should I take a job working for my dad?

A reader writes:

After almost a decade of working in one industry, I am totally burnt out and desperately longing for a career change. This industry is fairly difficult to get out of (very specific skillset not easily transferable to other jobs) without going back to school, which I don’t have the money for at the moment.

I’ve been offered a great opportunity to work for my father, who owns a small business in a completely unrelated field. The job would pay well, offer a fair amount of flexibility (working from home is an option), and give me skills/work experience that would theoretically allow me to pursue a different career path than the one I’m stuck in right now.

However, I know there are a lot of potential problems that come with working for a) such a small company (five employees total) and b) family members. I’m already struggling with how to navigate certain less desirable aspects of the job — how do you maintain work/life balance when your boss is also your dad? Now I’m wondering if there are other pitfalls I should be aware of before I go ahead with this job offer. Do you have advice as to any major pitfalls to watch out for or things I should clarify up-front with my dad before I start working for him?

Noooo, don’t do it.

Or at least, put a ton of effort into exploring other options before you decide this one is really the best one for you.

There are a ton of downsides to working for a parent, and those downsides are magnified a million times over when the company is only five people:

* It’s very unlikely that your dad is going to give you the same kind of professional development that you’d get working for a good, non-parent manager — meaning things like rigorous and honest feedback.

* You are going to be seen by everyone as the boss’s daughter first and foremost. People are going to be cagey about what they say around you, may assume that you only have your job because you’re his kid (and may not respect you much as a result), will assume favoritism whether or not it’s really there, and may resent you for what they figure are special privileges or special access. It’s not a great dynamic for the non-family-members working there.

* It’s going to change your relationship with your dad. It’s possible this change could be good (deeper understanding of each other, more time together), but it’s possible this change could be bad (frustrations and friction from work spilling into your relationship, spending enough time together at work that social time together is much less appealing, etc.).

* Work disagreements are going to be personal. It’s a rare person who doesn’t have days (or weeks or months) when they’re really frustrated with their boss. That’s normal. But that person will be your dad, and it’s going to feel way more personal (and may push emotional buttons that a non-relative boss would have a harder time pushing).

* You’re going to be emotionally invested in a way that won’t always be healthy. If the business is struggling, you’re going to feel that in a whole different way than if you weren’t working for family. That stress will be your stress. And if you look around and realize things aren’t going well and it would be in your best interests to leave, that may be hard to do because you’ll feel like you’re abandoning a family member right when they most need support.

* It’s going to be really hard to get a reference from this job in the future. Employers are not going to put any weight on a reference from your dad. The longer you stay there, the more this will matter (because if it’s a multi-year portion of your career, future employers are going to want to talk to your manager there). If you’re thinking you could solve this by reporting to someone who isn’t your dad, let me tell you what a crappy position that person would be in, managing their boss’s daughter.

To be clear, I can see why taking this job sounds appealing. You’re burned out where you are and you want a career change, and this is an easy path out! But you will be doing your future self a huge favor if you thoroughly explore other options rather than just jumping into this one because it’s an easy escape.

{ 164 comments… read them below }

  1. CupcakeCounter*

    If your long-term goal is to take over your father’s business then I would say this is probably a good idea. For anything other than that, I would nope right out of there (or only take it on as a contract position while taking a breather and looking for another full time position).

    1. wittyrepartee*

      Yeah, this was my feeling too. This kind of thing worked okay for hundreds of years, but there was an expectation that eventually it became your business, and even then there tended to be a lot of tension between generations on how the business was run.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      That’s what I came here to say. I see that working for your dad could be damaging to other career prospects, but if you’re going to take over his business, then it’s a good opportunity if it’s the right business for you to be in long-term. (And a good fit with your interests and skills.) I think you actually have to get to the point where you’re running the business, and then you could sell it and potentially have other career options, but if you bail out halfway through, it could be a challenge to get into a 3rd career.

      [Side note – my husband wants my son to do this, and my son says he wants to. He’s a junior in college now. I think it’s a bad idea.]

      1. valentine*

        Dad could be thirty years from handing it over, unable to let go, or planning to work there or to be involved until he dies, and selling it could be a massive betrayal.

        Resist, OP. Don’t work for family. What if you have to report your dad to HR? (Which I doubt he has or is another family member. *shudder*)

        1. It's the Internet. Stuff Happens.*

          It’s a company with five employees total. There’s no HR, I’d bet.

        2. LawBee*

          Jiro Dreams of Sushi – his sons have worked for him for literally decades, expecting him to retire. He will never retire. Ever. You can see the frustration on their faces when they talk about how their expectations have not exactly come to fruition.

          1. Not A Manager*

            IIRC, the younger son was lucky enough that tradition and social expectations allowed him to open his own place. Older son is stuck.

          2. selena81*

            And dad does NOT want advice on how to run things (‘most customers do not like it when you stare at them when they eat’) so there isn’t even much of an inheritance to look forward to
            *shudder*

        3. lammmm*

          This is where my boyfriend is at. Starting working at his dad’s shop to help him out turned into him being made part owner with the intention of him taking over the business when his dad retires. Only his dad is 65 and showing no signs of retiring anytime soon.

        4. Mariama*

          I think there are people looking to the U.S. President as an example, where children go to university to study whatever will help them benefit in working in the family business, in order to continue it to the next generations, as he did from his father. Outside the U.S., it is also still “a thing” often, that children demonstrate their honor and respect for parents for doing this; even among first-generation Americans with immigrant parents. In such cases, it’s a norm that is a really big deal to break, and would probably result in equal, if not more tension and problems if the OP decided not to work for their father’s company.

          1. selena81*

            It’s different for millionaire families, but for middle-class families the tradition is in decline worldwide: the baker and carpenter are no longer expecting their kids to base their entire life around this less-then-10-employees company.

      2. Eeyore's missing tail*

        What about suggesting that son work elsewhere for a while? You could frame it as son is going out to get new ideas and perspectives and can bring those back to the business later. You still secretly hope he falls in love with something else. :)

      3. askyermom*

        Oh, my. I’ve worked for several family businesses and it has never been a healthy dynamic.
        Best case, a child goes out into the working world and brings valuable perspective to the family business later on, and everyone somehow manages to keep any dysfunction from blooming into the business from the family side. I haven’t observed that, but it must have happened for some folks.
        What usually happens is the child is favored or berated out of proportion, and eventually you never see the parent and child in the same room.
        Maybe just take the arrangement for a temporary test drive with both eyes on all the hazards.

