updates: the pregnancy paranoia, the helicopter aunt and uncle, and more

Here are updates from five people whose letters were answered here this year.

1. My boss is paranoid I’m going to get pregnant and leave

Before I had a chance to approach my boss about this, she actually announced she was leaving to take a new job. I happened to be in an interview process for another position as well which I ended up accepting! When I gave my notice, she told me she’d be managing a larger team at her new, woman-run company and asked for any feedback I had based on my experience working for her. Since we were both on our way out, and because we had some distance from the situation, I felt more comfortable broaching the issue with her and let her know that her questions had made me uneasy and suggested more personal boundaries in the future. She seemed surprised but appreciative. My boss in my new position is the first male manager I’ve worked for which is a much needed change! I’m also encouraged by the number of young mothers at my new organization and the amount of support for women on maternity leave. I feel good knowing that it will be received professionally when we do decide to start a family.

2. How can I stop being late?

Thank you so much for publishing my letter last year and thank you for the great suggestions from the comments. I apologize for waiting so long to update, but I wanted to wait until I had something good. Some of you may remember that my home life was not the greatest and was causing me a lot of stress, but, I’m happy to report that I closed on a house of my own earlier this month! We haven’t moved in yet, since we’re still in the painting and preparing stage, but just knowing that my time left here is incredibly limited has helped a lot.

I haven’t completely fixed the issue with lateness, we had some unexpected road closures in my area and I had some car trouble that threw off my commute, but I can say that I’ve been getting a lot better. I took the advice of some of the people in the comments and invested in some Phillips Hue bulbs that are set to wake me up with a sunrise. It isn’t the magical solution I want it to be, but it does help me be less groggy when my alarm goes off. I still haven’t had a sleep study done to figure out why I have so much trouble waking up, but maybe next year. I tried out some of the habit apps that were suggested, but I have a hard time remembering to check them every day so I ended up discarding that idea. The best app suggestion for was for I Can’t Wake Up. I got the free version and it is annoying as heck but scrambling to do math as soon as it goes off has improved my timing most mornings.

In better news, they redid our job classifications and pay grades and I’m happy to say I came out of it with a better job title and a pretty significant raise. I have about a year left on my degree and I’m looking for internships right now as well, so I can’t say I’m in the best place possible yet. But the end is in sight. Thanks again for all your help!

3. My aunt and uncle are extreme helicopter parents — and I work with their son (first update here)

I am enjoying my new job. My boss, the clients and the people I work with are all great. My cousin ended up getting fired and walked out of his job where I used to work. My aunt, uncle and cousin all say he was too hard of a worker and no one was ready for his great ideas. I strongly suspect it had to do with my aunt and uncle constantly coming in demanding to speak to the upper management over his “unfair treatment” and my cousin siding with them and constantly saying his parents are right and he isn’t being respected as much as he should be. I know he has had at least one interview. As always my aunt did go with him. My aunt and uncle never talked to my boss at my old job or helicoptered me, my parents put a stop to any of those thoughts when we were kids still back in Wales, but everyone THOUGHT they were my parents and were doing the same stuff for me as they were doing for my cousin, who they thought was my brother.

I am happy in my new job and to be away from the drama with my cousin. As far as they know, I left my job where my cousin worked because it wasn’t what I wanted to do and insurance was more my speed. It’s not worth getting into with them. My cousin sees nothing wrong with what my aunt and uncle do for him so I just follow the lead of my parents and smile and nod when anything related to his work comes up and then change the subject. I hope it’s OK that I sent in a second update. Thank for everything you’ve helped me with :)

4. Explaining I’ll need time off to attend the trial for the death of a family member (#5 at the link)

So I submitted a question a while ago about requesting time off to attend a trial related to a deceased family member that you very graciously answered. In the end, the first date got postponed because of “new evidence” (how convenient for the other side!) and then the trial collapsed completely as the only witness, my sister, was dead and there was no realistic chance of prosecution. My work were lovely about it – I took the first week as leave and then we agreed I could do a work from home hybrid that eventually wasn’t needed. I really appreciated all the lovely commenters, too, at what was a very raw time for me.

5. Explaining my degree status when I have a grade pending post-graduation (#5 at the link)

I took your advice and called my university to try to get a definitive answer. After several phone calls and emails were left unanswered, I went in person (in July). I was told that the person responsible was not in but luckily at that moment the Director of Student Affairs walked by and asked if he could help me with anything. At that point, my final grade had been submitted, so I had completed all of the requirements. He told me that officially my degree would be conferred in mid-October but that he could write me an official letter that I could send to employers explaining that I had fulfilled the requirements and the degree would be conferred in October.

I never heard anything more from the potential employer I mentioned in my previous post, but I did apply to another position in August, with just the years next to my degrees on my resume, and the following sentence in my cover letter: “I will be graduating from Tea University with a Masters in Teapot Manufacturing in October and have already completed all of my coursework and requirements, so I am available to start almost immediately.” I received a response the next day, and was offered that job in October.

