my boss found out I’m living with my parents, required to shave a beard, and more

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

1. I’m embarrassed that my boss found out I’m living with my parents

I’m 26 years old and moved back in with my parents three months ago as a combination of getting renovicted (where a landlord evicts a tenant under the, sometimes false, reason of conducting renovation) and wanting to save up a downpayment to purchase my own place.

I work in an office and have been with the company since graduating five years ago. On a recent day off, my manager called the home phone and my mother picked up and handed the phone to me. I think they were provided an outdated phone number by HR.

Obviously I am embarrassed by this, as I especially don’t want people at work to know I moved back home as an adult. People will tend to judge you and look at you a certain way and I am aware of that. Basically I’m afraid that word will get around and affect my work relationships and/or future prospects with this employer. Why would a manager want to advance someone or recommend someone who doesn’t seem to have their personal life together?

I know it shouldn’t matter on paper but people don’t behave like that. Am I being paranoid? My plan now is just to basically just ignore it ever happened and be truthful if asked (and to get HR to update my cell #). What else should I do?

You are indeed being paranoid, or at least just overthinking this. This is not a big deal! It’s not even clear that your boss knows for sure that you moved back home (for all he knows, maybe your mom just answered your phone because you couldn’t get to it in time). But even if he does know or asks about it in the future, it’s no big deal to say “I’m saving up a down payment to purchase my own place” or “I’m temporarily at my parents’ house because my landlord decided to renovate.”

Living at home doesn’t mean you don’t have your personal life together. It’s true that it can come across that way if there are other signs of that too — inability to hold down a job, refusal to engage with the rest of the world, etc. But assuming that you otherwise seem reasonably together, it’s very unlikely that this would enter into your manager’s thinking about Professional You.

2. Badmouthing a colleague behind her back

Is it rude to badmouth a colleague behind their back? By this I don’t mean complaints or grievances (“I don’t like working with Fergus – he always stands too close and it makes me uncomfortable”) or factual / informational comments that are actually useful to know (“I worked with Fergus at my last job and he made an intern cry”).

To give some context, it was recently announced that my office would be using someone external for one of our projects — call her Jean. My team lead, but not my manager — call her Jane — had worked with Jean in the past and knew her fairly well. When this was announced, she told me privately that while Jean was incredibly skilled at her job, she was really mean. She didn’t give any further details, and I’m pretty sure she told other members of the team the same thing.

My issues are firstly that it soured any communication I had with Jean. I kept wondering if she was going to say something mean, rather than communicating productively. She never did (perhaps this one is my problem). Secondly, this started to make me question what Jane was saying about me behind my back (again, perhaps I’m being overly paranoid). Am I wrong to think that Jane’s comments about Jean being “really mean” were slightly unprofessional? I realize there’s every chance I’m reading too much into it.

I wouldn’t say “unprofessional,” exactly — but yeah, not useful or constructive. It was a broad characterization that didn’t give you very actionable information. It would be different if she’d said something like, “As a heads-up, my experience of Jean when we worked together was that she can come across as impatient and fairly critical of work that wasn’t her own. Don’t be thrown off if that happens; it’s not personal.” But just saying “she’s mean” could mean anything, and it doesn’t tell you what to prepare for. (“Mean” could mean anything from “didn’t laugh at my jokes” to “got justifiably annoyed when people gave her sloppy work” to “screamed at the nicest person in the office.”) And since there aren’t any specifics attached to it, it also feels kind of like a general slurring of Jean’s name. Giving more concrete information with context about why she thinks it’s useful for you to know would have been a better way to go.

3. My boss’s boss said I shouldn’t have a woman’s name (I’m a woman)

I am female and work for a large predominantly male company. I’ve worked there a long time and have had some big successes. In fact, just a week ago, my team released a very popular product that took months to make. The other day, while getting a coffee from the common area, ​I ran into ​my boss’s boss, who I have a completely formal relationship with. After literally​ ​saying​ ​just ​”Hi, how are you​” to him, he said​ ​to me​, ​”Katie, your name should be Bob.​ ​Doesn’t seem like you should have a woman’s name at all.​​”​ ​– apropos of​ ​nothing. He went on about how a woman’s name didn’t suit me … a woman.

I was caught completely off guard.​ ​​I carried on the conversation as if it didn’t bother me but I ​deeply regret not telling him he was being inappropriate.​ ​I consider myself to be a​ pretty​ average ​woman, and am absolutely in line with the office dress code.​ I​ ​feel incredibly irritated by this comment, and the meaning of it totally eludes me.​ I have a feeling never in 1,000 years would he say​ ​to my male colleague, “​Mike, your name should be Tiffany! You’re not really manly at all!” All I can conclude is that my boss’s boss has​ a​ serious etiquette problem.​ What should I do, if anything?

What on earth?! Is he implying something about your gender presentation (which would be wildly inappropriate and none of his business)? Is he making a sexist comment about how you have a tough, hard-driving style that he finds “masculine” (which would be inappropriate and gross)? Or … I don’t even know what the other possibilities are.

If you have decent rapport with your boss, you can mention it to her and if she has any idea what it meant. She may know her boss well enough that she can take a better stab at interpreting it than I can. Beyond that, though, if you haven’t seen any other problematic behavior from this guy, I’d make a mental note that he is sexist/weird/inappropriate/offensive and have it in the back of your head in case you see additional evidence of it. (On the other hand, if this is part of a pattern of sexism from him, you may want to document it in case you decide at some point to act on that.)

4. Can your boss tell you to shave a beard?

I have a friend who has a very short, well-maintained beard. He shaved it after a barber mishap, and upon going into work, his boss told him that she preferred for him to continue to be clean shaven in the office. He let her know that he planned to grow his beard back, but she told him to start “waking up a few minutes earlier every day” to shave.

Is his boss allowed to reprimand him for ignoring her request about shaving and growing his beard back? I know that workplaces are allowed to place some stipulations on their employees appearances, but requesting that an employee shave really seems to be crossing the line. My friend is always well dressed, so this isn’t stemming from an overall need for him to be better put together in the workplace.

Yes, believe it or not, employers can require that men have clean-shaven faces. (The exception to this if you have a beard for religious or medical reasons.) This may seem weirdly retro and outdated, and it is.

But since your friend had a beard in this job previously, he could try pointing out that it hadn’t been an issue previously and asking on what grounds his boss is objecting now.

{ 516 comments… read them below }

  1. Beth

    OP1, there are so many reasons that people live with family. Saving up for a down payment is one. Caregiving is another–plenty of adults have parents who shouldn’t live alone anymore, and choose to live with them rather than moving them to an assisted living facility. Living with parents well into adulthood is also completely normal in many cultures. I think you’ll encounter less judgement for this than you expect. And anyone who does judge you harshly based solely on you living with your parents for a bit is showing a really small-minded, narrow view of the world.

    1. HannahS

      Yeah, you are most definitely being paranoid. People know that there are all kinds of reasons why an adult might choose to live at home. Do YOU kind of secretly think that people who move back in with their parents don’t have their lives together? Or did you, until it happened to you? Most people understand that the economy is rough, school loans are massive burden, unpaid internships abound, people get sick and need care or company, and COL is high. Unless your boss is the kind of person who thinks the reason you’re 26 and without a mortgage, car payment, and marriage is because you eat too much damn avocado toast and can’t commit, they’re not going to care. I lived at home until age 25 and no one I encountered (including my bosses and coworkers) ever said anything negative. Or positive. Nothing past, “Oh, ok. So you’re out in [city]?” The only people I know who left their parents’ homes at 18 and never went back were people who absolutely could not bear to live with their families, or moved far away, or got really lucky with school and work. If it comes up–and unless your mom answered the phone with “Yes, this is OP1’s mother speaking. Ohhhh SMOOCHIE-POO, it’s your BOSS calling”–your boss doesn’t even know that it was your mother–just say, “I’m staying with my parents because my apartment is being renovated.”

      1. TL -

        Most people I know moved out for college, came back for a summer or two, and then ‘officially’ moved out after graduation – the people who moved back home were the exception, not the norm.
        But nobody really cares, even in those circles. Generally it’s just assumed you have a good reason, especially if you act like an adult in all other areas of your life.

        1. many bells down

          We currently live three blocks away from a college, so it doesn’t make any sense for my college-age student to even move out for that! Although she’s thinking of transferring now.

        2. Specialk9

          I agree that living with parents is far from shameful, and I judge people who judge that.

          But OP isn’t making this up, and blaming them for the fact that some people DO judge for ‘failure to launch’ (generally the people who don’t understand how fundamentally different education and housing costs are from the 50s – 70s) is an odd choice.

          This isn’t on OP, they’re just recognising that some unkind people judge harshly out of ignorance and a desire to feel superior.

          But yeah, OP, don’t overthink this. Keep being professional and hard working. You’re all good.

      2. Myrin

        Yeah, I need to jump on the bandwagon of your third sentence there for a minute.

        OP, I mean this kindly and not in any way attacking, so I hope you’ll be able to take it that way: Your letter sounds to me like you have certain preconceptions towards adults who live at home and are projecting those feelings onto others in your life. Is that something that maybe rings true to you?

        To elaborate on why I immediately got that feeling: Your third paragraph. It starts off with “obviously” and that’s the tone that carries through it. And let me tell you that there really is nothing “obvious” about this. It’s not at all obvious that you’d be embarrassed because your mother answered you guys’ landline, it’s not obvious that that’s something you’d feel uncomfortable with your coworkers’ knowing, and it’s also not obvious that people will “judge you and look at you a certain way”. You present all these things like they’re of course a given when that is really, really not the case, and I’d encourage you to try and give a more positive spin to your situation in your own mind.

        1. Brandy

          yeah, your mom couldve been visiting your place and just answered the phone. But dont judge someone for living at home, you have no clue as to heir situation.

          1. Breda

            Or, since it was your day off, you could’ve been over visiting your parents and they just happened to catch you there. There are lots of alternative explanations here!

        2. ExceptionToTheRule

          The only thing with judging about this entire situation is that your house still has a landline. Seriously?

          1. Nanani

            Pretty much everyone I know who has a landline has it because it’s cheaper to keep it, and the package/bundle/deal price attached, than to get rid of it. Usually, it involves the land line veing bundled with internet and/or TV.

            Don’t judge people based on shitty service providers either, please.

            1. Optimistic Prime

              Yeah, I tried to get rid of my landline a couple weeks ago and was told that it’d be more expensive for me to have a plan with just cable and Internet. Which is WEIRD. I don’t even have a phone attached to that landline – been meaning to buy one for about 2.5 years now, lol.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I have a landline! I will never give it up. The sound quality is significantly better and I’m on the phone a lot. (And every radio interview I do wants me on a landline, so that’s not all in my head. The other day, someone told me I needed to be on a corded landline, which I ignored.)

            1. soon 2be former fed

              I work at home and use mine mostly for that, teleconferences on a cell phone are sucky. I have a triple play cable package and the cost is small. Lots of folks have landlines!

            2. Former Retail Manager

              OMG YES!!! Same here. When people call me on the cell, I ask them to hang up and call me on the home phone. I hate cell call quality. Not to mention that, for long conversations, a cell phone will never fit comfortably between my head and shoulder.

              1. Jennifer Thneed

                My city used to be notorious for poor cell reception, and it was very common to drive around in the evenings and see people sitting on their front steps talking on the phone. There were times I flat-out told my friends that my mobile phone was only for texting; if I was at home my phone would be in my backpack and inaudible. (It has gotten better since then.)

                Tip for conference calls: the fewer the wires, the worse the call quality. I used to use a cordless house phone with the earbud-microphone dealie that came with my mobile phone. It was fine with direct phone calls but super-crappy when dialing into conference numbers. I always had to switch to the “regular” phone with the headset that plugs into the phone jack for those. (My current workplace uses Skype and is about to switch to Zoom.)

                1. Optimistic Prime

                  People wondered why I thought the iPhone ditching the headphone jack was enough for me to permanently switch back to Android. If I’m on a call that’s going to be longer than 5 minutes, I’m plugging in my headset. I hate Bluetooth headsets – the call quality is bad and you have to remember to charge them!

            3. Anon Accountant

              Same here. We live in a rural area where cell phone service isn’t the greatest. If you need to call 911 they can trace a call from a landline much faster than from dropped calls from a cell phone.

                1. NowAnExec

                  Same here. Though my cable company (who provides my landline) really screwed the pooch for me in November, 2016. I moved in October of that year, cable company moved my equipment. In December, I had a minor heart attack (the heart attack wasn’t a big deal, it was more what it did to my lungs….I have COPD and emphysema…my lungs spasmed for four days). I called 911 and…..they had no idea where I was. Cable company changed my phone number and didn’t tell me and didn’t update the E911 system and I had a very hard time telling them my address. Took them forever to get here.

              1. teclatrans

                yes, this is why I keep a landline, even though it costs money. (That, and sound quality. I was only mildly phone averse prior to cell phones, they just compress sound in a way that messes me up.)

            4. NylaW

              I have a landline because we have a small child. We’re teaching her what to do in certain emergencies and I cannot imagine having to teach a young child how to make an emergency call on a PIN locked cell phone vs dialing 911 on our actual phone. (She knows how to turn it on and off already)

              1. Jmoy

                FYI, Not strange at all. Working at an ISP/phone company, we have a ton of people with similar situations where they need a landline to always be “on” for medical or alarm reasons. It is actually very common and we take it very seriously.

            5. BRandy

              I keep mine because its bundled, the #s great, Ive moved with it several times and ive had the # for 30 years, so im attached to it.

          3. RabbitRabbit

            Our place has crummy cell reception inside, and I’d also like to minimize the number of businesses that think they can call me on my cell phone/sell my cell number. So we kept our landline.

            1. Artemesia

              We just have cells but if I needed a phone professionally I’d get a land line again. As a retiree, it is not important to me. But we had an apartment when we first moved to Big Midwest City that had terrible reception; it was temporary but a real pain to have to go stand in the stairwell to make a call.

          4. Kate

            I have a landline because one of my previous apartment was like a deadspot for cell service, and I work from home meaning a phone is essential. Like Nanani said, eventually it just became that the bundled price was cheaper than getting rid of the landline.

          5. Teapot Tester

            There are so many reasons to have a landline that I don’t understand why people get rid of them.

            We have Ooma, which is way cheap and has some great features. And it’s convenient to have a landline for things like schools and doctors to have. We get an email every time someone leaves a voicemail and so husband and I both always know about them without having to remember to tell the other something that might be important.

            I also don’t like giving my cell number out other than to personal contacts so the landline limits the spam I get on my cell. And I use my landline for business calls when I’m working from home because the call quality is way better.

            So, you’re the one who shouldn’t judge.

            1. Rusty Shackelford

              I also don’t like giving my cell number out other than to personal contacts so the landline limits the spam I get on my cell

              Same. Every couple of weeks we go through the voicemail on the landline and it’s never anyone we’d want to talk to. All those calls that would have gone to our cell phones.

            2. Artemesia

              It isn’t about ‘getting rid of them’; everyone I know who only has a cell has moved around the country, so it is paying giant deposit and messing around with installing new landline that is the barrier. We had a landline in our old city where we lived in one house for 30 years; we didn’t go through the installation process when we moved.

              1. TootsNYC

                plus if you started out w/ a cell, whose number you could take from high school to college dorm room to on-campus apartment to off campus to summer internship to first (shared) apartment to second apartment…

                Adding in the expense of a landline is a big pain!

            3. TootsNYC

              well, here’s the reason some people get rid of their landline: mine costs $60 a month. More than half of it is fees. And I seldom use it to call out; cell coverage in NYC is good.

          6. AngelicGamer, aka the Visually Impaired Peep

            911 works better on a landline vs a cell phone. Especially when you’re freaked out about finding a family member who has had a stroke and can’t really get out your address.

            1. NowAnExec

              It works better unless you have my provider! I moved, they moved my equipment and when I had a small heart attack, I found out that they changed my phone number (without telling me) and they didn’t update the E911 system. Seemed to take forever for the ambulance to get here…..

              They actually tried to lay it in my lap…..”Why didn’t you tell us you weren’t getting any calls?” Wha….? So I should call in and say no one has called me? Most folks call me on my cell, what do I say? Is no one calling or am I just unpopular? And it still took them two months to update the E911 system.

          7. MommyMD

            What’s so shocking about a landline? They are free with many bundles and the quality of the call is a lot better. I don’t have one but don’t judge those who do. They aren’t trendy enough is what you’re saying?

          8. ArtK

            My, that was pretty judgy.

            We have a land line in part because we’re in a cell phone shadow and the building has enough steel that reception is bad inside. We also have it for emergencies since the cellular network can be disrupted easily by disasters (so can the landline network but having two mechanisms lowers the risk.) We live in SoCal near several significant fault lines.

          9. Penny Lane

            My spouse is in a profession where he needs to have 24/7 phone access, without exception – lives depend on it. If cell service cuts out — which can happen — he knows he can rely on the landline.

            Some people also have their landline linked to their home security system such that if the alarm goes off, a call is sent through the phone line to go to the alarm company / police department / fire department.

          10. Jennifer Thneed

            Seriously? If the power goes out, I can still make phone calls in the dark. My usual house-phone is cordless and needs to charge batteries, but I keep an old-skool plug-in one that only needs the power in the phone lines. (And I think the phone companies have some level of legal requirement to restore that access super-fast if service goes out.)

            Call quality is SO much better with the house phone. I use my mobile phone as my work-related number (and it’s on my resume) but when I do phone interviews, I have them call my house phone. Not one single recruiter or hiring manager has ever thought it was odd when I said the sound quality would be better that way.

          11. TrainerGirl

            I sure do. Because when we had a tropical storm come through my area and the power was out and the only place I could charge my cell phone was at work, I sure was glad to have that landline and an old-fashioned hard-wired phone that I could use. There’s no need to judge folks for keeping a perfectly fine mode of communication if they choose to.

          12. AKchic

            I have a landline. I’m not buying my 9 year old a cell phone. Plus, I make my teens check in from the landline so I have verifiable proof that they are in the house and not just calling me from any house to say “I’m home” (and not specifying “our” home so they aren’t technically lying – ah, teenagers).

            Plus, our ridiculous communications conglomerate bundles and it’s cheaper to have a landline bundled with internet than to just have internet by itself (I refuse to get cable, ever).

        3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

          I think this is an example of internalized bias – SO MANY PEOPLE crap all over “millennials” for every reason imaginable, and living with their parents in their 20s is just one more excuse. I’m the same age as OP, and while I haven’t lived at my parent’s house since college, I’m simultaneously resentful of those who do have that option, and feel somewhat smug that I don’t have to. I don’t want or like these feelings, but it’s what the culture has trained me to feel.

          1. Amber T

            I think you hit the nail on the head here. So then couple that with the feeling of “failing” (even though it sounds like your former landlord was an ass and that’s in no way on you)… I get it. OP – your boss didn’t notice, or they didn’t care.

