you to take care of yourself. That is not selfish, and if your mother makes you feel that way, she is not coming from a place of love. I live with my mom and pay her rent, but the assumption is that “I raised you, so you owe me,” and that my needs and wants come second, creates massive amount of resentment, guilt, and self-doubt, that has affected me for years. It is very hard because so much of our self-worth is based on our parents’ approval, and becoming independent can come with pushback from them.

    Do what makes sense to you. I also really disagree that you shouldn’t charge, because (from what it sounds like) it sounds like you feel she is using you to get free work, when she would ordinarily pay someone. Don’t ignore that feeling. If you want to do it because you want to help them, that’s great – but there’s a fine line between wanting to help and feeling obligated to help. But you shouldn’t be guilted into something, or put yourself second. Good luck!

  21. mike 2*

    I applied for a job opening some time in June, and in meantime I continued applying for other openings. Mid October I started a full time job. Guess what happened that very same day: a HR person contacted me from that June job application (4 months later), proceeded to rattle off the benefits, duties and all other pertinent things, and then asked me when would be a good time to schedule an interview. My answer: I am declining the interview, as I just started on my new full time position XX; thanks for calling. She was very baffled to hear my response.
    This October will be 4 years here at the job.

    1. Artemesia*

      My SIL who just started a new job, got a call recently from a place he applied to 6 mos ago about scheduling an interview. It just seems odd to me that any hiring process is THAT slow.

      1. Joseph*

        Frankly, after 6 months, I’d wonder if they’d actually tried to hire someone else and it hadn’t worked out.

        I’ve heard of specific scenarios where this slow of a process could occur, but they’re sufficiently rare and industry-specific that I’d expect your SIL would already know that’s just the way it goes.

    2. Fact & Fiction*

      After I signed with a literary agent on the book that sold at auction, I got a rejection on the book I had shopped previously–one year after I sent that other agent the previous manuscript. Not exactly the same situation, but it can be surprising to compare applicant (or author) timelines against company (or agent/publisher) timelines because they can vary greatly!

    3. Stonkle*

      I recently got an e-mail from a well-known, international company letting me know that I wasn’t short-listed for a position I applied for back in December. Thanks?

  22. Nanani*

    LW1, I work in patents. Don’t do any of those things without the proper training and education (which it sounds like you don’t have).

    Researching a patent is NOT just sticking it in GooglePatents, it’s a lot more involved than that.
    Many patent agencies (one per country, so yours is is the USPTO if you’re American) are desperately trying to fill patent examiner jobs because the required expertise is hard to find.
    It is -not- OK for your parents to expect you to do that, any more than it would be to expect you to install their HVAC when you aren’t a tech, to do surgery when you aren’t a surgeon, etc.

    Feel free to tell your mom you did the research (meaning, actual patent people in this thread have told you) and the work she needs requires a professional.
    Best of luck!

    LW4, take the money as well as the title.
    Yes your company may enjoy the savings, but you may also be screwing over your now and future colleagues by enabling your employer to say “Jane got a title increase without a salary bump, so that’s all Bob is getting too”.
    Possibly they are decent people and won’t, but do you really want to set that kind of precedent?
    TAKE THE MONEY! Take it for all of us!

    1. YetAnotherFed*

      To LW1: agreeing with Nanani here. Tell your mom that if she wants you to be a patent agent for her, she needs to pay for you to get a science or engineering undergrad degree so you can even be qualified to sit for the Patent Bar Exam, she needs to pay for the bar exam prep course so you can pass, and if you’re not a registered patent agent or co-inventor, that the USPTO won’t accept you signing off on the patent application.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        This could be fun.

        “Sure, Mom, that sounds like a great idea! So, since you want me to be your patent agent, the first step is I need to get another degree. We can start looking at colleges tonight. I assume you’re paying for that, as an investment in your business…”

  23. Katie F*

    To hear a recruiter/HR person get mad at not being notified an applicant accepted another job is kind of laughable to me, as someone who has applied to SO MANY jobs in my working life and received notice that I wasn’t the chosen one maaaaaaybe twice in all that time. And I wrote thank you letters to the companies who DID tell me I was rejected, I was so happy to actually be informed of it.