        1. TardyTardis*

          And there may be privileges that the LW doesn’t see, but that the other workers do (worked for a large concern run by a family, and people with the right last name really did get special treatment).

    3. Yikes Dude*

      I had that exact reaction but with more optimism about the “middle route.” LW should only permanently work there if they want to take over the business, but they also shouldn’t undervalue the opportunity to be able to take a year to job search and develop basic transferrable skills. It’s pretty rare to be able to tell the “hiring manager” directly that you see this job as a pit-stop and learning opportunity without it being weird. When you’re moving on. the built-in explanation for outside hiring managers is pretty good too “I wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about the family business, but what I learned is that I love .”

  2. JokeyJules*

    I have worked for my dad and it went great! We both managed to maintain personal and professional boundaries.

    Don’t do it. It’s a lot of work for it to go well.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ooooh, as someone with firsthand experience, will you tell the letter writer more about the amount of work involved and what it took for you?

      1. JokeyJules*

        I worked for my dad’s organization twice.

        The first time, I was much more removed from him in my day-to-day work, so it was a lot easier to pretend he didn’t even work there. The only obstacles were ensuring my coworkers weren’t treating me differently because of my dad (they all found out immediately, we share the same unique last name), and hearing people who weren’t a huge fan of him talk about him. It was hard to hear people complain and criticize about him and his work because 1. he’s my dad and i think he’s the best! and 2. because i’ve been watching him pull 75-hour weeks for 20 years for the organization, so hearing people imply they think he is lazy or not doing enough or grumpy sometimes was very hard. I definitely had a bit of a bias from that, and it was hard for me to listen to people make those remarks. I will say though, after experience with other managers, i’ve told my dad he should be more conscientious of his tone and wording when talking to the people he manages. That was a fun conversation (not).

        the second time was different because he was my grandboss and he would find out about things that I should have just been telling him myself but didn’t want to because i knew it would throw him through a loop personally and professionally. The person who was supposed to come in and relieve my shift would come in 30-45 minutes late regularly, my add found out immediately because I’d be late home for dinner (I’m the epitome of you can call me anything you want except late for dinner). I know he would have reacted the same way if the other staff had brought this to his attention, but they were choosing not to.

        For the most part, coming to the mutual agreement to maintain a very professional relationship at work and not discuss work at home was what made it work at all, but that is a lot of work to stay conscientious about. Thankfully, we did it successfully and still have a great relationship!

        1. JokeyJules*

          Also, calling him “Ken” instead of dad was weird and took getting used to. And correcting people when they called him “your dad”.

          1. CD*

            As some who currently, and for the last 7 years has directly or indirectly worked for the same LARGE (think more than 1000 total global employees) company as my father, I agree with everything you just said.

            My father has been in a completely different department than me, and we have had no interaction, to being my actual direct boss. He is now my grandboss, and around work friends who know our relationship I often call him BossDad. One thing that has helped me is that I no longer share his last name thanks to changing mine after getting married, and since we do work for such a large company, we are required to not be in DIRECT reporting lines. It is important to note that when he became my direct boss, we were working for a smaller “family owned” private business. So there was LOTS of nepotism to go around.

            But yes, never work for a relative if you can help it unless your end goal is to take over what they do.

          2. Gumby*

            Heh, both of my parents were teachers at schools I attended – Dad in elementary school (K-6), Mom high school (9 – 12). My father would not respond if I called him Dad at work – it was always Mr. [Lastname]. He also didn’t respond if I called him Mr. [Lastname] at home. I got used to that fairly quickly but I am not sure if I could do the first name thing.

            (I didn’t really call my mom Mrs. [Lastname] at school because I was never in her class though I had friends who were.)

          3. Mine Own Telemachus*

            I just want to add my own couple of cents here, as someone with an analogous but not quite relationship. My parents were teachers and my dad was the principal of my elementary school. While I had special privileges in some regards (I was often the first kid at the school and often had the run of the place when it wasn’t school hours), we had very specific rules for how we behaved and interacted during school hours, one of which was that I was to call him Mr. [Last Name], just like every other kid in the school.

            It was an incredibly effective way of ensuring that not only I saw him with authority in the school building, but that other students or even the teachers wouldn’t see him as favoring his own kids. It made it so that if I acted up in class, teachers had zero problems telling me to go see the principal, because he’d established that boundary and distance. That name thing is so tiny and yet SO important.

        2. askyermom*

          Yes!! Don’t talk about home at work and work at home, when you’re working with relatives, except for emergencies.

          1. JokeyJules*

            YES! it was so so hard to come up with stuff to talk about at the dinner table because you can’t really ask “how was your day?” when you cant discuss work, the only the you did that day.

        3. Reynolds*

          Slightly tangential funny story–my family’s last name is Reynolds. My father once upon a time worked for Reynolds Metals though our Reynolds family is of no relation (that we know of ) to the Reynolds Metals brand family. But when he worked there and introduced himself he always saw a slight hesitation from people when they heard his last name and had to give the “no relation.”

          I did get called “ReynoldsWrap” in a possibly attempted bullying when I was in middle school? But really aluminum foil doesn’t give much mileage for bullying.

          1. JokeyJules*

            our family name is unique enough that people assume everyone they’ve ever met with the same last name must be related to us. My great grandfather had 13 brothers, his father had a similar amount of brothers – all with the same last name as mine, and it’s a fairly common European name. It’s likely but i don’t know any of them at all.

      2. Dysana*

        I also worked for mine and it went really well, but it was a lot of hard work.
        I had to deal with being the boss’s daughter and it took about 2 years for me to fully develop my own reputation based off my skills and abilities, not my last name. I wasn’t working directly under him, which helped – we had an extra layer in there.
        We didn’t have many issues in terms of disagreements but I had the luxury of having other management I could bring my concerns to rather than having him as the only boss.
        It had the extra bonus of us working really well together. We had a few big projects that we collaborated on and were able to work really quickly and effectively on things that needed a fast turn around. We achieved a lot that I’m really proud of.
        Lastly, when you decide to move on to a new role elsewhere, there’s an extra level of difficulty and sadness in leaving. And he had to deal with people asking how I was doing just about every day after I left!