On a side note, I will mention that when I talked with the Director of Student Affairs, he suggested that I call the university later, in August, just to check that everything was set for me to graduate in October. I called and/or emailed the Office of Student Affairs, University Registrar, and my academic department in August and September and either received no response or was told that I would have to check again later. In early October, all of the students who were supposed to graduate in October received an email saying that the university could not confirm for us who would graduate, but that we could log into the online system the day after graduation and there we could find out whether or not we had actually graduated. I was pretty furious and wrote an appropriately toned email expressing that I would appreciate if they would please confirm whether I would actually graduate in October. I did. Whew. Glad that chapter of my life is over.

{ 126 comments… read them below }

  1. FCJ*

    #5–What? How can they “not confirm” which students are going to graduate? Is it a big surprise? Like the computer randomly picks people and the next day you find out that you won the Graduation Lottery? Is the registrar’s office run by Professor Farnsworth from Futurama (“Tentatively good news, potential graduates!”)? Either you’ve fulfilled the requirements or you haven’t. What a weird circus they have running over there.

    Congratulations on graduating, though, seriously. That’s a big deal. And best of luck in your job!

    1. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      No. 5 makes me furious as well. A friend works in a university registrar’s office and they are absolutely scrupulous about record keeping, responding to queries and generally keeping students up to date on their status. It’s particularly important because they have a high number of international students. Also, kids crying in line because they can’t access basic information is not a good optic for anyone.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I hope the students name and shame the university, because if they can’t fulfill one of their most basic functions, I would not want to trust them with anything else, either. Their management sucks, and that probably won’t change (at least not overnight).

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Exactly. This is something that current and future students need to know. Also past students. I get standard alumni solicitation (er, um, development request) letters from both my colleges. If they are pulling this crap, I’d be writing a letter.

    3. gl*

      Yeah what kind of university is this?

      I just finished my master’s and this is how it worked… throughout my program I was awarded grades a month after each course. For my dissertation/thesis I received my grade after 2 months. The university clearly communicated this to me so I knew what to expect.

      Basically I handed in my dissertation in August and learned my interim grade in October. Then I received my final overall grade in November once my coursework was reviewed by the board of examiners, and I’ll officially graduate (ceremony) in January. If I were OP I would have lost my mind by now, it was bad enough waiting as long as I did!

      So basically you’re going to have students going to the ceremony that may have failed their program? That makes no sense at all… I’m so confused. They should have done a better job communicating with students proactively to prevent confusion and frustration. So terrible.

      Glad it’s over and congrats OP!

    4. Artemesia*

      I have worked in a major university and yours sucks and apparently isn’t going to get any better. It is outrageous that they cannot perform this minimal function. It is common to have deadlines such that students don’t graduate say in June, because deadlines were missed, but then they should be able to confirm the August graduation or whatever. There is no excuse for being this disorganized in the function that matters so much to students looking for work, the ability to confirm their status.

      I’d complain to the President of the University and the Provost for starters about how this impacted your search for work.

      1. Academic Addie*

        Agree. Certainly extraneous stuff happens, like you need a credit to graduate, but the university should be able to confirm that you will graduate upon fulfillment of any outstanding requirements.

    5. RubyMendez*

      I agree! I felt very irritated for the writer! It feels strange that none of these two offices (the department-specific one or university-wide one) can perform a pretty basic function that its student rely on for employment!

    6. Jennifer*

      I work in this field and uh, this is ridiculous that (a) NOBODY from several offices responded, (b) literally no one there has any idea? (c) you have to log in and check? Jeebus.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      What happened to #5 literally happened to me. (Although my degree was delayed because the College lost the paperwork. Twice.) It’s infuriating and ridiculous, but it was also a Big Public University where everyone minored in “survival of bureaucratic, Kafkaesque torture.” I suspect it’s something similar for OP.

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      What happened to #5 literally happened to me. (Although my degree was delayed because the College lost the paperwork. Twice.) It’s infuriating and ridiculous, but it was also a Big Public University where everyone minored in “survival of bureaucratic, Kafkaesque torture.” Getting ahold of the dean of the college, let alone the provost and chancellor, was impossible. Incompetence and deficient student services were rife (still are).

      I suspect it’s something similar for OP.

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, at my German university (which at least was mostly free), I couldn’t graduate on time because some professors left the school (to teach somewhere else or retire) without putting my grades into the system, and I had to chase them for months. The school did absolutely nothing to help, and friends who went onto their master’s at the same school had to wait a year or more for their thesis to be graded (I think the record is two years), which means they lost out on employment opportunities.
        This is the biggest reason why I chose to get my master’s at a private university in Japan, which costs money (though it’s still cheaper than the US) – that and the program I was interested in.

    9. Sabrina Spellman*

      Identity theft is a big issue and any Registrar’s Office worth their salt would think twice about confirming anything like that over the phone or email. You can always order a transcript for confirmation! Plus there are federal laws that restrict the release of information.

      1. Observer*

        If the issue were ID Theft, then the answer would have been “We can’t confirm via email, but you can use your system credentials to check everything.”

        Also, the idea that people were being told to check the system the day AFTER graduation is bonkers and totally not related to ID theft.

    10. LW #5*

      Thank you all so much for the support! It really means a lot to me. We got literally no public recognition for graduating in October- all we got was an additional line in the table in the online system listing our degree (and our diplomas in the mail a few weeks later). The dean sent out a school-wide email that day requesting donations, but did not mention anything whatsoever about graduation. Even one line such as “Congratulations to our students who are graduating today” would have been nice.