    I too would just really love to know how often this HR person/hiring manager lets applicants know they weren’t chosen for the position.

    1. CMT*

      Right?? A rejection email makes me way happier than you’d think it would. I get them for maybe 1 out of every 10 things I apply for.

      1. Artemesia*

        And really you don’t even expect a contact from somewhere that has not called for an interview. It is terribly rude to not contact people who have been interviewed to let them know the position has been filled. But few places bother notifying people who have simply sent in applications.

    2. Anxa*

      That expectation also puts the applicant in such a strange place. Even after following AAM’s advice on the two-way street nature of a job application, the power dynamics are really powerful.

      If I get an interview, I think it would reasonable to assume that I was a serious candidate. But without any sort of acknowledgment of my application, I’d feel so presumptuous about calling.

  24. Newish Reader*

    LW#5: Another variation of Allison’s advice would be to state a date when you want the schedule to go back to 35 hours a week. Allison’s last question (“Can we get me back to the part-time schedule we initially set?”) leaves the door open for your manager to say no and keep you at 45 hours indefinitely. If you revise that to something like “I can continue to help out the extra hours for another X weeks, but then do need to resume our original agreement for 35 hours a week.” it makes clear that you are only able to work 35 hours.

  25. Temperance*

    OP#1: Do not give in. I completely understand where you are coming from. My FIL used to try and get my husband to do work for him, too. More accurately, my FIL used to demand that my husband build programs for him and websites that FIL would “run”. FIL was unemployed at the time, and Booth was working full time. FIL pointed out that Booth had free “nights and weekends” to do the work, and he wasn’t going to pay.

    Say no.

    1. Anon Moose*

      Precisely, OP1’s mother seems to be asking OP1 to hand her a business ready-made- to do none of the difficult start up work and reap all the benefit (plus it doesn’t sound particularly viable if OP1 refers it to as a get rich quick scheme). If OP1 designs the thing, gets the patents and all that… then it is no longer OP1’s mother’s business anymore. The mother has to do the work herself or the business will not succeed. And OP1 is kidding themselves if they think the requests for “help” would stop when the business is “launched.”

  26. Augusta Sugarbean*

    #2 This is probably very field-specific and I don’t think there are many people around here looking for law enforcement jobs but just in case, I’ve found that it can be important to let an agency know if you want to remove yourself from the the application process. I’d applied to several different agencies and had taken myself out of the running for a couple. One I notified and one I didn’t. In a subsequent interview with a different agency, I got asked if I’d notified those agencies or just ghosted. I don’t think it was a huge black mark but it didn’t help. (I know more about the process now and I can see that it’d be frustrating to start working on a background packet without knowing the person isn’t even available anymore.)

    1. Chriama*

      Unless it’s in the application instructions this is an unreasonable requirement. Also, why would they be working on the background check when they haven’t even told invited people for an interview? I would say after the first in-person contact you should notify them if you’re withdrawing from the process, especially if they’ve communicated and stuck to a clear timeline and you know that not notifying them means they’re doing extra legwork for nothing. But at the application stage? Especially after weeks or even months of no contact? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        Well, like I said this is probably field-specific. Law enforcement hiring is a whole different process than the private sector.

  27. Mel*

    Op 1. If you expect to be paid to help mom you should also expect to pay rent if you are an adult. Think about the reverse before you give your answer. If your mom said youre an adult and you need to pay rent or live on your own would you be okay with that?

    1. animaniactoo*

      Apparently so, as the OP is living on their own. fwiw, I charge my son rent because I want him to understand to have a real-world perspective on what supporting himself means. When he does my share of the dishes for me, I pay him for that.

    2. Liana*

      I am reasonably certain OP1 has stated that she does not live at home, so I’m not sure that this comment is necessarily relevant. It’s also not a great analogy – what Zee’s mother is asking her to do is wildly beyond the scope of her skillset. The OP is not a patent lawyer, and is *already working* – she genuinely doesn’t have the time, or the appropriate licensing, to help with her mom’s project. This isn’t the same as helping mow the lawn, or do some extra cleaning around the house.