        We’re still very close and I don’t regret it.

      3. WorksForMe*

        I worked for/with my dad early in my career, and it was a small company, but it wasn’t his company, so that made it a lot easier. (The way the reporting relationship worked was, he was a senior technical specialist and an employee; he was assigned to a large, long-term project for which his company brought on a contractor, who in turn subcontracted me as support staff. For part of the project, I supported the contractor, and for part of the project, I supported my dad directly. When that project finished, I set up a contract directly with his employer to continue similar work on other projects. I reported directly to the same manager as my dad. For some of the projects I was working directly for the company and for other projects I was working as a support to my dad.)

        It was a small office and most people found out eventually that he was my dad, but because 1. he wasn’t a manager and 2. I was an independent contractor and didn’t report to him, it didn’t get too weird. I don’t think there were any strange power dynamics that anyone was worried about.

        We made a point to be professional at work and not focus on our existing relationship, but if it came up socially we didn’t deny it.

        It was very weird to address him by his first name at work, and I mostly tried to avoid it :) but I did make sure to use his first name when talking about him with others, just to signal to them that when we’re at work, I consider him a co-worker.

        He also made sure to publicly treat me the same as anyone else with my level of experience. He did give me advice and little hints here and there, but it seemed to me that it was the same kind of professional advice and mentoring that most senior people would give to most newbies.

        When we weren’t at work, we didn’t really talk about it, other than if one of us had to put in some overtime, or some brief complaining about the software crashing or something. (That’s pretty normal for both of us though; when I was growing up he basically never talked about work at home either.)

        It worked really well for us, but I think we had a couple of advantages that the OP doesn’t have, in that I wasn’t working FOR him, and in fact he didn’t have any real managerial responsibilities for anyone, so no-one was threatened by me being there. Also we already had the kind of understanding that “at work, we’re professionals, and we don’t bring work home” without having to talk about it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did too — worked for my dad (in a business that was him and his co-owner, me and a part time delivery driver) for two and a half years, while also still living with my parents. Then I moved across the country and pretty much didn’t talk to him for five years while we both recovered.

      1. SherBert*

        And your last statement, Red, is the reason why not. It might go really well… or you might not talk to your dad for five years….
        I have family who work together and know others who work with their families. I have seen relationships irreparably (maybe) broken. Others still seem ok. It is not a chance I would be willing to take (unless as someone else said, I was being groomed to take over perhaps… perhaps).

        1. Jadelyn*

          I’ve worked with my mom before and it worked out okay – but it was very early in my career (while I was still in college), it was a temporary job doing accounting clerk work where I absolutely knew I didn’t know anything and needed to take direction from everyone including my mom. And it was short-term enough, and low-stakes enough, that nobody got fussy about my being there only because of my mom, and I was done with the job and out before there was time for anything to go wrong.

          I love my mom dearly, we work together well (both at that job, and at volunteer things we’ve done together in the past), but I wouldn’t take a job working directly under her.

          1. JokeyJules*

            yep, both times I worked for my dad, we all agreed that this was something we all wanted to end as soon as possible. It was always a “you need a job and i need a qualified employee for the short-term” type of thing. if i wasn’t qualified, i know my dad would have never.

          2. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Same as Jadelyn, I worked part-time for my mom during summers in high school and college, although she was only third in command, not the owner of the company. It worked out really well because my mom is a saint (many other non-relatives confirm this) but also has no qualms about letting people know, especially her relatives, when they are doing things that are unacceptable. It was excellent training for me as an employee. And while occasionally I did do tasks for her, I wasn’t directly under her command and worked with other people at the company more often. (And I didn’t know it at the time but I was apparently an excellent employee because I actually did the things people asked me to do. I didn’t realize that that was unusual.)

            And I pretty quickly started calling her by her first name when at work, which probably helped people forget I was her daughter. Maybe.

            So, OP, I think you maybe could work for your dad if he’s awesome and you have a great, mature relationship with him, but my situation was definitely different because it was only part-time while I was in school. I have no idea how it would have worked out if I’d been there are a full-time employee. (It probably would have been fine but who’s to say?)

    3. Tamz*

      I did too! It was my first professional job and set me off on a great career trajectory. It did put a strain on our relationship at times but overall we came out of it closer than ever, and with newfound respect for each other.

      It was difficult for all the reasons Alison outlined, but if you go in with eyes wide open then you can manage these somewhat. For me it also helped that I had the right professional qualifications and skill set to thrive in a job like that anywhere – it was obvious to everyone that I was good at my job and that I wasn’t getting a free ride.

      My tips would be:
      1 set a professional tone from the start and work on maintaining a good family relationship outside of work.
      2 build up your external networks and strong relationships with clients, to counteract the nepotism vibe
      3 have a clear career goal in mind for your next step so that when people say ‘are you gonna take over the business’ you can say ‘no, I want to get to a, b, c goals’

    4. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I also worked for my dad, and parallel to my mom (2 separate jobs) and I didn’t have issues either time. People definitely knew who I was both times since I grew up in both of their workplaces, but honestly it was fine.

      I think if OP wants to use working for their dad as a break while transitioning jobs, they should go for it. I think in general working for/with family is going to vary a lot based on your individual relationships and workstyles, so OP should definitely think about that on a personal level.

      But honestly I would go for it.

  3. Anonymous Poster*

    Yeah I’d be really leery of the career impacts here. Maybe if you’re going to school to retool your skill set it might be worth it, since that’s like hitting reset on your career, but people will still want to talk to your manager at your most recent job which would be… Dad. Awkward.

    I get the burnout. Maybe you’ll be better off taking a job with a competitor with better business practices, if at all possible, or start to retool your skills now when you have a manager that’s not related to you to use as a reference?

    But overall in addition to the weirdness of working on a family venture now, it’ll be very difficult to ever punch out later on. I’d wonder what sort of preferential treatment you received while there. Note I didn’t say ‘if’ you received preferential treatment, I’d just assume it’s there simply because you’re the owner’s kid.

    Best of luck! I hope you find success finding a way out of your burnout and not into a potentially worse situation.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think if she is seriously considering going to school it actually makes it more understandable. Yes, it’s a family business, but it was temporary / transitional because of going back to school. Plus, wouldn’t there likely be an internship with school at some point that may help mitigate the ‘working at the family business’ thing?