        4. Luna

          I didn’t get that impression from the OP. There is so much complaining these days about “millennials” and “young people” ruining everything and generally being terrible/irresponsible/lazy, etc. It’s easy to become self conscious, but that doesn’t mean OP is judging others.

          The only thing I’m judging here is why your boss is calling you on your day off!

        5. Catnpoodle

          I got the same impression even before the 3rd paragraph based on the elaborate explanation of the ‘renoviction’ and the feeling of resentment behind the ‘somestimes false’ detail. It seems very unnecessary, and in any event, does not work as any kind of excuse since I am sure there are other properties for rent in OP’s city. There are very strong feelings behind the whole home situation for OP, but even if people care and project some sort of bias – this has zero effect on her employment situation.

          1. jo

            “does not work as any kind of excuse since I am sure there are other properties for rent in OP’s city.”

            I don’t know what your renting experience has been, but your comment seems ill-informed. The OP’s renoviction problem is almost certainly a real one and not exaggerated by anxiety. Many rental properties have some form of rent stabilization or other limitations on how much the landlord can raise the rent on existing tenants; meanwhile, the market rate shoots up all around you, and if you try to move to a new apartment, you can end up with a MUCH higher rent–yes, even if you make major compromises on how large/nice/well-located your place is. And there go your financial goals like the OP’s of saving for a down payment.

            A few years ago, my apartment was water-damaged due to a fire in a unit above. We had to move out for six weeks while the landlord made repairs. Before we found out our renter’s insurance would put us up in a hotel (and replace our damaged stuff), we considered just taking a different apartment–and found out we couldn’t afford it. We would have had to stay with friends.

            TL;DR: yay renter’s insurance! Worth every penny of our $20/month!

            1. Optimistic Prime

              All of this. “Renoviction” has actually been covered in the media in expensive rental markets like the San Francisco Bay Area – for rent-controlled apartments or other units that are currently rented below market rent, landlords can’t legally evict tenants because they want to raise rents, but they can legally evict them if they are planning to make “improvements” or renovations to the property. So they evict the tenant, make some superficial renovations, raise the rent astronomically – often double or more – and then quickly rent the unit out to new tenants before the old tenants find out they’re done.

              1. Craftyluna

                Do you mean actually evict? Like go to court and everything? Or do you mean terminating their leases, or just not renewing them? Because eviction doesn’t just mean removing tenants, it’s a specific legal process that requires proof that the tenant is not paying rent or violating the lease in some other way, and it leaves a black mark on your record that makes it nearly impossible to ever rent again.

        6. Anon for this

          This, so much this. I get that you’re a bit younger and embarrassed that you’re living with your parents for what you don’t think are good enough reasons but it’s really not that unusual to live with your parents (at 26, or any other age), for a variety of reasons. My first assumption would be (if I figured you were living with your parents, which a female voice answering a phone would not actually tell me in any way) that you are care giving (even if not for your parents, maybe grandparents living with them that they need help with). I lived with my mother-in-law for a year (in an elderly living condo… haha) when I was 26 while we built our house. I always figured (hoped) she would live with us again before she passed but she was able to live independently until she passed when I was 31.

          You are embarrassed because you don’t feel you are as independent as you “should be” at this age. But those are self-imposed expectations and societal pressures that you do not need to conform to and that most people don’t actually care about. Repeat after me: “I was independent before, and I am just as independent now. I have made a temporary personal and financial decision based on circumstances that is perfectly reasonable to make and that no decent person would judge. I have no reason to be embarrassed.”

          For what it’s worth, when people “make fun of” youth living with their parents, they are generally making fun of the idea that their parents are packing their lunches, making their beds, paying for their cell phone, etc. The living arrangement is not embarrassing. You might feel better if you actually stopped hiding it. Try, “yeah, I’m staying with my folks for a few months until I move into my new place”. If people imply something about it, say “actually, it’s nice to spend some time with them and they love having someone around to cook sometimes/mow the lawn/take care of the chores a bit especially now that they’re getting older.” “I’ll miss it once I’m off with a family of my own”.

          And you will, if you stop being embarrassed about it. Some of my most treasured memories with my MIL (and husband as well) were in that tiny condo of hers. We drove her crazy but I know she wouldn’t give it up for anything either.

          Oh, and if you’re not helping out, and acting like you’re still in high school/university, help out like you are living in your own place. It will make you feel a lot better about it and might be why you’re so embarrassed.

          1. TrainerGirl

            All of this.

            I lived with my parents until I was 27 (although I did have an apartment for a year of that time), and it was never the “parents taking care of me” situation. I paid them rent (which was more than their mortgage! It wasn’t a lot but they had a really low house payment due to staying in the same place for a long time.) and cooked, did laundry, etc. so it was more like renting a room in a house, just from my parents.

            I did buy a condo when I moved out and was lucky to have saved up a down payment and a nice cushion for emergencies. I was lucky…my parents were moving out of state, so they gave me a few pieces of furniture they weren’t taking and I had been buying housewares a little at at time every month, so my place was fully furnished when I moved in. I’ve never felt a moment’s embarrassment about it OP, and you shouldn’t either.

      3. cybrcwby

        I do not recommend lying to your boss about your living situation. Trust is a very important part of all businesses.
        Lying to your boss in general may be a violation of company policy and it may get you fired if you are found out.
        Take personal responsibility for your life and all your actions. Save up your money and move out of your folks house when you are financially able to so. But don’t lie about your situation. When I catch any employees lying about anything, it usually leads to more lies, increased mistrust, the employee gets in trouble and is usually dismissed in a short period of time.

          1. The Original K.

            Yeah, firing someone for lying about living with their parents seems like an enormous over-reaction. I don’t know about most of my coworkers’ living situations, nor do I care beyond “I hope everyone has a safe place to go home to.”

        1. jo

          I think you might have an overblown sense of how much of your employees’ personal information you are entitled to, and some confusion about the difference between privacy and dishonesty.

          Honesty is indeed best most of the time (and easiest, since the truth is usually a breeze to remember), but if someone is demanding information from me that is none of their business, I have no compunction about keeping it from them.

          Who I live with and who lives with me are included on the list of things my boss isn’t entitled to know. If I got fired for keeping that information to myself, I’d be talking to a lawyer.

        2. TrainerGirl

          Wow, you really are conflating the issue of employees lying about something work-related (which is an issue) and lying about a personal life issue that you’re not even entitled to know (which is most certainly NOT an issue). Their personal life and living situation is none of your business and you shouldn’t be asking questions about it in the first place.

      4. Anion

        Yes. We’re in our forties and moved in with my dad last year; he had empty bedrooms and was lonely (and he’s not getting any younger, either. He’s still very active but he’s 74). It’s basically as simple as that. We’re about to start the process of buying the house from him and building an in-law addition for him so he can have more privacy, but we love having him with us and he loves having us with him and getting to spend time with me and his grandchildren (and my husband, but he’s obviously not the main attraction, lol).

        Nobody we’ve told has batted an eyelash. It might help that he *is* 74, but still. We could afford to go find our own place, but why should we, when we basically have a nice house in a great neighborhood already and we get to spend time with my dad and are here if he needs us (or here for when the day comes that he does need us)? And because we’re buying the house dirt cheap, this means we’ll be able to retire at a semi-normal age for it, as well, and we’ll have something real to pass to our kids.

        Anybody who judges this kind of thing isn’t thinking, IMO. Personally, I hope our kids will stay with us as long as they want/need to, so they can have the best possible financial start, too.

        1. Former Retail Manager

          I have to agree that this sounds great. I have a similar situation complete with home transfer and all. In the early years, my family lived with my mom (a widow) because she was helping us out by our not having to pay rent while trying to work full time and get through school. However, as time went on and especially after the market tanked in 2008, the tables turned. We now pay all bills save for a couple of small ones. My mother is 72 and also active, but has some health issues. We’ve all adapted and everything goes pretty well about 98% of the time.

          I can’t tell you how many people have clearly thought that the arrangement is odd. I always tell them that I genuinely believe that her presence has enriched our lives. It has also afforded me the opportunity to get to know her as person rather than just as a mom, if that makes sense. And she’s been my daughter’s de facto third parent which has been immensely helpful over the years.

          I really think society in general needs to reassess its view of multi-generational families. For us at least, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

      5. Optimistic Prime

        I don’t think the OP is being paranoid. I definitely know people, especially from different generations, who have specific negative perceptions about living with your parents. I do agree that they shouldn’t worry about these perceptions, but they do exist.

        1. selena81

          Yeah, these negative opinions exists.

          But what really is changing (imo) is how much people internalize that shame: nowadays it is really not the big deal anymore that it’s in lazy comedies (dude needs to prove he’s dating-material by moving out). If you move out but live as a stoner mooching of friends. then to most people you are way less mature then someone with a job who maybe choses to take care of his parents.

          It seems that in my mother’s generation moving-out was pretty much _the_ defining act of entering adulthood (followed closely by pregnancy, 2 milestones my mom ticked off long before she was ready, imo).
          I grew up with her bragging about her independence, and it always felt hollow and pointless to me. She was unemployed and single, and somehow still felt entitled to badmouth her sister who got married and employed before reproducing (‘my younger sister has a job but no baby, what a selfish biatch she must be’).

          I love my mom, but she is very much a product of her generation (her mental deficiencies don’t help either: she sees any well-meaning criticism or advise as a personal attack, and is pretty much still the confused and frightened teenage girl that was pressured into adulthood way too fast in the ’70s)

    2. LeRainDrop

      I totally agree with Beth. Also, I think just as often, young adults who are working professionals may live at home precisely because they DO have their personal lives together, as they are being frugal, planning for the future, and maintaining good relationships with family. If I were your boss, I wouldn’t be giving a second thought to how that part of the phone call went and what it means that your mom answered. Add on top that you have a nice track record at the company, and there’s really no reason for him to question your professional qualifications or potential based on this. Please rest assured!

      1. CMart

        Agreed with the “young professional adults who live at home DO have their personal lives together” tack.

        I’m in corporate accounting, and my company like many others have competitive post-graduation “leadership development” programs in the finance departments. The young adults who get these roles are some of the best and more driven of their peers, and the starting salaries are higher than average for the industry. They worked hard in school, they spent their summers working 8-5 at professional internships, and they all had this job lined up before graduating. They’re some of the most together college graduates around! And nearly all of the people in the program at my current company live with their parents. It just makes good financial sense!

        The handful of conversations I’ve heard between these employees and the more senior employees here where they discuss finally moving out and getting an apartment end up with the senior employee being like “but why??? If your parents like you and you like them, stay there as long as you can! Independence is overrated! And expensive!”

        1. nonymous

          Curious how many are paying their parents for the privilege? In my twenties I lived with my mom – it let her weather the financial impact of being widowed followed by a layoff without sacrificing her retirement and splitting the bills was definitely cheaper than renting. But I also had relatives about the same age who’s parents felt that kids should never have to pay rent. And I had friends who couldn’t move home because their parents needed the space for other family. You can guess which one of us had more discretionary spending.

          Now I completely support the idea that families get to choose what works for them, and there’s noting bad about any of this situation, but it does seem like my experience over a decade ago is an example of wealth transfer and the growing gap between the have and have-nots. Some of my accomplishments a decade later are entirely due to the freedom that living with my mom created, but my relatives living rent-free had access to experiences that are perceived even more favorably in society. For reference the people I’m thinking of are a group that graduated from the same StateU within a two-year period and grew up in the same region.

          1. Kathleen_A

            This was long ago now, but when I lived with my parents after college, I “paid” with chores – not so much basic, everyday things like cooking and laundry – things that anyone who’s part of a household ought to do as part of their contribution to living there – but bigger projects, e.g., repainting the spare room and out-of-the-ordinary yard work. I think it worked out pretty well, but I guess you’d have to ask my mom to find out for sure. :-)

          2. Penny Lane

            Yep, I would most certainly “wealth-transfer” by enabling my children to live at home rent free (presuming they are productive, have goals, are helpful in the household, etc.). Not sure why that’s bad. I also “wealth-transferred” by enabling them to go to top 20 schools that they earned their way into it without having to deal with loans. I think there’s some shaming of wealth-transferring going on and I’m not quite sure why. There’s a difference between enabling someone with a trust fund to lie about and eat bonbons all day, and enabling someone with a good work ethic to go for opportunities he or she might not otherwise be able to have. One of my children is in a low-paying profession that helps others precisely because I can wealth-transfer, and (while neither child knows it yet) I plan on funding the grandchildren’s eventual college education. I don’t see anything wrong with people charging their grown children rent to live at home — but from my perspective, for my household, I wouldn’t see the point.

            1. the gold digger

              For me, the issue is with things like unpaid internships. (I know some of the rules about them have changed.) I worked for money when I was in high school and college and could not have afforded to work for free.

              1. Starbuck

                This is an excellent point, re: unpaid internships as drivers of inequality, but the fault does not lie with the young people who have the means to work for free. The fault is 100% with the organizations who don’t pay people working for them.

            2. nonymous

              In my mind it’s not shameful to want to smooth out the bumps in life for our children. Especially if they’re working hard and contentious – why not help them minimize debt and maximize earning potential?

              The issue (for me) is when there are a few generations in a row of hard-earned successes practicing wealth transfer, it creates gaps that even the hardest working young person can’t overcome. What does our nation look like if the determining factor whether a median earner has access to a middle class lifestyle is whether their parents were affluent? What opportunities does this mean for the future generation?

              1. Popcorn Lover

                That’s very true, and the way to deal with that is to support politicians and policies that lower the barriers to home ownership and a college education and whatever other markers of stability/success our society deems important.

            3. Joielle

              I don’t think anyone is saying that transferring wealth to your kids is “wrong,” but that it is an enormous privilege that a lot of people don’t have. I think we could all do to examine our own lives and recognize how privilege has shaped our experiences – even if you (general you) don’t change anything about what you’re doing, it fosters empathy for people who have less.

          3. She's One Crazy Diamond

            Yeah. I moved out of my parents’ house the minute I could because I couldn’t stand living with them and am massively in debt now even though I spent years juggling multiple jobs. My significant other lived with his parents until recently and was always free to take jobs he actually wanted and has savings and makes a much higher income than I do. I used to always feel like it was better to be free and independent even if that meant being poor but he legitimately enjoyed living with his parents and benefited so much by staying with them even though he did help them financially that now I wish I didn’t have to have been on my own.

          4. Kate 2

            Quite frankly, if you are in a lower-income family letting your kids live with you rent-free is one of the ONLY things you may be able to do for them.

            I grew up in a low-income area, and my family was better off but not exactly rolling in the dough either. This is one of the few things that my classmate’s families could do to help them. So many of them were barely getting by themselves.

            There was a lot of shame from their parents. In our culture parents are supposed to send their kids off to college and outfit a dorm room, and even supposedly relatable TV families buy old used cars for their kids on their 16th birthday, etc. It goes on and on.

            Letting their kids live with them rent free made them feel a little better, and gave the kids a head start in the world. God knows they aren’t going to be getting any kind of inheritance. If they are lucky they won’t go into debt paying for their parents end of life care, and the poor parents know this and feel bad about it too, on top of the fact that they (parents) will not be able to retire. They want their kids to build as much savings as they can while they can.

            If they’ve got the spare room and want to I don’t think it is anyone’s business but theirs.

            1. She's One Crazy Diamond

              Do people actually expect to get inheritances anymore? I didn’t grow up in poverty and never assumed I’d inherit anything since I have five siblings and my parents had me young so they’ll probably live until I’m old myself.

              1. jo

                Inheritances are still a thing, and for many more fortunate people it’s not nuts to anticipate one–not that *expecting* your inheritance is a particularly admirable or productive thing to spend your energy on!

                Not living in poverty is one big factor for life expectancy, especially in the US with our exorbitant healthcare costs. Fatal health problems can strike anyone of any income, but those who grew up without much money often expect to lose their parents rather young, even with a relatively small age difference. In those circumstances, if your parents helped support you in any small way while they still could, and enabled you to get a strong foundation as early in life as possible, the effect on your financial prospects can be significant (at least compared to what they would be otherwise).

              2. Mookie

                My parents are working class, their parents were blue collar home-owners, and all six of them (my parents and both sets of grandparents) made trusts for their children, mainly because they didn’t want any one sibling forcing any of the others to sell their parents’s homes after both parents died. Incidentally, I’m in my mid-30s and I’m also my parent’s housemate. I pay for the mortgage now so they can continue to live there and so that they know I’ll have a place to live, fully paid off, when they’re both gone. I think it’s a pretty good contingency plan, especially for people who’ve never experienced complete financial security and prosperity, where all they’ll have to show for their working years is a home and, if they’re lucky, a smallish pension. My parent’s home is literally their only investment, apart from their children, and a product of lean living and penny-pinching for many years. It’s a really important symbol to them and a point of pride, as it is for a lot of working poor who never achieved the post-war social mobility their parents were promised.

                I really liked this question by the LW because it’s generated a great discussion belowthread about the definition of adulthood as it varies by class and culture. It doesn’t sound like the LW realizes that, for some communities, this is the way it’s always been done, and that that kind of quasi-independence she values is not universally accessible or even universally desired. For many women, in particular, it’s simply not an option, because the eldest daughters often end up unpaid home health aides for the children and elderly in their extended families, a situation that is not so much shameful or childish as it is a product of patriarchy and a reflection of a failed welfare state that stifles opportunity by entrenching inequality. Hopefully this gives her some nourishing food for thought.

            2. T3k

              This is pretty much a perfect summation of my position. Parents couldn’t afford to get me even a used car, so I didn’t get my own until I was nearly done with college (I basically walked, took the bus, or got rides from friends who had cars in college). Now, in the 5 years since I’ve been out of college, I’ve been unemployed for a couple of those years (not out of lack of trying, even big box stores rejected me) and the few jobs I had were either too short term to bother finding a place or paid so little I couldn’t afford rent unless I shared a 1 bedroom apartment with 3 other people. My parents couldn’t help me out anywhere else, but thankfully they’ve let me stay rent free at home. And the only thing I expect to inherit will be debt from my parents. Ugh.

              1. Mary Connell

                You might want to talk to a lawyer about your personal situation, but there are very few scenarios where children can inherit their parents’ debts.

              2. Former Employee

                Disreputable types will try to get you to pay off your parents’ debts by claiming you inherited them. Unless you co-signed on a loan or your name is on a credit card account with your parent(s), you are normally not responsible for their debts.

                Of course, creditors can come after the estate, which means that your inheritance can be used to pay off your parents’ bills. However, if your name isn’t on anything as a co-signer/co-owner of an account, then all the creditors can do is take the money in the estate, but they can’t take your assets or have your wages garnished.

          5. Stranger than fiction

            My parents allowed my siblings and I to move back home if/when we needed to, but we paid a very nominal amount of rent and bought our own food. My dad made oodles of money but he did it on principal. I didn’t get it back when I was like 20, but am now thankful.