      I believe the “what kind of university is this?” may have been rhetorical, but to answer the question, it is an ivy-league university and the specific program was ranked very highly. The academic quality definitely wasn’t on par with what I expected though, and based on my experience, I would caution others thinking of getting a graduate degree from a prestigious university; I don’t think their graduate program was on par with their undergrad program. I would ask a lot of questions and make sure you get clear answers. For example, at admitted students’ day, they told us that you have all your first-semester classes with the same ~20 students, but what they didn’t tell us is that there would be another few hundred students in most (all but one) of those classes with us.

      1. Wannabikkit*

        It’s a shame you don’t get any public recognition. My university in New Zealand has a big parade of graduands down the main street of our city, on the way to the town hall where the graduation ceremonies are held. A list of graduands is also published in our local newspaper. This happens several times a year as there are multiple ceremonies in May, August and December.

      2. Jiya*

        Whaaaat. I went to an Ivy grad program too, and while lord knows they had their issues, they did at least manage to confirm I was graduating. I’m sorry you no doubt paid a fortune just to be stuck in such a shoddy environment.

  2. Emac*

    #2 I didn’t read all of the comments on the original post, but wanted to suggest the Sleep Cycle app if no one else did. I have a lot of trouble waking up in the morning, too, and it’s been really helpful. You leave it by your bed when you sleep and it accesses the microphone on your cell phone to track how deeply asleep you are based on your breathing. Then it uses that to wake you up when you’re naturally coming into a lighter sleep, so it’s less jarring than coming out of the deepest sleep level. It will also record if you snore and for how long. It’s free, though there’s a ‘premium’ version that you can get a subscription for, which will let you do things like listen to your snoring.

      1. JKP*

        It works even when sharing a bed. In fact, we each had it on our respective devices and compared our very different sleep cycles.

    1. Miss Betty*

      That sounds amazing. Do you know if it can work for someone who uses a bipap/cpap machine? (Those things are loud.)

  3. Anono-me*

    I am so sorry about the loss of your sister and then additional blow of the trial collapsing.

    I am glad to hear that your workplace is supportive.

  4. DoctorateStrange*


    You have my sympathies. My last two years of undergrad had been hell because my school at the time decided to merge with another local school. They should have waited a few years for that, instead, they rushed it into merging within fifteen months.

    Now, my school doesn’t give diplomas during the ceremonies (I’m not sure if it’s the same in other places) so we were supposed to wait a month before we got ours. I never got mine. I had to call several times before driving there physically and having to fill out a form requesting a new diploma (I was never explained what happened to the former one.) I got mine three months late.

    Other people were not so lucky. They got theirs in the mail on time but their diplomas would have all the words scrambled up. Some misspelled the university’s name or the person’s name. It was a high amount of those.

    I decided to go to another school to get my Master’s and it was an absolute breath of fresh air.

      1. Jen*

        I received my diploma at graduation for my undergrad (and attending graduation was actually a graduation requirement for undergrads though not for the grad students). Didn’t get it at the ceremony for my Master’s because degrees were conferred on the date of the university graduation and I was attending my school within the university’s ceremony the day before, not the big university ceremony.

      2. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        I just walked for my PhD, and got the actual certificate. All indication was that we wouldn’t be getting it, they’d be mailing it, so I was shocked af, but quite pleased.

      3. Artemesia*

        I graduated from giant state university decades ago and we were handed a rolled ‘diploma like’ thing as we walked across the stage which basically said — if you actually have completed all your graduation requirements you will receive your diploma in x weeks by mail. The diploma arrived.

        I worked for a major private university where no one walked unless they met all graduation requirements (even if grandma already had her plane tickets) and everyone was handed their actual diploma and everyone had their name pronounced correctly even if it were a difficult Thai or whatever name. The people doing the announcing, reviewed names and had phonetic prompts and practiced the more difficult ones.

        1. Jessica*

          Ditto. Finished my undergrad in October of 2016 at a decent-sized private university. We had to apply for graduation, were notified within a week or so of finishing our capstones that we would graduate, and when we walked, we received the actual diploma. It seems strange to me that a university would wing it so hard after students have paid tens of thousands of dollars and put in thousands of student hours to attend.

          1. LW #5*

            Yeah, this is one of the things I brought up in my letter to them. I spent almost $90,000 in tuition and fees, not to mention the cost of living in an expensive city and forgoing two years of income (five years into my career).

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I had to order mine separately and pay a fee. The fake diploma was a “Congrats in participating in convocation!” Thing. I so understand OP#5’s frustration.

    1. Jennifer*

      We don’t do diplomas during the ceremony because all the dean’s offices take a month after final exams to finish checking everyone’s last grades for graduation, so technically they don’t know for around 1.5 to 2 months if you’ve finished or not after your finals and ceremony. And then the diplomas get lost in the mail CONSTANTLY. Like don’t even get me started on how many people moved by the time we mail them out, or put the wrong address, or mailed them to a country that is a black hole of mail, or the post office just sucks. Not to mention the ones that arrive but are bent by the postal carriers despite the DO NOT BEND on the envelopes.