      IDK? I don’t think this is the best course of action, but I can see how it would be appealing as a way to pivot. But it really depends on a number of things and having a well thought-out plan, and not just jumping in because of being burned-out.

  4. wittyrepartee*

    I guess, the other questions are:
    How interested would you be in taking over his business when he retires?
    What is your relationship like now?

    I think I’d be happy to have my dad as a boss. I would not be able to work with my mother as my boss. Personality matters a lot here.

    1. Sally*

      So true! It did not go well when my dad taught me how to ski and then years later, how to drive. It didn’t matter that he was a good teacher for everyone else; we were like oil and water. Fortunately, it’s much better now that we have both gotten older.

    2. Stikks-N-String*

      True! My dad and I had a lot of issues when we worked together, because we often butt heads personally and it spilled over into our work relationship, and eventually it ended when I quit on the spot because he took a patient’s word over mine (patient was famous for obviously lying about things employees said in order to get what they want – “She promised me a 50% discount!” when policy was never to promise more than 10% without asking Dad for approval sort of stuff – so I was really hurt that he believed her lie and not my truth). It only lasted about 2 years before I quit. But I’ve worked with my mother in multiple jobs (we have complementary skill sets so she likes to hire me as her second) and while we have a tendency to bicker, for the most part we get along great. Just because it’s impossible to work with one parent doesn’t mean you won’t work really well with the other.

    3. Elaine*

      I agree. I could easily have seen myself working with my father, but not my mother. The personality match/mismatch makes a big difference on whether this would work.

      Do you and your parent respect one another? Do you each carefully consider the other’s point of view before taking action? Are both of you willing to change your mind based on facts? Are your approaches to work compatible? (See today’s letter about Cynthia and Jessica.) Do both of you have the self-discipline not to mix home and work life? Etc.

      Even if the answers are all “yes” you still have the issue of references from Dad for your next job or jobs.

      I suspect it is much more likely that working for Dad won’t end well, and it’s a big chance to take. Still, every situation is different because every parent/child pair is different. It might work for you. It did for others commenting on this post!

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      I agree. My dad is so compartmentalized and I take after him, that he and I could have a very good working relationship. Especially if clear boundaries were drawn from the beginning. He was the type of dad who didn’t even let us kids getting in trouble affect his actions and affections to us. Once he yelled or said what was on his mind out loud, the frustration disappeared. I am also like this and would rather you just say “I’m frustrated you did this.” and then we discuss.

      My mom on the other hand…no thank you!

      Only OP knows if it would really work once they really take a look at things, determine boundaries, ask more questions about how things would work. I like another commenters suggestion about taking it on as contract while looking for something else. That gives them the skills they say they need without a long term “I’m stuck working for my dad.” It also might give the other employees a better idea that this adult child isn’t coming in with any entitlement or heavy favoritism.

  5. animaniactoo*

    Do not work for dad unless you plan on taking OVER from dad at some point in the future. Do not do it.

    Do not work for dad if dad would be your direct supervisor. At the least, you need to be able to have distance between you and dad for most day to day stuff – at the very least in the beginning while you are working this stuff out and training and people need to see a disconnect between you and dad. So if you DO end up working for dad, make sure that you structure this so that you are not immediately in each other’s pockets from appearances and actuality.

    Among not being in each other’s pockets: Don’t go to lunch, or eat lunch together, with dad every day. Maybe once a week. And if you do it at all, make sure you make a point to do it with your other co-workers without dad present, and to not talk about dad or what dad thinks from your perspective as much as possible. Maybe at some point down the line you can do it. But not now.

    1. CastIrony*

      I work with a close relative, and that’s all who I eat with at lunch. Otherwise, I’d eat alone, though that’s only about a couple times a week.

      I do agree that the rung distance helps, too. It’s never been a secret at my job, but my relative and I just work and push each other to get things done.

  6. Laura H.*

    It’s a good last resort/ not most favorable but still on the table option.

    But it should just be an option, not the be all end all…

    I personally would take that jump- given that you’re having burnout issues, and that you’ve got an out. But I would think long and hard about the downsides to this. I’m not sure this is entirely a ‘don’t do it’ scenario.

    1. wittyrepartee*

      One of my friends’ parents have a family restaurant. There’s lots of stress that comes from working with her family (especially because her mom wanted to set her up on dates with customers), but I think having a fallback like that is something to be envied.

      But yes, taking a sick day or taking a vacation can be much more stressful when you’re working for your parents.

  7. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Are you looking for this job with your dad to be a career change or are you looking to work while you decide what you want to do?
    Is there a way to take this job as a training job, where you are open with the staff that you are learning the business so it won’t look like you decided to take the “easy way” to the top. The quotes are because that is the perception you want to avoid.
    If you are not looking to take over the company, but you are looking to work in that field, I don’t think it’s a great plan. It’s not going to build the references and work relationships you need and it might hold you back. If you plan to step in and step up, then go for it, if you are sure you want to run a company. But if you want to step in and do a job, find somewhere else.

  8. Essess*

    If you decide to do this, you need a written contract with your father about job roles/responsibilities, expectations, and boundaries, including the arrangements for working from home. What amount of hours per week is he expecting, hours of availability (is he expecting you to be at his beck and call every hour of the day and night since you’re ‘family’)? What will be the actual salary/benefits? Make sure all of this is in writing as an actual job offer rather than a verbal promise or you will end up being taken advantage of or have some promises be conveniently forgotten. Since it is family, you’d be less likely to want to push back on broken promises or report any wage violations so you could end up with a very bad experience.

    Think about any other times when you’d had to work closely with your father (such as any joint projects like home repairs, car repair, other hobbies, or even vacation trips). Was he reasonable, or did he tend to be domineering? Expect this type of dynamic to continue if he is your boss.

    1. Essess*

      Thinking on this more, I think it would also be good to include in the contract a probation period for both of you. After x months, you will both meet together to discuss how the job is going and allow either of you to opt out without the other becoming angry or betrayed if one of you feels that this situation is working well.

  9. CowWhiperer*

    Oh, God, please don’t. I married into a farming family in a farming community and have watched 5 families implode in the last seven years – including my husband and my in-laws.

    Everything Allison says is realistic – and really think about how much you value your father as a father rather than a boss because there’s a huge chance that you’ll have to pick one or the other.

