my mother wants to write to the newspaper about my “tragic story of shattered dreams” and nothing I say can stop her

A reader writes:

I’m a 20something woman in tech. Since day one, I had to fight for a place in this field, convincing interviewers that I could do more than customer support, that I deserve the same opportunities my male counterparts have. To this day, I have only had three jobs (tech support, trainee, and junior developer), and I worked really hard to get each of them.

The problem started when I lost my last job. I returned from a sick leave only to find out I was no longer an employee. My coworkers were shocked and outraged to the point they made my boss apologize. I consulted a lawyer, but there was nothing that could be done. I immediately polished my resume and started job searching. However, the job market toughened during the time I was away. If I get a call, I never go further than the technical interview. Ever.

Enter my parents. They are a bad case of helicopter parents, overprotective and scared. They are the type that would demand full names and phone numbers of everyone at a birthday party, only to drag you out of it hours later because they found someone has a tattoo. They disapproved my choice of career path since day one, saying that is “dangerous,” “full of men,” and “not a place for a sweet girl like you.” They are both retired teachers, and still insist that their field (high school education) is “the best thing that could happen to anyone.” They wish to see me at a high school, teaching teenagers how to type, use text processors and spreadsheets and write letters. When I tell them that that’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life, they become aggressive and tell me I should be grateful they pay for my food and haven’t kick me out yet.

A few weeks ago, my father approached me when my mother was shopping and told me that she’s planning to send a letter telling my “tragic story of shattered dreams at the hands of greedy and abusive corporations” to a local newspaper. I’ve seen her staying awake until late hours, but I never imagined this could be the reason. When I approached her, she got defensive and started to say things like “I do this because I love you,” “you’ll thank me later,” “this is the only way you’ll be able to get a job,” and “do you want to end up like your cousin?” (My cousin has an art degree and her unsuccessful job search and minimum wage jobs drove to severe depression and now she lives on welfare.) I tried to explain her that I don’t think this is the way, and that I don’t want to get a job because someone out there pities me, or to be the result of a public relations campaign and become a check in the diversity box. Even if she doesn’t mention my name, hers will still appear, and as her Facebook profile is linked to my father’s stating their relationship (as in “married to John Smith since 1983”), anyone will be able to find me.

Is there anything else I can say to persuade her to drop the subject?

I don’t know, without knowing your mom. But based on what you’ve said about her, it sounds like she’s convinced to the point of hostility that she knows what’s best for you, despite all evidence to the contrary … which doesn’t bode well.

That said, you could certainly try saying, “I’m asking you to respect that I need to manage my own career, and I believe deeply that this will hurt my reputation far more than it will help me. And because everything on the Internet is around forever, this will findable years and even decades down the road, and I don’t want something harmful like this linked to me. I’m asking you, for the sake of our relationship, not to betray my trust in you by doing this.”

For what it’s worth, though, there’s a good chance that your local newspaper won’t print her letter. But if you really want to be sure, you could send your own letter to the paper’s letters-to-the-editor address, explaining that your mother (name her) is planning to write in about your career and that you’re an adult and don’t want your career publicly discussed. It’s extremely unlikely that they’d publish her letter after that; no newspaper is interested in getting mixed up in that.

I know your options are probably really constrained right now since you’re out of work, but it sounds like the sooner you can move out of your parents’ house — and thus more easily restrict the amount of information you give them about your career and your life in general — the better off you’ll be. People who tell you that your very normal career is “not a place for a sweet girl” and threaten to kick you out for having your own thoughts and goals are not people who are great to share living space with, and that’s doubly so when they’re equipped with the button-pushing/mind-messing power of being your parents. (I apologize if that’s already utterly obvious to you — sometimes these situations really scramble people’s ability to see that clearly.)

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

    1. M-C*

      Oh no. OP, why don’t you talk to your cousin? being on welfare somewhere else seems so much preferable to being in this house to me. And then at least you could get free counseling, which really sounds like what you need to deal with these boundary-smashing parents.

      Being fed is just not worth it. There are plenty of live-in caregiver positions to be had right now most places, and being a nice responsible girl will get you one so fast.. Then you’d be in a better position to job hunt without being subjected to all this soul-destroying counterattack.

      Hang in there, OP, occasional unemployment is one of the drawbacks of tech and you’ll be fine in a short while. Pick a nice open-source project and keep your skills up, don’t despair, your parents are wrong.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Maybe a friend, someone who would let you couch surf for awhile in exchange for cleaning up around the place, running errands, something? Because seriously, you’re not just living in a toxic environment, you’re living in Fukushima. GET OUT any way you possibly can.

    1. MashaKasha*

      My thoughts exactly.

      My mom was pushy as all get out when I was a kid/teen/in my 20s, oh all my life actually; but she was also big on keeping appearances and not broadcasting the family’s inside issues to the world.

      And what is it with the parents telling their child which career to choose? Teaching is not for everyone. I wouldn’t last a day as a teacher! Good thing my parents never threatened to kick me out of their house, or to cut off financial support, for that!

      OP, I’m sorry. This is not a good situation to be in.

      1. neverjaunty*

        These are parents who do not respect the OP as a separate person with her own personality and interests; they see her as an extension of themselves.

      2. CanadianKat*

        OP, I don’t know what part of the world you live in, but where I am, it’s ridiculously hard to get into teaching. It may be as great a job as your parents think (even though public elementary school teachers have to deal with all kinds of behaviour problems they aren’t equipped to deal with), but to get it, you have to have an undergrad degree, a teaching degree, lots of volunteer experience, and then be a supply teacher for years and years before you have a chance at a full-time job.

        And yes, teaching is definitely not for everyone! It’s one thing to get along with ordinary coworkers, and something completely different to hold the attention and repect of a room-full of kids, any age.

  1. Sibley*

    Oh dear. OP, I am so sorry. Your parents really need to step back and let you do your thing, even if they don’t like it. I don’t know if it’ll help, but Captain Awkward’s blog addresses boundaries and many other topics. You might find something helpful there, and if not, you’ll probably find some entertainment.

    1. OhBehave*

      It may be a bit easier to draw those boundaries once she has moved out. Now that she’s unemployed, it’s even more difficult for her.

      1. teclatrans*

        Good point. If I remember correctly, Captain Awkward & commenters had some useful things to say about exactly that sort of conundrum. (Nthing the Captain Awkward recc.)

  2. AMG*

    I am so pissed at your parents on your behalf right now. Tell them that you are moving out immediately and if they want to ever have any details about your life ever again, they will stop immediately.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was thinking that the OP could threaten to change her name if the article is published. That was the only way I could think to disconnect the “my poor daughter is a failure in her career” search results when a potential employer does some research.

      1. Sadsack*

        I understand your reasoning, but making threats of any kind may not work well. She is currently dependent on her parents for a place to live.

      2. Unegen*

        Threats imply wanting to be talked out of it. Do it, or don’t do it, but don’t ask their permission or beg them to change your mind–that’s what a threat like that is.

        Personally, in her shoes I would inform Mommy Dearest that if she sent such a letter I would be contacting the publication and threatening them with a slander suit if they publish it, because such a thing, especially published against my (the LW’s) will, would ABSOLUTELY cause harm. Dollars to doughnuts the letter would never run. The family fallout is something only the LW could predict.

          1. Realistic*

            libel = letter (both start with L, meaning written)
            slander = spoken (both start with S)
            Yeah, I always have to go through the L-S thing before I remember which to use!

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yup. It’s not just being able to prove damages, which OP wouldn’t have anyway since she’s unemployed, but also being able to prove that the liable party knowingly lied to harm your reputation. Her mother may be exaggerating the extent of OP’s situation, but she’s not completely lying nor is she trying to harm her daughter – she thinks she’s helping (even though she’s really not).

            1. Observer*

              Doesn’t matter. If OP tells the paper that she doesn’t want it published, they are not going to take the chance, even of a frivolous suit. It’s one thing to tell someone to go pound sand when the story is newsworthy or would make for good clickbait. But this? There is nothing in it for them, so why should they take even the slightest risk?

        1. Atty w bossy mother*

          Actually, the difference between libel and slander or is not whether or not it’s written or spoken. If I say something slanderous and a newspaper then reprints it, it’s still slander even though it was printed. A lot of laypeople get that wrong. we spent a whole day out On this in law school many years ago because of that.

          that being said this isn’t a libel or slander or any form of defamation. it may, however, be legally actionable under invasion of privacy or other statutes in her state.

          Her best course is to notify all her local newspapers. However, if mom is determined in these people do not publish, she’s likely to find an alternative forum on the internet.

          If mom is truly determined, all daughter can really say is the following: if you do this, I will move out, hire an attorney to sue you for invading my privacy, change my name, and never speak to you or dad again.

          that may sound harsh but it may be the only thing to convince mom that what she’s doing will have consequences.

          1. Saturn9*

            It doesn’t sound harsh, it sounds like junior high. “If you embarrass me like that, I will move out and you will never see me again–AND I WILL SUE YOU!” is a (somewhat) valid course of action but a terrible execution.

            I’m horrified that you self-identify as an attorney, since you seem completely unaware that you typically can’t sue someone “for invading your privacy,” especially if by “invading your privacy” you mean another person’s own perspective on things they have witnessed or been told by you in a context with no special confidentiality assumed. (If your line of thinking is that you can sue anyone for anything if you can find a lawyer to take the case, I’m doubly horrified that you self-identify as an attorney.)

    2. Becky*

      If needed, in order to support moving out, take a job you can do without being too miserable (retail, fastfood, office, etc) as a temporary measure while you search for something more in line with your degree and desires. I worked a few jobs that weren’t in my field (customer support, custodial) before landing one I really liked that was more related to my education and experience.

  3. Bend & Snap*

    Oh man. Time to start couch surfing. And probably stop telling your mother anything important. I’m so sorry.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      Gosh, any time we get an OP where the obvious answer is “Get out of that house yesterday!” I wanna yell, “I have couches! I have so many couches! Come watch Supergirl with me while you look for a job!”

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Not job searching, but could I come over and watch Supergirl? I haven’t caught the season premiere yet, and I want to avoid thinking about my political theory midterm.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          I loved it. The nailed Clark, IMO, and the interactions between Clark and Kara were fantastic. There were also a few lines that were clearly there for fans of the Donner Superman movies. I am very excited for this season – the show is much better suited for CW

          Sorry for the tangent from the topic at hand….

      2. Charlotte, not NC*

        Wouldn’t that be amazing? A fully vetted site to help out people alienated from pushy parents–like an Air BnB for the helicopter-parented.

        OP, maybe instead of trying to get a tech job at a company, you can develop this idea and become the next start-up darling!

        1. neverjaunty*

          This isn’t “helicopter parenting”. Helicopter parenting would be fussing at the OP to march into a company and show gumption, or send her twenty Craigslist ads a day, or asking if they should call the hiring manager after an interview to say how nice she is. This is abusive parenting.

          1. Wwr*


            OP, you’re being abused. Do everything you can to shield yourself from their emotional warfare and GET OUT OF THAT HOUSE. I know it’s tough, but this isn’t a safe place for you.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Agreed. The cry, “I only want what is best for you” turns into manipulation when a person has to do things that are not their own ideas or thinking.

              If this was your SO speaking, it might be a lot clearer to see the abusive behavior here. Just because they are your parents does not mean they have “earned” the right to this much involvement in your life.

          2. OhNo*

            This. This times a million. I’m a child of an abusive parent, too, and this letter was like walking down a hallway full of red flags.

            It might be worth getting a holdover job (retail, fast food, whatever you can manage) in order to help you get out of there faster. It’s not always what you want to do, but sometimes it’s what you need to do.

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          I can’t stop thinking about this. I kind of really want to do it. I was actually just talking yesterday about how many LGBTQ+ folks can’t come out because they’re still dependent on their families. There are a lot of folks who could use a service like this. The problem is that I wouldn’t have any idea where to start.

          1. dppb*


            No, really, the first place would be to ask yourself what you would really want it to be like, and once you have that figured out, talk to a lawyer. Housing stuff gets legally tricky really quickly. Then decide whether you want to be a separate entity or try to sell it/piggy back it on another service. AirBnB might buy in to gain some goodwill and free advertising, you know? If you show up with a business plan and a really well-crafted pitch, you could maybe talk yourself into a VP of AirShelter gig.

          2. Blue Anne*

            There are actually two boards on reddit devoted to helping LGBTQ kids and atheist kids find supportive people to stay with while they get out from under super-religious parents. I follow both, although no one has posted near me. I have seen it work out well, though.

            lgbthavens and atheisthavens, I think.