      1. FCJ*

        How strange. Every school I’ve ever gone to required teachers/professors to turn in graduating students’ grades before finals week to avoid that problem. If the registrar’s office is on top of things it isn’t difficult just to run down the list and go “yup, finished.” It just means that graduating students take their finals early or turn in their papers a couple of weeks before everyone else. I’ve heard of schools letting someone walk even though they had one more class to do that was going to get taken care of over the summer or something, but I’ve never heard of a school letting you walk and then going, “Oh, yeah, nvm. That wasn’t real.”

        1. SusanIvanova*

          I was in the last Texas A&M graduating class before they changed the rules about senior finals. Used to be, graduation was the weekend before finals so everyone would still be there to see it, and we had a very high percentage of graduates participating, and we got our actual degree when we walked. So seniors didn’t take finals because their grades needed to already be in. Then someone though “what if, after 5 years of work, and 14 weeks of passing grades, someone -gasp!- fails their final in a required class badly enough to fail the whole class? My goodness, they’d have a degree they don’t deserve!”

          So graduation moved to the weekend after finals, when all the non-graduating people had gone home, and more and more people thought “why bother with all the fuss?”

          (If you’ve got the 1988 yearbook with the photo of the “No senior finals” protest cap, that’s me. :) )

          1. Lady Phoenix*

            I thibk for us, it wasn’t “kids failing their tests”, it was actually “kids dropping school even if they are missing a credit”. So now all credits have to come in, or no walking.

  5. Annonymouse*

    I’m glad things are going so well for you and you’ve managed to distance yourself from their reputation at your new work.

    I know it hurts sometimes to watch people we know keep doing things that are actively screwing themselves and to have the knowledge to help them.

    But advice is only good in its use.

    So keep doing what you are doing and offer advice if he wants it for job sesrching.

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Big ups to you for talking to your boss and straightening things out. You spoke up, your boss acted on it. Even though didn’t make a systemic change (they aren’t going to send a company wide email.) I’m impressed that you took control of your life. In your first job, wow!

  6. Connie-Lynne*

    #2, I use Hue lights to signal to me when to go to sleep! They are the only physical thing that works for me in terms of helping me deal with my delayed sleep phase disorder; something about the lights slowly changing to blue let me get prepped for bed but without the panic I used to have around missing bedtime.

  7. Traveling Teacher*

    #2: As a fellow late-person, I’m really glad that your situation’s looking up and that you have so many exciting changes happening in your life!

    If you want my two cents on the waking up side of things: Something that gets me up is having my coffee machine set to make a cup for the time I want to get up. Then, if I can smell the coffee, I’m much more likely to get out of bed when I must… (Tried it for the first time while I had to crash at a friend’s place due to flooding a couple years back). Obviously, you need to have a programmable coffee machine, but to me it was a worthwhile investment in an upgrade compared to all of the stress lateness caused in my life!

    1. Aurora*

      If you’re ok with powdered coffee, Amazon sells a fairly affordable combination tea kettle/alarm clock (the Swan Teasmade) that I swear by and keep in my bedroom. I throw some powdered coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in the pot the night before. It starts brewing about 10 minutes before the alarm goes off, so I half wake up when I hear the water bubbling, and fully wake up when the alarm goes off. It made a huge change in my mornings.

        1. Aurora*

          Yay! Hope it helps you–as a non-caffeine drinker, I can definitely attest that hot chocolate is a great thing to wake up to.

    2. Dawn*

      The coffee being set a few minutes before the alarm is wonderful. It really helps me to get out of bed knowing I’m just a short walk downstairs to my favorite part of the day.

  8. Candi*

    # 4 -“the only witness was dead”? So what happened to forensic evidence!?! There’s not always enough of that to build a rock-solid case, but ‘no witnesses’ really sounds like an excuse in this day and age.

    My sympathies to you. You’ll always have that space in your heart where they were; eventually grief will gnaw with smaller and duller teeth. Take your time, and take care of yourself.

    #3 -Best wishes to you. Don’t grit your teeth over your cousin’s inevitable reality crash -it’s bad for the enamel. :P

    #1, 2, and 5 -congrats! *\o/*

    1. Rando*

      With #4, you can’t assume that the forensic evidence existed, was gathered, and was maintained. Even in this day and age!

      1. Candi*

        Try New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science (TV documentary), The Body Farm by Dr William Bass and his son Jeff, Bodies We’ve We’ve Buried, Teasing Secrets from the Dead by Dr Emily Craig, Every Contact Leaves a Trace, and other books on real forensic science.

        Rando unfortunately has a point. It’s a common complaint of both detectives and prosecutors.

        LW 4, I’m so sorry this happened.

        1. Candi*

          PS: To be perfectly clear, the original CSI drove me nuts with the “They can’t do that!” (yet, in some cases, as it’s turned out) and “That is NOT HOW THAT WORKS!” The only reason I believed the lab being that nice and that filled with awesome equipment is because it’s freaking Vegas, and they take in the cash to be able to do that. (Whether they would is another matter.)

          I haven’t touched the others. And I dropped the original after they introduced excessive and unnecessary drama with splitting up Grisham’s team. The only contact I’ve had since then is the occasional edit on TV Tropes trope pages.