  10. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Regarding references, yes, you can’t really offer your parent as a reference to a future employer after working for the family business. So you do what you do when you’re a freelancer or otherwise self-employed: use clients and/or professional colleagues as references for that period in your career.

    I don’t see what industry this family business is, but if it’s construction, then a reference would be a happy subcontractor or client. Restaurant? Maybe a supplier, or someone whose event the restaurant catered.

    Seriously, when someone needs to pay their bills or move along in their life to be happy, focusing too hard on “oh, no, what do I do about references in the future” is not something that should be a huge factor in making the decision.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s a bigger deal than that though. If she works there for a substantial chunk of time, it’s going to put her at a disadvantage with many employers not to have a managerial reference for her work there. I’ll talk to a client or subcontractor if I have to, but I’m going to put way less weight on it than I will on a manager reference … and if this is her only job in that field and/or I have other strong candidates who are finalists too, it does have the potential to be a problem. If I am absolutely enthralled by her a candidate, maybe I’ll overlook it — but if I’m on the fence about her versus someone else, it’s going to disadvantage her.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes. since the LW’s goal is to gain “skills/work experience that would theoretically allow [her] to pursue a different career path,” she putting herself in a bad position. She may well learn these skills, but with her dad as her reference she’s not going to have a supervisor to validate them.

        That’s is honestly the biggest warning flag I see that the LW isn’t quite thinking clearly because this looks like such a great opportunity when it leave her stuck in a different situation that she will have a even harder time getting out of.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I guess it would disadvantage her with you, but honestly I think that it’s not the wisest course of action to circular-file a resume just because someone comes from a small, family-owned business. If someone co-runs or is, like, second-in-command at a successful family business, that should be proof in and of itself that the person is a decent manager. Some ridiculously large percentage of businesses in the U.S. are small, family-owned businesses — and I mean in the high 80% or low 90% area.

        After a stint temping and then getting laid off from a tech start-up in the 1990s, I had decent success co-running a small business for about a decade. The length of time we were able to keep the business running, as well as our client list including Fortune 500 companies, was itself a reference as to my business acumen and how well I could manage employees and subcontractors. It doesn’t make sense to me that my resume immediately after leaving the business (I left for personal reasons, and the business stayed active and successful for several years afterward) wouldn’t pass muster simply because I couldn’t list my business co-owner as a reference.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But I’m not rejecting someone over it. I’m saying I would put less weight on those references, and that’s going to be a problem if she’s not able to come up with other people I can talk to who were in a position to directly evaluate her work. That doesn’t mean she couldn’t overcome that — but it does mean the bar is going to be higher for her in other ways, and that can be a real problem for a candidate who’s, say, pretty good but not stellar.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            Well, a candidate who isn’t stellar is a candidate who isn’t stellar.

            I think a client, subcontractor, or professional colleague is, in fact, totally in a position to directly evaluate the work of someone who works for a family business, though. This is why I suggested that the LW do what self-employed people and freelancers do rather than worry about not being able to use her father as a professional reference. Anyway, in a world where so many previous employers will answer reference calls with just “yes, I can confirm that they worked here from startdate to endate,” I’d almost prefer to have a client/contractor/colleague speak to my actual work, rather than have a past employer simply confirm that I had some butt-in-seat time with them.

            1. dontremembername*

              Was with you on the end points, but most workers aren’t close to stellar. And That should be ok?

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                But when I’m hiring, I’m looking for stellar. That won’t be the case for every job, but it’s the case for a lot of them.

                Glomarization, Esq.: Some clients are in a position to do that. A lot aren’t. I agree that there’s no value in an employer confirming butt-in-seat time, but that’s not what a good reference checker is looking for.

                1. dontremembername*

                  Oh, I was supporting your message. You might be looking for the best but are realistic and that’s where different parts of the int process come in. Where as Glomerization was sort of saying the best isn’t the best and that is that.

          2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

            I’m curious. Who would you take as a reference from someone who ran their own business? I’m thinking of a friend who had a start-up, ran it for 5 years, and was bought out be giant tech firm. She doesn’t have a manager as a reference because she was the big boss.

        2. LQ*

          I feel like highlighting that % is a big red herring here. This isn’t about OP working for a small family owned business owned by you, or OP working for them-self. It’s about OP working for OP’s dad when OP doesn’t want to take over that business and do that work for their dad until the business gets handed down to them. Which is a very different kind of scenario.

          1. Legal Beagle*

            Exactly. The issue is not “I work for a small business,” it’s “my manager is my dad.” Your parent will never be a credible professional reference for you.

            1. Glomarization, Esq.*

              … which is why I stated: you can’t really offer your parent as a reference to a future employer after working for the family business. So you do what you do when you’re a freelancer or otherwise self-employed: use clients and/or professional colleagues as references for that period in your career.

              1. Emilia Bedelia*

                But a client or colleague is also never going to be as credible a professional reference as a manager. They just don’t have the same visibility to an employee’s work, and their interactions will be fundamentally different from a manager’s.

                A client may say “She did amazing work for us! We loved her because she dropped everything to take our calls!” while the manager would say “Does great work, but has trouble prioritizing”. A colleague might say “She’s always friendly and pleasant! She always got the work done, no matter what it takes!” while the manager would say “Socializes too much, and then works overtime to finish the work that should have not taken a full day to finish”.
                (on the other hand, a colleague might say “I don’t really know what she did, I guess she did a great job on this one project…” while a manager would say “Great support player – I can always rely on them to do the unglamourous, not so visible jobs that helped to keep the business running”)

                Colleagues and clients have a valuable and different perspective than a manager would, but a hiring manager wants to hear how the person is as an employee, and not having a manager as a credible professional reference is a big risk to the LW in the future.

                Plus, there are a lot of fields where “clients” are not really a thing, and personally I have never been in a position to know enough about my colleague’s workloads to have any kind of reasonable opinion on their performance. Using them as references really just can’t bridge the gap.

                1. Glomarization, Esq.*

                  not having a manager as a credible professional reference is a big risk to the LW in the future

                  I disagree that it’s a “big risk.” I think, rather, that (1) it’s only a potential issue that may come up; (2) it’s possible for most people to paper around in one way or another, as I’ve discussed in my other comments on this sub-thread; and (3) in any event, it’s not a very important factor to consider when the choice to work for family might come up. The other factors that Alison listed in her original response are all far more important. Personally I wouldn’t make it a deciding factor, for myself, if a family member invited me to work in their business; but everybody will have to make those kinds of decisions themselves.