            1. Melissa*

              Hooray, more subs for me to follow :) thanks for the shout out I’m in a part of the country where this might be all too necessary

            2. Gandalf the Nude*

              It drives me crazy that Reddit has these pockets of goodness that I’d feel squicky participating in because I despise the company on the whole.

          3. Natalie*

            There’s a placement org in my state that matches LGBT teens with safe families if they have to leave home. I’m not sure how “official” it it (if it runs through the foster care system or what have you) but it seems to have a long history.

            1. Blue Anne*

              What org is that? I’ve been looking for something like it.

              The other day my friends and I were talking about accounts of conversion therapy centers and how high the suicide rates are. We were daydreaming about setting one up as a front, then helping the kids get out. I mean if so many don’t make it home from those places, who would know… (obviously unrealistic, I know.)

            2. One of the Sarahs*

              In the UK, the Terence Higgins Trust does this in London, Manchester & Newcastle both fostering and slightly older LGBT young people

              And in others Barnardo’s has a fostering arm for this, as well as a Supported Lodgings service that places young adults leaving Care, or at risk of homelessness (inc being kicked out for being gay) with people with spare rooms

              (They also provide specific foster places for children and young people who’ve been Trafficked, or victims of Child Sexual Exploitation)

          4. TootsNYC*

            And you could find some not-very-successful retail space, and turn the upper levels into “rooming house” apartments, like The Arcade in Providence, R.I. (I’m going to let you google it instead of putting a link.)

            Only add in things like counselors for mental health, job stuff, etc., and arrange for financial subsidies so it’s easy for people to transition out.

            1. Chinook*

              My group just had a talk last night from a group in Calgary called “Elizabeth House’ which is a mid-term shelter for girls (14 to 21, so most really are girls) who are in danger of being on the street because they are pregnant. They can stay until their kid is 18 months (or longer in one extreme case) and they are working on getting these mothers set up so they can take care of themselves when they leave. They also have a full-time case worker. The sad part is they only have room for 6 and they have a waiting list to get in.

  4. Colorado*

    It might be a good time to job search in another location. Physical and mental distance would benefit all of you, especially you. It’s a great, big world out there, go discover it!

    1. Chrissie*

      Seconded. Apply with a wide net. Accept a position at least 2 hours away from home (the more the better).

      1. Nursey Nurse*

        Don’t come to Alaska. The drop in oil prices has hit us hard and we’re bleeding jobs in many of the tech fields. Plus the cost of living up here is high and makes it difficult to support oneself on wages from the jobs we do have available, which are mostly retail and food service.

    2. Excel Slayer*

      Moving out was the best thing for me to get out from under the gaze of overbearing parents. Move! Go! I’m not sure how realistic it is on the back on unemployment, but please keep it in mind.

    3. Manders*

      Seconding this. Tech is actually a pretty good field to be in if you want to relocate, since a lot of companies are willing to fly job candidates in and some will even pay for moving costs or help employees search for a temporary apartment.

      1. Bend & Snap*

        Boston, Austin, Silicon Valley! You can swing a cat in any of these places and hit a tech job. Moving to a tech hub will definitely help your career.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Don’t overlook the Minneapolis/St. Paul area – if you can handle the climate, it’s a great place to be, and definitely has its fair share of tech jobs. If you have questions about this area, I’d be happy to answer what I can.

          OP, physical distance may be the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Definitely check out the Captain Awkward blog – she’s got great advice about setting boundaries, preparing to move out when your parents don’t want you to, and other stuff that may be helpful to you.

          Please keep us updated, OP!

          1. Karanda Baywood*

            The twin cities have a great quality of life, and lots of cultural/play opportunities for your generation, OP.

          2. Fire*

            Seconding Twin Cities!! I’m a bike courier/screenprinter so can’t speak to tech specficially, but I definitely know lots of “quality of life” stuff (food through work/music through friends mostly – we have a VERY good music scene here) and also have a spare room.

          3. Fire*

            (also I deliver lunch to A LOT of tech offices downtown and they’re very well populated with women…….)

        2. I@W*

          + 10000 to all y’all. That’s what I was going to suggest. Move to a tech hub or any large metro area and you’ll find lots of opportunities.

        3. Becky*

          Don’t forget Utah’s “Silicon Slopes”. North Utah County and Salt Lake County have quite a tech boom going in Utah with much lower cost of living than most other tech hubs. I work QA for a software company that is ALWAYS hiring developers.

          1. Gadfly*

            As a recent SLC native now escapee, now in the Bay Area, I second this. You won’t make much compared to elsewhere (the wage to cost of living ratio is problematic for the state overall) but you will probably make enough to live comfortably there. The problem of being female in a ‘male field’ isn’t going to be much better there. But there are jobs, and many of them are companies you can use later to leave UT if you want. And they generally are nice people, even if you find you don’t want to assimilate. And there are growing pockets of alternative (mainstream elsewhere as well as alternative elswhere) culture, although clustered in SLC.

        4. LadyKelvin*

          Pittsburgh too! Plus it has a super low cost of living. Watching my friends buying houses in the city makes me cry when I think that I could afford in that if my rent was my mortgage payment instead.

        5. Honeybee*

          Seattle! Come to the lovely PNW!

          And DC, Raleigh/Durham and New York also have tons of tech jobs (although DC and New York are very expensive).

    4. MashaKasha*

      Thirded. I lived a day’s train ride away from my parents for most of my 20s and it improved our relationship tremendously.

      Then we all had to move to the same area, and are still figuring out how to live so close to each other and not drive each other crazy for almost 20 years now.

    5. Snazzy Hat*

      Because I’m vindictive, I’m picturing the looks on the parents’ faces when OP’s moving van shows up and things get carted out of the house. This may or may not include prior warning that OP is moving out.

      OP, I am sending you so much virtual empowerment. I also agree with Alison’s advice of sending a letter to the newspaper editor to head off your mother’s story.

    6. Archie Goodwin*

      I know DC has been mentioned, and while the rents are high, it does have one advantage I haven’t seen posted: the federal government. Between that, and contractors, there are tons of jobs available at companies big and small (judging by my own recent job search), and it’s reasonably recession-proof. And the rents can definitely be manageable, if you work a little at it.

    7. Lady Anon*

      Yes! In my personal job experience (also a woman in tech, but not a developer), geographic flexibility has made a huge difference in career and personal advancement.

      For other cities outside the Silicon Valley bubble, Chicago’s “Silicon Prairie” has a number of bigger tech companies like GrubHub, Gogo, and Career Builder among others as well as a vibrant start-up community. I highly recommend it as a place that has great public transit, lots of activities and more affordable living compared to cities like NYC or LA.

      There’s also the up and coming “Silicon Beach” in Southern CA. I don’t want to list my software company by name here, but I know we’re hiring a ton of people and have quite a few junior employees. I’m happy to pass along the link to the hiring page.

  5. Kay*

    Wow. I can’t imagine the newspaper would print that sort of letter, but I’d definitely reach out to the newspaper to be sure. Contact the “letter to the editor” address and also contact an editor or two to make sure they receive your message. Good luck. That sounds like a tricky situation!

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      I second this.

      The silver lining is that any newspaper article won’t appear in the top results of internet searches of your name, and hopefully you have a common enough name that your mother’s name will be buried in the results. Even then, I don’t think an employer is going to search for your mother’s name too, to find the Facebook page to link to you. But UGH. Those who know your mother will know.

      And the paper won’t likely publish it as a feature article; it *might* be a letter to the editor, which makes it more obscure.

      1. KarenD*

        Actually, letters published in newspapers with any kind of web presence can have a tendency to float up to the top of search listings if there aren’t a lot of other hits on that name. But you are 100 percent right that this won’t likely be published in any form..

    2. mazzy*

      I agree. An article about someone who hasn’t made it big by 30? That’s not even news. The rest of the “story” is conjecture on mom’s part.

    3. Solidus Pilcrow*

      Well, I can imagine my small hometown (pop. ~2000) paper might run it for the human interest angle if they needed filler. They would print pretty much anything as long as it fit or they didn’t think they’d get sued over it.

      1. ElCee*

        Nah. They’d want to get actual quotes from the subject (OP) so even if they decide to pursue it, when they call her up and she says “I’d rather not, thanks,” it quickly becomes more pain than it’s worth and thus enters the lawsuit/libel angle, which as you note local papers are very wary of because of limited resources.
        I know that some local papers can be goofy but a story like this would not be seen as easy filler since it’s not even coming from the subject. 99% of the time, even the goofiest paper would try and actually talk to the OP.

          1. ElCee*

            Oh true. But it would still not be super attractive to print, as the “ah here’s the story of my good friend Ted” types of letters are never very compelling. And OP should certainly call the paper and tell them she doesn’t want the letter/article posted.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I definitely agree if the local paper is, like, the Washington Post. But if it’s a tiny local paper, I can see why the OP wouldn’t be 100% sure she’s safe (unless she contacts them too).

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I agree that there is no 100% certainty that a tiny local paper will listen to OP, I can vouch for the fact that some do.

                I can’t go into detail but friends had a problem with a third party who did a letter to the editor. The problem was the letter told one side of the story and it was loaded with drama and lies. My friends called the paper and the reply was, “We get many, many letters like this and we just ignore them.” And the letter was, indeed, ignored.

                OP, I sincerely doubt that your mother is the first parent to get this idea of writing the paper on behalf of their kid.

                I’d like to encourage you to take the preemptive strike of going to the paper, talking to someone in authority and laying out the what is happening here. Tell them that this will ruin your career if it is published and you are asking them to cut the letter off at the pass.

                They will probably say yes as it really is not big news anyway. Sorry, no disrespect to you intended, from their perspective this is not something that draws a lot of readers.

                Then go to your mom, tell her that the paper will not publish her letter. And then tell her to butt out of your career.
                Ask her if she feels she did a good job parenting you. Tell her you have to ask because her actions indicate she questions her work as a parent.

              2. aebhel*

                This. Virtually ever letter to the editor that I’ve ever written for our small local press has been published, because there’s just not all that many of them. Seconding the advice to contact the paper.

        1. Solidus Pilcrow*

          Speaking just for my goofy hometown newspaper: it’s not exactly a citadel of high journalism. They wouldn’t bother getting quotes, or if they tried and were rejected, would still run the story anyway. The standards ain’t exactly high there. Like you said, not every paper is like this, but goofy ones do exist and it would be very unlucky for the OP if she lives in a town with a goofy paper.

          1. mander*

            Yeah I hate to denigrate small town papers unfairly but I once was party to a story on which the local reporter completely misrepresented the facts, even though they were prominently displayed on a museum gallery wall. I don’t recall if they ever even responded to the curator’s complaint.

    4. ElCee*

      As someone who worked at a local paper, I can assure OP that what Kay says is correct. Editors and reporters do get fairly good at separating real news from cranky letters and “story ideas” that are really just grievance-airing. They get a LOT of the latter. It’s part of the territory.
      And especially if you call the paper and give them a heads up? It’ll never see the light of day. (It probably won’t anyway, but calling/e-mailing them might help OP’s peace of mind.)

      1. KarenD*

        I edit letters to the editor for a mid-size daily. I can assure you nothing like this would ever see the light of day at my publication, even without any input from OP. It would come through the door with multiple strikes against it: 1) It discusses the personal business of someone who didn’t sign the letter 2) It contains information that is virtually unverifiable (I’m not going to call up Teapots’r’us and say “Lily’s mom says you were mean to her when Lily worked there. Were you?”) 3) It really has no wider public interest outside of prurient curiosity. 4) If it DID have some sort of wider interest, i.e. a legitimate news hook, I’d kick it over to the newsroom.

        THAT SAID, some newspapers do have a policy of printing letters unedited. Even so, I can’t imagine a paper going for this particular issue; they’d basically be condemning a local business (advertiser!) on the say-so of one provably wrong-headed individual.

        I’ve gotten pre-emptive calls like this a few times. I always do my best to reassure the person that they are in no danger.

        1. BessMarvin*

          I work for a Canadian daily and we would never publish this letter either, for the reasons KarenD cites.

          Call the newspaper if it sets your mind at ease — it can’t hurt — but I highly HIGHLY doubt even a goofy smalltown newspaper would publish a letter with unverified allegations about a company that was not written by the person actually in the situation.

    5. Turtle Candle*

      I’d recommend contacting the “letters to the editor” department, too. I think it’s unlikely to see the light of day as well, but if it’s a very small town sometimes they run pretty much everything just for content. (I grew up in a small town and we had the weirdest stuff in our LttE section….)

  6. Toto in KS*

    I’m a programmer in Topeka, KS. We have more women than men here! As to what your mom is doing… well it is Wednesday so I’ll just say ‘WTF?!’