    1. EW*

      Talking about pregnancy isn’t a problem (there are work appropriate ways to talk about pregnancy). Constantly asking your employees or workers if they are pregnant is the issue here – or creating an environment where employees are scared to take sick days due to the optics of pregnancy.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It sounds very Thinx, to be honest.

      I had a friend who worked at an all-woman organization dedicated to addressing employment and housing discrimination, particularly for survivors of DV and for pregnant women in the workplace. The Executive Director (also a woman) announced to everyone she would fire them if they became pregnant and would ask all sorts of invasive questions. And she fired several women while they were on FMLA (parental) leave. She knew it was illegal—the organization sued people for doing what she was doing—but she also knew that employees were dedicated to the mission and did not make enough money to weather a lawsuit.

      Unfortunately, women can be just as abusive to other women, even in “pro woman” organizations.

  9. Isabelle*

    #3 I’m glad things are working out for you OP but I feel so bad for your cousin. Sure, at his age he should know better but being raised like this tends to completely screw up your understanding of the world. It’s almost like being raised in a cult. It’s so sad he didn’t learn anything from this firing and I wonder how many more firings he will have to go through before he starts getting a clue that adults are expected to be independent.
    His parents are doing him a huge disservice and he has no idea :(

    1. Antilles*

      It’s so sad he didn’t learn anything from this firing and I wonder how many more firings he will have to go through before he starts getting a clue that adults are expected to be independent.
      It’s a morbid thought, but I’ve always wondered what happens to helicopter kids when their parents have major health issues or pass away. Dealing with a close family member’s death/critical illness is already a struggle to keep up with day-to-day necessities of life; I can’t imagine what it’d be like to need to *learn* those basic day-to-day necessities from scratch at the same time.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        They expect the kid to take care of them, of course. And when they did and the child is absolutely hmuseless on their own? Too bad!

        These helicopter parents either don’t know how much they fucked up their kid…
        Or don’t care because they have a servant to care for them 24/7
        Without pay.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have seen two cases like this. In one the woman took care of her own parents till they passed and was finally on her own in her late 50s and continued to live in the apartment they finally allowed her to move to when they were elderly and in assisted living. She was a CPA so not mentally disabled, but clearly psychologically disabled and had basically had her whole life stolen by her parents. Her two siblings got out.

          The other was clearly mentally challenged in some way and also never had a life and lives on the inheritance.

          In both cases there was plenty of money; when there isn’t, it is even more grim I would think.

      2. schnauzerfan*

        Well in one such situation… woman I worked with managed her daughter and daughters family, (husband and 3 kids) and when my co-worker died, it was an absolute train wreck. She was right, they couldn’t manage on their own. We always wondered. Which came first, chicken or the egg???

      3. MK*

        Well, in many cases the kid is actually able to function as an adult (even if not very competently), but has seen no reason to inconveinience themselves when parents were there to do the work. Or they have a very steep learnign curve and have to cram years of growing up into a few weeks. I am sure there are some trainwrecks, as well as some people who rise to the occasion (crisis mode brings the best in certain characters). Most I imagine survive and either manage on their own or find another person to helicopter them in the future. In all cases, ity helps if there is money to smooth the way.

    2. Marthooh*

      I wondered if the OP’s cousin knew OP had left that job because of the damage done by his parents’ hovering.

      1. SignalLost*

        According to OP’s update, no. “As far as they know, I left my job where my cousin worked because it wasn’t what I wanted to do and insurance was more my speed. It’s not worth getting into with them.” I have trouble believing anyone as out of touch as these people are secretly speculating that OP left because of them.

        1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

          Honestly, when they think of cousin leaving at all, it is probably along the lines of “cousin wouldn’t have been in the wrong job in the first place if her mother had been at the interview to ask questions.” And “cousin could probably haven’t gotten assigned better more suitable tasks if her mom/dad had spoken to boss.” “See what happens when you think you’re too grown up for your patents’ help!”

        2. Troutwaxer*

          This is where the whole thing breaks down for me. If the cousin’s mere presence in the company is enough that the OP has to get a new job, it’s time for a very serious talk about the issues because the cousin is not merely being helicoptered and spoiled; the cousin is actively doing damage.

          1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

            Bery good point. LW handled it well and did major damage control. That’s impressive. But it never should have happened.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I imagine LW’s sub-family views the choices as “Ignore helicoptering, maintain family harmony” and “Point out helicopters are so ridiculous LW got a new job, family explodes.” In both of these LW has the same new job, because pointing out to people how you’re right and they’re wrong is not actually an effective way to get them to change their behavior.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      They fall apart in really destructive and often alarming ways, or they find someone who will fill the role left vacant by their parents. But I agree. We talked about this in depth in the original thread, but treating a child (even an adult child) this way is abusive.

      I feel worst for OP, who was caught up as collateral damage because everyone assumed OP was siblings with the cousin. I hope OP won’t have to keep outrunning their cousin, aunt, and uncle.

      1. AsItIs*

        “…or they find someone who will fill the role left vacant by their parents…”

        Which could easily be the OP.

  10. Temperance*

    LW4: I’m so sorry for your loss. Your sister’s killer will eventually get locked up for something else. They always do. Sometimes “the system” fails us.