      1. Mephyle*

        Didn’t mean to pile on – the other comments weren’t visible yet when I answered.

        On the other hand, even an adult child who lives at home without paying rent doesn’t owe their parents an impossible task. The job OP1 is being asked to do is not possible.

  28. animaniactoo*

    Zee, I’m guessing that you’re mostly here to get confirmation of what you already know – that your mom’s demands are unreasonable. You’ve got a ton of support here for that, and I’d like to contribute just a little bit more.

    I was raised as a communist by parents who are thoroughly committed to the ideals of “from each according to ability, to each according to need” – that whole “the group helps each other out” thing. My dad would occasionally have freelance work available, and he’d subcontract it to me. If he got paid for it, I got paid. Even when I was living at home.

    Yes, you contribute to the household you live in – with the upkeep of that household. As you have said yourself that you’re willing to do. Some over and above that you can do while still making finding a job your primary focus? Sure. That’s reasonable too. But – business ideas/work are not part of the upkeep of a household. Have they had to move out since you did? Could they no longer afford the house? Did they have to severely reduce their style of living to have you live there when you did? And when you contributed way over and above – how did they contribute back to you over and above food and shelter?

    1. animaniactoo*

      BTW, this is not to say I never do anything for free. But if it’s not a family project I support, if somebody is getting paid for it and it’s being proposed that it won’t be me, and if it’s more than a few hours of my time, yeah, I’m going to expect to get paid. Because I and my time are worth something. I will contribute them, you show me what you’re contributing. Cash is acceptable.

    2. Chriama*

      I would say doing stuff to help family is different from doing free work that family is getting paid for, and that’s where it ventures past the line of reasonable behaviour for me. But in general, I think that as an adult living with your parents for free, helping out with more than just housework is still reasonable. The biggest issue I see with OP’s story is that mom was using up *all* her time and that was preventing OP from applying for jobs and stuff. I would say 20 hours/week helping out (aside from typical housework) and 20 hours a week job searching activities is a fair split, but 60 hours a week helping out and then expecting another 20 hours a week on job searching activities is disingenuous.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Helping out to some extent yes, and I tried to make that clearer in my 2nd post. But I’ve got a son living at home and while he was job hunting he was living “free”. For me, his contribution had to be jobhunting and proving to me that he was working hard at it. Other stuff around the house as needed, but if I need that much extra help around the house that it’s going to amount to 20 hours a week on even a semi-regular basis, I think either I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing such that I have all this extra work around regularly, or who I’m asking to do it and why.

  29. Anon Moose*

    OP 2: I think job seekers can be expected to notify 100% of employers they have applied to about their change in job status when 100% of employers notify applicants about whether they were hired or not.
    Plus, you did notify the person when it was relevant- when they wanted to move you forward in the hiring process. If they didn’t want to move you forward, withdrawing your application would mean very little. Their frustration is probably more about their internal stuff, like not enough good candidates applied so losing you will make the process not work out the way they wanted. But that has nothing to do with you or anything you should feel guilty about at all.

  30. Spawny*

    Re: OP1 (Zee)- just an anecdotal comment here, as I think JustAnotherFed covered the intricacies very thoroughly…

    My husband is a patent agent, and we went through a similar situation with my brother and his wife, who had an idea for an article of infants’ apparel. My brother wanted to have the design patented, so they asked my husband to help them get a patent, as well as trademark the name. Long story short, the design patent was granted but the trademark ran into difficulties that required a lawyer, and all the fees just got to be too much. The trademark has expired and the patent will eventually as well, which is fine by us because they paid all the filing fees but never gave DH anything for all the time he spent doing the research and writing. The commercials make it sound like getting a patent is easy and of course never mention the cost, but the filing fees alone will nickel and dime you to death since they are hundreds or thousands at a pop.