    1. Isben Takes Tea*

      I agree, but Alison has asked us to not refer to Wednesday letters being any more out there than regular letters, so I’ll just go with WOW. And second everyone’s suggestions to go to Captain Awkward.

  7. Bee Eye LL*

    After she sends the letter, tell her she needs to call the paper every day to make sure they print it. If she does that, I can almost guarantee they will not.

    1. ZSD*

      Ha! Yes, getting a letter to the editor printed just takes gumption! She should walk right down there and ask to speak to the editor; he’ll probably print her letter right there on the spot. Or she could mail the letter along with a shoe to get her foot in the door.

        1. Paige*

          Yeah but here’s the thing. Gawker might have printed both the letter and the OP’s request not to publicize it. ESPECIALLY if the OP sent a request not to publish it. Seriously. Not that Mom is thinking of sites like that.

          1. KarenD*

            No. I’m pretty confident in saying that nobody would print this. Serious legal liability + no real public interest = dustbin of history.

            1. Clytemnestra Stein*

              I saw that! And everyone commenting was like “what a great idea!” “this is REAL gumption” “This is how to get hired” “millennials, take note” and I’m like…what…no…

            1. Golden Lioness*

              Also, the resume should be printed in comic sans, on pink paper and be scented… that gives it something extra!

              Lastly, don’t forget the shoe to let them know you’re trying to get a foot in!

    2. Anon for this*

      +1 from a former newspaper employee. ;)

      To really make sure it’s printed, she needs to call reporters at 4:45 on a Friday. They’ll think it has to be important and it will really get their attention! Don’t give up until you get a real reporter or an editor on the phone!

    3. Moonsaults*

      My partner is a journalist before and lordy they get so much of this kind of thing, they really rarely print these things, OP!

    4. Karina Jameson*


      Oh man, I hope she listens to you, OP. Woo for you!

      And I also agree with the person who said some physical space would be good for all of you. Please do what you can to move out of your parents house.

  8. ZSD*

    1) Update, please!
    2) Ooof. I’m so sorry, OP.
    3) It’s not actually clear to me what good the mother thinks this letter will do. Is she thinking that this will lead to her daughter getting job interviews? Or is it supposed to be a cautionary tale warning young women not to go into tech? Both? Something else?

    1. Minister of Snark*

      Honestly, I don’t think the letter really has anything to do with the OP. And this is me speculating, a LOT, but I think it has more to do with Mom and her feelings. This whole thing feels like she’s defending herself as a mother. “It’s not my fault my daughter is unemployed! It’s the industry!”

      1. MashaKasha*

        I think this is exactly the reason why. IMO, “what will people say?” is the #1 motivator behind parental pushiness.

      2. Blue Anne*

        Also, “Give me lots of attention and sympathy!”

        It sounds like a classic narcissistic move, honestly.

        1. Marketing Girl*

          OP – this sounds spot on to me- I found a great sub reddit called Raised By Narcissists – it has REALLY helped me this past year with my mom and setting boundaries & putting her on an information diet. I don’t live with my mom, but there are plenty on the sub who do can are very helpful.

      3. OhNo*

        Bingo. Just from personal experience, whenever my (similarly abusive) parent does something that will have a negative effect on me, they can always justify it away. About 99% of the time, the justification looks/sounds something like, “But it will make me feel better!”

        1. Blue Anne*

          Oh god. Yeah. I don’t want to get too dark here, but when I was having a mental breakdown a few years ago, my narcissistic mother made it so much worse that I became suicidal. She just couldn’t stop saying and doing terrible things to me because didn’t I understand how terrible it made her feel that i was depressed?

          Now that I’m doing much better and have learned how to handle her, I’ve discussed it with her and pointed out that she nearly drove me to suicide. She has said that she wouldn’t change a thing because it made her feel much better.

          So many times, when parents are doing something that seems totally crazy “for” the kids, it’s nothing to do with helping the kid at all.

            1. Klem*

              I’m sorry, too, Blue Anne! I’ve been there. My mother went to the emergency room because the stress of my divorce was too much for her… There was nothing wrong with her, but she got a lot of attention from the medical staff, her friends and neighbors. Then she got mad at me for – not sure what – subjecting her to my sorrow? We didn’t speak for over a year.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Blue Anne, I am so sorry this happened to you. But it seems like you have come a long way since then, and good for you.

            OP, take a look at what people, like Blue Anne, are saying and think about how their stories might parallel your setting some how or not, only you know for certain. I do find it concerning that your parents are so involved in your life. It’s got to be similar to drowning.

    2. Joseph*

      “It’s not actually clear to me what good the mother thinks this letter will do.”
      Based on OP’s description, I think it’s overprotectiveness. Mom feels like it’s still her job to protect her little girl from unfair treatment. And Mom probably is imagining that her letter starting some Massive Crusade of Justice which will magically get OP back to her job or in an even better one.

    3. Sadsack*

      Very good question! I can’t figure what the point of the letter would be either. I am now very curious.

    4. LQ*

      I’m going to speculate on this too. Mom thinks that this is just the horrible culture of the world today and how badly it treats her sweet baby girl and if she just tells people that some great and wonderful employer will swoop down out of the clouds and offer her a job with a corner office because there is no way that anyone who was good could possibly not see the great and incredible value that her sweet girl has to offer any company that is good and treats her well, how could they not see it!

    5. Joseph*

      Actually, I just thought of another possible theory:
      Her parents are both retired educators and OP is still relatively fresh out of school/college herself. So her mom may be thinking of this in terms of the educational system. In schools and even many colleges, a parent complaint is treated like The Most Important Thing in the World. In fact, even if the teacher stands firm against the complaint, someone up the chain (department head, principal, school board) almost certainly will overrule the teacher and step in to “fix” the situation. So her mom is coming from that frame of reference and doesn’t realize that the working world responds *completely* differently to parent complaints.

    6. AnonAnalyst*

      Like the others, I suspect she thinks that once she gets this letter published, awesome job offers will rain down on the OP.

      I think Joseph may be on to something with his speculation about Mom’s actions possibly being influenced by working in a school, where complaints, particularly written complaints, tend to spur at least some attention and action from higher ups.

    7. Eplawyer*

      Mom knows exactly the harm this will cause. By ruining her reputation in tech the op will then have no choice but to become a high school teacher is the mom’s reasoning. Thus op will finally have the career her parents want her to have.

      As noted above this is abusive parenting.

      1. Solidus Pilcrow*

        Yeah, I kinda got that vibe from this: “They disapproved my choice of career path since day one, saying that is <b<'dangerous,' 'full of men,' and ‘not a place for a sweet girl like you.’ “

        At best, they are very sheltering. At worst, they sound like they think their “sweet girl” will be despoiled by all the evil menz if she dares step foot outside the house.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Full of men and not a place for a sweet girl like you….

          Because all men are jerks??????

          Yikes. Holy cow, OP.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That was my take/reaction, too. This is about mom trying to exert control over OP, since threatening her housing is apparently insufficient to deter OP from continuing in her field of choice.

        OP, I’m so sorry you’re in this position, and I just want to echo that if you have friends or other folks who care for you whom you can stay with, then please take them up on it. Geographic distance makes a tremendous difference when dealing with parents whose activities are boundary-crossing and abusive (which seems to describe your parents, just based on your letter).

      3. Jennifer*

        I kind of suspect this too, even though I have a mom who is kinda similar to this (not this bad, but in certain moods she cannot be reasoned with) and her thought process is not this deliberate. Mom sounds like she’s in crazypants emotional mode, which means that logic and reason mean nothing to her as long as she can throw a fit and get her way. She may be doing it for parent/teacher complaint reasons, or just that she wants attention, or as a genuine way to force OP out of tech. Or as a genuine way to force OP out of any ability to get a job again and thus she will have to live with her parents forever. Who knows, it could be any or all of the above and I suspect everything.

        I actually thought that the only way that OP may be able to get her mother off her back (assuming that mom won’t calm down and see reason, and OP can’t find someone else’s couch to live on) would be to say, “Fine! I’ll become a teacher!” It’s not like she can get a job in that industry so easily either.

    8. Turtle Candle*

      It’s possible that what they want to get out of it is a sense of self-justification (“look, world, it’s not MY fault she’s unemployed!”), venting about an industry that they clearly dislike (“dangerous”? I work in tech and the biggest danger I have is carpal tunnel), or something darker (like deliberate sabotage).

      But some people also just feel a persistent need to be Heard. To be Listened To. She might be one of those people–the persistent dumping of all of her anxieties on the LW points that way to me, and it may be that she’s not feeling that she’s getting… er… sufficient returns on said dumping, and is thus subconsciously hungry for a larger audience.

      Not that any of this makes it better, but some people write letters like this purely and only because they want the sense that The World Hears Them.

  9. I'm not a lawyer, but ...*

    I can only repeat how grateful I am to have come of age long before the Internet. I’m a pretty involved parent of a 30-something professional and even I think you need a “parent-ectomy”. Good luck OP.

  10. TotesMaGoats*

    I second everything AAM has said and the other comments. Your parents are wrong. Dead wrong. I strongly suggest finding some way to move out. If you don’t have separate banks accounts, do so. Make sure you have access to all your personal documents like birth certificate and medical records. I’d even go so far as to say that you should expand your job search to places far away from your parents. I hope that doesn’t sound extreme but I think it’s warranted based on what you’ve said.

    1. Observer*

      Oh, heavens, yes. Make sure you have all of your documents. And if your parents won’t give them to you, you can get everything. If you need to get anything by mail, get a PO box.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        And see if a sympathetic friend would allow you to keep stuff like documents at his/her place. You could look at getting a locked box of some kind, so everything is together and reasonably secure, and give it to the friend while you keep the key.

  11. Temperance*

    1.) You need to get away from your parents. Out of their house, a few hours away, maybe across the country. They sound like overbearing nightmares.

    2.) Expand your job search. The tech industry is booming in many places. I’m outside Philly, and there are tons of jobs here, for example. I’m from Scranton, and it’s pretty much DOA there.

    3.) You need to work on your confidence. If you keep failing at the tech interview piece, you either don’t know the languages well enough to problem solve OR you are questioning yourself too much and it shows.

    You have my sympathy, LW. My parents are overbearing, too. My parents biggest dream for me was for me to either become a low-level manager at the movie theater where I worked in high school/college, or to become a teacher or secretary. They reacted to my choice to attend law school like some parents react when they find out that their 14-year-old has a 25-year-old boyfriend who has 2 ex-wives and like 10 kids with 8 different women. I did what I wanted, and we aren’t close, but I’m happier with them at arms length. You will find out that you are as well.

    The letter to the newspaper is freaking humiliating and weird, but, speaking as someone who regularly gets strange letters requesting legal help … I’m going to say that there are tons of misguided weirdos out there who write letters to the editor like the one your mom did. Yes, really. The paper likely won’t print it because, frankly, it’s potential defamation on their hands.

    1. Yamikuronue*

      If I can offer job hunting help as a woman in tech in my late 20s: Try looking for a contracting agency. More and more companies are turning to “try before you buy” by bringing in contractors and hiring them preferentially when fulltime positions open up. Contracting agencies have a good incentive to get you placed somewhere, which then provides income even if it’s not a great fit (and you can keep looking without much penalty because you’re on a temporary contract). And money gets you the chance to move out…

      1. Anonymous 40*

        Have you had a lot of success moving from contract to permanent in those situations? I’ve avoided contract positions like the plague because of the uncertainty. I think I’d have a hard time feeling secure because it would feel like I had a countdown ticking toward unemployment.

        1. EP*

          A good contracting/temp company keeps you employed (they get paid when you get paid) so you might bounce a bit but I had a temp to hire position with in a year when I finally went with one. (Started June 1 went perm December 1)

        2. OFeR*

          My spouse went to a national recruiting/temp firm with a local office when she lost her last job as a developer, and after interviewing for some contract jobs, landed a permanent position at a making two-thirds more within a month of being out of work. Those guys work hard for their commissions!

        3. Tequila Mockingbird*

          Contract work is a great idea. Even if it doesn’t translate immediately into something permanent, it’s a paycheck. Sometimes even a substantial one, depending on your location. Right now what the OP needs is (1) the financial means to move out, and (2) something to fill the gap on her resume. Contract work provides both!

          Plus, as Temperance said, OP needs to expand her job search and possibly move to another city. A contract placement recruiter could help her achieve that very quickly.

          1. LQ*

            Yes, even if it doesn’t turn into something permanent for the OP it would be valuable to fill that gap that she’s got right now.