    LW3: I would have probably told the office gossip that Ferdinand was my cousin, and gosh, wasn’t it so weird and embarrassing that his parents show up all the time? That way, it would spread around that you weren’t his sibling and these creeps weren’t your parents.

    1. Artemesia*

      Me too. I’d probably ask their advice about how to encourage his parents to back off so it was clear. I am surprised that employers didn’t tell them bluntly how inappropriate this was and that they were jeopardizing his job. Maybe they did but people like this can’t hear?

      I have given that speech to helicopter parents of college students although of course much more tactfully than I would parents of an employee who would be told ‘I can’t discuss Fergus’s job with you and your meddling in his workplace will damage his career anywhere. You are putting your son’s job in jeopardy by doing this.’

    2. Justice system works sometimes*

      @Temperance someone not getting thrown in jail/convicted for a lack of evidence is not a system failure but rather the system working how it was designed and intended to, I would consider that a success. How many times have we seen cops/prosecutors fabricate evidence because there isn’t enough to convict but they know and are sure the person committed the crime only for later evidence to show the person was not responsible.

      LW4 I am really sorry for your loss and for the fact that there was not enough evidence to bring justice in your case.

      1. Sue Wilson*

        no that’s still a failure to the victims, even if that’s part of the design, and has philosophical strengths.

    3. Observer*

      On #3 – I think that that’s more useful if you manage to get that in earlier in the process, BEFORE he starts torching his (and her) reputation.

    4. OP #4*

      Thank you. He does have a, er, history, but this evidence was inadmissible. I hope he doesn’t get locked up for anything else new, as I would hate for anyone to go through what we have.

  11. Leenie*

    “My boss in my new position is the first male manager I’ve worked for which is a much needed change!”

    This makes me sad. It reminds me of when I started working 20+ years ago and women would frequently say that they preferred male bosses because (every bit of internalized misogyny that they’d ever absorbed). I still hear that sometimes. I’m not saying the last boss was right about frequently talking about pregnancy or it would have been nice to work for her. Just that it makes me sad that this was the take away.

    1. NGL*

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that felt that way!

      OP had a not-so-great boss. But the paranoia about women getting pregnant and leaving the workforce knows no gender. It sounds like she won’t have to worry about that at her new place of employment, but I don’t think the gender of her boss has anything to do with it!

      1. OP #1*

        My first two bosses out of college have been women and both were intrusive almost to the point of mothering me. Both had children my age and I think saw me as a surrogate child. I’m curious if maybe my inexperience or naivety in the workforce brought this on and I’d be curious to hear your perspectives!

        And maybe my perspective is skewed – my new boss is male, and younger – with young children, and is much better about boundaries. Fortunately, there are a number of women above me in my new role who are great role models!

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I think it’s an individual thing more than a male/female thing, and possibly something that happens to younger people. I’ve had mostly male managers, but the two female managers I had couldn’t have been more different from each other, and neither of them tried to mother me or get too personal.

          My very first manager was male, and he had a daughter who was a few years younger than me, and I felt he was a little paternal in our interactions. Now, my managers tend to be close to my age, but if I had one who was 65, even if they treated me like their child, I’d hope they treat their 40 year old children like adults.

        2. Leenie*

          Hi OP! I’ve noticed that people who have negative experiences with bosses who are men (and maybe more particularly white men) think of those bosses as individuals who displayed some kind of negative behavior. But some people, if they have negative experiences with woman bosses, associate that behavior with all women bosses. I’d caution against that because I think it’s internalizing some really negative messaging about women and ultimately about yourself. Some bosses who are women rock, some are terrible, most are probably a mix of good and bad – just like bosses who are men (or bosses who fit anywhere on the gender spectrum – people are only responsible for their own behavior, not the behavior of their entire demographic).

          Congratulations on winding up at a better place! And I think it’s fantastic that you took the opportunity to tell your old boss how her words impacted you. You did her and everyone who will report to her in the future a big favor.

          Best of luck in everything!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I was going to say something like this–that when someone is part of a minority (in a role–it doesn’t matter if they’re a majority elsewhere) they wind up being What All Those People Are Like As Llama Groomers. Whereas if you’re in the majority, then you get to be, hey, just a person who isn’t very good at llama grooming.

            I know someone who started hiring (for technical R&D jobs) and found that the competent and bleh resumes of the newly graduated sorted themselves by gender. (With the women all managing to convey much more “Oh, we should take a look at this person.”) Time passed, more roles were filled, more resumes entered the sample pool of what new grads craft, and loads of counter examples emerged and that trend disappeared. But if you only have a couple of data points, it’s easy to find a line that connects them.

        3. Tara R.*

          I had a much older male boss who was intent on fussing over me and acting like he was my father when I was just trying to do my job, so I don’t think it’s gendered!

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Hi OP,

          It’s definitely an individual thing, not a “gender of the boss” thing. I’ve had male and female bosses, and the excellent ones (as well as the bad ones) are pretty evenly represented between the two. I’d take a step back and not shy away from female managers just because the first ones you worked with were inappropriate!

        5. Observer*

          Actually, yes, your perspective is skewed.

          Some people are invasive, and others are not – and it’s not based on gender.

          This blog has more that one example of males over-stepping.