        3. Name Required*

          I think your situation is different though because you co-owned the business. If you were the sole owner, you’d use the same client list as references, so I’m not sure that you were at a disadvantage to leave a co-owner off. If the OP is working for her dad in a position that is not C-Suite level (or the equivalent level within the business), then the expectations are a little different when she goes to her next job.

          I do think Alison’s advice on family-business references being not-done is a bit regional, though. My experience is this is frowned on a lot less in rural areas, because you might not have a job if you weren’t working with family.

        4. Tammy*

          Yeah, that’s not what Alison is saying. I applied for my first job at CurrentCompany after running a consulting business for 10+ years with my ex-spouse. And when it came time for reference checks, the recruiter, the hiring manager and I had a conversation about exactly the issue Alison highlights. We ended up being able to solve it, but that’s only because I was willing and able to let several of my former clients provide professional references for me. My ex-spouse being a reference wouldn’t have worked for my company, even though my ex and I are on relatively amicable terms. And that’s totally reasonable – I’d want the same objective evaluation of someone’s skills if I was interviewing them, and you can’t get that from a family member.

          Also, to your comment that “if someone co-runs or is, like, second-in-command at a successful family business, that should be proof in and of itself that the person is a decent manager?” Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of letters in the AAM archives that demonstrate that isn’t true.

      3. Cassandra*

        My sister worked for our father after her post-grad-degree job hunt hit a snag (for reasons AAM readers would absolutely recognize). The family surname is quite distinctive; it was obvious at a glance that she and he were related.

        Not only did it not help her, it hurt her — made her search even longer and more painful than it already was. She didn’t even start getting interviews until I made her take Dad out of her reference list. (In fairness: this was far from the only change her app materials needed!) I’m with Alison on this; parents are not credible references.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          I literally wrote: you can’t really offer your parent as a reference to a future employer after working for the family business, and then offered an honest work-around.

  11. Sally*

    Even though I’ve read your answers to this type of question before, the way you spelled it out for this OP makes it SO clear that this is a BAD idea.

  12. AnotherAlison*

    After some more thought, aside from taking over the business, I see a few other opportunities where this could work out positively. . .

    Let’s say OP wants to get into bookkeeping or marketing, and she can do this for Dad’s small business, and get connected to a network of other small businesses to freelance for. Once she has experience in the family business, she can expand to working within their network, and THEN she has some references and experience that could be marketable.

    But, I would also consider the family dynamic and if it’s going to be worth it. One time, my dad hired my husband as a sub on a side project house build that my dad was doing (not his primary career). After the fact, he told my husband he was going to pay him by gifting stock he owned to our son. My husband was like, “Nope,” and got paid, but he also hired a neighbor’s son who was unemployed and paid him more for not-professional quality tile work. My husband is a master electrician with his own business.

    1. valentine*

      I hope you told your dad how wrong he was and that he’s the one who hired the neighbor’s son.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yeah, my dad was the one who hired my neighbor’s son. I’ve since learned that my dad is generally a selfish jerk in many ways. This was about 15 years ago. Dad is a narcissist. It doesn’t do much good to talk to him.

  13. Cucumberzucchini*

    I rarely disagree with Alison, but in this case I say that the job. You don’t have to stay there forever but you say you’re burnt out. Use this as an opportunity to get better pay and maybe work somewhere that won’t be such a burn out.

    Working with family is challenging. I have worked with family where they are a client of my business. I have worked with the same family member twice. The first time is went TERRIBLE. It seriously damaged my relationship with this family member. It took several years to repair that relationship. We started working together three year ago for the second time. This time it’s going really well.

    Here’s what changed on my end:

    1 – I emotionally detached myself from the work the second go around. Previously I would get to invested in the decisions and outcomes and really want my family member to listen to my expertise. This lead to major screamfests and we would escalate each other. By not being invested in the work I could bring up areas of concern but ultimately accept what the family member wanted to do without getting up. This actually led to the family member being much more open to my ideas in the long run.

    2 – I really worked on my communication (in general, not just for this family member). I’m much better at navigating trickier situations this time and being more diplomatic. A LOT of that improvement has come from reading this blog.

    3 – My family member has become better at managing their own emotions as well. I’ve noticed that in my personal relationship with them which made me more open to working with them again.

    As far as getting a reference for when you’d move on, if you have the same last name it’s going to be challenging but nobody needs to know the reference is coming from your Dad. I know that’s not 100% ethical but as long as the reference is accurate and not biases I think it’s fine. But rarely do you use your current job as a reference for your next job so it probably won’t even come in to play until you are ready to move on a second time.

    Personally I could never work with my Dad. But it’s because it’s got a terrible temper, and is a very difficult person in general. But if your Dad is a reasonable person, seems like a good boss to his other employees and doesn’t invade your space in your personal space/maintains appropriate boundaries now, it very well could work out fine.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I was surprised by her definitive NO answer myself. I think it depends on too many factors to be a clear NO to this situation. If OP can be honest with her dad, and he with her, and they have a CLEAR understanding of what both of them want from this situation (both immediately and in the future), it can work. But OP definitely needs to think long and hard about it before jumping in, especially if she’s only doing it to escape her current job.

  14. Apocalypse How*

    I talked to someone who showed just how badly this can go. (Interesting the things you hear striking up conversations with strangers at weddings.) This man’s family ran a funeral home, and he worked for his father with the assumption that he was going to take over the family business eventually. That came crashing down when he walked in on his father cheating with an employee. He was naturally angry with is father and wanted nothing to do with him anymore, but cutting off the relationship meant not only walking away from his job, but also walking away from the plan he had for his life since he was a teenager. He lost everything at once and it took a while for him to get back on his feet.

  15. Anoncorporate*

    Generally agree with Alison. The only way this could work is if you did part time work (like maybe some sort of administrative or office manager work) to earn money while continuing your job search. But not a job that takes away a full time role from someone else. As others have pointed out, unless you plan to take over the business, references from this company will not help.