          2. Turtle Candle*

            Yes–while normally I’d be a little leery of this kind of thing, my first thought was, “LW, you need a paycheck, any kind of paycheck, doing almost anything, that will allow you to get out.” A permanent position in tech would be the gold ring, of course. A contract position in tech would be second-best. But at this point, I think it’s likely that the quality of the LW’s life would be improved if she took a temporary position even outside that realm–because she would be able to control the degree of her parents’ influence in her life far better.

            (I realize that it’s easier said than done, and it’s glib to be like, “Deliver pizzas for a few months, sock away some cash, and move out!”–those kinds of jobs can be difficult to get and difficult to keep. But I do think that Priority #1 needs to be a way to save up enough to get out, assuming there are no other couches she can crash on in the meantime.)

        4. Unegen*

          You do trade in security, a bit, when you take on contract work. You have to develop a bit of a mercenary mindset: accept you’re a replaceable cog, forego feeling loyal to your employer, always be on the lookout for the next job that’s better for you. And that’s tiring, long term. But the LW is young and going from contract to contract is a great (repeat: GREAT) way to get large increases in salary that aren’t remotely possible via an annual cost of living raise. I did this in my 20s and averaged a $10,000 salary increase per contract hop just by applying for tiny steps upward each time (e.g., Junior Teapot Maker to Teapot Maker to Teapot Maker II to Teapot Maker III, etc). By contrast, annual raises in my area hover around 1.5% per year. If the LW can manage this, she will go a long way toward financial security (maybe not wealth, but a little less worry) down the road.

          The caveats are that yes, it plagues one’s sense of security, and yes, it involves taking risks. You really have to be the sort of person who sees a ticking clock and threat of despair and total ruin as a great motivator.

        5. Honeybee*

          I work in tech. It varies by contracting agency, but some contracting agencies are actually your full-time employers with benefits and they find you another position when your contract ends. I’m an FTE on a team with lots of contractors, and some of them have been here for 2-3+ years. Some of them have moved from a contractor role to an FTE role here. Many moved to FTE roles at other companies. Many of them have decided to leave the company and their agencies have found them a job at another great company.

          Plus, in tech experience is key, as is who you know. A contract allows you to get both of those things – you get to know people and you get the experience you can put on your resume.

        6. aelle*

          I don’t know if contracting is exactly the same, but I work for an engineering consulting agency and I have a permanent contract (the agency pays me a salary whether or not I am placed on a project). In the 4 years I have been with them, I have been placed on 3 different projects, all with the same client, so it feels relatively stable and favorable to growth.

          Moving from contract to permanent position really depends on the industry and the company. Again in my industry, in past years it was very easy and a completely expected career path. Now my client’s industry is in a shrinking phase so it is much more difficult, but there are other paths for career development (project management, development of new consulting services, sales and bids, etc).

      2. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        Great advice. I work in tech and my last three roles have been contract to permanent positions. What’s wonderful about contracting is the entire “try before you buy” concept on BOTH sides — you get to find out if it’s a good fit or not before taking a permanent gig.

        Also, try hooking up with a nationally based contracting agency. Start working for them NOW locally and save up some money. Take a short term gig (there are plenty for 3-6 months) and let them know that you’re looking for your next gig in some other city. When your current gig is about to end up, they’ll place you somewhere else. Somewhere far, far away…

  12. Murphy*

    Firstly, I’m sorry. That sounds awful.

    From the way you describe your parents, I also feel like that letter won’t get published.

  13. March*

    Oh man OP, I have so much empathy right now, overbearing parents can be tough to handle.

    Alison’s advice is great – be proactive and contact the paper before your mother can send in her letter.

  14. Bubbles*

    OP, this is a difficult situation. I’m so sorry your parents can’t respect you and your adult decisions.

    I work on a newspaper editorial page, and I second Alison’s advice about contacting the editor regarding your mother’s letter. Chances are, though, editors would read it and throw it away. Newspaper editorial pages, in my experience, are more interested in political and community matters, not a young woman’s career path. They’ll likely see this letter for what it is and pay it no attention.

    However, I’d suggest that you call the editor rather than write another letter. Editorial pages receive so, so many letters. You wouldn’t want yours to get lost in the shuffle. Plus you can better explain to the editor about the invasion of privacy on your mother’s part and how you had nothing to do with sending her letter.

    1. Anon for this*

      I actually select and vet the letters for a newspaper editorial page. I and the vast majority of journalists would dump a letter like this in the reject file immediately, but there might be the one weirdo newspaper that thinks about publishing it. So best to err on the extreme side of caution and just let the editor know you oppose having your letter published. You are not a public figure so it’s not acceptable to run without your permission.

  15. Coffee Owl*

    LW, in case you have not found it yet, please let me recommend the amazing Captain Awkward to you. Her blog does a fantastic job of talking about boundaries and how to establish them with your parents.

    As far as this letter, I think it would be unlikely that the newspaper would publish it, but Alison’s advice is good. Alternatively, could you write your own letter? Take the time to reframe your career path so far in positive terms – why you love the field you’ve picked, what are the job things that light you up, things you have learned, challenges that you’ve overcome, what knowledge you will take with you into your next job. Even if you don’t mail it, I can see how constant you’re-doing-career-wrong talk from your parents can be so disheartening, and something written down on paper can be a reminder and a jolt when you need it.

    1. H.C.*

      +1 for Captain Awkward, since the bigger issue here is setting boundaries with your parents.

      But I also concur that the sooner you can move out of parents’ place, the better. Which, I know, is tough if you don’t have a source of income yet; is there any possibility of taking something on a part-time/temporary basis while you continue your hunt in the tech field just so you have the resources to move out?

      Either way, best of luck in your job search.

      1. Coffee Owl*

        +1 for the forums, too!

        OP, you may especially want to look into the forums if you are having trouble putting together a Team You. Right now your parents aren’t really on Team You at least as far as job hunting goes, so now is a great time to find more people who can be. Who do you have on your side as cheerleaders? Do you have any tech friends who can look over your resume or refer you for jobs? A professional that you have a relationship with that you can roleplay interviews with? Are there local support resources or professional organizations specifically for women in tech that you can join up with?

        I’m firmly in the camp of those saying “If you can move out, move out ASAP” but moving is challenging and wicked expensive, so you may not be in that position. If you aren’t, it can be so isolating and discouraging, so look for ways that you can get out of the house – can you do job applications at Yonder Local Coffeehouse or your library?

        1. SebbyGrrl*

          I’ve run out of spoons and it’s all bees right now, thank you all for Cap A references!

          There are so many good things there; lots of great scripts and experience.

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      Perhaps that’s a feeling OP can capitalise on if she needs to: remind her mother what can happen to a sweet girl like her if her name and identifying information get published on the big bad internet…

    2. Damn it Hardison!*

      I can’t help but wonder how many other “sweet girls” the OP’s parents might have discouraged as teachers.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, I wondered that too. It sounds like the kind of pipelining that often pushes girls into ‘pink-collar’ careers. (And that pushes boys out of them, for that matter.)

      2. Susan C.*

        Ugh. I hadn’t considered that angle yet – now my anger on OP’s behalf has tipped over into “I need to lie down”…

        (the only thing keeping me from doing it, besides the judgement of my colleagues, might be your username. *dreamy sigh*)

  16. Liz*

    I empathize, OP. My parents were/are similar. Living with them I was convinced that I couldn’t be successful. When I started my MBA (years after I moved out, by the way) my father actively discouraged me, and in fact he continues to tell me why my corporate job is no good. When I was chosen for a leadership development program at work, it wasn’t “congratulations” – it was “I bet they’re going to lay you off soon”.

    Moving out a few months after I turned 20 and being on my own since then (I’m 36 now) has given me the distance and perspective I need to be confident in my own choices. I’ve also gotten to know other people who admire my choices, rather than tear them down. Moving out was one of the best decisions I ever made, and even when it was difficult I’ve never regretted it. You can do it too! Good luck to you.

    1. coffepwnd*

      I’m sorry you don’t get any recognition from your family. For what it’s worth that’s great that you are leading already in your thirties. I’m about to break into management and passed my 30th a couple months ago.

    2. Sensual Shirt Sleeve*

      I’m sorry he said that. I think parents can be really confused by their children’s careers — some never stop seeing us as little kids — especially their daughters, as there still are a lot of unspoken assumptions that women don’t do important jobs and their work is just to fill in time between family and home life.

      My parents are totally mystified by my career as well — when I landed a full-time job with a Big 4 firm my mother’s response was ‘That’s nice, did I tell you Dad lost his camera lens cap?’ I don’t talk about work and careers with her any longer, it’s for the best.

      1. Liz*

        That’s the route I go now – questions about work get answered with “going fine! How about that Great British Bake Off show?”. I’m not going to leave any more openings for negative remarks.

    3. TC*

      My parents suggested that I only went to university to “get the bit of paper.” They don’t seem to understand that I learned a whole lot more than I would have had I not gone.

      1. TMosby*

        I’m sure I could have learned almost or just as much on my own if I dedicated four years to reading and studying intensely full time. Who cares?
        Every job I’ve ever had has cared a great deal about the “bit of paper.” I made 6 figures before 30 not because I’m any smarter than the many people who make less than me, but because employers loved the “bit of paper” I “bought” and fight over candidates with my specific “bit of paper.”

        I never understand this attitude. You can feel how you want about higher education and it’s worth, but if you get a degree from a good school, you will have much higher earning potential than you would otherwise.

      2. Observer*

        And what’s wrong with going for the “bit of paper”? If you are making a correct assessment of the value, that’s a really good reason to go, in my opinion.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Doing a stupid little chair dance for you, Liz. So amazing that you pulled yourself out of that nightmare.

      OP, this can be you someday. Don’t let your parents put you in a box like that.

  17. Pari*

    presumably the folks who are calling you for a technical interview know you’re a woman before they call, no? I know it’s tough in IT for women but it might help to get some perspective from a trusted friend in IT about how your skills and resume are matching up to the jobs you’re applying for. I’m saying this bc many IT firms aggressively pursue women bc they are so underrepresented in the industry.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      And the OP is a “20 something,” so this is very early in her career. The OP’s parent’s may need to be reminded that great jobs don’t just appear and it takes patience to find the right employer. I would almost say that the job search is normal. A good job will show up, it really will, and they just need to accept that they cannot make a job appear any faster.

      1. Pwyll*

        I feel like the problem in these situations is that the parents are so far removed from what it’s like to search for a job that they literally can’t fathom why it would take so long. This is probably especially true if they’re teachers, as they probably went directly from college to teaching back when getting a teaching job wasn’t nearly as difficult as it is today.

        1. Church Lady*

          This. Getting a job teaching in a public school has traditionally had some decent job security with it, so it’s likely that OP’s parents are clueless about how little job security there is in the private sector, and how time-consuming and complicated it is to get hired. I’ve got three 20-somethings (one still in college) and my heart aches for how tough is it for them and and their friends. (I am also feeling vindicated for being on the opposite end of the helicopter parent spectrum – I never checked my kids’ homework or complained to their teachers about a bad grade…figured it was up to them to take responsibility…and I never pushed them to consider one career over another. I was just so happy they had a job!)

        2. Jennifer*

          And the teacher job hunt these days is NOT easy. I know a fair chunk of ex-teachers and currently frustrated teachers and people who get laid off by default every spring and may or may not be hired every fall. I can’t say I’d recommend professional teaching in school as a career any more given how they get treated.

  18. NW Mossy*

    Oh, OP, that stinks big-time. If you’re reading the comments and willing to share more details about your job search thus far, perhaps those here with some experience in tech hiring can give you pointers on technical interviews and hopefully help you clear that barrier.

  19. Also raised by helicopter parents*

    My parents were EXACTLY like this (right down to being teachers) and my extended family has helicopterish tendencies as well. I was very isolated growing up because of it. I ended up enlisting in the military and leaving home through day I turned 18. It’s been 10 years and I have not seen or spoken to them or gone back to my home state since I left. My actions may seem extreme but I am so much happier and at peace since I left. I made myself a new family from the people I met and bonded with in the military and one of my former CO’s from basic adopted me (even though I’m an adult, it was more to sever me from my toxic parents legally).

    OP, the only advice I can offer is that you have to do what is best for yourself and look after yourself. Remember that you are important and deserve to be treated with respect. I know it’s hard to put yourself first in a situation like this, but you are a valuable person and you deserve respect and to have your wished followed. I wish you well.

    1. Snazzy Hat*

      I made myself a new family from the people I met and bonded with in the military and one of my former CO’s from basic adopted me (even though I’m an adult, it was more to sever me from my toxic parents legally).

      That is freaking awesome. I salute you both and thank you for your service.

      1. Marketing Girl*

        That’s exactly what you have to do too when you come from toxic parents- create your own family & happiness! Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Also raised, I’d like to add my thanks for your service to our country and your assistance for the OP here.