      2. Julia*

        This. Sure, out of my bad bosses so far, only a female one explicitly asked if I was pregnant every time she found I did something suspicious, but the male boss may have been thinking it (but didn’t want to say so because women stuff, ick!) and never even told me that that was why I lost out on opportunities.

    2. cheluzal*

      Misogyny? I’ve always preferred male managers because they don’t gossip or get as emotional as my female ones have. Just anecdotal observations.

      1. Nom De Plume*

        >> “[…] Because they don’t gossip or get as emotional as my female ones” –> pretty much the textbook definition of internalised gender stereotypes (I’m stopping short of writing “misogyny,” but that would be what it comes down to: negative stereotypes about women and their supposed essential characteristics).

      2. DoctorateStrange*

        Men are just as capable of being gossipy and emotional too, unfortunately we live in a world where when men exhibit those traits, they’re simply called “talking” and “just sharing his opinion/expressing himself.”

        1. BookishMiss*

          Seriously. My worst, most passive aggressive, backstabby, manipulative manager was a man in his 30s.

          1. DoctorateStrange*

            Same. I’ve had terrible male bosses when I started out working (hello, restaurant industry), but thankfully I work in a place where my male and female bosses are all fantastic.

            I wonder if people would be okay with me saying I prefer having female bosses rather than male bosses as they would someone saying the reverse on that, but somehow I’m sure I’ll be labeled “hateful” while the hypothetical person would be met with understanding.

          2. CMF*

            My husband’s old manager was beloved by staff. He was the pettiest and most gossipy manager I’d ever heard of.

            Once, when a server (it was a restaurant) did something he didn’t like, but wasn’t actually against the rules or inappropriate, he sent an email to her explaining all of her flaws and admonishing her for something imaginary, and he “accidentally” copied the rest of staff so they all could see it.

            He was very involved in the love lives of everyone working in the restaurant, and would eagerly tell anyone who would listen if he found out anyone there had hooked up with other people connected to the restaurant.

            When my husband put his two weeks in, the manager said, “I thought we were friends, how can you do this to me?” and then literally refused to speak to him for the rest of his time there.

            Everyone hated the woman assistant manager, though, she was a bitch. (From what I could tell, she was brusque but professional.) I can tell you who *I* would have rather worked for, though.

      3. Candi*

        You might want to check out the great resignations thread. Not just for petty male manager/other behavior; Ctrl F “truckers”

        The submitter (who was having a pretty crappy life at the time) gives a very detailed account of her resignation from a restaurant. Part of her statement, years after it happened, is that, for the most gossip-loving bunch you could want, truckers fill the bill. And the truckers in her story were apparently primarily/exclusively MALE. They were also awesome.

        Gossip loving is a character trait. How it develops, who knows. But it has not and has never been gender exclusive.

        In The Red Wyvern by Katharine Kerr, Caradoc is trying to find out why a particular lord is bent out of shape, and goes poking around and talking to people. When he reports to Nevyn, he says this line:

        “Men who complain about women gossiping should sew up their own brigga first -I’ve seen a lot of bare bum today.”

        1. Candi*

          dammit. I wasn’t done.

          Fiction can tell us truths in a clear form, and give us great lines to boot.

          (Issue, ambitious lord, very prosperous gwerbertrhyn without an heir, yadda yada)

    3. Artemesia*

      Me too. I was gobsmacked by this. Women who want to work for men are our worst enemies for equal treatment in the workplace. Some women bosses are terrible and some men bosses are terrible; no one wants a terrible boss, but it wasn’t a female boss who sent a subordinate to leave a note at a grave, visited an employee on chemo, got someone penalized for not being dressed up when fetching them at the airport at 2 am, got someone fired for not telling them about a death they didn’t know about and on and on.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        Let’s not forget the male boss that had an issue with his employee’s maternity clothes for looking like maternity clothes. I’m still not over that.

      2. Obs*

        “t wasn’t a female boss who…” –> How u know this for a fact? Sometimes LWs change minor details so they don’t out themselves. Gender of boss would be a good example. Also boss of LW who was always asking about getting pregnant was a woman.

    4. JamieS*

      I didn’t really see an issue with it. The OP had bad experiences with female managers so it makes sense having a male manager would be a welcome change. Personally, I was more concerned with OP mentioning her former manager was going to a woman led company since that’s not really directly related to OP so showed an over focus on gender.

      1. DoctorateStrange*

        In this day and age, female bosses are still viewed in an entirely unfair way compared to male bosses. I’m just tired how normalized it is still…

      2. Leenie*

        But why would it make a welcome change? Implicit in that concept is the idea that the roughly 3.75 billion of us are monolithic and would have similar approaches, while men are different. That’s weird.

        1. JamieS*

          I think your statement hits on what the issue is. People taking offense are interpreting OP’s feelings as a proclamation about all women everywhere when it’s not. Let’s flip it and look at it from a different perspective. Let’s say a woman had a history of working for lousy male bosses (think chauvanistic sexists) and finds working for a female boss to be a welcome change. Even though I assume we can all agree not all managers of the same sex are the same I think many of us would understand why someone who had those experiences would feel that way about now having a female boss.