  16. Mimi Me*

    My husband worked for his older cousin’s small trucking business. It was a nightmare. Things like holidays or family get-togethers were fraught with tension and comments like “this is the gift you gave me? I gave you a good Christmas bonus, I deserve a better gift than this!” (Yes, really happened!) It was a small business and incredibly stressful for my husband. He was miserable. After four years he decided to take a 50% paycut and go into a completely different field. The day he gave his notice his cousin literally flipped his desk over in rage. The extended family fractured at that point – sides were chosen and as my husband was the cousin without the big house and money he came out on the losing end. It’s been 10 years since he’s seen any of them – cousins, aunts, uncles – the whole lot. At least he’s been happier since he left that job. I literally worried for that last year that the stress was going to give him a heart attack.
    LW – Don’t do it. I know it seems like it would be an easy thing to do, but there’s so much more involved that you’re just not able to see.

    1. Ditto!*

      My sister’s spouse has a business with three full time employees and a couple dozen “call-in” part time employees ( think catering, lawn care, security, etc).

      Brother accepted a part time VP position and his wife accepted one of the full time positions.

      Within six months the accusations began about who said a snarky thing about someone else. Their personal argument about about this one time comment blew up to involve the entire family. Sister and spouse went nuclear- you’re either with us or against us, and sweet talked our parents onto their side. Years later, my very elderly, sick parents are finally willing to talk to family who were “on the other side”.

      This has resulted in some family members refusing to talk to each other or be in the same building. Once our parents have passed, my brother and I will most likely never talk to our sister and her family again.

      The weirdest thing is that I never saw any of this coming. I didn’t see any personality issues among them and thought this work arrangement would work out well. Instead, it destroyed my family.

  17. Organized Curiosity*

    I don’t envy the LW the situation. Being to the point of burnout is a terrible place to be and makes any other option look like a miracle cure (which, in the short term, could be the case). Nevertheless, I would proceed very cautiously (for all the reasons Allison mentions) unless you’re on the will-be-the-owner-one-day track. And I’ll add this: my father in-law is a wonderful human and a very successful CPA with an enviable private practice; my husband is a bio-chemist; this is for the best.

  18. Linzava*

    I worked for my mom for over 10 years. Our relationship is permanently strained and a part of me hates her and feels used almost 10 years later. She has been hinting for me to come back this whole time, which makes it worse.

    She fired me over something made up, by the way, like she fired me almost every year for some personal reason, and last time, I just didn’t go back. She also lied to the entire family, trying to get them to pressure me about it. I only found out last year when my sister told me mom was still hurt with how I left, again, I was fired. I pulled all the emails for my sister and she realized I was telling the truth.

    I now keep my distance from the family over the issue. It can go really, really fast and leave you without family support.

    PS, one of the times she fired me was because at 22, I was going out on a Friday night to hang with friends after working 8 hours. She slept in till noon and didn’t go in until 6 pm on a deadline day. She fired me because I refused to stay and work till midnight with her so she could have a gofer. (my work was complete)

      1. Linzava*

        Thanks. I understand why people go no contact, but it isn’t right for me. My therapist at the time encouraged me to keep contact because I’d be running into people like that my entire life and it’s better to learn to deal with them. It’s worked out for the best in my case.

  19. Lepidoptera*

    I worked WITH my dad, and even that was hard. With different departments, and different managers, and no direct reporting.

    Despite good intentions, it leads to unprofessional behavior all around. When I was downsized, they alerted him ahead of time and had him standing in the hall waiting for me to come out of the room where I got the news. I was fully prepared to keep it together, but seeing him come over and gather me into his arms made me burst into snot sobbing. I really resent HR for making that decision for me. I looked like a dumb kid (I was almost thirty).

    1. EtherIther*

      That is really a terrible thing for that HR to do! Getting laid off is hard, much less having family there like that. I’m sorry you went through that.

  20. Stikks-N-String*

    I’ve worked for my father before, two different times, and it’s really NOT a good idea unless you can REALLY separate your work and home relationships. AAM is right when she says that it WILL change your relationship – good or bad, it will change. I don’t regret doing it either time, but I was definitely seen as “teacher’s pet,” and it ruined a friendship I’d had with one of his employees that I very much liked and respected. He felt resentful of me and even now, 15 years later, things are awkward and strained between us. It can also be good, like, the job security is nice, and you know your dad will pay you fairly and like LW said, they can learn new skills and even work from home (which *might* alleviate the nepotism issue). My advice would be to have many many discussions with Dad about how this will work, what you’ll do if problems arise, how he’ll handle it if/when his employees complain about you to him (because they will, OH THEY WILL). And put an escape plan in place before you start working for him, that you can even share with him, so that if you have to hit the ABORT button there are no hard feelings.

    1. Stikks-N-String*

      Also, unlike the first poster above, I worked VERY closely with my father – he’s a dentist and I was his assistant. I’m happy to answer any questions about what it’s like to work literally forehead-to-forehead with your father.

        1. Stikks-N-String*

          It was… not optimal. But I learned a lot, and once we had some time and distance from it, we realized that working together had taught us more about each other and eventually our relationship was strengthened. I wouldn’t assume that’s a normal result, though.

  21. Been There*

    I’ve been working for the family business for the last nine years or so. I started right out of college when I needed a job and my dad needed a person. Overall it’s worked out great and I haven’t regretted it. It’s a very similar situation to what you’re dealing with – a very small business that my dad owns, though ownership will soon be changing hands to my brother. We have under 10 employees, most are remote and in other states. I wouldn’t necessarily tell you not to do it, because there are some distinct benefits that I wouldn’t get elsewhere. Alison hits a lot of the highlights to consider, I’ll add some of my own:

    – Asking for a raise is tricky. My dad is no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the company, that’s been passed along to my brother. Though he and I get along very well, it’s been harder to figure out when and how to talk about raises when the company also supports most of my immediate family. They also have a general idea of what my husband makes, and though they’d never admit it, I’ve thought in the past that they’ve looked at us collectively instead of my individual worth.
    – I’m married and have a different last name than the guys. This has proven to be beneficial when dealing with customers because they don’t automatically assume the familial relationship. Most people know and it’s not a secret, but it’s nice to not go into every conversation with that bias.
    – The flexibility I get here is something I could never find anywhere else and one of the main reasons I’ve stuck around for so long. Working from home, needing to run an errand in the middle of the day, having a vet appointment for the dog during work hours, none of that is ever a big deal.
    – It took me some time to get acquainted with what is and isn’t ‘normal’ work stuff to talk about at family dinners/outside of the office. None of the intense conversations happen there, but various happenings with customers and issues will come up when we’re all together.
    – Probably the biggest issue I’ve encountered is the guys assuming what I do or don’t want when it comes to professional development, ownership, etc. Because I started here right out of college, I didn’t come in even considering the ownership side of things. Now that it’s come up, I wish I had put more thought into what I did or didn’t want much sooner so I could have added my input. I’m not sure if you’d ever want to go that route, but I’d encourage you to consider what you might want if you decide to take the job.