      OP, you already have a leg up here, you found AAM. The folks here can be your family and/or your support group if you wish. Added bonus, we are very portable, where ever you have internet here we are. You can jump in on Friday’s open thread and talk about your search. You’ve gotten a lot of tips here, I am sure more people would be willing to share also.

      If you have not done so already, check over Alison’s job hunting and resume advice. Alison’s advice has helped so many people, it’s awesome. People just like you. For all that is not going right in your life now, you have found one of the best places to be on the internet for advice and support.

  20. Natalie*


    I’d definitely contact the letters editor of your local newspaper and ask that they not print this letter. If they have an ombudsman, contact that person, too. I can’t imagine this is the first time they’ve gotten a request like that. Certainly other people have crazy relatives.

    Is there anyone you could live with, allowing you to move out now? I know that probably seems drastic, but your parents sound like a really unhealthy influence on you generally and some breathing space might help. A friend or maybe even a friend’s parent would probably be happy to give you their couch/spare bed for a while so you can get out of that house.

  21. Minister of Snark*

    I worked in the newspaper industry for years. I doubt very much that any reputable paper would print this letter, even as a letter to the editor, but on the off chance that they might, I would call the editorial office, ask for the publisher or managing editor and explain the situation. Explain that you have repeatedly told your mother not to send this letter, but that you have not be able to persuade her. Explain that you do not want this letter printed as it would cause harm to your professional reputation and would impact your ability to find future employment. Emphasize the potential for damage, because that should make the editor/publisher leery of printing it.

    Then I would move out and consider changing your name.

    1. some1*

      I doubt that a reputable paper would print this as much I doubt that if it DID get published it would even have the intended effect Mom wants. Hiring managers are not going to want to hire the LW even if they do see the letter.

    2. orangecat*

      I could see my hometown newspaper printing it. I worked there for several years, and this sounds like the sort of “human interest” story they would have had no problem printing.

      1. ElCee*

        But wouldn’t they have at least contacted the OP for a quote? I put this above, because I worked at a local paper for several years too, and we were (let’s just say) not the Washington Post by a long shot–but my editor would never have let that fly without attempting to contact the actual subject of the “article.” We would never have taken the OP’s mother at her word. Even with stories about little kids, where you are speaking to the parents a lot more, we always got quotes from the child him/herself.

        1. Eddie Turr*

          Sure, but the bar is much lower for letters to the editor. Depending on the size (and, uh, coolness?) of the town, it’s possible the editors would decide not to publish the letter simply because it’s not really interesting. A smaller operation, with less to talk about and fewer submitted letters, might print it without considering that information isn’t really the mom’s to share. Some editors are very “We have the legal right to print this, so we will!” A phone call or email should help, though.

          1. Honeybee*

            Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. If the mom is a good writer and she writes it more about reflecting larger trends for women in technology or something like that, I could see a newspaper publishing it. The NYT publishes weird letters to the editor all the time, and smaller newspapers definitely do. I’d still call/email to be on the safe side.

          2. orangecat*

            Yes, exactly. The letters that got published on the Letters to the Editor page were pretty much printed as is, unless they contained vulgarities or things we knew were outright lies. But “my daughter is wonderful and she can’t get a job because companies today are meanies!” totally would have made it in.

            1. Minister of Snark*

              Apparently, I worked for a different sort of newspaper. The editor was pretty discerning about what he put in the LTE section and wouldn’t have touched this with a ten foot pole.

            2. Atty w bossy mother*

              Even if it doesn’t there’s this new-fangled thing called the Internet where people can publish anything they want to the entire world. if mom even has a passing knowledge of the internet, LW is in trouble.

              There is a deeper issue going on than just this letter: it’s that mom thinks she’s in control of the LW life and the LWs failures reflect badly on her. she’s not gonna stop if the newspaper doesn’t publish it. Unfortunately, LW need to come up with an action plan to go thermonuclear on her mother. this isn’t going to stop by LW being polite

  22. Muriel Heslop*

    As a former high school teacher, I can tell you: it is NOT the best thing to happen to anyone. (I liked it, but still! That’s crazy talk.)

    Good luck setting some boundaries, OP. I hope you can find work soon so that you can move far away. Seriously, move.

  23. Tuxedo Cat*

    OP, how internet savvy and stubborn is your mother? If the newspaper doesn’t publish her letter, will she look to online options? It might worthwhile to keep an eye out for that and figure out how to deal with it if she does. You could probably write to other sites as well to take it down, but I’m not sure you could do that with a Facebook post.

    Don’t mean to alarm you, but I like to be prepared and not blindsided.

  24. AndersonDarling*

    I’m guessing that the mom is trying to do anything she can to help her sweet daughter find a job, and the article idea was the first thing she thought of. Maybe the OP can give her something constructive to help with the job search? Can she sort through craigslist job ads? Ask if she can do some networking at her school- keep her ears open for teachers whose spouses work at tech companies?
    Normally, these are terrible suggestions for parents, but it may be the lesser of evils.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Considering that the OP’s parents don’t even want her working in tech, I have a feeling this could backfire in its own special way, like getting the OP bombarded with “safe” (i.e. totally different industry) job listings.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Ha! “Here is a listing for a receptionist job at the school. You need to program phones and dial numbers all day. That will be perfect for your skillset!”

      2. Natalie*

        Well, she can always ignore those totally wrong jobs. It probably wouldn’t work forever, but maybe it would keep HeloMom busy for a couple of months while OP gets out of Dodge.

  25. Kai*

    Also OP, when your parents come to you with more “advice” about your career, that’s a good time to be as bland and non-committal as possible. “Thanks for your input.” “Thanks, I’ll think about that.” “That’s an interesting idea.” They don’t need (or deserve, frankly) to know about your career goals or intentions. You can try to be upfront about how they’re butting in in ways that are inappropriate, but it doesn’t sound like they’ll be willing to listen, so I wouldn’t even engage.

    1. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

      This. My parents lost the right to detailed information about my life when they used it against me. All they get now are meaningless pleasantries.

  26. Jesmlet*

    My sympathies, it must make your job search so much more stressful when you have people who aren’t supportive of your decisions. I can’t imagine a respectable newspaper would be willing to take that story, especially if you contacted them and asked them not to run it. In this case, I would cast a wide net, look places far away with a higher population of women in tech. Unfortunately your parents will probably never come around and for your peace of mind, I would definitely recommend giving yourself some space.

    I’m also very curious about the circumstances of your losing your last job. Are you sure there’s nothing that can be done about that?

  27. AndersonDarling*

    Wait a minute…is Mom’s article going to list “greedy” companies by name? Does she understand that she could be sued? Not only is she ruining her daughter’s career, she could be opening her up to lawsuits because the OP shared internal information?

  28. Kate*

    Ug, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this OP. Job hunting is so stressful without the added parental pressure.

    Have you thought about what transferable skills you might have that could help broaden your job search? The reason I ask is that I used to be a research scientist, and I had the same struggles finding a job that it feels like you’re having. Everyone would say, “Oh, but there are so many science jobs!” And I’d say, “Sure, but not doing the kind of science I do.” I finally had to reevaluate my resume and started applying for tech jobs that could use some of the skills I developed as a scientist. I actually got a lot more interest from prospective employers and eventually found a job I’m really happy with. My point is, don’t feel like you have to box yourself into a specific field just because that’s what you have experience in.

    Good luck!

  29. Spooky*

    So, OP, without knowing exactly what part of the field you’re in, I just want to point out…

    1. If you’re living at home, you probably have access to the computer your mother is using to compose this message.
    2. You almost certainly know what email account she’s using, and from the sound of her tech aversion, I’m guessing she very well might leave her account logged in.

    I mean, the possibilities are endless, really. They crossed the line. You asked politely. You’ve done your best to play nice.

    Now hack that account/file and go to town.

    1. Michaela*

      No no no no.

      The fantasy of righteous justice is a lovely one, but no no no no no, do not engage in hacking/cracking/sabotage. The LW needs her parents to treat her like an adult who can manage her own life and career, not like a petulant child who booby-traps equipment.

      1. halpful*

        agreed… although, I think it would be fair game to skim through Sent Mail for the names of any papers she’s sent her story to.

    2. neverjaunty*

      The OP needs help and support, and your advice is that she should do petty things that could get her into legal trouble? Congrats on being part of the problem.

  30. LQ*

    I’m so hesitant to give any career advice here because that’s not the problem (it’s a problem, but I’m sure that even if your career were moving along well your parents would find problems with it). But please! Do listen to the things people have said.

    And good luck and work hard to getting yourself to a good point away from your parents.

  31. Fluke Skywalker*

    Echoing others who recommend Captain Awkward for this (although I believe she’s on a short hiatus right now, as she just got married). There are also the Friends of Captain Awkward forums, where community members are available to support you:

    I’m sure being told “move out!” is frustrating when you’re unemployed. It’s the obvious answer, but I know I have also been in a position where it just isn’t an option. I can tell you from my experience that what I had to do was get out of the house as much as possible– go to the library or a coffee shop to fill out job applications, take a walk, etc. Having time and space to yourself is really important when you’re living in an environment that feels stifling.

  32. coffepwnd*

    OP: I sympathize with you. I was actually kicked out 3 months after graduating college, during the 08-09 recession as the country crumbled with 500,000 jobs lost per month, with $0 in my checking, several thousand in personal debt, and 18k in loans. Not even Wendy’s was hiring and I had worked at Wendy’s before college.

    The reason? My mother said she knew what was best for me and to apply her own version of tough love to the above situation. I got a job within 2 months of being kicked out and didn’t speak to her for years. To this day, our relationship has not recovered and we barely speak.

  33. AnotherAlison*

    Aughhh, adding to the chorus of folks whose blood is boiling.
    I can sympathize with having pushy parents. . .my narc dad doesn’t really respect women, so he always encouraged us to do male dominated things (mechanical engineering for me). But, there was the time he told me I was stupid for considering a career change (no one asked for his approval or opinion), and the time he called me to tell me not to make a job change (again, no one asked). He also didn’t approve of the house my husband and I bought.

    All this to say, parents like this don’t change. Heed the recommendations for boundary-setting NOW. It will go own forever, even if you’re in your own home with your own S/O or family. It won’t stop until you make it stop.

  34. Jenny*

    As a former newspaper reporter, I agree that even if she does send it, that doesn’t mean it will be printed. If you find out that she sent it, just email the editor and explain. Newspapers get enough drama from people — they’re not going to intentionally attract any additional drama by getting involved in a family dispute.

    1. Atty w bossy mother*

      Do you think that’s going to stop mom? Likely she’s just going to get more angry and posted on the Internet for the world to see. Unfortunately, newspapers with morals are no longer the guardians of information. Any idiot can publish anything they want the world to see through the Internet .

  35. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    OP, I’m a woman in tech in the Minneapolis area, and there are a goodly number of tech jobs going spare! I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and though I’ve had the occasional issue, I’ve never encountered anything like you describe. Perhaps it’s because of the culture around here?

    P.S. The winters are nothing to fear if you buy a good coat and boots, instead of cheap crap from WalMart. ;)

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I agree – winters in Minneapolis can be coped with; it just requires common sense and some planning ahead!

      1. Rana*

        Yup, Minnesotans know how to do snow. I moved there directly from the West Coast, bought good boots and a down coat from LandsEnd, and I did just fine during the years I lived there.

  36. GertietheDino*

    My first thought was, “Who reads newspapers anymore?” (it was my degree, I know they don’t) Honestly, LW, no one is searching for your name in the local paper when you go out on interviews. Even if they publish it, your name may not even be attached.

    Lovingly, Fellow Kid of Helicopter Parents

  37. Student*

    In your letter to the editor, mention that your mother is fabricating/embellishing the report. That will make it much less appealing to them, if they know the subject will deny it immediately.

    You need to find new living arrangements immediately, even if they are very cheap living arrangements split with several room mates. Your parents are a terrible influence. You need to distance yourself from them ASAP to start to gain a normal life baseline – because they are so very far from normal. Once you have some independence, it’s up to you to decide whether to keep a relationship with them or not – but don’t feel bad about cutting loons like this out of your life so you can make something of it. They are emotionally and mentally crippling you so they can have a perpetual doll to play house with.

    1. Karanda Baywood*

      I’m also hoping the OP is not an only child, from the standpoint of this type of parent holding on forever to the one person they can guilt into taking care of them — to the detriment of having normal life of her own.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        You don’t have to be an only child to be the one your parents choose as their retirement plan.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Especially if the other child(ren) happen to be male…it’s a daughter’s “duty” to care for the aging parents, you know! ::giant eyeroll:: (To be clear, if an adult child chooses to participate in this arrangement, I have no problem with that – it’s when parents, and/or the extended family – just choose one child and attempt to control that person’s life so they have no choice but to do this – that I think it’s deeply wrong.)