    1. Aurion*

      Ha, yes. Trademark applications are a little easier because searching for similar or conflicting marks is a simpler process, but patent applications often turns into several rounds of office actions/response to office actions as the patent examiner and the patent agent/patent lawyer argues why this is or is not patentable. And all of that labour costs a lot of money. Licensing issues aside, it’s nigh impossible for a layperson to draft a patent application properly because they just don’t have the legalese experience required.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can I just say? IF someone is going to get a patent, put the item on the market please! If you do not put it on the market you are blocking someone else from getting a good idea to the market place. We don’t need more patents sitting there collecting dust. Use it, or skip applying.

  31. Zelenu*

    Just adding to the chorus that it is ridiculous to be expected to do patent work if you are untrained. In order to be a patent attorney, you have to have an undergraduate degree in a hard science (engineering, Chemistry etc.); have a law degree, pass the bar exam, pass the patent bar exam. When my husband graduated and passed all of those exams, he still didn’t have 100% of the knowledge and experience to actually do a fair amount of the work and then had to work with an experienced attorney doing the research for him just to learn the ropes. None of it made any sense at all to me so I can’t imagine jumping in blindly even if you are super smart, do have a hard science background and even if you are in law school.

  32. Annoyed*

    It seems like so many of the questions come down to “how do I ask for what I want without asking directly?”

  33. Not So NewReader*

    OP 1, if you can hack one more reply…. I see your opening sentence is that you and your parents argued about money when you lived at home. This stands alone as a strong reason to untangle your finances from theirs. Which means do not work for them. If they need help painting a room or something, then fine. But only agree to projects that are finite. They have a start and they have a finish. Do not agree to something that is on-going or that has no clear conclusion. Do not agree to something that costs you quality of life, such as education or income.

    Do learn about money and budgeting. And make a life-long commitment to learning more and more. This will help you deal with your parents and money arguments. You will know that you know. And sometimes that is enough. For the short term, look at your budget right now. What do you need to do to sustain yourself? How much time do you have left over after you have done what you need to do to sustain yourself? That is the amount of time you have for your parents, period. I’d like to encourage you to draw a hard line and hold it.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Yes. I’d actually draw the line at much less time than that. You have no obligation to give every free moment to your mother’s half-baked get-rich-quick scheme for no pay. You deserve to have time for yourself just for what you want to do, not for work.

  34. Zee*

    Hi, it’s Zee/LW1/op1. Just want to clarify some things!

    1) I don’t think my mother knows just how complicated this will get. I think I need to sit her down and explain exactly why I can’t do it and why she really does need to pay someone for it.

    2) My mom has a friend who wants to work with her, but doesn’t have the required skill set. The required skill set includes working a sewing machine, which I’m fine with teaching so long as this woman promises to pass it on. I don’t think I’ll help beyond that.

    3) My parents never collected payment, just favors. At times I did work for family friends, but at a huuuuuge discount to the point where it wasn’t worth my time or energy. This money I did keep, but I always felt taken advantage of.

    4) No, I don’t live at home and haven’t for a few years. I’m currently babysitting and tutoring, but I have a bit of a lull right now.

    5) Yeah, they’re pretty much of the opinion that having an idea is the hard part. They have paid me for things in the past, but only the raw materials. They’ve actually gotten annoyed at me for selling things on etsy in excess of the cost of raw materials because the materials are the only cost and therefore I’m cheating people. They also won’t take their pets for check ups because they “charge too much.” There’s a local office that does it for, like, $50 bucks. Really. That’s too much.

    1. Artemesia*

      IMHO all the things you are ‘willing’ to do are like quicksand sucking you in. Teaching someone to sew? Explaining the patent issues. This is like a continuing drain. A person who thinks you should only charge for materials is beyond clueless; she thinks you should be a slave working for free. I would do two things:j

      get super busy or appear super busy
      stop sharing anything genuine about your life.

      They obviously think they own you and want to control you and use any information they get to either bully or berate you e.g. the etsy profits based on your labor. They don’t need to know the details of why you can’t see them, work for free for them etc. Get busy. Make a life that in inaccessible to them except on their terms. They will eat your future alive if you let them.