        2. Positive Reframer

          I’ll also add that with housing shortages in many areas letting umpteen bedrooms go unused simply because you have reached the age of majority is just foolishness. Living with some sort of housemate is ridiculously normal, so what if they also happen to be related. If it works, it works and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Living with others is so much more efficient on so many levels.

          Roommates (of any type) are more likely to count against you in the dating sphere than in the professional one.

          *Disclaimer: currently living in parents house (with rent and rental contract) by choice. My boss knows this and recently promoted me significantly.

    3. Uncivil Engineer

      Re: caregiving of parents… because this is so common, it is also possible your coworkers think it is your mother who moved in with you rather than you who moved in with your parents.

      1. LeRainDrop

        Good point! My mom moved in with me for a number of months when she relocated across the country. I was about 30 years at the time.

    4. Engineer Girl

      It isn’t living at home that causes judgement. It’s letting your parents support you financially long after you’ve entered adulthood. While some circumstances need this (especially medical ones), most people are expected to support themselves in some manner.
      In this case you’ve got a goal and a plan. I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. Lobsang

        I think that’s a bid judgey for places that have seen massive property value inflation. The market hands one generation a vast pile of unearned cash while the next can’t buy a cupboard.

        1. LS

          Yes, where I live (in a rural area) it’s very common for several generations to live on the same farm but in different houses, and everyone helps out with the farm work regardless of what other employment they have. Where my parents live (in a very expensive city) it’s very common for adults to live with their parents until at least their late 20s and considered thrifty. Standards shift all the time!

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore

            My parents grew up during the Depression, and no one back then would have batted an eye at several generations under one roof.

        2. Obelia

          Yes, I moved back in with my parents a couple of times (even as a manager) when I was working in London, because it is so astronomically expensive to live and travel to work there and everyone struggles to save for their own place. When my folks bought their house decades ago it was quite feasible to buy a whole house on one public sector salary. I moved out when I could, but I know lots of people in the same boat, and nobody was judgmental about it.

        3. doreen

          Living at home is one thing, letting your parents support you is another. They don’t always go together – it’s possible to live with your parents and make a real contribution to the household expenses so that they are more like related roommates, it’s possible to live with your parents and give them such a small amount of money each month that it doesn’t even cover the food, electricity and laundry detergent you use, and it’s also possible to live in your own apartment and have a lifestyle you can only afford because your parents are subsidizing your rent and your car insurance. But people will only know you are in the second or third group if you tell them or otherwise make it obvious to them.

          1. hermit crab

            and it’s also possible to live in your own apartment and have a lifestyle you can only afford because your parents are subsidizing your rent and your car insurance.

            This is a great point! I think the societal judgement we have about “living at home” (what a weird phrase – doesn’t everyone live in their homes, unless you are living in a dorm/barracks/prison/etc.?) is definitely a different flavor of judgement than one just based on financial (in)dependence.

            1. boo bot

              Ha the “living at home” always rankles me just a little. I DO live at home! (Some who know me might contend that I live in a fantasy world, but I would argue that it’s just a speculative extension of my physical home.)

              1. Stranger than fiction

                Haha, right. People also use that to refer to their original home, even if they moved from that state 30 years ago!

          2. Penny Lane

            I have two young adult children. After college graduation, one lived at home for just a few months while getting an apartment ready. The other is now on a scholarship program abroad, will be coming home for 2 months and then going back. Of course he’s going to live with me during that time; there’s simply no point in “making” him get a 2-month lease when he’s got a nice comfy room right here.

            And personally, I would *not* charge my children rent in these situations. It’s all the same to me, and I’m not living so close to the edge that an extra hot shower and some increased lights in the house are going to be noticeable in my budget. My young adult children are motivated, good citizens of the household, not slackers … if they need to live here for a while in between other living situations, so be it. Other people feel differently and that’s fine — but no, I reject the idea that I should “have” to charge them rent otherwise they’re sponging. I would rather they save their money for their future than hand it to me.

            1. CMart

              I’m not doreen who you were responding to, but I agree with your personal feelings about charging rent AND with doreen that “letting your parents support you” is still something to side-eye a bit if you don’t actually need to be supported*.

              To me, it’s less about financial contributions and more about basic life functions and maintenance. I wouldn’t think twice about a 26 year old living at home and their parents not charging rent. I would absolutely look at them askance if “living at home rent-free” was also accompanied by not doing any chores, not washing their own laundry, never contributing to meals through getting groceries or cooking, never cleaning their rooms or making their bed etc… If you’re still enjoying the same luxuries you enjoyed as a 5 year old then I do think that is something that your peers can rightfully judge you for.

              *not needing the support is key here. There’s nothing shameful about accepting help when you need it. There is something shameful IMO in using someone else’s resources and giving nothing in return simply because you don’t feel like it.

              1. Globetrotta

                At 34, I picked up from the place I had lived since college and moved across the country for what I thought was a dream job. Two weeks of crying at my desk every single day later (it was a tough time for a variety of reasons – homesick, my brother was being deployed again, they changed the job description on me the day I got there, turns out I really really hate seeing whales in captivity), I was let go. Tail between my legs, I went back to my parent’s house. I lived with them for 3 months while I applied for every job I could think of. While I was there, I didn’t pay anything – but I did cook dinner every night, did laundry and tidied up. Sometimes you just need help and sometimes you can’t show your gratitude in dollars – but you should show it how you can.

              2. Penny Lane

                CMART – that’s what I mean by being a “good citizen of the household.” Responsible for own chores, keeps room neat and picked up, keeps common areas neat, helps out as the need arises (running errands, fixing minor things that need fixing, helps someone bring in groceries from the car, etc.). If we’re talking about the kind of person who does that, then I don’t see the big deal about not charging rent.

                Now if you have a slacker lying on the couch while the Doritos wrappers pile up, then I *can* see telling buddy he’s going to have to start paying rent.

                1. Lissa

                  I think your last sentence is *exactly* what people are really judging when they judge “living at home”. They are picturing the 30 year old with no job, not going to school, not helping around the house, who plays video games all day, and subconsciously or consciously think of everyone who lives with their parents as being a form of this, even when it’s far from true. With the economy, plus many other cultures where it’s super normal to live at home until marriage, I think this cultural signifier will start to shift in people’s perceptions eventually.

                2. Artemesia

                  We had friends whose kids sort of slunged into adulthood, lying around playing video games etc. so when ours were in college we made it clear that when they graduated they could come back home for the summer and then in the fall, they would be on their own unless they were in grad school in our town or had a job and paid rent. We could have happily lived with one of them and the other not so much; he would have hated it and would have driven us nuts. He needed his independence and space. (I totally empathize with him by the way as I needed my independence and space at that age and would have hated living with my parents.)

                  Some people have worked out their issues with authority and parents by the time they graduate from college. I never did and could never have lived with my parents as an adult. I could probably manage to not be a total PITA to my own kids now if I were to live with one of them, but I could never have managed it with my own parents.

                3. whingedrinking

                  I lived in shared housing for very long time (my city is expensive), and while I lived with lots of students who were younger than me, there was one who blew me away in particular. At one point, he announced he was moving out of the house to go back to his home city…in the fall. I asked him why then, since it was kind of a weird time to be away from school.
                  “Oh,” he said, “there’s a class I need to take for my degree, but the only time it’s available is at 8:30 in the morning and I don’t want to be in class then. So I’m taking the semester off.”

            2. Doreen

              I couldn’t possibly give every example , but I agree your children aren’t sponging if you let them live rent-free for a few months while they are between living situations. I have a different opinion about people I’ve known who were content to throw their parents a hundred or two a month for 20 or 30 years while their parents paid the rent and other bills and the “children” were living a lifestyle the parents couldn’t afford.

        4. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)

          Yeah, I really want to move out, but my crappy salary combined with the extremely high rent and ridiculous requirements are not helping at all. Like, people take a 2-3 hour conmute for an affordable place to live, so please don’t be so quick to judge people who still live with their parents.

          1. pleaset

            My mom charged me so much rent to live at home it slowed down my ability to move out – I wasn’t able to save the extra money needed for last month’s rent, a deposit and brokers fee so easily due to what I was paying her……

        5. soon 2be former fed

          Or the opposite. My retirement has been delayed because of huge equity losses and being underwater in my current home. Ten years after the freat real estate crash, prices are just starting to recover in my area. This blanket statement is just not true for all.

        6. Lindsay J

          I think Engineer Girl is saying that young people generally are not looked down on just for living at home.

          If you live at home because the cost of living is too high, but you help your family out monetarily or in other ways (doing chores, care-taking, whatever), pay some of your own bills, and have a job or go to school or are job searching it’s one thing.

          It when an adult (with no disabilities or other mitigating circumstances) lives at home, eats all their parents food, doesn’t pay any of their own bills, has their mom do their laundry, doesn’t contribute at all to society, and has no end in sight for that type of situation it’s another, and that’s when people get judgey.

          I mean, I’m in my 30s and it’s only been in the last year or so that any of my friends have brought houses, had kids, etc, because after a decade of saving up they could finally afford to. And before that they lived with their parents. And in the North East especially it’s so common I don’t think anyone would think of judging.

          (And don’t get me started on last generation vs this one. My dad lectures me and my younger brother all the time about how we’re losers, basically, and how nobody ever handed him anything. But, people did hand him things. Literally. Like, not only were he and my mom able to afford a decent apartment and then a nice house when he was a restaurant kitchen manager and my mom was a waitress. But, the house that they still own was built by my two grandfathers, on land my granddad and grandmom gave to my parents. We also lived with them while their house was being built while I was three years old, for about a year. And my grandparents lent them money to buy their first new car when I was little. And now due to time and luck, that house is worth triple what it was 25 years ago. But nope, apparently that wasn’t being handed anything. While, when I had to ask for help because my car got $7000 worth of damage and I had a hard time affording the deductible, that was me being a mooch. Grr.)

          1. Mary Connell

            I remember someone going on and on about how the generation that fought WWII didn’t need government help to get started in life … conveniently forgetting major programs like the GI Bill and veterans’ home loans, all the national housing and education policies that helped build the white middle class for several generations.

            (These programs’ effects on the black and minority populations of the US is another story altogether, and just enough of a tangent that I’ll stop here and just note that many American cities would be dramatically different if it weren’t for all the 20th century government policies that built the white middle class at the expense of opportunities for black and other minority groups.)

      2. G

        Most people in their 20s are still living with their parents in the area where I live even though many of them have full time jobs. There is a bit of a housing crisis going on at the moment so reasonably affordable rented properties are a bit few and far between.

      3. Katniss

        Even then it shouldn’t cause judgement. There are a million reasons why someone might still need financial support from their parents into adulthood that have nothing to do with irresponsibility. This is one of those times where other people need to get over their ignorance, not where people in the situation need to apologise for their lives.

        1. MK

          Parents supporting their children financially, even when it’s not strictly necessary, as long as they can afford to, is such a normal part of my culture that this attitude is bizarre to me. Of course you have to make sure that the parent’s help isn’t stunting the children’s growth into adulthood, offer assistance not hand them everything in a platter. But it makes zero sense to me to let young people struggle so that they will inherit a lump sum when they are middle aged.

          1. myswtghst

            Completely agreed, Katniss and MK. My brother and I have been very fortunate that our parents have been able to help us financially through college and into adulthood, and given that both of us are now responsible adults with good careers who own our own homes, I don’t feel like they stunted our growth.

            To Katniss’s point, unless you are a close friend or relative and know for a fact that the parents are helping in a way which is preventing the child from maturing, or that the child is taking advantage of the parents, it’s better to assume that they know the situation better than you do, and reserve your judgment.

      4. Penny Lane

        Here’s the thing, though, EngineerGirl. Families who have young adult children live with them work in all different ways with respect to finances. Some require their children to pay some amount of rent – whether it would be the equivalent of what they would otherwise have to pay, or maybe some discounted rate. And I know some people in that circumstance who required their children to pay rent – and then they wound up saving that and handing it back to the young adult as they left (sort of an enforced savings / reward for delayed gratification). Still others wouldn’t ever charge rent to their young adult children because they don’t see the point – what difference does it make to them if the extra bedroom is occupied or unoccupied, and it’s not like the increase in the amount of electricity or hot water used is meaningful.

        All of these ways are valid, and they really aren’t anyone else’s business. So you don’t know whether someone living at home is “sponging off” mom and dad or not, without knowing the circumstances and without knowing what the parents desire / prefer.

        1. Elizabeth H.

          Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. Everyone’s family is different. In my family’s culture, parents would never charge their children rent (I think they might if the child was really struggling and they thought it would be a helpful self-motivating technique, like you allude to). It’s so normal in so many other places around the world, and a lot of the time being just like being with their family and having their (adult) children around too.

          1. Kate 2

            I think what Penny Lane is trying to point out is that we don’t know someone’s life and all the details of their situation. Even (especially!) if we think we do. I get what EG is trying to say, but it still comes off as a bit judgemental to me. As though if you are on the outside, and it looks like someone is mooching, you are okay to judge. What PL is saying is that judging is never okay, and unless you are the parents or the offspring, you just don’t know what’s going, only a fraction of the story.

        2. Lindsay J

          Yeah, but there’s living at home for free but contributing to the household in other ways, (or at least not being a drain). That can be by paying rent, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be doing chores around the house. Helping to caretake for an elderly relative or children. Maintaining or renovating the property. Making dinner on occasion. Etc. Or if you’re not doing any of those things, then at least not expecting your parents to go out of their way to do things for you that you’re completely capable of doing yourself.

          And there’s living at home, eating all your parents food and not replacing it, having them pay all your bills, and expecting your mom to do your laundry and make you a snack while you play video games all day, having to be nagged to pick up after yourself, etc just like you would have while you were in elementary school. This scenario is what I would consider to be sponging off of them (though even then, I wouldn’t necessarily judge because there could still be some other factors going on – some sort of disability, time crunch, parent insisting on doing all those things even thought the kid doesn’t want it), while I would not consider someone in the first situation to be, even if no money is changing hands.

          1. Mookie

            Yep to that first para. For a lot of people, this is an ideal situation, a live-in adult child. I’ve relatives who have explicitly had children in order to ensure they’d avoid homelessness in their old age. It sounds cold and calculating, but it’s also a reality and doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. Calling this sponging is just weird to me.

      5. Alton

        Even if someone doesn’t have a plan for moving out, specifically, that doesn’t mean their parents are supporting them. A lot of people will pay their own bills, buy their own food, pay rent, and contribute to household expenses. I’m not blind to the fact that living withy mother has financial benefits, but for the most part they’re the same benefits I would get from living with roommates or renting a cheap room in a stranger’s home. In fact, because we’re related, I get a discount on rent, and I want to be supportive, I feel more obligated to help out toward things like home repairs that I would expect to have taken care of by my landlord if I were renting from a stranger. So it’s not a one-sided flow of assistance.

      6. Elizabeth H.

        Can we not discuss this every time a question like this comes up? As others have already said, every family has different. Plenty of people support other adult family members (including parents, siblings, other older relatives, etc.) for a wide variety of reasons that aren’t anyone’s business to judge.

        1. myswtghst

          Yes, thank you. If we’re trying to tell OP1 that their boss isn’t judging them, it might help to not speculate about all the ways and reasons people get judgy about this stuff.

      7. Optimistic Prime

        I’m also curious as to why anyone would care about this, either. If the parents in the situation are fine with it, then why would I judge someone else? Their parents’ money isn’t being taken away from me.

    5. Project Manager

      Agreed. I lived with my parents after college until I had saved up enough for a down payment. I did clean up after myself and clean the house for them and buy my own groceries, but I didn’t pay rent. None of my friends or coworkers thought less of me for it. I think you’re fine!

      Oh, another story – one of my coworkers just had to move back home several states away (long story to do with parental health). He and his wife are temporarily staying in his parents’ basement. I think they are both 30 +/- a couple years. It did not even occur to me to think less of him. You’re fine!

    6. The Original K.

      I honestly wouldn’t bat an eye at a 26-year-old still living at home. I’m older than 26 and wasn’t living at home when I WAS 26 (I was in a different state than my parents), but it’s just not a big deal to me at all, particularly in areas with high costs of living. I was working in publishing when I was 26 and I had a LOT of coworkers my age who lived with parents on Long Island, Connecticut, White Plains, etc. because low-level publishing salaries are low, student loans are a thing, and rent in NYC is high.

    7. 2 Cents

      In my region of the country (metro NYC), it’s not weird at all to still be living with your parents even into your 30s (thanks, extremely expensive housing market!). No one at my work would bat an eye that you moved back in.

    8. Angela Ziegler

      #1- While I can sympathize since I was in a similar situation until very recently, I think you made the right call in not advertising your living situation. No, that doesn’t mean you have to lie about it- and there will be plenty of coworkers who understand your situation instead of judging you for it, which is good. But realistically there are still those who are stuck in the past, and think it’s normal to move out right after college. The whole ‘millennials are lazy’ stereotype is unfortunately still believed by even slightly older generations. I’ve heard it from younger soccer moms to older grandparents. They’re just ignorant about how society, the economy, and the housing market has changed so much in the past 20 years. They’re not going to always listen to reason (or it might take them a little time to see different perspectives, and that many of us have logical and financially smart reasons for living at home.) This is very important if you’re in a manager or supervisor role, since people close to our age (unfortunately) still deal with ageism in the workplace.

      So I think it’s fine not to advertise you live at home, as long as you don’t lie about it. If anyone asks point blank, just be honest and give a brief explanation. You’re being financially responsible, it’s awesome! But I would mention something like “I live very close to my family, so I spend at lot of time with them.” in surface conversation if it came up. I found you don’t really talk in depth about living conditions or house arrangements in a lot of work conversations anyway. You can still talk about family and things going on without making it obvious you live with them instead of visit them. (There’s no reason to bring up sharing the washing machine with your mom, for instance!)

      I don’t mean to be a downer, and please don’t get discouraged! I know a lot of people have posted positive replies here, but I know from experience that the outdated view of ‘kids move out as soon as they’re adults’ is unfortunately still present, particularly with those whose kids have long been on their own, or if their kids are still young and in school. They haven’t dealt with the changed economy and housing market yet, so they just don’t know any better. But that view has been changing a lot, and it’s become so incredibly common for our age group to live at home, most people don’t think negatively about it at all. (Especially since you’re working and saving up for the future.)

    9. Geyn

      Yep. Also, unless this is something that might affect your commute (I.e. made it longer) and your hours at work, I really don’t think the management would care.

    10. Stranger than fiction

      So true! Most of the adult kids in my area who are Op’s age still live at home or are sharing a 2 bedroom apartment between 4 people because rent is so ridiculously high here.
      Also, my bf was in his mid thirties when we met and had been living with his mom for the past few years…because she almost lost her house and he took over paying the mortgage and was able to save a ton, so it was a win win.