  38. Cobol*

    Developer is probably the hottest girls right now. That you can’t get a job makes me think you live in an isolated area. It might be good for you and your parents if you move. Even entry level should pay you enough to live in every major city on the west coast, Denver, New York, and probably others.

        1. ZSD*

          Ah, thanks! I figured it was a typo, but my best guess was that it was supposed to say, “…The hottest job opportunity for girls right now.” Obviously, I’m relieved to have been wrong.

  39. Amy*

    Have you tried EdTech? I work for an EdTech company – think McGraw-Hill, Pearson etc. We have tons of tech needs and almost none of that bro-y culture you hear about in other tech fields. Sure the pay is not the same as a big Silicon Valley firm but I’ve been very happy with the full package : good salary, great benefits, work from home 1-2 days a week, 4 weeks vacation. Check it out!

  40. Sami*

    Oh dear, OP, this all sucks. And I hope that even if your Mom writes this letter it won’t be printed.

    This is, perhaps, off-topic, but your cousin has a mental illness. An illness. Not caused by an art degree, tough job search and/or being on welfare.

  41. MashaKasha*

    This had me scratching my head: “They wish to see me at a high school, teaching teenagers how to type, use text processors and spreadsheets and write letters.”

    Is it a real class that exists in a high school? And if it does, do OP’s parents realize that this is the class every stoner and every burnout in that school would sign up for, because, if that class isn’t an easy A, I don’t know what is? This is what they would like their daughter to do instead of a (perfectly normal for a woman; hell, I have one too) career in tech? My point here is that they appear to be so far removed from today’s reality that none of their career advice would ever be of any use to OP.

    I could also add a few things about how long it takes to get an education that would get you a job in teaching, and how hard it is to find your first job in teaching, based on what I’ve seen with people I know who have chosen that career in the past ten years; but that’s already been covered in this thread. Again, something OP’s parents seem to have no idea about.

    1. KimberlyR*

      I bet this class existed back in the day. I know I had a computer class in high school that would be very obsolete these days.

      1. Zahra*

        It did. I was in high school in the early 90s and learned to touch type, and work with MS Works (as a word processor and a spreadsheet program). When I was in college in the late 90s/early 2000s, I took a “MS Word” class… for the easy A.

        1. MashaKasha*

          My kids had typing classes in middle school (HS class of 2011 and 2014).

          There was a programming class in high school, so that would be a possibility, but not many schools have one. Pretty sure their school didn’t have a class in Word/Excel though.

          1. Intrepid*

            I was HS class of 2008 and had a typing and MS Office class. It wasn’t an easy A, because the teacher failed any assignment with 3 typos (and forgetting to write your class group under your name meant every missing letter was counted as a typo= no “3rd hour” was an automatic failure). It was mandatory and not an easy A, but it also… not well-regarded. She was seen as a bit of a relic.

        2. AnonAnalyst*

          Yeah, I took this class in high school in the late 90s. I actually have no idea how I ended up in it because it was an elective and I did not sign up for it, but my guidance counselor was useless and couldn’t figure out how to move me out of it. Even at that point, it was becoming obsolete since most of the people I went to school with had all that software on their home computers and were familiar with using it.

          The school developed a programming course after I graduated. I think it may have replaced the general computer skills class, which was probably a good move.

        3. Bend & Snap*

          Typing class (mid 90s) was the best class I took in high school as far as real-world value. A decent part of my job is writing and I can accurately type 90 wpm.

          1. halpful*

            your typing class taught that? I don’t remember getting anything out of my mandatory classes (they had specialized typing-tutor machines I found irritating) and I think they were only in elementary school… but I have fond memories of Mario Teaches Typing at home, and once I discovered there were *people* on the internet, my typing got very fast through sheer practice. :)

          2. Elizabeth West*

            We had typing class way back in the day (1980s) with actual typewriters. I never took it–Mavis Beacon taught me in the 1990s when I began to use computers. I do wish I’d taken shorthand, though; it would come in handy when I’m taking notes because I can’t write very fast or read my own handwriting. I’d like to still learn it.

        4. Dynamic Beige*

          Ditto. When I was in high school in the 80’s I took Keyboarding (I think it was called). Aside from learning how to touch type (with all of our fingers!) we also learned how to properly format letters for business correspondence, how to type on envelopes and other things that were important before computers came in and took over the world.

          Aside from the fact that it was mostly women in the course, because it was considered “Secretarial Light”, we also did speed trials to determine our words per minute. Everyone took it pretty seriously, there weren’t any stoners or burnouts trying for an easy grade. The teacher was pretty strict and that wouldn’t have flown!

          1. MashaKasha*

            Thing is, the high-school kids now already know how to do and use all these things, and have known for years.

            I would’ve been very thankful for a typing class when I was in high school in the 80s, too.

          2. zutara*

            I signed up for a keyboarding class in high school thinking it was a typing class. I showed up the first day and it turned out to be a music class (as in Casio keyboards). It was too late for me to drop out and sign up for a different class.

        5. nonegiven*

          My son had a keyboarding class in elementary school. He had to teach the teacher about ctl+alt+del.

      2. BPT*

        Oh definitely. I remember classes where we learned how to type and use Word and Excel. We’d take typing tests and everything. I think this was in middle school and I’m just 30 now, so it wasn’t THAT long ago, and yet it’s still obsolete (at least at that age). Kids know how to type now probably by the age of 6-8.

        1. Kyrielle*

          The kids learn to use a computer a bit in first grade at my son’s school, and have typing class starting in second grade, yup.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Amen – The fact that OP’s parents think basic computer skills classes at the high school level are still a thing actually made me laugh out loud. My 4th grader has been learning keyboarding since kindergarten; my 11th grader has been making PowerPoints for 5+ years. Both of them are on the computer nearly every day for school related work.

    3. Solidus Pilcrow*

      Assuming that “teaching teenagers how to type, use text processors and spreadsheets and write letters” is what her parents are actually saying and not the OP snarking/summarizing, then, yeah, her parent’s knowledge of computers and tech is a good 20+ years out of date. I remember taking typing, keyboarding, and business letter writing back in the late ’80s (and don’t I feel old now).

      Of course, if the OP taught at the local HS, she would be doing the students a great favor because that school is even further behind the times than my old high school.

    4. Alienor*

      My daughter is a senior in high school, and she learned keyboarding, computer and Microsoft Office skills back in third and fourth grade. She can make better PowerPoint presentations than I can — she has to, since most of her classes require them for group projects.

    5. Eddie Turr*

      I suspect these courses still exist in some capacity, but probably not at a high school level. Typing and word processing are taught in middle school, at the latest, at least if we’re talking about traditional-track students and not kids with special needs or circumstances. In many districts, elementary school students are issued iPads or laptops.

      Some high schools do have classes like computer programming and graphic design, but it can be tricky to find positions outside the areas of math, science, and special ed. Districts just don’t employ very many “elective” (for lack of a better term) teachers. States that treat their teachers like garbage have shortages right now, but any state you’d actually want to teach in is going to be quite competitive. So, it’s not like teaching is the safe choice OP’s parents seem to think it is.

    6. Jaydee*

      It was a real class that existed in middle/high school when I was in middle/high school (in the mid-1990s in a broke-as-heck school district with woefully outdated tech). Now? My kindergartner has access to a classroom set of laptops and tablets. By middle school and high school the kids have a laptop of their own that is theirs for the year (just like textbooks). Learning to type, use text processors and spreadsheets, and write letters is part of the curriculum in all content areas.

      Honestly, now is a great time to be involved in the intersection of technology and education because there is just so much neat stuff that teachers and kids can use to facilitate learning. But if that isn’t your thing, then it isn’t your thing. You should be pursuing the types of careers that interest you!

  42. KimberlyR*

    I agree that distance and cutting off the information train to your parents is the best way to go. They do sound like toxic parents and trying to reason with them or get them to understand your way of thinking is futile. If you have friends or other family you can stay with, now is the time to do it. (It feels like a horrible imposition but there are probably several people in your life who would love to have you over temporarily to get away from the parents.) I also wonder if your job searches will be more successful if you are away from that toxic environment…I feel like they’re chipping away at your tech-confidence (through no fault of your own! But if you’re told over and over that you can’t do something, even if you rationally know you can, you will start to subconsciously absorb that message.)

    Good luck!

  43. seejay*

    As someone with a controlling mother, I feel for you, I certainly do. :( I’ve been lucky in that my mom’s not tried to control my career fortunately, only my relationships and child-bearing choices. Moving far away has helped to some degree, although that put a whole other monkey wrench into the mix (“when are you moving back home? Your niece and nephew don’t know you anymore!”) but distance helps me not get into as many arguments and keep the personal information that needs to be kept from her to a minimum.

    Definitely try the respect and adult conversation tactic and get moved out as soon as possible, for your own sanity. I say this as a woman who has managed to make it in the STEM field with a busy-body mother!

    1. Temperance*

      Ooooh this takes me back. My mother hates my career, hates that she didn’t pick my husband, and hates that I live a few hours away, near a major city.

      When my sister got pregnant, my mother told EVERYONE that I was moving “home” to get to know the baby. In my last year of law school. I was apparently going to drop out (?) and become a secretary (??) and also leave my now-husband. My sister called me and was like, uh, I want you in my kid’s life, but don’t screw up everything going on in yours, which is how I found out.

      1. seejay*

        Oh wow! That’s some epic level meddling. My mom did try to convince me to move to the city where they and my sister and BiL lived with the argument that “it’s just like our hometown, only smaller!” Um… I live in a huge several million population city and I *hate* how small our home city is, what makes you think I want to live someplace *SMALLER* than it, just for a job??? And instead I moved further away (I’m now 3000 miles away). Unfortunately my sister and BiL tend to agree with her on me moving back (at least to the big city near them which is 1.5-2 hour drive away) so I have to deal with the occasional argument from both sides there.

        I’ve managed to shut down the relationship arguments only a few years ago and the whole kids thing eventually died down when I had a hysterectomy for a medical emergency, but even when I chose that as an option, it was a fight… “you know that means you can *never* have kids!!!” Um… I’ve told you for years I wasn’t going to have kids, you said you accepted that a few years ago, why are you throwing this at me now when my uterus is trying to kill me?? And do you think I *don’t know what a hysterectomy means* at 37 years old??? Of course it means permanent!

        I love my family and all, but I love them better at a distance, that’s for sure! My relationship with them has been better this way!

  44. AG*

    Hello, OP! Real live journalist and news editor, here! No reputable news outlet is going to print this thing your mom is planning to send to the paper. It’s possible, though unlikely, that it could surface as a letter to the editor, but unless she’s responding to something currently in the news with a “my daughter” story that expands on coverage the paper already has, it is VERY VERY UNLIKELY. News and opinion editors are overloaded with submissions, and it’s literally people’s jobs to ferret out the kind of self-interested whining your mom is likely to produce and dump it in the bin.

    Though if you really want to ensure they don’t run her submission, you can suggest she contact the paper by phone multiple times a day.

    1. Alienor*

      The thing that would worry me is Yahoo News getting hold of it somehow. I noticed recently that they’ve started repurposing random people’s blogs and Reddit posts as content, with what appears to be almost no editing. If they came across a letter like the one OP’s mom is planning to write, I can totally see them running it with a headline like “My Daughter Was Shunned By a Male-Dominated Industry.”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I better check mine. Errrgh. I have a terms page that says you cannot do that without written permission, but that doesn’t mean they won’t drag something off it.

          1. Atty w bossy mother*

            If mom wants to tell her side of the story, daughter can’t prevent it because all mom has to do is publish it to a blog or Internet site that’s interested. If women can’t stop intimate pictures of them ending up on the Internet, what chance does this girl have of actually shutting mom down by trying to convince sources is not publish? it’s impossible for her to know each and every venue mom might be considering.

            What she has to do is talk to a lawyer and to a psychologist. I fear the only thing that may shut down mom is a very sternly worded letter from an attorney discussing invasion of privacy laws in the relevant state and how easy it is for her daughter to change her name. some people have suggested trying to get dad involved, but I fear that he’s not really going to man up and put his foot down. Additionally, mom’s reaction to being ganged up on by her daughter and her husband could be worse than what she’s actually planning now. Hence, both a lawyer and a psychiatrist need to be involved.

            There are so many people out there now looking for these type of jobs that a lot of employers will put her resume in the bin if they see she has an unstable mother who publishes about her on the Internet. Why wouldn’t day, they don’t want to be the next target of mom’s wrath ?