          To me, this is the exact same thing. OP had bad experiences with managers who were all the same sex (in this case the female sex) and as a result is happy to experience having a boss that’s a different sex from the one she had the bad experiences with.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Normally I would agree with you, JamieS, but I think OP’s clarification in the comments indicates this isn’t about personal experiences, but rather, reducing 3.75b women to stereotypes.

            1. JamieS*

              Is there a comment from OP aside from the one above that I missed? I guess different interpretations but I think the one above pretty much supports my stance of OP having had bad female bosses and is happy to have a male boss as a result. Her saying there are other women above her who she’s finding to be great role models further supports my viewpoint.

          2. Leenie*

            I’m not offended by the OP at all. It’s not actually about her feelings – she picked up her perspective (as we all do) from a society that still has work to do. I’m sad that in 2017 (almost 2018), so many people are still looking at men and women as binary and have different expectations for each. It would actually be wrong to project the behavior of a couple of individual crappy male bosses on to your future male bosses, as in your example above. But that doesn’t actually seem to happen to men that often in your typical office environment (Falling Diphthong has an interesting, nuanced point above about being a majority in society but a minority in a specific environment, but I’m sticking to pervasive cultural generalities right now). Men get to be crazy or great individuals. Women somehow represent all women. For a great example of this, look at cheluzal’s post above. Women bosses are emotional and they gossip. Everybody knows that, right?

            1. JamieS*

              It may be wrong but people still do it and there’s not nearly the backlash. I think people are making this into a much broader issue than it actually is. This isn’t about some huge issue with society or the result of OP living in a sexist world. It’s nothing more than someone with multiple bad experiences from one kind of external factor being happy at having a different external factor.

              Also I’m not sure what the current year has to do with anything but I see it often enough that despite it being completely meaningless to me I’m sure it means something to someone.

              1. Leenie*

                The year is relevant because we should be farther along in the 21st Century than lumping all women together. I’m not sure what you mean about backlash. Like I’ve said, this isn’t a criticism of the OP. I don’t see any backlash against her on this thread. Just people sharing their experiences and perspectives with her.

                I’m going to try to reframe this one more way, and then I’m going back to my baking again. So, in real life my current boss and my last boss are both Jewish. How horrifying would it be if I said that my next (theoretical) boss being Christian would be a welcome change, because I’d noticed similar behaviors from both of my bosses that I didn’t like? It’s awful to the point of being shocking, right? As well it should be. I felt terrible even typing that as a hypothetical. It’s not fair to expect a set of behaviors from broad classifications of people, based on either stereotypes or personal experience with individuals who are members of those groups. How is this different because it’s about gender instead of race or religion? And why is it considered perfectly fine to say that you prefer men bosses to women bosses? Or that you think the experience of working for one would be somehow intrinsically different than working for the other, no matter who they are as individuals?

                1. Leenie*

                  And just for clarity’s sake and to try to avoid more tangents – I am/was happy with both of my bosses and my complaints about both of them mostly would be different from one to the other. I’m just pointing out that it’s possible to pick out behaviors and attributes (maternal, interfering, gossipy, emotional) and assign those to a broad group of people instead of taking people as they come. And I think it’s really unfortunate that we – yes in 2018 – still face messaging about what women are like, or what it’s like to work for a woman versus a man.

                2. JamieS*

                  Why? People in 1000 BC, 18 AD, 1735, etc. could have said the exact same thing. The state of it being the current year or century doesn’t come with inherent values or standards that must be met just by virtue of it being the current place in time that it happens to be.

                  By backlash I mean I firmly believe this sub-thread would either not exist, be much shorter, and/or have far more supportive responses if the sexes of the managers were reversed.

                  I think religion is a bit different. For one an employee is unlikely to be fully aware of their managers religious beliefs particularly when first starting a job so knowing all that is a red flag just by itself. Second despite the fact not all managers of the same sex are exactly the same there are tendencies that managers of one sex tend to have that the other sex doesn’t display as frequently. Whether it’s biological or socialization is up for debate (I think it’s mostly due to socialization) but that doesn’t mean the differences don’t exist. Far as I know that’s not true of managers who are different religions.

  12. LongtimeLurkerInfrequentCommenter*

    #2 This is maybe an unconventional suggestion for you to take or leave (and to consult your doctor if it interests you). I, too, have serious difficulty waking up. Sleep studies showed nothing. The Ketogenic diet, though, was practically miraculous for me. I went on it for issues other than sleep, but sleep turned out to be a huge benefit of the diet for me. When I’m off keto, I take 6-10 snooze alarms to get out of bed and have drastic energy spikes & crashes through the day (sugar high/ sugar crash). When I’m on keto it’s about 2 snoozes – at most. A lot of mornings I wake up on the first alarm and don’t suffer terrible morning grogginess anymore. Keto worked wonders on my energy levels. I know keto isn’t for everyone and I’m not gonna sit here and get preachy about it. Just putting the idea out into the ether because it worked for me.

  13. Video Gamer Lurker*

    At LW2, I used to use I can’t Wake Up as well (until it crashed because I was using my own ringtone or something), and my dad (who has always struggled with waking up, even according to his mother). I preferred the math problems for waking up than most of the other options, though the color pattern ones were fun as well.
    Glad there’s some improvement!

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