  2. Story Nurse

    #4 was tweeted as “required to shave a beard”. I read that as “required to share a beard” and was looking forward to the juicy story of mascot costumes or something.

    1. LouiseM

      OMG…tea on keyboard! Can you imagine the sanitary problems? Lice, bedbugs, mucus…I would line the inside of that beard with Clorox wipes!

      1. Story Nurse

        Right, it was a very understandable problem! I wouldn’t want to share a beard with anyone!

    2. Devoted Lurker

      I would have thought something to do with closeted gay people and been even more confused!

      1. Alex

        Dear AAM, My two co-bosses are both gay (not for each other!), but don’t want anyone to know. As their executive admin, can I be required to pretend date them both as cover? If so, should they be buying me lunch and should I demand flowers at my desk?

        1. Marthooh

          Dear Alex: Your co-bosses su… uh… I mean, your bosses are being unreasonable and they’re not going to change. Assuming you’re non-exempt, they should certainly be paying you overtime for pretend dates; exempt or not, they should be either covering the check or reimbursing you in full. It’s okay to ask for flowers, but don’t count on getting them!

          1. Clorinda

            Is this a romance novel about he two bosses who realize they really ARE meant to be together? Or the assistant whose true love has written her off as unapproachable because he thinks she’s very very taken? Maybe both with parallel storylines.

            1. Khlovia

              He not only thinks she’s unapproachable, he’s starting to believe she is a gold-digger, or she’s sleeping her way up the ladder! He is struggling to come up with an alternate explanation, but the evidence seems to weigh so solidly against her!

              Let’s get this written, folks.

    3. Specialk9

      This feels like sexual harassment territory. Oh, manager, you have an aesthetic preference about how I style my body? Why, exactly? And why are you imposing non-standard appearance requirements on just one person? (I wonder.)

      OP, you might return awkward to sender by telling your boss (with hunchy uncomfortable body language) “Griselda, I’m really sorry if I’ve given you the wrong impression, but I’m actually partnered, and anyway I have a rule against dating at work, especially my managers.” It helps underline why her request is so out of line, and bolsters you if you take it to HR later.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Hmmm, I’m really not reading it that way. I think the boss is saying she thinks a clean-shaven face is a more professional look, not that she personally finds him more attractive that way.

        1. Pebbles

          But aren’t rules like these inherently gendered and therefore sexist? Like the pantyhose rule for women mentioned below or a past female LW that asked about being required to wear makeup. Can’t LW#4’s friend push back on that aspect of his boss’ “request”?

          1. BPT

            Being sexist is different than sexual harassment, which Specialk9 was suggesting was the case. There are plenty of rules that can be sexist or gendered and should be pushed back on, but that does not mean that it is sexual harassment and the proper response to that is to tell your boss to stop hitting on you.

            1. spinetingler

              “They could ban beards on everyone” comes pretty close to “everyone’s free to marry anyone you love as long as they are of the opposite gender”

              1. MCMonkeyBean

                Are you freaking kidding me; those are not even remotely close to the same thing!!!

        2. Secretary

          My mindset is that a company or boss can absolutely require someone to be clean shaven as part of a dress code. It is a professional norm for men like it is for women to keep their necklines at an appropriate level. The idea is to clear distractions so the customer/client can focus on you and not your body. Not saying that’s right or wrong, just that it’s a normal request for men to be told to shave.

          In this instance though, the LW could definitely push back because this policy is just put in place. Also, it sounds like the boss is just being controlling because she’s saying that “she likes it better that way”. That’s weird behavior.

          1. George

            “The idea is to clear distractions so the customer/client can focus on you and not your body.”

            If this was said about a woman it would rightfully be derided as sexist.

            1. LeRainDrop

              Exactly. Could an employer ask their female employee to get breast reduction surgery so that customers focus on “her and not her body”? Let’s assume she dresses conservatively in a way that doesn’t overly expose her skin. This should be a rhetorical question, by the way.

              1. Zarafshan

                I am getting sick and tired of Allison’s frequent double standards for men and women. She often calls out sexist behavior when women’s are the victims but is content to let similar behavior vis-a-vis men slide, usually accompanied by some comment about how “that’s OK, because women are historically disadvantaged in the workplace.” It’s not OK and she needs to stop.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Sexism isn’t just about bias or different standards, but also power — an institutional power imbalance and systematic oppression. So yes, I believe it’s a broader issue when a historically oppressed group is being affected or targeted.

        3. JamieS

          Female employee who normally doesn’t wear makeup wears some one day and male boss tells her to always wear makeup because he prefers her that way. Reading that situation with zero undertones?

            1. JamieS

              Women wearing makeup has also been a norm. If OP’s friend hadn’t previously had a beard, started a new job with a different dress code, got a new manager, or otherwise had his job situation change in some way I’d agree about office norms. However as the situation is presented, the manager saw her report without his usual beard and decided he personally looked better that way. That reeks of unappropriate undertones and I think you’re giving a lot of benefit of the doubt (arguably too much) thst you wouldn’t give to a male manager because it’s a female manager doing it to a male report.

              1. Plague of frogs

                I agree. She is using her authority to force him to look a way that she likes him. Super gross and weird.

        4. Safetykats

          I think it’s worth pointing out that if being clean shaven is part of a company policy or dress code it is legal, up until the point it infringes on someone’s religeous beliefs. However I don’t believe it’s legal to enforce it arbitrarily. If OP is being asked to keep clean shaven while other men in the same or similar jobs aren’t, or if this isn’t company policy but simply a quirk of OP’s manager, it’s not okay and should be taken to HR. It would be like a male manager requiring one woman in his group to grow her hair long, or wear only dresses and heels to work, just because he prefers that look.

      2. BPT

        OMG no. Don’t do this. There’s nothing to suggest that the manager is coming onto the employee. It’s not been an uncommon rule in the past that in professional jobs, you must be clean shaven. It’s still used in some places. Like the rule that women must wear pantyhose, it’s becoming outdated and people are moving away from these rules, but there’s literally nothing to suggest that it’s anything more than a somewhat-outdated-but-still-sometimes-in-use dress code rule.

        1. Lissa

          Yeah, eek. Doing that might make you feel good, but I guarantee your boss will be confused/offended/horrified and not think “Oh, he is right! Asking an employee to change their appearance is inappropriate and could be seen as harassment.” Zingers/overly clever replies rarely actually work out or have the desired effect.

      3. myswtghst

        Responding the way you lay out in your second paragraph isn’t returning the awkward to sender. It is taking the awkward, rubbing dog poop on it, setting it on fire, and throwing it directly into the boss’s face as hard as you can.

        While I personally think that unless someone is in food service (or a similar industry) or the beard is unhygienic or super-distracting, it’s a step too far to request an employee start shaving / continue shaving, I don’t think it makes sense to escalate directly to accusing the boss of sexual harassment. The employee has plenty of standing to push back and ask questions about why the expectation is changing now, and should start there.

      4. Plague of frogs

        Yeah, this felt harassmenty to me too. If my male boss told me I needed to keep my hair long, I would be Not OK with that, and this situation is pretty much the same.

    4. TardyTardis

      My ExCompany was tolerant of neatly trimmed beards, but not of the Glorious Full Imperial (yes, they still make mustache wax!) that a co-worker sported till he was told to Fix That. (feels sad, he really put some effort into it).

  3. Mike C.

    It’s not weird or out of date to require clean shaven faces to wear safety equipment. Ever see a fire fighter with a beard?

    1. Yada Yada Yada

      My first take on the letter was that the boss wanted this specific dude to be clean shaven, and it wasn’t a male office rule in general. In which case, it would be super weird for her to make one guy shave just because she prefers his face that way

        1. Hotstreak

          Yeah like, Hey Jen, I like the sleeveless shirt you’re wearing today. Going to need you to go ahead and wear those shirts every day from now on, yeahhh..

      1. Mike C.

        Yes, I believe that to be the case for this letter. I just wanted to point out that calling such rules weird in general is not the case.

        1. Specialk9

          It feels kinda sandwich-y. We firefighters know the safety rules (no beards, no clothes that will melt and burn us, no underwires). The OP wouldn’t be writing in if that were the case, and we are all responding in this light.

          1. SittingDuck

            Hmmm – my dad is a volunteer fire-fighter in his small town – and has a beard…….the whole department is volunteer. Maybe because its a volunteer position they can’t require he shave? He’s been on the squad for 4 or 5 years now…..

            1. lost academic

              It’s about fitting a full or half face mask for a respirator. You cannot be fitted to one without being clean shaven and thus can’t wear one if you then grew a beard – it’s a safety issue.

    2. MommaCat

      Unless they’re implementing new safety procedures, he would have run afoul of that issue before he shaved, seems to me.

    3. LouiseM

      The letter doesn’t suggest that there is any safety reason the OP’s friend shouldn’t have a beard. The reference to “the office” seems like it is not a firehouse situation.

      1. LouiseM

        Also, my take on Allison’s comment about “weirdly retro and outdated” was that an employer could require an employee to be clean shaven *without a valid business or safety reason* (so, just because they preferred for men to be beardless). I’m sure it is obvious to Allison and everyone else that there are certain jobs where a rule like that would make perfect sense, safety-wise.

          1. Penny Lane

            It was obvious about *this letter* that the beard requirement wasn’t about a health or safety issue.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      Given that he had a beard previously, I don’t think this is a situation where there’s a safety issue involved. Certainly that would change the answer, but that’s a minority of jobs.

      1. Craig

        I work in a customer service industry and it has always been our rule that you must either be clean shaven or have a well groomed beard. If you want to grow a beard you must do it on holiday. I think this is a fair rule as during the growth period most men look as if they have been just climbed out of bed and been dragged through a hedge backwards.

        It’s not unreasonable to stipulate that employees are presentable.

          1. Yvette

            Perhaps the boss wanted to avoid the ” …dragged through a hedge backwards.” growth stage.

            1. WonderingHowIGotHere

              At least in the 1980s the UK navy required men to submit a letter announcing their intention to grow a beard to “excuse” their scruffiness stage.

              1. Chinook

                In the Canadian military 10 years ago you had to grow your beard during time off so you don’t look shaggy. And, if you are one of those guys who gets a 5 o’clock shadow at noon, you get a medical chit to carry with you to stop higher ranks from chewing you out and/or charging you for being unshaven (Dy’s best friend had to have one and an electric shaved in his desk drawer, poor guy. )

        1. Ella

          I worked in a hotel that had this rule. You could have a (well-kept) beard, or you could be clean shaven, but you could not have stubble or scruffiness. A few guys went on vacation and came back with beards.

        2. myswtghst

          The grow out period is a good point – the issue may not be so much that he has a beard, but that he’ll look scruffy for a time while growing it back out. Not that that’s a great reason to tell him he can’t grow it back, but it does make more sense to me than just being a whim on the boss’s part.

        3. Rachel01

          I put this in the same category of telling a woman with long hair is unprofessional looking.

          Comments about appearance at work is a no go unless addressing a problem
          .

        4. Sacred Ground

          To have a rule that applies to everyone is one thing, neither unusual nor unreasonable. That isn’t the case here: since his previous beard was acceptable, there is no such rule in this office. Rather, this is one manager telling this dude in particular that she prefers him without a beard and dictating his otherwise acceptable and professional appearance based on her own personal preference for how she wants to see his face. That’s over the line from professional to personal which makes it feel creepy and weird.

          If it’s a rule, it’s a rule: no beards in this office. But “beards are allowed but not for you because I think you look better without it” is not ok.

      2. Mike C.

        You made it sound like you were speaking generally, so I was unsure if you were aware of such rules.

      3. Stacey M

        Wouldn’t it also be inappropriate unless it’s an office wide policy? Is this person now saying nobody can have a beard or just the guy in the letter?

    5. Beth

      But if that was the reasoning, wouldn’t it have been a problem earlier? This was only implemented when he’d already shaved due to a beard-maintenance mishap. It sounds like the manager saw him clean-shaven and decided she liked it better, so made it an arbitrary rule that he has to shave. Which she’s technically allowed to do, I guess…but it’s weird, and rather power-trippy.

      1. Mike C.

        I’m not saying this this particular case is due to safety, I’m pointing out that the general statement of requiring a clean shaven face can easily have good reason for existing.

      2. Bostonian

        I can think of cases in which even this explanation wouldn’t be too abnormal. I could totally picture my SO’s boss see him come in with a different look/facial hair and tell him that he should dress like that more often (even if it’s not in the dress code or a rule for everyone else). He’s in sales, and they put a lot of emphasis on appearance.

        That being said, as a top performer, he’s in a position to push back on any suggestions he doesn’t agree with.

        In OP’s friend’s case, since the beard was never a problem before, I think that’s the angle that would be most successful if he wanted to plead his case.

    6. Engineer Girl

      You can’t have a beard or earrings with a breathing mask (you can’t get a good seal). If that were the case it would have already been a problem. Either that or there was a job change.
      They hired him with a beard and didn’t tell him to shave it off. That means it’s OK. This is just as strange and telling a female employee how to style their hair.
      Is push back a bit.

    7. Stone Cold Bitch

      I work in fire and rescue and several colleagues have beards, ranging from neatly trimmed to pretty full. Sure, the groomed ones are more common but we have no regulations regarding facial hair. Or any other kind of hair.

        1. Stone Cold Bitch

          They do. But they wear a hood underneath the mask and helmet that covers the hair and neck.

          Neatly trimmed beards or clean shaven is the most common look. It really is up to the individual to decide what works best for them. I’ve never heard of a beard causing issues with the mask or any breathing apparatus.

          1. Specialk9

            Really? We put on our SCBA masks first, then the fire hood over (well technically hood first, push it down onto the neck, mask on your face/head and tightened, hood pulled up and over). All of the guys were told not to have a beard due to seal issues. I wonder what’s different at your station.

          2. Sacred Ground

            In the US Navy, beards were banned decades ago and the risk of a leaking OBA mask was the reason given.

        2. Stone Cold Bitch

          It should be noted that different types of masks are used in different countries, and in some places it is common to put the hood over the mask. In that case a beard might be an issue.

          If a seal is not tight then air will leak out, but no smoke will get in, due to the difference in pressure.

        3. KarenK

          Not firefighters here, but doctors. There are two types of masks used here: one that requires a seal on the face and the other that is a hood-type device. I participate in mask-fitting for new trainees, and if you have any kind of facial hair, even if it’s simply that you forgot to shave that morning, you get trained on the hooded one.

    8. Myrin

      Are you speaking generally? Because if so, true (although I do happen to know that several of our local firefighters have beards, albeit very short ones more akin to five-o’clock-shadows). But there’s nothing at all in the OP to suggest that that’s relevant to this specific case.

    9. Mike C.

      Ok, since you folks can’t help but keep going, let’s look at what was actually written.

      Yes, believe it or not, employers can require that men have clean-shaven faces. (The exception to this if you have a beard for religious or medical reasons.) This may seem weirdly retro and outdated, and it is.

      The word “this” that starts in the second sentence refers to the previous sentence. That sentence mentions religious or medical exemptions. It does not mention the main reason employers would have such a rule – to propert wear respiratory safety equipment. So I’m pointing out that there are non-weirdly retro and non-outdated reasons for having such a rule.

      That’s it. It’s nothing more than that.

      1. Victoria, Please

        Chuckle. Just to poke, “this” refers to the sentence that starts with “yes.” Mike, we all agree with you that there are legitimate functional reasons that a clean shave could be required. The OP’s question isn’t about such a situation.

      2. Specialk9

        So, you posted 6 times about an imagined situation that in no way fits the letter, and then are snarky that “you folks can’t help but keep going”?

        1. Phoenix Programmer

          This feels unhelpful. We don’t have edit button on this blog. I have had 40 PO’d commenters harping on about a post and it is annoying. Especially when, as you stated, Mike clarified what he meant and why he posted several times up above. If Mike had a sentence along the lines of “Not the case in this letter but want to point out (verbatim his comment). There would not be allthis hulabaloo. The fact that he has clarified that is what he meant several times and folks are still harping on about it is frustrating. Mike is handling it better than I would.

      3. Myrin

        For what it’s worth, I totally didn’t get that you were referring to Alison’s answer and not OP’s letter. I get it now that you’ve posted the citation you reacted to but before that, I didn’t understand where your point came from – I guess others felt the same.

      4. Bored Now

        And people are simply pointing out that your comments are not relevant to this letter, and thus unhelpful for the OP. Your endless need to show off your knowledge of safety rules strikes again.

    10. essEss

      However, there isn’t a rule or else the OP would have been told to shave when he had the beard. Is there a formal dress code written policy that the OP can refer to? If there is anything in the policy prohibiting beards, then if others in the office still have beards then I think that the OP has a case to complain to HR about inconsistent dress code enforcement. If there is nothing in the policy, then a trip to HR about being singled out for specific requirements about their appearance.

      1. Phoenix Programmer

        Yeah. Mike understands that. I think we all understand that. Maybe we can move on?

    11. SignalLost

      Yes. He’s my brother. (To be fair, he’s a wildlands firefighter, and they don’t use face masks.)

    12. Safetykats

      @Mike C – I agree, but I don’t get the feeling this guy is having to wear a respirator (which is why firefighters are clean shaven, because your mask fit isn’t valid if you’re not.)

  4. LouiseM

    OP#2, to me your team lead sounds like a drama llama. I wonder if she has some sort of personal vendetta against Jean, and may even be trying to slander her professional reputation. If Jean is incredibly skilled, sometimes that can make enemies out of poorer performers who want to step into the spotlight. Back at ToxicOldJob, I treated everyone kindly but I was also doing the work of four people and did not have time to chit-chat. Maybe one of my slacker coworkers (who spent more time smoking and buying coffee than working, but that is another story!) thought I was mean too because I didn’t want to chitchat all day.

    Let Jean’s work speak for itself, but keep an eye out for your team lead.

    1. Engineer Girl

      I think one of the key indicators of gossips and bullies is the non-specific nature of the complaint. “Mean” is very non-specific. It has a lot of hand waving.

      I know I was a “mean” lead because I made several low performers redo their work until it met our best practices standard. The next assignment with another lead one of them was put on a PIP and another was laid off for low performance.

      OP, the next time someone tries that stunt ask for clarification. “What do you mean by that?
      Clearly Jane’s nasty gossip poisoned your relationship with Jean. Which is exactly what she intended. Stay away from people like that.

      1. Lance

        Agreed. If someone’s being vague, ask them to clarify; if they’re unable to clarify, then they’re the ones I’d be side-eyeing, not whoever they’re talking about.

      2. MsChanandlerBong

        Bingo. I’m the “mean editor” because I make writers fix their poor work and don’t tell them everything they write is the best thing ever written.

      3. Eric

        Yes, I agree. It’s fine to not like people in your personal or social life, but the workplace is different. You can’t stop hanging out with someone if you need to interact with them to do your job. So bad or manipulative workers use vague, negative complaints to turn other people against the guy or girl they dislike.