      2. Atty w bossy mother*

        It is an even just Yahoo! News getting a hold of it. All mom has to do is publish this on the Internet and a good Google search will find it. People are focusing on preventing her from putting it in the newspaper and not realizing that mom is it going to be deterred when the newspapers turned her down. In fact, she’s more likely to be more determined to have her narrative of her daughters life out in the open. If mom really wants this out there, approaching individual newspapers is it going to stop that. We live in an era where there are so many public venues to publish ones own personal B. S. That daughter can’t shut off all the options

  45. Billy*

    You need to do two things as quickly as possible:

    1) As everyone has mentioned, move out. This will help you in several ways. First, your parents won’t be able to shoot down your career goals anymore. But also, they are a negative influence on you. Tech is a great field for women, but if your parents convince you that it’s full of sexism you’ll start to see it everywhere. (Ancient Chinese saying: You will find what you look for).

    2) Get a tech job. This may not be possible, but try to find out what’s keeping you from passing tech interviews. If it’s just poor performance, then either study more or apply for 2nd-tier instead of top-tier companies. For example, there are a ton of companies in the midwest that need a small IT staff and have significantly less challenging interviews than Silicon valley uses. I realize tech support isn’t the ideal job for you, but in 6-months to a year from now it will be far easier to transition from tech support to software developer than it will be to transition from unemployed to software developer.

    3) Less critical, but you need to find a trusted mentor. You need to find out why you are making it to the technical interview but not passing. Also, a mentor can help you find a position / location that matches your interest and abilities. A mentor will give you advice such as “If you are interested in a software developer job, you absolutely need a project under your belt. Find one even if it’s volunteer/open source”.

    4) I hesitate to mention this, but one part of your story gave me pause. I am going to make an assumption that you have a 4-year degree. Now if you graduated at 24, and if the three jobs you had were at three different companies, and you are still 20-something — then something is very wrong. You need to find out why companies plural are not interested in in having you for longer than a year or so. Now, I realize that I’m making several assumptions — it’s possible your three jobs were all at the same company, or you had two differnt internships and one “real” job or something. So if I’m totally off-base just ignore 4).

    1. A Non*

      Where are you getting that she graduated at 24, or that she left the earlier jobs involuntarily? The letter doesn’t mention a graduation age, so I’d assume the usual 22.

      It’s quite common for techies to change jobs quickly early in their careers, especially if they start in tech support and are looking to move to a related field. It’s not a bad thing as long as they’re leaving voluntarily for better opportunities / promotions. Even without that, 3 jobs in a decade is more normal than unusual for new grads. Unless the LW was getting fired or laid off in less than a year every time, I don’t think there’s a problem.

    2. seejay*

      Speaking from the Silicon Valley area, one of the perks of living in the area is that there’s a plethora of tech jobs that aren’t just IT support, and not necessarily at top tier companies either, and they actually fall into your lap. A friend of mine had an extremely hard time landing a call centre tech support job in the midwest with two years of experience, but in the Bay area there’s a tonne of startups or smaller well-established companies that are constantly hiring.

      The drawback of the Bay area though is that the cost of living is kind of on the stupid side right now. You have to live with others or live far enough away that the commute is made of suck, or your apartment is 200 sq ft if you’re lucky. The rental prices are starting to go down, but still aren’t in the reasonable range yet.

      So it’s a crapshoot… there are jobs in the midwest but I’ve got friends that have had a hard time landing something. When they do, it’s decent and the cost of living makes it worthwhile. On the flipside, larger cities with a big tech industry really have tech jobs falling in your lap, even without going to the major companies, but you need to find something quick or have something set up when you get there because the cost of living can be dumb.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      If the OP does not (yet) have the chops to make it in the programming world, she might do well to volunteer for a good Open Source project written in a popular programming language like Python or C. If the head of the project is any good she’ll learn a lot, and having an Open Source project on her CV is a good sign for anyone who is hiring.

      If she comes from a college which emphasizes the Windows world, this may also be affecting her chances of getting hired, so she’ll need to learn Linux as well. And of course, work on the resume and interviewing skills.

    4. Atty w bossy mother*

      There are a lot of tech companies out there now that are hiring people specifically to use them for one to you two years and then to kick them out rather than increase their pay. I know it’s happening, I have seen it.

      it may will be she’s just had a string of these type of jobs. Once you have one it’s hard to switch into a longer-term track

  46. Boss Cat Meme*

    OP, I am so sorry to hear about this! I feel for you and for ANY person stuck with parents like these! Ugh! I got my grad degrees from a major Division 1 Southern school, and when I was teaching, I thought my biggest problem would be the athletes who couldn’t do the work and needed A’s. Nope! It was the helicopter parents, who would call me up and demand to know why Snowflake only got a B. It was ALWAYS my fault for not recognizing that their son or daughter had something special about them, and even if they skipped class or turned in late work, it was supposed to be up to me to recognize their “potential.” I am really surprised that your parents, former educators, are unable to see this for what this is, and how truly dangerous this can be for your future. Maybe you could explain it to them using education as an example. Tell them it’s up to YOU to prove that you have talent and potential and a future in your field, and that you want to be respected and valued by your next employer, not pitied. Even if they hire you, explain, they would never take you seriously, or that it would take you YEARS to get them to see your real talent.

    In other news, my husband is a newspaper executive. Newspapers do not publish stuff like this, unsolicited features from customers about a white(?) college educated women in tech who was unfairly fired. Do you have any idea how many stories and potential “news items” they get from people who have had life-changing tragedies befall them and need help? Entire families burned out of their homes, fathers killed by drunk drivers, mothers with cancer, kids with rare diseases, it is something sad and tragic in our communities every single day, all turning to the newspaper for help. YOU have an amazing future ahead of you–this is just a small set-back and you are going to find a great job you love! Maybe you could tell that to your mother too, that it’s her job to believe in you and show a little faith – – from the sidelines.

  47. Webdev Bootcamp Grad*

    I want to encourage OP to look for remote work. Developers can often work from anywhere! Stackoverflow and Github both have sections devoted to employment, which would be a good place to start. If your CSS skills are great, you can get contract work on sites like Behance, although for a while your rate will have to be dirt cheap. Also, contact your alumni office and ask for help networking.

    In my state, though, there are more dev jobs than there are developers, so I’m really struck by your lack of success. Even someone with 10 weeks of bootcamp experience can get hired after a lousy technical interview, if they’ve just shown a sincere eagerness to learn. I wonder if you might need boilerplate career advice on subjects like thoughtful cover letters, interview success, following up, dressing professionally, your digital persona, etc., so I encourage OP to consider researching these subjects.

    Good luck!

  48. Hannah*

    This letter touched a nerve for me. I hate to see it suggested that women have to fight to get hired in this field. As a women in her 20s working in software in a city saturated with software companies, I don’t agree, and I wouldn’t want female students to be discouraged from studying in this field because of that idea. It’s the fastest growing and highest paying field right now, and the applicant pool is so lacking in diversity that if anything I think women have a better chance of getting an interview, all other things being equal. If you’re consistently making it to the technical interview and no further, it doesn’t seem like there is any lack of opportunities. I would focus on making sure your skills are coming across in interviews since that seems to be your hurdle here, not a lack of opportunities.

    1. Observer*

      Eh, the companies talk a good line, but the numbers tell a different story. It’s telling that there are a number of companies with open jobs and terrible diversity – complaining that they “can’t find” qualified women etc.

      That’s not an excuse for the OP’s parents, of course. And some of the advice around job searching and improving her chances is good.

      1. Hannah*

        If we don’t study it in the same numbers, and we don’t apply for jobs in this field in the same numbers, we can’t expect to be hired in the same numbers. A company can only be as diverse as their applicant pool, unless they’re going to commit to hiring women even if they’re not the strongest applicants. Which is tough, because then you’re setting your female hire up to be the weak member of the team, and that doesn’t necessarily help the situation.

        1. Observer*

          Let’s stop giving companies a pass on the sexism in their hiring and management practices.

          In most companies, the IT staff does not reflect the demographics of IT graduates and IT job seekers. In addition, there is a huge attrition rate specifically of women in IT – and it’s not because such a high percentage of women are not good at what they do.

          1. Atty w bossy mother*

            Thank you. Even controlling for the lower number of women, companies don’t hire them in the numbers they should. I think the original poster for this sub thread is too young to have seen it yet.

        2. Zahra*

          Yeah, but the problem is that most company do not even make the effort to diversify their applicant pool. And due to the fact that it’s so hard to survive in such a sexist environment and be taken seriously, women are often very strong candidates. And they’ll start with the “positive affirmation” etiquette and have to prove themselves by being twice as good as men… because being just as good means they are taken for the weak link in a team.

    2. Atty w bossy mother*

      You’re in your 20s. No offense but you don’t have a life experience to make pronouncements about tech. as a woman who used to work contact with the husband who’s held multiple C level positions and done a lot of hiring: you’re dead wrong.

      I hope you never find it out personally and come to learn it only by observing what happens to other women.

      Please step back and consider yourself lucky in that most other women don’t have this good fortune.

      I could give you dozens and dozens of antidote about times my husband tried to hire women over white man but I suspect you wouldn’t believe those is proof because your experience is all you’re seeing

  49. Camellia*

    Alison, remove this if you don’t want us sharing specifics.

    OP, I’ve worked three IT contracts through TEKsystems, and moved from a contractor to a permanent position in the last one. I stayed with TEK because I can’t get a job if I don’t get an interview and they were the only recruiting firm that was getting me interviews. I did have the advantage of being willing to relocate and as many of the commentors have said above, that seems like that would be a great option for you.

    Anyway, check out TEKsystems website for job posting and see if anything interests you.

  50. Tiny_Tiger*

    I would be foaming at the mouth if I were the OP right now. I thought my mother was overprotective, but this? It’s definitely time to stop trying to appeal to her and lay down the law. “Mother, this is a huge breach of my privacy and my trust. You have no right to use my current career situation as a sob story to write to the press about and I do not give permission for you to do so.”

    Or if you don’t mind being a slightly terrible person, there’s always the option of getting on her computer and password-protecting the document so she can’t access it.

  51. Former Reporter*

    So sorry you’re dealing with this! FWIW, I worked at a couple of different community newspapers a few years ago. We got these kinds of letters all the time and we *never* published them. One, publishing it without your permission would be an unethical invasion of your privacy; two, it would take too much time to research your situation to make sure the company could not sue for libel; and three, there’s just not enough space in the paper for a mother’s complaint about her daughter’s career. I hope you find a better job and housing situation soon!

    1. Atty w bossy mother*

      I agree with this. However, I do not think moms going to stop till the story is out there. What she really wants is to control the narrative of her daughters life. Unfortunately, we live in an era where all she has to do is hit a button and publish it to the entire world on the Internet

  52. jaxon*

    The OP could write a short companion piece saying more or less what she says here (without any hostility toward the Mom, of course) and ask the newspaper to run it along side the Mom’s. (That may convince them not to print either of them.) It would give readers honest and valuable perspective on the issue.

  53. Mela*

    A couple of things I noticed. Your dad covertly told you about this entire thing–any way to get him on board with stopping Mom?

    Also, I know you’re probably really stressed about this, but you mentioned you don’t get past the technical interview. Unless that’s the first interview you have (and honestly, even if it isn’t) you should be trying to figure out if that’s what’s holding you back. My husband’s company does a resume screen, a 15 minute phone interview, and then a 1-2 hour tech interview. The biggest reason people don’t make it past the tech interview is because they give an answer when they really don’t know. Generally, no one minds if you don’t know something, they want to see how humble you are and how you would go about finding it out. It seems like you’re concerned about your gender playing a role, and sometimes that results in (even unconsciously) mimicking “masculine” behaviors, like loudly announcing a BS answer etc. Hopefully that helps and you can land a job much faster.

  54. Kate the Little Teapot*

    Hi OP – Do you have a network of “not-white-male” people in tech? Do you go to women in tech meetups if they’re in your city? If you live far from that stuff, are you on Twitter or listservs? If you don’t have a network I encourage you to build one. Start reaching out to people. Start applying for diversity scholarships to attend conferences or volunteer opportunities at conferences. If you’re in a remote place, build a friendship with someone who believes in diversity in tech and lives in SF or NYC and can let you crash on their floor for a few days to attend a conference or a series of women in tech meetups.

    I understand that you don’t want to be a sob story and so you don’t want your mom to capitalize on your diversity which is totally reasonable. But if you have a network built on diversity it will be easier for you to be more resilient and it will be easier for you to find jobs. For every not-white-male engineer you meet, I guarantee 1 in 10 will need a developer apprentice or a support person at their job and they will want more not-white-male people at their workplace. There are lots of not-white-male people in tech who want to help other not-white-male people. And also at these meetups you do run into white-male people who believe diversity is important and they will want to be in your network too.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      That’s a good point. OP, if you haven’t, maybe checking for any women in STEM groups in your area would be a start? Or, if you do want to move, look for some in areas you’d like to go?