      1. Rana*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t bother teaching the friend, either. Why can’t your mother do it? If it’s because she can’t sew, either, then maybe she shouldn’t be trying to sell something that requires sewing.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Aside from the not taking their pets because it’s too expensive… I wonder what they’re like to go shopping with (purely as a casual observer).

        I mean, *everything* is priced on a combination of hard costs and labour, then markup. Someone had the idea thousands of years ago to make cheese (and they should be worshiped as a god), but ever since then, cheese has been priced based on the cost of materials to make it, the time/labour involved, shipping/transportation and profit. Does she walk the supermarket aisles and just not buy anything because she can make it cheaper? Just because a private person made something rather than a corporation/factory, it doesn’t mean it’s less “real” or valuable. From a pure comedy gold perspective, this Mom buying a car must be hilarious. “I’m not paying $60,000 for a BMW! Henry Ford invented the car, it was his idea! You stole his idea! You should give me this car and be thankful that I don’t turn you into the police!”

        1. Zee*

          It’s awful, and… yeah, pretty much that. She easily freaks out over how much things cost. She also keeps reminding me that I have a sewing machine, but I much prefer to buy clothes and make small adjustments than make them all on my own. Every so often I find fabric or get an idea that I can’t go out and buy, which is when I make it. I don’t make clothes as a money saver; if anything, it always costs me more.

          Most arguments while shopping are about if something is overpriced or not. For my mom… the limit is usually around $5 for a t-shirt and $30 for a jacket. I usually check the seams, fabric, and design before I pass judgment. Maybe because I sew I can explain why some things really do cost more, but yeah, she’s more than a little thrifty.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot*

      Re: #5: WHAT?! Wow. Your parents obviously have no idea how anything in the real world works and should never, ever run any kind of business. Don’t get involved – because if they’re that clueless, anything they try will crash and burn. Apparently they don’t understand that labor costs are a legitimate expense and that you need to sell at a profit to, uhh, make any money.

      Also, I feel bad for their pets.

    3. Alix*

      #5 – oh my god. Please don’t take this personally, but I now really really want to yell at your parents.

      I’m an artist. People like your parents are an absolute plague on the art community. The only people worse are the ones who insist stuff be done for “exposure,” i.e. free (and the people who cave to all this). Sorry, but if I make something, I’m owed for the materials that went into it, the other associated costs (renting space, site fees, whatever), and the labor and skill that went into making it – and anyone who denies me that is not only cheating me, but basically saying they don’t want me to keep making my art, since cost of materials only is below the cost of actually replacing that with a new piece.

      And yet I notice that if I suggest to any of these people that they get paid only for the material costs of doing their business and not a wage for their labor, they get pissed. Funny how that works.

      Sorry, vent over. But one of the things I had to get over when I started to sell my art was the idea that I was greedy to even ask for money for it, and it took me years to learn to price my own stuff fairly and stick to it. That whole process taught me a lot about value and worth, including self-worth, but also make this something of an instant rant topic for me.

  35. SeekingBetter*

    #1 Talk about it. I worked for free for my parent’s restaurant for five years before I decided enough was enough. Fortunately, I found a part time position in my field to kind of get out of it, and then, a full time position three years afterwards.

  36. Frann*

    Here here Alison! I could not agree more with your reply to letter writer two especially given the utter lack of communication from prospective employers to candidates about where they are in the process.

  37. Shortie*

    OP 1 said, “I was told I was being ‘greedy’ when I brought up payment for things like selling things on eBay or painting a mural for them.”

    This has always fascinated me. People who call others greedy or selfish…seem to so often be greedy or selfish themselves. Only one in a long line of examples, but someone once told me I was selfish because I wouldn’t give them money. But apparently they weren’t selfish for expecting me to give them money. Um, what?

  38. paul*

    She’s not asking you to do something you already know how to do. She’s asking you to train on a whole new (and somewhat significant) skill set and then put it to use for her business, without compensation. I’d say no in a heartbeat.

    Helping my folks troubleshoot their PC when I go down to visit is one thing (9 times out of 10 I just de-crap it), but I’d be kind of irate if my dad approached me about learning how to use SAP and helping out for free at his side business on a significant ongoing basis. I’m an adult too and have a life.

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