        Once I had a boss who didn’t like me, and every complaint he had was very vague. I “showed a lack of ownership,” but he couldn’t point to any examples. His reasoning for that was that “[I] should know what to do.” So I’m skeptical of anyone who complains about someone else at work with something really vague like “they suck.” If someone says “Javert is difficult to work with because he always insists he’s right,” I can respect and acknowledge that even if I personally like Javert.

        Judge this person on your interactions with them.

      4. myswtghst

        Completely agreed on your last paragraph. If someone gives me vague negative feedback about someone I’ve never met (or someone I’ve had minimal but generally positive interactions with), I’ll ask questions. You can do it with genuine curiosity, and frame it as “since I’ll have to work with Jean, I’d like to know what to be prepared for…”, but I’d definitely ask, just to get a better understanding of the situation.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here

      LW needs to remember the old saying: is it ? Is it helpful? Is it true? If it doesn’t meet all the criteria then the thing you learned is about the person telling you

    3. Luna

      I agree that the boss shouldn’t have said anything, but I think OP shouldn’t judge her too harshly just for one comment.

      I’ve had coworkers warn me about difficult bosses or colleagues, but they weren’t being gossipy, they just thought they were being helpful. That doesn’t mean it IS always useful, but I wouldn’t assume the boss had bad intentions just because of one thing she said.

      1. A Worker Bee

        I think it’s OK for colleagues to warn you about other colleagues or bosses, but not for a boss to warn you about a colleague.

    4. OP2

      I’ve wondered if it’s jealousy too – occasionally in the past she’s said something out of place or behaved oddly to someone (nothing you can put your finger on) which made me think she was jealous. Things like being overly critical for things that really didn’t matter, or trying to blame others for her errors. All small instances, though, and ones where I often end up putting down to a bad day or something.

      1. A Worker Bee

        “trying to blame others for her errors”

        Be careful of a TL doing that. She will throw you under the bus one day. That’s exactly how it is in our department.

        1. OP2

          On that occasion, she acknowledged the next day that it had been her error and not someone else’s. But yeah, I’ve had team leads I trust more.

    5. EvilQueenRegina

      Yeah, mean is a bit vague, and it’s hard to tell from that what kind of behaviour she’s actually warning about. The other thing is, there could be more to it. There could have been personal problems in Jean’s life at the time that might have caused her to snap at someone where she ordinarily wouldn’t. Or maybe she’s even had feedback in the past about behaving that way, has really worked on it so that she doesn’t do it any more, and then suddenly she’s in a job where people have been warned about her and are expecting her to be “mean” to them.

  5. MommaCat

    Yeah, unless there’s safety equipment that requires a good seal (like certain breathing apparatus), and since it’s professional looking, #4’s friend’s boss really shouldn’t have a say. I agree with Alison’s advice.

  6. Persephone Mulberry

    #3: in the absence of tone it’s hard to say, but my first thought was that the boss was perhaps giving a gross, sexist, bassackwards compliment about how Katie’s work product is just as good as her male coworkers’.

    1. Artemesia

      Me too. It is the sexist ‘good as a man’ bit. There is a congresswoman from my old state, whose bumper sticker read ‘(hername’s) my Man.’ The idea that only men are real professionals or people so being told you are like a man is a great compliment. Yech.

    2. Thlayli

      That’s how I read it too. He meant it as a compliment. “You’re as good as a man”. Blegh

    3. Kris

      I also took it this way. Many years ago when I was in law school, another student made a similar comment to me. It was absolutely bizarre. He was someone who openly stated that he did not believe women should be in the law school. Because he respected me as a law student, his way of making sense of that was to convince himself that I “wasn’t really a woman.”

      1. Bigglesworth

        That’s gross. I’m in law school right now and there’s still more male students than female students. This definitely effects how conversations about discrimination, sexism, pay wages, etc. go. We also only have had two female profs. One is amazing and the most fair, educational, and entertaining professor we have. The other is a hot mess and everyone hates her. If it wasn’t for the first one, I think there would be some who would say that no women should be law professors.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          That’s always a problem with being in the minority in a group. If you’re in the majority you can just be “Fergus, who steals all the creamer” but if you’re a minority then you have to Represent and any failings become failings of Those People.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

            Yep. Had a (terrible, incompetent, all-around glassbowl) manager who happened to be gay, back when I worked in a rural part of the country. The amount of homophobia that arose in Manager-is-so-awful gripe sessions was incredibly isolating and toxic for me.

        2. Artemesia

          When my husband went to law school in the 70s there were 20 women in his class in a class of 200. Of the top 20 (and law review) 10 were women. In those days only exceptionally well qualified women were admitted and it really showed up in performance.

      2. Jules the Third

        This attitude is why I consciously adopted a personal style that was borderline masculine in my 20s. It’s less of a problem now.

      3. many bells down

        I’ve had a lot of people assume I’m male online (although not usually when I use this screen name), because “you type like a man.” I … was really baffled by that for the longest time.

      4. Jennifer Thneed

        My wife has an ex from college who didn’t like squash. Fair enough, she didn’t like squash. But the odd part was that she’d apparently decided it was only okay to not like squash, so any other vegetables she disliked must also secretly be squash.

        I used to think she was probably being deadpan funny, but sometimes it was hard to tell. I mean, I can see why you might think a sweet potato was a squash, if your only exposure to it was pie at Thanksgiving, but still. It was a little odd.

    4. Falling Diphthong

      I took it as a version of “brass balls.” He realized you can’t say that in this office because it includes “balls’ and somehow landed on “Bob” as the equivalent observation. (That OP is so good at her job, she’s almost like a dude, which is not the compliment he framed it as in his head.)

      1. Minocho

        Yeah, I like to throw people for a loop and replace “balls” with “ovaries” in those kinds of comments.

    5. WeevilWobble

      Yep! Came down to say this! Given all the context she provided (recent success, presents as a woman) I am 100% sure he meant it as a compliment.

      “Oh, katie, you’re not like other girls you’re really more like a dude.”

      Men being told they are feminines is the ultimate insult. Women being told they are more masculine is a compliment.

      It’s disgusting and sexist. But it’s everywhere usually more subtle than this guy.

      1. mrs_helm

        I agree. And I’d be tempted to circle back and say “I’ve been thinking about what you said…It’s actually good that I’m a woman with a woman’s name…maybe people will see what I do and women’s names will get some respect. Food for thought! Gotta go!

      2. Gadget Hackwrench

        Uh oh… now see I never took that kind of thing that way, because non-binary. So “Gadget doesn’t count as a girl, she’s different to them,” was always, to me, a result of people subconsciously understanding that is not the category I fall into… (from people I have not bothered trying to explain non-binary to.) It made me a little fuzzy happy inside to hear… but in retrospect… it might have just been sexism. Well that sucks.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          I can definitely see why it would have felt good and reinforcing to you, but yeah, the narrative of “Not Like the Other Girls” is pretty damn sexist and relies heavily on gender stereotypes.

      3. Lissa

        Yup! I have got this a few times from guy friends when I was much younger. “You’re not like other girls, you don’t cause drama and giggle!” I tend to do “advice giver” rather than “sympathy” which is probably why, but yeah…yikes.

      4. Pebbles

        “Oh, katie, you’re not like other girls you’re really more like a dude.”

        I’m a female software engineer who doesn’t like many stereotypical “girly” things. I was called a tomboy growing up, and I’ve heard this a lot.

      5. myswtghst

        “Oh, Katie, you’re not like other girls you’re really more like a dude.”

        As someone who has been told some variation of this many times for many reasons throughout the years, this was exactly how I read it. Plenty of people (of all genders) view “you’re not like other women” and/or “you’re just one of the guys” as high praise for a woman, but would treat “you’re not like other men” or “you’re just one of the girls” as the ultimate insult for a man (especially if he’s perceived to be straight). And unfortunately, even when presented with that direct comparison, many people still fail to see how sexist those remarks are at their core.

      6. Mookie

        Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s, as you say, a classic manipulation line, where You’re Not Like Other Gurls means Ignore Your Instincts When Dealing With Me and Be Compliant. It’s playing off the fear socialized into women that we should always avoid embodying negative female stereotypes: the nag, the buzzkill, the ball-buster, et al.

    6. kb

      Yeah, I think it was a terrible and sexist attempt at a compliment. Like, “You are so competent at your job and such a go-getter that I can’t believe you’re a woman.” As if women have not been competent and getting things done (often with less resources and recognition) since the beginning of time.

    7. Student

      This is how women get trained to turn on each other. It has the effect of isolating a particularly successful woman from other women, and encouraging the successful woman to look down on other women.

      If you want to understand the comment better, replace woman with the word cow. The boss is telling you, “You’re such a special cow! You can talk. You do good work for me! Not like those other cows. You’re different – better than them. They’re just normal cows. Clearly cows are inferior to humans like me, and to talking cows like you. I never expected to run into a talking cow, yet here you are. You should take the human side of issues, instead of the cow side of issues, to show you’re such a good, special, team-player cow – and not some annoying whiny normal cow. Don’t you feel good that I recognized you’re slightly more like a human than normal cows, even though you’re clearly not a full human to me?”

      1. Sacred Ground

        And unspoken but still implied: “But for all your specialness, you’re still just meat.”

    8. Screenwriter

      That is exactly what I thought. He was telling her, since she was so smart and successful, she was “like a man” and should have a “man’s name.” Like something out of the 1950s. Gross! Her answer should have been a smile and “oh, if you’re complimenting my work, then I certainly did a “woman’s” job!”

    9. MCMonkeyBean

      Yes, absolutely I feel sure that is what he meant. He was trying to give a “compliment” by saying that women are bad but Katie is good so therefore she might as well not be a woman.

  7. Triple Anon

    I can see where OP1 is coming from. If it seems like her boss is judging her unfairly, she could proactively say something about the living situation. Take the initiative to mention that she’s saving up for her own place. I wouldn’t mention the renoviction, though. Most people would be understanding, but a few would think she had done something wrong; I wouldn’t take that chance at work.

    1. LouiseM

      I think the OP needs to be careful not to come off as defensive. Her living situation isn’t an issue she needs to explain away…unless she makes it one.

      1. Triple Anon

        Right. But she could bring it up in a friendly way.

        Boss: “Hey OP! How was your weekend?”

        OP: “Well, I moved in with my parents because I’m saving up for my own place and I wanted to help my family out with various things. It’s great, but it has it’s ups and downs as you might expect. We had a good weekend. I helped them move some boxes and put in a new garden.”

        1. Artemesia

          Oh please no. This just comes across as super defensive and draws attention to something that probably no one is talking about. (but do this and they will be)

        2. Rachel01

          Someone can be moving home to help ones parents. There are multiple reasons why an adult child moves back home. OP is over thinking it. I doubt the question will be raised.. just update the phone list at work.

        3. Lily

          In this hypothetical and not necessarily the case with LW since we don’t actually know she did, I would shorten to “I helped my parents with their garden” in which case the assumption is merely they were at their parents’ house helping if the idea of living with parents is really disliked.

          (I live with my parents and people know it, it hasn’t been an issue)

        4. Penny Lane

          TripleAnon, that’s not very good advice. The OP is already sensitive enough (likely oversensitive) to living at home — which probably no one in his office is even thinking about — and now you’re advising him to double down and over-explain it? Frankly, if the OP is concerned about looking “childish,” it’s even more childish to explain why you’re living with your parents. It’s defensive, and it’s really nobody’s business.

        5. The Original K.

          I would just say “Fine thanks, how was yours?” if/when my boss asked how my weekend was. There’s no need to insert living with parents into that conversation.

    2. Beth

      I suspect that if OP’s boss really is acting unfairly towards them, this wouldn’t help. Reasonable people don’t treat others poorly based on their living arrangements; they might wonder, we all get curious, but they generally won’t treat people differently as a result.

      Unreasonable, judgmental people, on the other hand, tend to continue being unreasonable and judgmental even when they know your reasons for doing what you’re doing. Explaining things to them is a bit futile at the best of times, and doubly so when the thing you’re explaining is none of their business in the first place–knowing more details will probably just give them more things to judge you on.

      1. Thlayli

        Yeah – there’s absolutely no indication in the letter that the boss mentioned it afterward. I think OP is the one who has an issue with it, not the boss.

        In Europe house prices are so high it’s perfectly normal for people to stay at home well into their 20s and even 30s.

      2. Brandy

        People would be surprised how often others think about them. Most people are too caught up in thinking about themselves to think much about what others do.

        1. Artemesia

          towhit the old saw: when I was young I worried about what people thought of me, when I got older I didn’t care what people thought of me, and now that I am old, I realize that they weren’t thinking about me at all.

      3. The Other Dawn

        I agree. I don’t think the boss has given it another thought. It could have been anyone answering the phone. I think OP should just put it out of her mind and go about her daily life. If it happens to come up, then she can say something if she wants to.

        1. hermit crab

          Yes, I was wondering how anyone would know it was OP’s mom answering the phone in the first place! Assuming she didn’t answer the phone like “Hi, I’m the mom, oh schnookums it’s for you” it could have been anyone.

      4. Victoria, Please

        Snort-laugh – spot on, WE have all spent much more time and gas on this than works even occur to the boss!

    3. Yorick

      I wouldn’t do this. OP1 is worried about what people think and so for her own peace of mind she shouldn’t mention her living situation, unless someone asks about it. If they ask, use Allison’s scripts.

  8. LouiseM

    OP #3, what a weird comment for your GrandBoss to make! That would really bother me too. My hunch is that Allison’s second theory (that he’s suggesting that you’re powerful and therefore “masculine”) is correct. On some level most of us (not just men) associate power and success with masculinity. For men in the office this association can lead to total bafflement when women in the workplace are successful and powerful. Your GradBoss was putting words to this gender-based confusion in a very insulting way. Very sad that this is still an issue.

    1. JamieS

      Agreed. I think in some weird way grandboss was trying to compliment OP by saying she’s like one of the guys.

      1. OP #3

        Hi I’m the question asker, yeah that’s a possible read. He had a totally flat delivery, like his tone wasn’t complimentary at all. I work in a creative field and I wear almost exclusively Cos/Uniqlo, just simple clothes, but some women in the finance department really dress to the 9s so thought it could be a jab at that, or, the other vibe I got was that he was making some abstract assumption about my sexuality. Anyway we have a formal relationship, like we speak less than a handful of times a year, so this really irked me coming right off a successful project. I’m sensitive to this because I run a sort of popular art related blog outside work without my name attached and people almost always assume I’m a man. Anyway thanks to all the commentators and Alison for the thoughtful input! Really appreciate it.

        1. Oilpress

          He’s just a dope. You have good reason to be annoyed by what he said. I’ve said some regretful things as a boss, but I’ve never approached this level of stupidity. But if I had, I would have respected you for calling me out on it and been quite apologetic. I would hope he would do the same, but there is no guarantee of that.

        2. Anomaly

          I got the vibe about sexuality too! What I inferred from it was that he was categorizing you like some people do with lesbians, because of course there always needs to be a masculine half to lesbian relationship and names should be changed to indicate that; and of course any female who acts in any way that could be perceived as masculine is obviously a lesbian. *full body eye roll*

      1. Casuan

        “What an interesting coincidence! I was just thinking how much you seem to think like a woman. Doesn’t seem like you should have a man’s name at all. Marion*, your name should be Margaret.”

        *re Marion: throwback to a M*A*S*H episode
        ;-)

    2. Triple Anon

      Yeah. It’s one of those things where the tone and the context would make all the difference. From the letter, it’s hard to tell if the boss meant it as a compliment, a friendly joke, or an insult. I’d take it as a compliment, though.

      1. WeevilWobble

        It really doesn’t matter though. Compliment or not it’s a really shitty thing to say.

      2. Marthooh

        Well, if it’s a compliment to say “I am a dreadful sexist and I approve of your work !”

        1. Positive Reframer

          True enough. But you can choose to place emphasis on “eww someone said something sexist” or the “my grand boss thinks I’m doing a great job” element of the messaging in your personal narrative. I think both are important things to know but I would default to seeing the compliment as the primary message and the false assumptions about women to be useful background information when dealing with this person.

          1. Delphine

            Let’s be clear, if it’s a compliment, it’s not “my grandboss thinks I’m doing a great job”, it’s “my grandboss thinks I’m doing a great job in spite of being a woman”.

            1. Positive Reframer

              Ok, how about “I am exceeding my grand boss’ expectations.” Other’s expectations of us are rarely, if ever, perfectly in line with our actual abilities.

              1. Plague of frogs

                Here, I’ll fix it for you. “I am exceeding grand boss’ expectations because his expectations of women are very low. This is sexist and I don’t need to be OK with it.”

            2. myswtghst

              Exactly this. It does no one any good to handwave away the sexism inherent in this “compliment”.

          2. mrs__peel

            If there’s an unspoken “…. for a [woman/ person of a particular race/other group]” attached to the end of a sentence, then the first part of that sentence is inherently NOT A COMPLIMENT.

      3. PersephoneUnderground

        I really think the only way this could not be sexist is if it were some other non-sex-based weirdness like “You look a lot like my old friend Bob, who was also great at presentations just like you are! You should be named Bob!” or similar brain fart that started weird and came out both apparently sexist *and* weird.

        As you can see, it’s a stretch. Much more likely Occam’s sexist razor- yeah, probably a weird sexist remark.

    3. Persephoneunderground

      At least that subconscious association seems to be dying in the next generation (and a good amount in my own – my default authority person image is a female lawyer b/c of my mother). I was sooo happy when my nieces couldn’t even grok that women sometimes have problems in the workplace and used to have to stay home to raise the kids with few other options. Their dad is the stay at home parent and their mom basically has Don Draper’s job- ad executive. The whole concept just did not compute. It was great!

  9. Amber

    #4 “she preferred for him to continue to be clean shaven in the office” Honestly this sounds more like something a wife would say to her husband, not an employee especially since it wasn’t a problem before. If you have an HR, I’d go to them and seek clarification. Honestly it sounds like it’s the bosses personal preference rather than being policy. If this is important to you then I’d push back, it’s the equivalent of a male boss telling me “I’d prefer if you wear your hair down and not in a ponytail.”

    1. AJ

      +1 – Exactly. Especially if it’s not in the official dress/grooming code and especially if there are other men with beards who work there. And especially since the boss only told him after seeing him without out it! This is creepy. He needs to push back.

      1. LeRainDrop

        I’m with Amber and AJ on this one. It sounds like the boss is expressing her personal preference that she finds him more appealing without the beard. Either all similarly situated men on the team to be clean-shaven or none of them do — boss’s policy can’t just be that OP alone looks more handsome this way. Ick.

        1. Myrin

          That’s exactly the feeling I got. She only knew OP’s friend with a beard but upon seeing him without one thought “hm, tasty!” and promptly told him to keep it that way. :|

          (I mean, I guess it’s possible that she’d been on a secret quest to get all bearded men to shave all along but is too conflict-averse to actually tell them unprompted and is now jumping at every opportunity she gets to finally tell each of them individually, but that seems like quite the fantastic stretch.)