  55. Susan*

    I think there’s a good chance the paper wouldn’t print a letter like this. I know the journalism profession has taken a beating recently, but a newspaper is not the same as a blog or magazine (in that, tonally, they look for things that affect a larger audience/the community, moreso than the individual). If a letter comes off as very personal or self-serving, a good editor wouldn’t run it in the local newspaper because it’s not the newspaper’s role in the community.

    But I think Alison’s advice to let the newspaper know wouldn’t hurt. Local newspapers aren’t gossip rags. They really generally are trying to serve the public good, and aren’t going to publish something that is overtly controversial without good reason (showing dishonesty in school board elections = good thing to publish; personal rants=not). I bet the managing editor (who you should be contacting) even has an email address that you can find on the newspaper’s website, in which you could make it a short informal “fyi.”

    1. Vanilla Nice*

      I have some background in journalism. It’s highly unlikely any competent newspaper is going to print a letter like this. The only way I could possibly imagine it happening would be if the the situation directly connects to a current event (e.g., the OP was terminated by Wells Fargo). Even then, a private note from the OP would almost certainly end any chance of it being printed.

      1. Atty w bossy mother*

        Yes that’s true but mom is determined and all she has to do is push a button and put it on the Internet and the result will be the same for the letter writer .

        My concern is not whether or not I newspaper would publish it but what mom is going to do when she gets refused is it going to be to stop but keep looking for other venues.

        Mom is so screwed up she’s never going to see what she’s doing is wrong. Ever.

  56. Karin*

    I would open a PO box and have all my mail sent there if I were you. I would not put it past your parents to open your mail to find out what’s going on in your life.

  57. burnout*

    Unless you live in a really small town and there is nothing else going on, the newspaper will never print that story.

    In other news…. it is way past time to cut the cord with your parents. As an adult, you get to decide if you want a relationship with them and on what terms. Not the other way around.

    1. Atty w bossy mother*

      And when the newspaper doesn’t print it mom is going to publish it on the Internet. Trying to cut off moms avenues one at a time won’t work in an era where all she has to do is push a button and publish it to the entire world

  58. Kiley*

    OP, I’m sorry your parents are so unsupportive and invasive. I agree with Allison’s advice and all the commenters – you need to get out of their house and probably out of their town. Getting a job in your field is a good exit plan from this situation, but I think you should consider how you can get out sooner.

    Your post mentions that your parents felt entitled to give you advice because they were still paying for your food. Start building your financial independence. Are you working now? Take freelance or contract gigs, work with a recruiter, or even get a retail or food service job while you’re searching. You should save up as much money as you can now, so you can move out when you do get a job in your field, or ideally, before you get a job. Research the best cities/towns for jobs in your field, and look into what you’d need to do to move there and how much you’d need saved up to survive.

    1. Green Tea Pot*

      You would not believe the things some people think are news. I worked as a reporter for over a decade. I haven’t heard it all, but I’ve heard a lot…

      1. Greg M.*

        I worked at a call center for a phone company for a summer. multiple people threatened to write letters for the newspapers or make “press releases” about how they were having problems getting something fixed.

  59. Wendy*

    Hon, you have to move out. Find a job, get a roommate, just get out. If you have to move to a part of the country with more reasonable rents, do that. (There are tech jobs outside SV.)

    It sounds like some combination of fear and guilt is keeping you in their house, and if that’s the case…you know, try Minneapolis. They do have tech jobs there, rents are manageable, people are generally pleasant. They’re also passive-aggressive, rather than directly controlling, which will help you see your parents’ behavior as being as far over the line in 2010s America as it genuinely is.

    Don’t run around to newspapers telling them not to publish something they haven’t even received; that’s a little, hm. If it’s ever published, and your name is relatively unique (I’m guessing it isn’t), then if it comes up you can shrug and smile in that “parents, what’re you gonna do/bless her heart” way and say, “My mom…well, she means well. She’s back in California (or whatever)”.

    But do move out of their house.

  60. Golden Lioness*

    OP, just wanted to say I am so sorry and hoping you can move out and be in a much healthier situation soon.

  61. Tanker*

    OP – Regarding the job search: Some companies specifically look to hire and promote women in IT as part of their diversity programs, breaking the stereotype. I work at one such company. I encourage you to look at resources like the Sit With Me organization and more at the National Center for Women and Information Technology, NCWIT. In my time at my organization, I have seen a definite uptick of women in technical roles and the level of equality is well respected.

  62. Green Tea Pot*

    I’m a former newspaper reporter, and although it has been some time since I worked in journalism, I will tell you that one person’s news search, successful or not, is not news. Chances are, the editor will politely decline the story. You are not a public figure; they won’t do the story without your consent.

    A letter to the editor may be a different story. Do contact the editor and tell him or her you do not wish the letter to run. Your mother is going to be viewed as a crackpot. (Sorry, Mom.)

    1. Atty w bossy mother*

      And? Do you think that’s going to stop mom from getting this in the public? 20 years ago it would have. But in this day and age on mom has to do is publish it on an Internet blog resend it to a website that wants to post it. Those sites don’t have the morality of most newspapers

  63. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

    Your mother is an abuser. She claims to think this is the only way you’ll ever get a job, but I strongly suspect she’s actually trying to sabotage your tech career so you’ll do what she wants and be under her control.

    Does she have any potentially embarrassing secrets? If so, you could let her know that if she pulls this crap you’ll return the favor online. Mutually assured destruction is an excellent deterrent.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I do think that OP can tell her mother that writing this letter is a serious breach of parent/child trust and will cause serious damage to their relationship, as OP will find it hard to trust her mother for anything for a very long time.

    2. Layers*

      I don’t see how this is a viable suggestion. Threatening a parent that’s convinced she knows best will just bring up the same argument of “How dare you threaten me when I’m trying to do what’s best for you, you don’t appreciate it” etc. and in no way deter the mother from doing what she pleases, but instead make her even more stubborn because it becomes a matter of pride. You can’t reason with unreasonable people.

      I know everyone’s saying “move out!” as if it’s so easy, and I totally understand that for someone who’s been controlled by parents for so long, it’s not just a matter of packing your bags and running out. Aside from physical logistics, you’re also held back emotionally and mentally. It’s not like on TV where people just appear at their best friend’s house in the next scene, and that there won’t be any fallout / consequences to deal with after that. If dramatically exiting your parents’ lives is not a comfortable option, what you can do is to set boundaries at a more comfortable pace for yourself. As someone else suggested, start by limiting the amount of specific info you give your parents. Then, stay out of the house as much as possible by going to the coffee shop or library to do your search. Finally, after you’ve steeled yourself and gotten used to limiting interaction with your parents, move out.

      One thing to note, when you are ready to move out, don’t ask your parents for permission. Just inform them about your decision firmly. Don’t phrase it as “Hey I’m thinking of moving out…” Go for more of “I’ve thought about it and will be moving out on xx”. But after this point is where I get a bit stuck. They seem like the overprotective type who would overreact so I’m not sure of the reasons you can use aside from learning to be more independent, and promising to call them if you need any help in the “big bad world” and to visit once a while.

      1. Observer*

        The thing she needs to realize is that she does NOT need to give them reasons that they consider acceptable.

  64. Feralcatt*

    It’s reasons like this that I don’t Google potential employees. Thorough reference checks, definitely. But the possibility of stumbling on anything like this? Nope. Just nope.

  65. Eve*

    Hey OP,
    My parents were very similar to you in terms of not letting me out of the house (even in my early-20s!). They disapproved of my career path, until I landed a higher-than-average-paying job. I left as soon as I could.

    It’s really hard, but you can get away from it. Not sure if this will work for you, as it’s not for everyone, but here’s what helped me get out:
    I tried to stay away from the house as much as possible.
    – I worked part-time jobs in an unrelated field. (Main purpose was to raise emergency money to leave the house while having a “valid excuse” to escape).
    – Spend as much time as possible improving your resume and applying to jobs. I would do this at the library/go to my university. This gives them the impression you are working hard. It was really strange post-graduation to hang out at school, but I kept insisting I was working on something career-related studies.
    – Volunteer in something you’re passionate about in a position related to your career path. This was more of a social thing, but it can also help build your skills and network as well.

    If you ever need a place to go, generally most universities have a safe area. The universities in my city have couches, places to rest and it was easy to blend in with the students studying/napping on campus. If you went to a public university, there’s free WIFI internationally (eduroam).

    Those things are generally helicopter parent approved activities and seemed to work well. I hope you get out of that situation OP.

  66. Lanon*

    The cruel irony of course is that if this letter ever gets published then it will stick to OP like a felony conviction and pretty much preclude her from getting anywhere in her career in her lifetime.

  67. Mike B.*

    I’m going to be the outlier here–not about OP’s mother’s ill-advised plan or the advice to thwart it, but about OP’s attitude overall. I can’t entirely blame her mother for picking up on this as a “tragic story of shattered dreams” when that seems to be what OP herself perceives.

    OP, what’s the story with your last job? Why were your coworkers shocked enough to demand an apology for your firing? Why did you consult an attorney? I don’t know your local job market, or your profession in any detail, but is your sex really what’s preventing you from advancing beyond the interview stage? How long have you spent on the job market and at each individual job? I feel like we’re getting a histrionic retelling of your career history rather than a summary that attempts to be objective, and you would benefit from trying to convey it differently.

    1. Nashira*

      The OP is a person who is concerned about being the victim of sexist behavior, in a field well known to have endemic problems with rejecting anyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender man. Telling her that she’s “histrionic” is seriously not cool – that kind of language has been used to invalidate women’s concerns for a very very long time, in very sexist ways.

    2. Atty w bossy mother*

      As a lady who has worked in contact with a husband who his held multiple C level positions and then a lot of hiring, I can tell that you just don’t get it and don’t want to. The industry is sexist and anyone who has had experience in it and has half a brain knows that .

      Troll elsewhere.

    3. Mike B.*

      Forgive the very late reply, but I’m just seeing these comments now due to the update, and I feel I need to defend myself for the record.

      1) Not here to troll; I’ve been commenting on AAM for years.

      2) I apologize if I inadvertently chose language that was insensitive. My point was that the writer was (and happily is no longer) failing repeatedly to advance in interviews. Without having details about her interviewing experiences, that suggests to me that there were issues with her as a candidate that extended beyond the pernicious effects of sexism. I don’t like to see potentially good employees struggle to find work because they’re certain that their only problem is something outside their control.

  68. Observer*

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but you do realize that your parents are living on a different planet?

    I mean nixing a career in tech because it’s full of men? Really?!?! And teaching high school is NOT full of men? Or do they expect you to limit your career to religious schools that are sex segregated? Don’t get me wrong- that’s a valid choice, but only if YOU make that choice.

    It’s true that tech is a tough field for women, and there is a strong streak of sexism and misogyny that goes beyond hiring and promotion decisions. So, I probably would tell any young woman to think seriously about that before embarking on a tech career. But, you’re well beyond that point. So, I’ll echo Alison – get yourself out of your parents house the very first second you can. Prioritize that over EVERYTHING else besides getting a job.

  69. whomever*

    Not to sound snarky, but does anyone under the age of 60 actually READ letters to the editor? I mean, I don’t, and I’m enough of a dinosaur that I actually get a physical newspaper delivered… I work in tech also (very young crowd, notorious for age discrimination) and I don’t think anyone I work with would even notice if something like this was public?

    1. Atty w bossy mother*

      And when that happens, what do you think mom will do.? Do you think she’ll just stop? I think she’ll put it on the Internet .

      1. Trillian*

        Does the OP’s mother have the capability? Based on the description of what she imagines tech education needs to be, I have to wonder.

  70. Atty w bossy mother*

    If Mom is truly determined to get the story out there, there’s nothing that LW can do to stop it. Anyone can publish anything on the Internet with little to no recourse .

    I fear that LW is going to have to go nuclear and threatened to cut off mom permanently and change her name if mom puts this story out there in any form.

    also, she needs to find her local legal aid office and ask for advice on sending an atty letter to her mother to not do this. she needs to also ask how she can change her name if mom decides to go forward with it. That will likely be her only recourse.

    She actually need to legal advice and her jurisdiction about what she can do to stop it and what action she can take if it happens .

    Mom and dad do not view her is an adult with her own opinions. Nothing she says to them will make them change their minds except perhaps disowning them in disavowing them entirely.

    So she needs to see an attorney and a psychologist to figure out how to navigate this

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