    2. Caro in the UK

      I thought this too. If a woman had, for example, a hair dye mishap and ended up cutting her hair into a pixie, it wouldn’t be appropriate for her boss to say “I much prefer your hair like that, I expect you to keep it at that length from now on.”

      Her boss could fire her for refusing to do so, given that hair length isn’t a protected characteristic, but that wouldn’t mean it was acceptable and I think we’d all be advising her to push back / talk to HR.

      1. minuteye

        Hair length (or beard length) isn’t a protected characteristic, but it seems like an argument might be made that it was sex-based discrimination? There’s definitely versions of that conversation that are harassing.

        1. Caro in the UK

          I’m not an expert on the law (and certainly not US law!) but you may be right.

          I think OP’s letter has potentially creepy, harassing overtones, depending on how the boss behaves towards the employee at other times.

    3. On Fire

      I would double-check the dress code to make sure I’m okay, and then I would completely ignore the “suggestion” to continue shaving. If she brought it up again, I would laugh it off as if she’s joking, because *surely you’re joking.* I wonder if, should she REALLY push this, it might even be construed as sexual (gender-based) harassment.

    4. Parenthetically

      Yes! Thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one who got a weird eyebrow-waggly vibe. “Mmm, your face just looks really great without a beard, Kenneth. You should get up every morning a few minutes early to shave. Also eat this banana slowly in front of me.”

      1. Recently Diagnosed

        Oooooh, it is too early for inappropriate jokes right now. I was unable to muffle my giggle appropriately.

      2. Minerva McGonagall

        That thing about getting up earlier bothered me, like she thinks having a beard is lazy. Beards take a fair amount of effort to keep neat. (Not from personal experience, but that’s what I’ve observed.

        1. Michelle

          Yes! Both of my sons have beards and they do take the time to properly groom them. My oldest son really likes having a beard and has a whole shampoo, conditioning and brushing routine.

        2. Sacred Ground

          Same here. That comes across as both condescending (implying laziness) and ignorant. It takes way more time to keep a beard neat. After taking several minutes trimming my beard and mustache with scissors, I’d still have to shave my neck. But just shaving my whole face at once takes about a minute.

      3. Oilpress

        I’m surprised this isn’t more common. I have almost let a few compliments/suggestions slip in the office, but my verbal filter caught me just in time. Sometimes employees really do improve their appearance, but commenting on it or suggesting that they avoid reverting back to another style choice is usually inappropriate.

    5. A.

      Yes I used to work for someone who preferred I wore skirts. But he had to get over it, especially when it snowed.

      1. Anonanonanon

        That is what this feels like. Some companies have rather sexist dress codes, which is a particular type of problem. But it is even worse when it isn’t company policy and is directed at an individual. Then it feels really objectifying.

    6. Elizabeth H.

      Idk, I was kind of picturing it like Stan Rizzo in Mad Men – he’s in creative so his beard is tolerated but if it were a couple years earlier people would be yelling at him to shave because he looks like a vagrant or whatever.

    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmmm, interesting that so many of you are reading it that way! I read it as “you look a lot more professional this way — don’t go back to the scruffier look.”

      If you’re right that it’s that she personally finds him more sexually appealing this way, that’s of course incredibly inappropriate and gross. But I think there’s a different, and probably more likely, read of it.

      1. many bells down

        I dunno, I think it’s kind of gross either way. Like the whole thread about curly hair being “unprofessional”. She’s saying he should take extra time in the morning to match her idea of “neat” and “well-groomed”, and I’d be livid if someone wanted me to get up earlier to straighten my hair everyday.

        1. boo bot

          It reminded me of the curly hair thread, also. If the beard wasn’t a problem before, why is it now? (and if he asks and the answer is, “Well, I didn’t know how to bring it up, but there was a family of mice nesting in there and it was upsetting some of our clients,” they can work from there.) If it’s an actual issue there should be a reason beyond “I like it better this way.”

          The comment above about it being the kind of thing only a significant other would say struck me also. I would tell a professional colleague, “I like your haircut!” or “So that’s what your face looks like under the beard! Neat!” and I would tell someone working for me that they had spinach in their teeth, or that their skirt was so short I could tell what cartoon character was on their underwear, or whatever. But, “Please shave your face in accordance with my aesthetic preferences” is something I would only say, even to a significant other, in the most drastic of circumstances.

      2. Someone else

        It reads to me a little like, even if a bunch of folks don’t think she meant it that way, the boss’ choice of words could be interpreted that way, which gives an even easier route if there’s pushback. I think the boss meant it the way you did, but assuming the LW gave us a verbatim quote of the exchange, the boss opened it up to this less likely interpretation,which might be helpful in getting her to realize she was being not great in singling out this one dude (assuming this moment wasn’t the inspiration for her actually changing the dress code and banning all beards from everyone).

      3. Starbucks Girl

        I just feel like if it were a thing about professional norms she would have asked him to shave early on, or at least would have explained herself a little bit after letting him go days/months/years with a beard and not saying anything. I guess OP didn’t specify how long their friend has been working for this boss, so if it were a relatively new thing it would be different. Otherwise it just reads to me the same way that it would if a male colleague asked a girl to keep wearing skirts: “I think you look better this way, do it from now on”.

      4. Kate 2

        Beards aren’t necessarily scruffy, if that’s what you mean. I know a few guys with exceptionally neat and tidy beards that look like they were trimmed with a ruler. The character William Riker from Star Trek has a goatee, but that is the look I mean.

        1. many bells down

          I just bought my spouse a beard-trimming kit that came with a gauge so that you could get that “trimmed with a ruler” look. He’s still kinda scruffy, but he’s a programmer so it’s expected.

      5. Student

        Aren’t those two sides of exactly the same coin?

        The OP was extremely clear on the point that the beard was well-kept, not wild mountain man. How is it different than a woman being told by her boss to wear lipstick or eye shadow or a different type of shirt (when she hadn’t done so before) because she looks “more professional,” which in such a case is clearly “more appealing to me” and/or “younger”?

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I think it’s different because for decades and decades, it was widely agreed that beards weren’t appropriate for offices. She’s just working a norm that is no longer current.

          1. STG

            I guess I’m not understanding how that is any different than the expectation that women should wear makeup in office situations.

    8. SignalLost

      I’m not siding with the manager, because I think it’s ridiculous to decide to change the dress code because you prefer an employee be clean-shaven. However, I recently lost a bet about how many US presidents had beards, and in the course of learning why I was wrong (the answer is “not very many”) it turns out there’s a whole cultural perception that beards are disease vectors, holding things like tuberculosis pathogens or lice. So I’m inclined to assume that the manager is coming from a place of cultural context – because beards in the US have rarely been as popular as they are now – that associates beards with dirt, and long hair on women with virginal qualities, and at least a dozen other appearance-related qualities with assumptions about the person, assumptions so deep we don’t question them because we don’t know we should. So it’s hard for me to assume the manager is being anything more than unusually crass about stating her culturally-reified preference.

      1. SignalLost

        (And to be clear, I’m not talking about appearance qualities like race. Those are in a different category altogether.) I’m talking about gray hair, or baldness, or beard-wearing, or hair length on women or hair length on men, things like that.

  10. Susan K

    #3 – Wow. Just, wow. That is such a bizarre thing for someone to say. My guess is that he considered it a compliment, like, “Gosh, Katie, you’re so smart and talented — almost as good as a man! In fact, I’d like to make you an honorary man because you’re not AT ALL stupid and helpless like a woman.”

    1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels

      It made me think of the first season Mad Men episode when Peggy has the great idea that the blotted tissues in the bin from the Belle Jolie lipstick market research looked like a basket of kisses. Freddy hears that and is just blown away… More because a woman came up with that great idea.

      He tells Don what she said and says, wonderingly, “It was like watching a dog play the piano!”

      :|

      1. NaoNao

        When I was in my 20’s, I was a much more outspoken and passionate conversationalist, and I would consistently get that “a dog plays the piano” response from men in bars. Like, they legit could not believe a woman (of all animals!!) could construct a logical argument, remain calm while debating, reference literature and art or other sources to back her point up, and bring up interesting, complex topics.
        “This is the best conversation I’ve ever had in my life!” they would exclaim wonderingly. Then they would inevitably wander off to hit on someone demonstrably not giving them the best conversation of their life, shall we say.

        It hurts a LOT to be treated in this weirdly sexist way. It feels disconcerting and devaluing. Like your best feature (your brains/personality) is somehow actually a freakish deformity or mutation. I also noticed that men were initially interested in a “head tilt of interested confusion” way, but ultimately *repelled* by intelligent, driven, plugged in women with opinions. Young goofballs in a bar in their 20’s, that is.

        Men who act like intelligence, good work ethic, brains, awareness of current events, dedication, or logical arguments are an extremely rare trait in a woman need more exposure to women! and to cut it out.

        1. Plague of frogs

          Oh, I remember that head tilt from when I was younger! I would say something technical and a guy would look at me like he was seeing me as human for the first time.

          Thank God for coworkers, who just assumed I was logical or else I wouldn’t be there in the first place. I married one of them.

  11. Flowers r cool

    OP 1, I’m also 26 and living with my parents. I admit I’m occasionally embarrassed when people find out I live with my parents, but I’ve yet to have anyone talk down to me about it. It’s really common for people to live with their parents, and people have caught on to that. As Allison said, your boss probably didn’t notice.

    And living with your parents can really work out well for you in the end! You can get a jump start on making financial milestones much sooner. I was able to pay off my student loans this year with the money I saved; and you will eventually have your own place with the down payment you will save for while living with your parents!

    1. Weaselologist

      I was living with my parents at 26. I moved out to go to university in another country at 18, and moved back home a few years later because my folks live within commuting distance of London where there are load of job opportunities for my skills. Its totally normal to live with family, to move out, in, and out again over time. The cost of housing is really high in my city so many young workers do live at home if they can and nobody thinks any less of them. OP1 don’t waste energy worrying about this, you get to decide where to live.

    2. Stone Cold Bitch

      This.

      I know people of all ages who move in with family because they are renovating, relocating, saving money or dealing with a health issue. It’s a lot more common than you think.

    3. grace

      Yeah, I moved home post-grad and just moved out a month ago – the only pressure/embarrassment/judging came from myself, not external forces. And wow, was it good for my bank account, so well worth the ding to my pride. :)

    4. essEss

      And there are many professionals that have their parents move in with them for one reason or another…. so the parents are living in the child’s house, not vice versa. What if your parent’s place was being renovated and they needed temporary living at your place? Would you still be embarrassed in that situation?

    5. LT

      I’m 29 and living with my parents.

      My history, though, is that I did have my own apartment when I took on my first job after college, which was 70 miles away from where they live/I grew up and so it seemed natural to get my own place to be closer to my first post-college job.
      I switched jobs recently and it happens to be very commutable from where my parents live, so I’m now back home and saving up to purchase a home. I was mildly embarrassed, just as OP#1 seems, when I would speak with my new colleagues about stuff related to my living situation, but I don’t mind it so much because I know I’ve lived on my own and could move out again if I chose to, but I’m now afforded the ability to take my time searching for a condo.
      Not to mention, most colleagues might understand that it’s a great way to save up money in the short run, and as long as you don’t give off the impression that you plan on living with or relying on your parents for the long term, they shouldn’t think any less of you.

    6. JennyAnn

      I’m 30 and living with my parents for the foreseeable future (I made bad choices and am making ridiculously high student loan payments). Every once in a while, you’ll get someone who does a double take when it gets brought up but it’s rare. I pay my portion of the bills (including a very small amount of “rent” as recommended by the counselor we went to see as a family when I moved back in – even though it’s small it’s supposed to be a mental trigger of “adult roommate” rather than “sponging child”). It’s really been a non-issue for the 4 years I’ve already been living here.

  12. John Avocado

    #5 I almost thought “this is fine, just shave” until I considered how it would have been really really weird if she had told him the reverse, i.e. “you must grow the beard back”. Then my mind went to similar-ish situations, such as a requirement for women to turn up to work with shaved legs or underarms (which is obviously sexist, not just outdated), then thought: what if she had told him he was required to shave his head?

    So all in all, I think a grooming policy that requires a neat and tidy appearance is fine, but anything more specific really is odd.

    1. AcademiaNut

      The comparison I was thinking of was telling a woman that had gotten a haircut that you wanted her to grow her hair long again, which I think would creep most women out. And if you’re going to have non safety related grooming rules, they really should apply to everyone – make a general rule that everyone needs to be clean shaven.

      But basically, in US employment law, if there’s not a specific law against it, it’s legal. So your boss could ask you to dress up as a bumblebee and hum show-tunes while you work, and it would be legal.

      1. CrystalMama

        LOL!!! So true though sadly. Really speaks to the power of self employment for many people however.

      2. Jennifer Thneed

        Pretty sure they’d have to pay for the costume though? Also I only knew a few show tunes. I’d have to branch out into Disney tunes and Patsy Cline songs…

      3. Plague of frogs

        And if I am ever a boss I will require just that.

        I will not, however, tell males that they must change their face in a way that pleases me but is not covered by the dress code. Because that is gross.

  13. Starling

    #4, I’d be inclined to grow the beard back and say, if it were brought up again, “My skin gets really irritated by daily shaving, so I’m afraid my beard back to stay.” There are plenty of men who have to take frequent breaks from shaving, and they usually just wear beards.

    I can’t find it in me to feel bad about that sort of lie.

    1. genuine artificial

      Yeah, but if it’s not an across-the-board company policy (doesn’t sound like it, since he had a beard before) or a safety issue (ditto), why bother with the lie? He shouldn’t have to overshare about skin issues, whether genuine or fabricated, to groom his own personal hair the way he wants, as long as he’s meeting hygiene standards and keeping a tidy professional appearance.

      I fully grant that sometimes a white lie is the easiest way to dodge pushback so you can get on with your day instead of constantly having to argue or account for yourself or laugh off unfunny ‘jokes’ or whatever, in a workplace where for whatever reason someone doesn’t feel comfortable escalating thing. It shouldn’t be the case, but it is. But it’s a tiring and frustrating dodge, and it shouldn’t be the go-to unless it’s clear a situation warrants it. I’m not sure this one does. At the very least, I think it’s worth him pushing back more first.

  14. Emily

    Nearly everyone in my office knows that I’m living with my parents, and I’m older than #1. I didn’t mention it until it came up naturally, of course, but I also didn’t treat it like a deep, dark secret. I never thought it would hurt my standing at work; that’s based on other things! Maybe I’ve just lucked out and there are more judgmental offices out there…

    1. Margo the Destroyer

      Same here. I know I am basically too old to live at home, but I don’t plan to marry and its mutually beneficial to us all at this point. At first it was to help with my debt, which turned to helping more with parents debt to now helping caregive for my grandmother. I pay rent and half the bills, so to me the situation helps my parents with bills and is much cheaper for me. I would however like to move out and be on my own at some point soon. The downside to living at home is its pretty hard to have friends over randomly, unless they want to sit between my parents on the couch and watch tv.

  15. TechnicalManager

    OP#1, As someone who’s managed a lot of fresh college grads beginning their careers, it’s not at all uncommon these days, so I think you may be worrying over nothing. Certainly I would be shocked if anyone gossiped about that – unless you work at the World’s Most Boring Office, people won’t gossip about it because it simply isn’t interesting or unusual enough to mention.

    You’re correct that some people may still have negative connotations about adults who live with their parents, but even if your boss were one of those, if your manager actually deserves to be a manager it will be fine; nobody with a single molecule of common sense would find this important enough to factor in to career decisions like promotions or recommendations. You will have months of highly relevant, work-related interactions with your team to prove your skills, and that will speak far, far louder than any impression this gives.

    I would definitely not try to do anything to hide or justify your living situation – that would be weirder than actually living with your folks is, and it would potentially create the impression that you are insecure, which would actually be a worse impression to give. If it ever came up in conversation, just be completely matter-of-fact about it. You could mention that you’re doing it to save for a house, but if you do, make sure that you say that in a manner that doesn’t make it sound like you’re defensive or embarrassed about your current living situation.

    1. G

      I bring grave intelligence of your former favourite Lord Blackadder. It appears he wishes to marry a girl called Bob.

    2. Agent Diane

      This is also where my brain went. I always hear Bob in Blackadder’s voice.

      “Well, ‘Bob’, that report was quite something.”

    3. Half-Caf Latte

      For those who have read 15 animals, by Sandra Boynton:

      There’s my rabbit, Bob, and his bunny wife, Bob.
      And their three kids, Bob, Bob, and Bob.

  16. Just my two cents

    A few companies I have worked for had grooming guidelines that stipulated that a man could have either a well groomed beard or they had to be clean shaven. They could not be in the in-between stages of growing out a beard. Several men started their vacation as clean shaven but returned with a full grown but well groomed beard.

    1. Liane

      The difference is your company has grooming guidelines around beards and OP’s friend’s company doesn’t.
      Honestly this is the umpteenth comment bringing up rules and/or safety which don’t appear to be in play here. Do we need a sticky comment to that effect?

      1. Sam.

        I think the point of these comments is to point out that boss’s objection may not be his beard so much as the awkward growing stage, which many orgs clearly find unprofessional. If that in-between stage was off the table, maybe the boss wouldn’t push back on the beard re-growth and both of them would be happy. I think that’s a perfectly relevant observation/suggestion.

        For what it’s worth, my boss has a well groomed beard, but it took literal months of growth to get to that point. There were no rules against it, but I can see why there would be – it looked *really* bad for a long time. His saving grace was that he always dressed more professionally than the rest of the office, and the sharp suits helped balance out his look.

      2. Ella

        It is not uncommon for there to be repetitive comments in the comments section here due to many people posting at similar times, not seeing all the comments, not reading all the comments, and so forth. Alison will sometimes post sticky comments if something gets too out of hand, but I can tell you, the comments as they are on this entry are not at all unusual and not *nearly* as extensive as I’ve seen some comment threads get.

  17. nnn

    #1: You’ve been with the company for five years! Five years of direct experience working with you far outweighs any negative connotations of the fact that they may or may not know was your mother once answered the phone when your manager called.

  18. Woodswoman

    OP #2 re badmouthing a colleague, it’s unfair to slander someone like that who’s coming into your organization as someone unknown to other people. I’ve been in this situation. I used to work with someone who was unhappy with life and his job, and he used to directly badmouth our managers behind their back, both of whom are universally respected and well-liked by literally everyone else on a large team. My solution was to avoid being alone with him after that because it was so jarring.

    Fast forward to him accepting a job at another organization in the same field where it turns out he was joining the team of a friend who was on the hiring panel. My friend and I periodically get together, and he asked me what this guy was like since he was about to begin the job. While it would have been easy to talk about his negative attitude and tendency to gossip, that would have really undermined him with a peer before he had even started. So I chose to share the things that were positive. It’s just not fair to paint a new person coming in with a broad negative brush.

    1. Bostonian

      I think this is a good point. Unless somebody did something specific that was really damaging, I would err on the side of not tainting a future coworker’s perception of him. Especially since this person seemed to be acting out because they were so unhappy at that job. One can only hope that he would start the new job with a clean slate and not start up the same pattern again.

    2. Luna

      I agree that badmouthing is unhelpful and not a great look, but I also don’t think the OP should judge the boss too harshly for one comment. I don’t think the boss was trying to gossip, more that she thought (wrongly) that warning others about this person would be helpful.

      I’ve been the one warned about bad bosses before, and it didn’t mean that my coworker who warned me was a huge gossip. She just genuinely thought she was doing something kind by giving me information. But it still would have been better to let me have my own experiences and only say something if it did turn out to be bad (like a “don’t worry it’s just how she is” kind of thing).

    3. azvlr

      When I was a very young sailor on my first at my first duty station, my sponsor gave me the “low down” on certain people on our team. She had nothing good to say about one person in particular and I allowed my judgement to be clouded by her perceptions. Many of the things she said about him were true. But then he led a training session, and I gained immediate respect for him. He was an amazing trainer and this was his hidden talent.
      One lesson I learned from that was to look for the positive in everyone.

  19. Stephanie

    OP, I’m 38, and my wife and I have been living with my grandmother for almost 8 years. I’ve been employed by the same company almost 11. I have no shame about it. I have my reasons for living with Grandma, including to save money and to care for her, but even if I had no reason, it’s still fine. Anyone who thinks it’s weird has not paid attention to the housing market and economy over the last 10 years.

    1. Ashloo

      I’m 30, married, and also live with my grandma. My husband was laid off very close to our lease ending and it has given us the freedom to job search out of state without worrying about the thousands of dollars it would cost to break a lease. He just found a job in the area, and I am honestly not excited about quadrupling our housing costs for the sake of “independence.” If we do stay, caretaking would be the natural progression of the relationship. I know she enjoys having us as company (and a little extra money in rent).

  20. Lily

    LW#1

    I live with my parents and the people I work with know. It’s only going to be a big deal if you make it a big deal. If anyone brings it up, if you calmly say “Yea, I wanted to save up a little for a new place, what’s new with you?” Divert the conversation and don’t act as embarrassed as you sound.(if you’re worried about gossip, your embarrassment is probably going to be more interesting than the fact you moved back in with your parents).

    1. Lily

      I think I should also add, the different cultures have different views on this. My culture has a history of generations living together given that my grandma lived with us until she passed away and one of my uncles still lives with my other grandma and he’s married with several children. So it’s so easy for me to be matter-of-fact about it since it’s something I grew up with.

  21. Pinniped

    Hi OP1! I’m 30 and I live with my parents. I’m not from a culture where this is normal. I moved back in with them this year after breaking up with my partner (I also live in a very expensive city) and spent the next month feeling like a total failure for living with my folks. But that idea is an inherited one born of patronising articles about ‘boomerang kids’ or whatever. We’re still supporting ourselves! Renting from my parents is allowing me to save properly, and I’ve been really enjoying spending time with them. I won’t be here forever but I now think the weird cultural bias (which seems to be a white-people thing?) against living with your parents is pointless and unhelpful. Sometimes it’s the smartest option on the table.

  22. Llama Grooming Coordinator

    Does Mike have a front facing role? How common is facial hair at his company?

    To use an example – if Mike was a baseball player, I’d think it fair that if he played for the Yankees, he’d be told to shave, since that’s a team rule IIRC. But if he played for the Mets or the Red Sox, or if he didn’t have a front facing position with the Yankees…that gets messy. In all four cases, the organization has the right, but…for the Mets and Sox, they usually let their players groom (or not) as they will. Someone working the scoreboard at Yankee Stadium isn’t high visibility, so it matters less if they shave.

    1. Liane

      Yes, if he were changing jobs, but he has been working in the position for a while and only now has it been brought up. Generally workplace grooming rules are brought up sometime after the start of the interview and before the first workday.
      Not, “Obi-wan, our policy for the past 20 years is that men must be clean shaven. Due to an oversight it wasn’t put into your offer letter and onboarding 5 years ago. So sorry.”

  23. Indie

    OP1 I’m 39 and live ‘at home’! I moved back because mum had just been widowed and I was between places.

    I stayed because my mother is an awesome roommate and I’m lucky as hell to have a forever home as my between base. Not everyone does. Most people have to rush their housing searches or move all their stuff out of old house in one day or are at the mercy of chains falling through. I made an extra 10k on my last place for being chain free.

    Everyone at work knows and no one GAF. I think the only embarrassing part of your letter is that you don’t realise not everyone has this particular privilege.

    1. Tyche

      I’m 37 and I too returned home with my mother after my father died. It should have been a temporary solution to help her, but we decided we like it, so for the foreseeable future I’m going to stay with her.

      We live like roommates: we split our expenses, each of us has her social life but we do things together too.

      For us it is an ideal compromise.

      1. Brandy

        Im the same way. Im 42 and couldn’t have another roommate, Im so set in my ways but my mom is the best roommate ever. Shes single, I am, why have two sets of bills. Its just practical. I can be here to help out as she gets older, its just the best situation all around. My co-workers know and if they judge I don’t know. Most of the single ones have roommates or live with single siblings. No one cares and if they do, why do I care about what they think.

      1. Indie

        If you’re buying a property then the sellers usually need to find another property before they vacate, and so do the sellers they are buying from. If one of these sales is delayed/falls through then the whole ‘chain’ is affected.

        Sales of a ‘chain free’ (vacant house or owner heading to retirement home usually) property are generally hassle free. Chain free buyers (renters, first time buyers) are more appealing for the same reason.

    1. Myrin

      I don’t know, but I can imagine there are skin conditions that make it hard or painful to shave.

    2. Liane

      Some men, especially African-American, are very prone to severe ingrown hair problems, like a rash I think, if they shave. My husband was in the US Air Force, and he says that (with medical documentation) this is an exception to the military regulations that men are clean shaven except for small mustaches. However, he added, the allowed beard had to be very short, just enough to prevent the condition; it wasn’t a license for whatever style facial hair the man wanted.

        1. WoSoFan

          I was at a legal diversity recruiting event and one of the senior members of a law firm used shaving requirements as an example of how having diversity among managers is important. No one realized that their shaving requirement caused actual pain for their African American male employees. With the rigid firm culture, no one at the lower levels was willing to cause a stir over beards.

          Perhaps OP can explain this issue as a reason for allowing well groomed facial hair in office jobs.

    3. Lcsa99

      When my husband cracked his chin open and had to get stitches, he couldn’t shave for a while.

    4. Parenthetically

      In addition to what Liane said, I can think of a few skin conditions or medical conditions that can cause painful skin problems — lupus, eczema, psoriasis, for example — that would make shaving very difficult if not impossible.

      1. Basia, also a Fed

        My dad has severe psoriasis, and shaving would result in a bloody mess and would expose raised purple patches. A beard looks much more professional.

    5. soon 2be former fed

      Some Black men have medical exemptions, my ex had a letter when he was in the army exempting him from shaving. The curly hairs grow inward and cause infection and razor bumps.

    6. Fuzzy face

      FWIW, I’m not African American

      but shaving tears the heck out of my face. never could find a way to get and keep a smooth shave that didn’t involve red blotchy irritated bumpy painful skin.
      And many of the creams and such out there irritate my skin additionally.

      By the same token I had a friend once who had to be cleanshaven because his facial hair was so rough IT would irritate his skin and cause flareups of a skin condition he had. So it can work both ways.

    7. just dropping by

      My grandfather grew a beard because his hands shook and he couldn’t shave anymore without cutting himself. Blood-clotting disorders seem like they would make shaving risky, too.

    8. STG

      Dermatitis here and it keeps me from shaving very often at all or I end up a bloody, red mess. I actually haven’t seen parts of my face in over 10 years at this point.

  24. MassChick - mostly a reader

    Re: LW 4 — isn’t there a distinction between employer and boss? The boss could very well be an employee herself too and the company itself may have no regulations against facial hair. In this scenario, can boss still enforce a seemingly arbitrary personal preference? I would think not (at last in the USA) but maybe I’m wrong.

    1. Alton

      Legally, probably, as long as the request didn’t constitute some form of discrimination or sexual harassment. If the OP lives in at at-will state, I don’t think something has to be explicitly against company rules in order for someone to be disciplined/fired for it (which can make sense sometimes. It’s practically impossible to create rules that address every possible situation).

      But practically, decent workplaces are not going to want managers enforcing arbitrary rules that don’t reflect company policy and that alienate employees. It’s possible that this manager wouldn’t be allowed to enforce this, even if the company could legally allowed her to.

    2. Alton

      I think it’s up to the company’s discretion whether they want to allow managers to do this. A reasonable workplace isn’t going to let a manager act like a tyrant or enforce rules that are too inconsistent with company policy, but I don’t think they’re legally compelled to force managers to stick to company policies that aren’t based on law. Now, if a manager’s arbitrary rules disproportionately affected or targeted protected groups or could constitute sexual harassment, that’s a legal issue.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        That’s exactly right. But it’s sort of like how a manager can hold her team to a stricter dress code than the company dress code. In this case, though, it’s more likely that the company would intervene.

        1. MassChick - mostly a reader

          Interesting! And somewhat disturbing (under an unreasonable boss). Thanks Alton and Alison!

  25. Cordoba

    I have a friend whose professional office job took exception to his big handlebar mustache. He’s pale with dark hair, so it did really stand out. They said a smaller mustache would be OK, just not one that went past the corners of his mouth.

    He said “no problem” and that evening shaved it all off except the part under his nose, Charlie Chaplin style.

    He was only at work for about 2 hours the next day before HR called him in and told him that he could have any mustache he wanted besides this newest one.

      1. Cordoba

        I think it was mostly meant to get the mustache police to leave him alone, and seems to have been a very efficient way to accomplish that.

      1. WeevilWobble

        And he clearly didn’t intend Chaplin either. I wonder how many Jewish colleagues he has?

              1. Kate 2

                I agree with you Alison, this is a trend I hate. One person of the subculture liking or disliking something does not make it racist or sexist or anti-semitic.

                One person is not the arbiter for their entire culture, millions of people. If an overwhelming majority of the culture finds it offensive, it almost certainly is. But no one should fall all over themselves, shaming themselves and apologizing over one person’s opinion.

                Which is something I have read about and seen a lot in the far left, super liberal circles I travel in and generally support. We don’t want to live on Animal Farm after all, or during the McCarthy era when one accusation was enough to ruin you.

            1. Someone else

              Also Jewish and I do find it funny, because the guy was pretty clearly doing it intentionally to make the point to get his other mustache back, not because he actually thought the second mustache were a good idea.

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          I’m Jewish and I burst out laughing. Literally aloud. And YES of course I know who else had a well-known Chaplin-esque mustache in the 20th century.

      2. boo bot

        I’m agog that he had the chutzpah to leave the house, go to work, and be at work for two hours with that, unless he wore an actual bowler hat and old-fashioned Chaplin suit on the train as camouflage.

        I’m amused, but I bet I’d hate that guy.

        1. Kate 2

          Why on earth would you hate him? He made a point to defend his personal freedom at work. Something that involved a lot of money (shaving cream, razors, lotion) and time, and may also have been physically painful for him.

          I honestly can’t think of any other way he could have pushed back against that arbitrary and silly rule that would have been half so effective. If he hadn’t done this he probably would still be forced to shave every single day for the rest of his career there, which could be years.

      1. Victoria, Please

        Kind of the nuclear option, don’t you think? Firing someone for being a smart-ass?

    1. WeevilWobble

      Ha, it’s funny because he responded to an entirely reasonable request by looking like Hitler?

      Confirms my belief that anyone with a handlebar mustache is an unrepentant jerk.

      1. Murphy

        Is that really a reasonable request though? Maybe in some customer/client facing positions, it could be, but otherwise it just feels like overly policing an employee’s appearance.

        1. WeevilWobble

          Yes, offices are allowed to have dress codes and those mustaches are the absolute worst. It’s entirely reasonable to ask your employee to have a more professional appearance. It’s not cool to say “ok, I’ll just go full Hitler.”

          1. Parenthetically

            “those mustaches are the absolute worst”

            In your opinion. The guy followed management’s instructions in a way that highlighted the silliness of that rule, to the point that they backtracked. Seems like a positive outcome, your antipathy toward large mustaches notwithstanding.

          2. raktajino

            It’s not a full Hitler if it’s just a mustache, not with the possible, uh, accessories available.

            I do wonder what other mustaches might have elicited the desired response: John Waters’s thin line? An choppy and elaborately gelled artistic endeavor? Is there a mustache equivalent of StarBurns?

      2. STG

        “Confirms my belief that anyone with a handlebar mustache is an unrepentant jerk.”

        Wow…kind of personal crusade level hate right there.

      3. Kate 2

        Gosh, judgmental much? Confirms my belief that anyone who makes snap judgments about others is a jerk.

  26. Bookworm

    #1: Don’t feel bad. I moved in with my parents after working in retail for a year after college and couldn’t find other work. I ended up staying for 5 years. I’m not sure where you live but it is *extremely* common in many countries across the world (perhaps less in the US) for multiple generations to live under one roof, even after marriage and children.

    It is becoming more common in the US for children to move back into their parents’ home because of the cost of living, the economy, work, inability to find housing at all, etc.

    I do know how you feel, though. I’d tell people without a second thought that I lived with my parents and the majority of them thought it was weird except for one person who had a similar background to me and someone else who had lived abroad in China.

  27. Argh!

    When I lived in a major city with a large homeless population, all the men I worked with were clean-shaven. The “short” beard that looks like a few days’ growth is part of the homeless look there.

  28. Adlib

    OP 2 – I’ve had that happen to me. I transferred internally, and my boss kept telling me the new boss is terrible to work for, blah blah. In my head I’m thinking “well I survived you so it’s probably no big deal”. Granted, she was trying to stop me from transferring, but it didn’t make me think that I would have issues with the new boss. I think people go overboard with their bad experience sharing, and I always try to keep an open mind. Just because someone has issues with a person doesn’t mean I’m going to.

    OP 4 – Is that a company policy that your friend’s company has? It really doesn’t sound like if the boss really said she “prefers” your friend be clean shaven. Alison’s advice is spot on. Hopefully he can ask about it and grow it back.

    1. The Other Dawn

      “Just because someone has issues with a person doesn’t mean I’m going to.”

      Exactly. That’s happened to me many times. People talk about how awful Mary is and how terrible it is to work for her, but it usually turns out that the person complaining is on or close to being on a PIP, or there’s a personality clash, or something similar. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing how to work with someone. I’ve had may bosses like that. You learn what works and what doesn’t to create the smoothest working relationship, and go with it. But, of course, some bosses really are jerks and no one can work with them unless they totally avoid them altogether.

  29. Joanie

    OP1, I second everyone saying your mom could easily have been picking the phone up at your place, and that there’s no shame in moving home.

    But its also pretty likely that they really haven’t thought about it at all – from their point of view, they phoned you to talk about a work thing, someone else picked up and handed the phone over, they then spoke to you about work thing…I’d doubt if they’d even remember the someone else picking up part by now. And do they know for sure it was your mom on the phone in the first place?

    It sounds like you’ve been through a lot of upheaval lately, and you’re feeling badly about yourself for moving home. But you’re always the star of your own show – as long as you remain your normal professional self at work, your boss will be too busy being the star of their own show to really give this much thought.

  30. Victoria, Please

    Snort-laugh – spot on, WE have all spent much more time and gas on this than would even occur to the boss!

    1. Victoria, Please

      Shoot, was supposed to nest elsewhere, under Mommy MD’s comment about OP 1 . Sorry.

  31. Fabulous

    #3 – To me, this reads like he was trying to give you a compliment. He doesn’t think of you as a “Katie” a.k.a. a young, inexperienced woman, he thinks of you as “Bob” a.k.a. an experienced and well respected member of the workforce. He probably doesn’t understand how his comment came off as sexist, but I doubt there was any meaning behind it other than it being a poor (backhanded, sexist, ageist, etc.) attempt at giving you a compliment.

    1. Marthooh

      Yeah, haha! Grandboss has totally sexist attitudes but it doesn’t count as real sexism because he has never given any thought to it! He just still hasn’t gotten used to all this whacky “Women’s Lib” stuff!

      [/s]

      No, this is not okay.

      1. Minerva McGonagall

        I don’t think Fabulous is saying it’s ok, but rather noting their opinion that it likely wasn’t intended to be malicious. It’s still sexist, but of the ignorant rather than hateful variety. This is important to factor into your decision on how to respond.

        Dude with an unconscious bias may well regret his statement and make an effort to change future behavior when his problematic language is pointed out to him. While no one is obligated to educate the ignorant guy, it is a valid choice some women will make in some situations.

        Maliciously sexist dude, well, no choice but to figure out how you’re going to protect yourself in a hostile environment.

        1. Indie

          I really agree with what Marthooh said (and laughed out loud too), but you’ve really reminded me of boss who championed me but said all sorts of problematic things (calling women little and saying his loopy boss used ‘woman’s thinking’ and expected me to agree as though he’d forgotten my gender). He was possibly the best boss in all other ways and his words never matched his actions. It still wasn’t ok but it wasn’t ‘get out now’ and he responded to being pulled up.

    2. Elsajeni

      Well, yeah, that’s exactly the problem — the “compliment” relies on the assumption that women are normally inexperienced or incompetent and only men are normally experienced and well-respected members of the workforce.

  32. theotherallison

    OP1: please don’t worry about this! You know what I’m doing today? Moving in with my parents! (Luckily, I work for a Methodist-affiliated university so we have Good Friday off). Our lease is up and we’re making a big move at the end of the summer, so we really didn’t have very many options. And yes, I’m saying we because my husband is moving with me.
    I considered not saying anything at work for the exact reasons you describe (I’m 24) but I decided to confide in my boss and coworkers and they’ve been nothing but supportive. My boss even let me leave early yesterday to get some extra packing time in, and a few coworkers have told me that if that was an option for them, they would be living with their parents too.
    You have a totally valid reason for living with your family and as long you’re professional and put together in other areas (which is definitely sounds like you are!), this really won’t impact their perceptions of you at all. People move. People move in with family for a whole bunch of reasons. You’re fine. But good luck with purchasing your own place!

  33. Higher Ed Database Dork

    OP #1, there are sooooo many reasons people live with their parents well into adulthood, sometimes their entire lives. It could be cultural, financial, logistical…any number of things. Most bosses (and workplaces in general) don’t give two figs about your living situation.

    I lived with my parents for about a year or so after moving out of a disastrous roommate situation when I was in college. I considered finding a new place, but then my boyfriend and I decided to get married, and it didn’t make sense to lease something short term only to turn around and get a new place together. I had a full time job and was graduating college. My in-laws moved in with my mother-in-law for about a year while they were house hunting, with two kids! Like your situation, sometimes it’s simply logistics. And even when it’s not – there’s no need to judge the reasons.

    I get that feeling like people will think you are immature or don’t have it together…I’ve struggled with those kinds of feelings myself through much of my life. I’m very young looking and people often think I’m “so cute and little” when they first meet me, and that drives me bonkers, so I feel like I really need to go overboard to prove myself. But really, that’s not the case. If I encounter any judgement, I just reset their expectations by kicking ass at my job, being excellent to everyone, and doing my best. I’d encourage to do the same!

  34. long time lurker

    There is absolutely no shame in living with one’s parents (temporarily or permanently).

    My husband lived with his mom in his family home until he was 29, because it was big enough for everyone and was much more economical.

    My parents, in their mid-50s, lived in my dad’s parents’ house for several months while they were renovating their house. They slept in my dad’s childhood bedroom. My dad was an EVP at one of the largest companies in our city at the time.

    Living with one’s parents while you save up for a down payment is an incredibly savvy move and you should be proud, not ashamed.

  35. rosenstock

    OP1, i wouldn’t even assume that the boss knows you live with your parents just because your mom picked up the phone? what if she was just over at your house that day and happened to pick it up? you shouldn’t lie if asked, but the thought that you live with your parents may not have even occurred to him.

  36. PhillyKate

    OP #1- I am 30 years old and just getting ready to move out of my parents’ house. It is the only way I was able to pay for grad school/save for a house. I have MANY friends my age who tell me if their relationships were better with their parents, they would be living with them to save more too.

    It is a different time. Don’t judge yourself -there is nothing wrong with your living situation. If people judge…well…they’re being judgemental.

  37. bopper

    Re: Katie
    Another way to look at this is that “Katie” may read younger girl to the Boss’ Boss…but that you are doing your work as well as any man so you could be a “Bob”. Still awful.

  38. Marlene

    #1 Don’t feel badly for living with your parents!! It doesn’t mean you’re a hermit staying in the basement addicted to video games and Cheetos. You’re obviously not, and I’m sure your employer sees that.

    As a parent, I’ve offered my grown children the opportunity to live with me to get on their feet. One probably will for the first one to two years of college. She will be a full-time student and have a job. (Then she’ll transfer to a larger university). My other child will more than likely stay with me when he first leaves the military, so he can hunt for an apartment and apply for jobs without the pressure of needing to rush.

    If at any time they need to come “back” home, they are welcome. I’d rather they be safe and heck, I enjoy them. They’re great people to have around.

    I’m sure your parents feel the same. Nobody else’s opinion matters.

  39. Florafauna

    I think living with your parents is fine as long as you are gaining independent living skills while staying there. I worked with a woman whose two adult sons still lived at home – they were 28 and 30. She said she didn’t want them moving into an apartment on their own because it’d be a waste of money and they should be saving for a house for when they get married. But she still did EVERYTHING for them – cooked their food, washed their clothes, made their beds, etc. They didn’t have to lift a finger to do anything at home. I know she expected them to find wives that would do the exact same thing.

    1. Luna

      Yes, good point! I think since OP has lived on her own already for several years she doesn’t have to worry about this.

      I do have a friend whose boyfriend has always lived at home since college and his mom does everything for him- he has never done laundry, and his mom makes him lunch every day to bring to work! Even when he was in college it was in the same city, so his mom would drive to his dorm every week to pick up his laundry and do it for him. The guy’s a lawyer!

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Yes, I would guess that is probably the perception. Both of mine moved back in with me a year or so ago. They are now 22 and 25. But they do everything for themselves, pay for most of their own food, do projects around the house that I need help with (The 25yo refinished my hardwood floors! How cool is that?), and, something that is really important to me, they provide company for my widowed, 80yo mom, who comes over every day because she is lonely. If it were just me and mom, she would’ve driven me bonkers by now. The kids help so much. Totally worth a minor increase in utility bills.

      Also, one of my sons has cats together with his gf. Cats are very cool. Cats that are not mine, so i don’t have to worry about the vet bills, or about taking care of them for the next 20 years, are even better! (Plus, more company for my mom!)

      When they both called (separately, but within the same month) and sheepishly asked if they could move back in, my reaction was “Omg yes! how quickly can you get here?”

  40. Susan the BA

    We have several people in the office who live with parents or other relatives. If anything, the rest of us are occasionally jealous (e.g. when they bring a delicious-smelling lunch that their mom made)! I have no idea if there are specific reasons and no one asks them or gossips about it. I’m sure there are individuals or office cultures that would be mean or judgemental about others’ living arrangements, but it does NOT have to be that way and wouldn’t be acceptable to my management.

  41. Dust Bunny

    LW1: Nobody cares. I’m way older than you are and live with my parents because my mom needed help when my dad was working overseas, and I had a dog who needed a yard and somebody to let her in and out during the day. And your parents are roommates who aren’t going to steal your stuff and sell it for weed (probably). It’s not a big deal, and it’s not anyone’s business. I CAN live on my own, I just don’t right now.

    LW2: I don’t know, but I’d say it’s pretty universally unprofessional to badmouth a coworker. Either the problem is something that needs to be addressed, in which case it should be presented to the relevant authority, or it’s not, in which case it doesn’t need to be mentioned. I’d feel weird about somebody who brought up issues with a coworker to me, who has no standing to do anything about it, rather than take their concerns to HR/problem coworker’s supervisor/whoever. How you talk about people reflects on you, too, not just the person about whom you’re talking.

    1. NaoNao

      Could be anything–“can you log on and sign this?” “Hey where the Biltmore file?” “hey, double checking on X deadline due today”. Could also be “hey, can you swing in and cover this project/shift/meeting for a few hours”. Not necessarily terrible.

  42. MissDisplaced

    My husband and I lived with my parents for six months after a cross-country move and we were in our late 30s. While we could have rented a small apartment, we elected not to because of the resulting job search (didn’t know exactly what town we’d land in) and saving our money to buy a house. So, occasionally I did have to tell employers about the temporary address at parents. No one will think less of you unless you act like a spoiled bratty kid who can’t move out of her parents home. Which it sounds like you are definitely not.

  43. YarnOwl

    OP #1, I’m also 26 years old and living at home and a few people I work with know it! I’ve never felt judged by any of them, and when I mention it I usually just say, “I’m paying off my student loans so I can get a place of my own,” and nobody’s ever been weird about it.
    I was pretty embarrassed when I first moved in with my parents too, but you have no reason to be!

  44. Kristine

    Re: Living with parents
    This is not uncommon for people to have an extended family living in one house permanently. I think it makes a lot of sense. My sister, a bank VP in her sixties, has my elderly mother and my niece (a systems analyst) living with her. It works for them, and both have offices in the house away from my mother’s TV programs when they must telecommute. I also went back to my parents briefly after college. I think this is more the rule than the exception.

  45. RestlessRenegade

    OP2, I’ve have similar problems with my boss. She is a manager, and has said cruel and insulting things to me about our coworkers (never anyone in our department). She has said my coworkers are stupid, or lazy, or even once implied that someone got hired because she was of a certain ethnicity. Since it has happened with more than one person, I try not to let it change/form my opinion of them. I always think “I wonder what you say about me?” So if you think that, you’re not paranoid–or at least you aren’t alone. :)

  46. Liz T

    OP1, I remember going to my 5-year college reunion and being embarrassed that I’d moved back in with my parents. Then I got there and realized I was soooooooo not alone. It’s the new Saturn’s Return.

  47. iglwif

    OP1, I managed many twenty-somethings in my old job, and SO MANY OF THEM lived with their parents! It’s not something it ever crossed my mind to hold against them. It really is OK, and if your work is good and you don’t show signs of being flaky and unreliable, nobody is going to think less of you for it :)

  48. Janie

    Yes it’s legal to require employees to shave. George Steinbrenner makes all Yankees players be clean-shaven with short haircuts (most famously see Johnny Damon, who looked like a lumberjack while in Boston and then was almost unrecognizable with the Yankees).

  49. Lisa

    LW #1 – This is completely normal! Don’t feel bad, we all end up back at home for some reason or another. I’m 34 and have moved back in with my parents three times since graduating college. One place gave me a week’s notice that the lease was up, another owner decided to sell the house I was renting, one house had bad flood damage….things happen! My 32-year-old cousin moved back home to help care for his sick dad. Paid off all his student loans in a year and is saving up for his own place. Just keep doing what you’re doing. You’re actually in a great position, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. Best of luck to you!

  50. MindoverMoneyChick

    #1 I managed a lot of people in their 20s and I was always impressed when they lived at home to save money. I just thought they were being smart.

  51. SpaceNovice

    OP1: I lived with my parents for years to save up a down payment for my home; it was simply too expensive to be able to afford both rent and saving up for my own place in any decent length of time. Not a single coworker thought less of me, knowing how much prices have gone up. This was true for both workplaces I was at while living with my parents. When I finally moved into my own place after renovating it, my coworkers were excited for me. Everyone’s reaction to me saving up a down payment first was “that’s smart”. (And I was older than you are now when I finally moved out.)

    Living with your parents to save up a down payment is a responsible financial decision; you’re not leeching off of them. For a lot of people, it’s the only way you can save up a down payment quickly enough to be able to afford a place before prices go up even more. Had I moved out and paid rent somewhere, I would have literally been priced out of the market by the time I saved up enough.

  52. George

    #4, if the boss won’t let you keep your beard, it’s time for you to find a new job. And yes, employee churn does cost businesses money.

  53. Anna

    For OP1, I’m 31 and I live with my family right now (my mom and older brother). Background on this that they both lost their jobs and I’m the one holding down the fort with my job (so, technically, they live with me). Things just happen and even people at work know about the circumstances. Never felt judged at all!

  54. Gypsy, Acid Queen

    I’d also like to comment on OP #1, even though it seems like everyone else is, too! The shame of living at home with parents is also an American cultural thing that really really REALLY annoys the crap out of me and is outdated. My mother would try and explain to her neighbors that culturally (she is Mexican), staying with the parents was normal, and you just make it work. I have other friends from different cultural backgrounds also experience judgement from friends and neighbors about still living with our parents at adult ages. I think it ties into that “American Dream” ideal that people still hold on to, and it’s not really feasible for a lot of us in the immediate.

    I lived with my parents post-college for almost 10 years (5 of them married and with my husband living there too), and my older brother is in his 40s and still lives at home. Full stop. We all had full time jobs, hobbies, etc. We lived our lives like we would, it’s just that our parents were there when we got home. Maybe even made a dinner for all of us. I’m not embarrassed. Sure, it sucked at times, but life is what it is and my family supported our decision to stay and eventually leave.

    OP and others out there need to take into consideration the bigger picture–you have a great support system from your family. Even if things in the outside world are doo-doo, you have support and aren’t alone. They are elevating you to be able to do what you want, be it live on your own or stay with them.

  55. Karyn

    OP1, I moved back to my parents’ house in 2013 after five years of living on my own. I had a terrible job, no health insurance, and was barely scraping by, while dealing with the effects of then-untreated bipolar disorder. I’ve been here since then, and had planned to move out by the end of this year, but the boyfriend and I have decided that if we are still happy by that time, we’ll find a place together – so here I’ll stay until that happens. Although at first I was embarrassed to say I lived with my parents, frankly, if someone is going to judge me for that, then I don’t need to be around them. My brother also lives in their home, and he plans to stay here to take care of them for the rest of their lives. He has no interest in dating or anything like that, and helps my parents out with household needs like new floors and appliances. Both of us have jobs, help around the house, and pay my parents for groceries and miscellaneous things like that. Living here doesn’t mean we’re not adults – it just means that we’re a close family who help each other when needed. I promise, your boss likely gave it no thought, and if he did and is judgey, then just roll your eyes and do what’s best for you.

    1. Screenwriter

      This is beautiful and so very true. What great folks you and your family are. LW is still thinking of herself as a kid; but as an adult, it’s heroic and strong to move back in w/ your parents to take care of them.

  56. dentalbenefitsqueen

    Hi, I’m the OP for the shaving question:

    I had my friend send me a selfie today (I recently moved out of state) and I can confirm that he has grown the beard back and is still gainfully employed. I guess his boss decided to pick her battles.

  57. Moluccan

    This is only tangentially related to OP4’s question. I’m a lady who wears shorts as part of my work uniform, and I hate shaving my legs. So I don’t. Hairy legs for all!
    My manager has never said anything to me, she doesn’t care. But in the future, could someone? Or would it be crossing into gender discrimination since they (hypothetically) wouldn’t be asking the men to also shave their legs?

  58. Screenwriter

    LW #1: Why would the boss even know it was your mom? It could have been a friend or roommate. Or your mom could have been visiting you. I think you feel super self-conscious and anxious about having needed to move back home, but honestly, I don’t think, given today’s economy, anyone would judge you. Think of it as “renting a room from people who happen to be your parents” as opposed to “moving back home,” and maybe you can feel less self-conscious about it. Or as others have suggested, “saving up to buy a condo.” Honestly, it’s not a big deal to anyone else. (And also, save your money so you can move out–it sounds like you’ll feel better if you do!)

  59. foolofgrace

    OP3, sad as it is to say, I think the boss was really trying to pay you a compliment. “You’re just as good as a man!” He probably didn’t see it as a backhanded compliment. Not that this excuses it, but — and I don’t know how old he is — some older men grew up in a different world and that’s all they know.

  60. buttercup

    As someone who comes from a culture where living with your parents is *normal*, (think, Asian or Hispanic), I get a little offended by these assumptions though I understand where they come from. I personally don’t live at home, but I definitely don’t judge people who do because of my background.

  61. Pennalynn Lott

    OP1 – I haven’t read all the comments [I know, I know] but I just want to add my voice to what I assume now is a deafening chorus of “So Totally Not a Big Deal.” The whole time I read your question I kept saying, “What? Whaaa–? What, no!” Employers just don’t care if you live with your parents. Whether you’ve never left or have bounced back several times or moved back in with them later in life to care for them.

    I not only bounced in and out of my mom’s house all through my 20’s and up to age 32 but now, in my early 50’s, *she* lives with *me*. In my house. That I bought with my own money.

    Seriously, employers just want you to do good work.

  62. YB

    OP1, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I’m in my thirties and am back living with my dad for a few reasons, and I’m extremely ashamed of it, especially in a work context. I want to say two things:
    1. nobody at work cares. Nobody at my work, nobody at your work, nobody at anybody’s work. Honest.
    2. it’s totally understandable and legitimate that you’re feeling bad about this. Don’t let anyone else shame you for feeling the way you feel. Our generation has been socialized with so much stuff about what it means to BE AN ADULT and how LAZY MILLENNIALS are DOING IT WRONG, and it can be frustrating to be part of that “still lives at home” stereotype when you don’t want these generational stereotypes to apply to you at all. Remember, though, you don’t “still” live with your parents because you fail at adulting—you successfully moved out, and are now making a temporary and smart economic decision that will help you in the future.

  63. Cassie the First

    OP 1 – I don’t doubt at all that there are people who criticize adults for living with their parents, but most people don’t care. People might make a “oh, you live with your parents?” comment but try not to read any more meaning into that comment than just a comment.

    I have two coworkers – one of them lives with her husband, her kids, and her parents. She moved her parents in to her house so they could help care for the kids. The other coworker (as he recently told me) did not have a good family life when he was growing up so he moved out as soon as he turned 18. He finds it fascinating that the other coworker willingly chooses to live with her parents.

    For me, I don’t care what my coworkers do. Everyone has different family situations, it’s up to each person to decide what works for them at any given point in their life. Besides, did OP 1’s mom introduce herself as OP 1’s mom on the phone? How would the boss even know that was the mom?

  64. Rod

    #1

    It is something I have become increasingly self-conscious about and I am careful to only give a mobile number on forms.

    I remember starting a new job and being quizzed on day 1 about whether I was “still living at home” by a colleague almost as though he was trying to weigh up whether he was dealing with a ‘real’ adult.

    Here in the UK the economy is incredibly Londoncentric and property prices in the South East are ridiculous.
    I have managed to save £12k towards a flat, the govt will turn that into 15k with the help of something called a help to buy ISA. The parents have recently inherited and so would be able to assist as well but even then I am only 50% of the way towards the cost of a 1 bed flat within commutable distance of London.

    I could move elsewhere in the country but the majority of the jobs in my industry are in London and I’ve just started a job in the middle of central London so I can hardly move elsewhere in the short term. If I rented I would be paying someone else’s mortgage. I could get my own mortgage but being single there is always the danger that if I lost my job I could lose all of the savings.

    The whole ‘delayed adulthood’ thing does get me down. Every penny I can muster is going into my savings account. There is not an avocado in sight!

  65. JM in England

    Re #4

    In the UK’s Royal Navy, serving sailors on a ship have to ask the captain’s permission to grow beards. If it’s granted, you have to grow the “full set” ie beard and moustache and not just the moustache.

  66. rolling

    Katie/Bob: That guy needs a verbal filter. He probably meant it as a compliment, but it’s also probably sexist because he is saying that his associations with the name “Katie” are not as serious/competent as his associations with the word “Bob.”

  67. leah

    For what it is worth, in other countries, several generations of a family live together. Because in America, we push for kids to go to college, get a good job, get married, buy a house, and have a family, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that if you don’t do every one of those things in that order, you’re failing at life. But the standard of living has changed a lot in the last two decades for Americans and sometimes it is just not possible or practical for a kid to move out.

  68. s0nicfreak

    OP1: Why would your boss assume it’s your mother? It could be your friend, your girlfriend, your cousin, your roomate, your personal assistant, etc. etc. etc.

    Unless she’s announcing she’s your mother when she answers the phone? In which case you can ask her to stop that.

  69. CanCan

    #1 – People live with their parents for lots of reasons. Saving up is one. Parent needing care is another. Parents saving up and/or not having a huge retirement fund. Parents helping with care for the grandchildren. Parents being lonely.

    You could look at it as you parents living with you, rather than you living with them.

    I’m 35 and I live with my parents and child. We just bought a house together (with contributions from all to the down payment and mortgage payments). They drive my son to/from school. (My commute is over an hour already.) We all cook (some of us cook less but do groceries) and do the chores.

    I do engage with the rest of the world outside of work. The only way in which my personal life is not “put together” is that I’m single. But that’s because I like it that way, and it’s not anybody’s business and has nothing to do with my ability to do my job.

  70. Wren

    The beard question reminds me of what I’ve heard about my city’s police service (may be outdated info,) which is that when they began allowing officers to sport facial hair at all, they still had the requirement that you couldn’t be stubbly on the job; that is, the facial hair needed to well grown in, and any phase between clean shaven and fully grown in had to happen on days off.

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