    As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks. Overall I’ve been very happy with how everything has worked out, but I’d be happy to answer any other questions you may have.

    1. TechWorker*

      I’m glad you enjoy your job but just came here to say that the flexibility to work from home/have appointments in the working day is not restricted to family owned businesses – plenty of companies offer that. Idk about your particular field obviously :)

  22. Jennifer*

    Don’t do it unless:

    1. you’re desperate
    2. you’re serious about getting into the family business and staying long-term

    1. valentine*

      Do you mean both or either?

      Desperation is a terrible reason to do it and likely to spell disaster.

      1. Jennifer*

        I meant either.

        I meant desperate in the sense that if the OP one day finds themselves out of a job and in need of money.

  23. Karen from Finance*

    I have secondhand experience on this: I grew up watching my dad work with his dad and his sisters. Don’t do it, OP, it takes a toll. Alison already laid it out pretty well but yeah, no, don’t do it. It’s going to be near damn impossible to compartimentalize. Every personal problem is going to be a work problem, and every work problem a family problem. I know it sounds like I’m exagerrating and there may be some “oh but this won’t happen to US” going on, but.. it happens to the best of families. Family is tough. Nope, don’t do it.

  24. MissDisplaced*

    I see so many problems and issues with this unless you’re only planning on doing this on a temporary basis, such as while you’re back in school.
    But even then, I’d worry about the perception of this if I was one of your dad’s ‘other’ employees.

  25. EtherIther*

    My sibling has been working for a parent for many many years now, and it works wonderfully for them. I’m not saying it is fit for everyone, and there are ways to address possible concerns (in their case, there is another manager who could serve as a reference, for instance). This is certainly not the auto-fail that some people are making it out to be, but it’s important to think it through and have a notion of how it fits into your longer term goals.

  26. Candy*

    I’ve worked for my mother for five years now. There have been some benefits and at the time it was really the only option for me but I would not do it again and I cannot wait to get out. Everything Alison has said here is true to my experience.

    Don’t do it if you have other options.

  27. Iris Eyes*

    It must be said even though it shouldn’t have to be. But at work address your dad by the same name everyone else does and have him address you by the same name everyone else does. #1 tip

  28. Amber Rose*

    It seems to work out here. We’ve got one brother managing another brother, the daughter in law of the president as a manager, her brother in another department, and some other people who are cousins I think? And nothing has exploded yet. That said, I’ve also watched a lot of those Kitchen Nightmares type shows where families end up despising each other.

    So I guess I would say it depends on what responsibility you’d have. If you’re managing other people, or being involved in day-to-day business decisions, that has the potential to backfire more strongly than if you’re just answering phones and doing paperwork.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This sounds like the setup for Brothers & Sisters, ha!

      But no, I’ve seen a lot of families make it work. The key is that everyone has to care and be a hard worker on their own.

      I leave family businesses that don’t have the right dynamic quickly enough that I don’t have many tales to spew but every every job I’ve stayed at for an extended period of time has been family owned and ran well. They’ve always adored me despite not being family and thrown themselves at my feet when I finally have to go leave, I’m close to everyone to this day and I’ve seen them build empires.

      I’ve also seen kids who didn’t want a thing to do with their family’s business. They’ve gone on to do their own thing and done wonderfully doing so. It was mostly them wanting to go into a career that wasn’t going to be fulfilled by their family business [example one went into law, one went into nursing, etc]

  29. W*

    Don’t do it. There are a hundred unseen strings attached to this job offer. I worked for my dad as a teenager during summers, and the “family company” was nothing more than a graveyard for deadbeat relatives or uncles who weren’t gifted with particularly high IQs and couldn’t find work. I was offered a lame job after I had graduated college and had already found a good job. My response was hell no. To this day if I find out a potential employer is a family run business I will not consider it and avoid it all costs. There are better jobs out there, have patience and get your resume out there.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      How cheeky and entitled to act like there are options for everyone out there that isn’t a family owned business. That’s absolutely false, I’m glad it worked for you and I’m sorry your family business was “lame” but that’s simply untrue for the vast majority of the world. I couldn’t get hired by anyone right out of school unless I wanted to work in the service industry or retail, not everyone can just slide right into a mega corp depending on a lot of factors.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Other commenters are allowed to have opinions and experiences that differ from yours! And there are lots of good reasons to avoid small family-run businesses if you have options, which many people do, and mega corps are not the only alternatives.

      2. Washi*

        Huh, having a family member to give you a non-retail/service industry job when you can’t find anything else is generally an example of privilege, not the other way around.

        1. JSPA*

          Around here it’s likely to be the 4 a.m. milking, or hosing out animal sheds, or clean-up duty at the beauty salon or the home business pet grooming place. None of them classically considered examples of “privilege.”

          1. JamieS*

            It’s a privilege to be have the option of having a job whenever you need/want one even if it’s not the most enviable job. There are plenty of people who don’t have that safety net to fall back on.

      3. Socratic Teacher*

        Thank you for this comment. It’s going to come in handy when I’m reviewing fallacies with my philosophy class later this week. I’ll be sure to credit you.

  30. AKchic*

    As someone who works with their mother, let me say this: If either of you cannot separate work life from home life 100%, don’t do it. My mother cannot, and even though she is not my boss, she is constantly trying to assert “Mom” dominance in the workplace and make up new rules that wouldn’t fly in any job, and wouldn’t fly in any home for a woman in her mid-30’s in any healthy home environment.

    I was burnt out and needed a new job, but I could have looked for a new job on my own. Now my mom is trying to play the savior who rescued me when nobody else would or could and is rewriting the narrative. I am passively looking at other jobs, completely away from my mother and the union because she has tainted the entire experience for me, regardless of the financial aspect. There are other issues with this job in particular that I abhor, but my mother has yet again sullied our relationship and made it perfectly clear why I keep her at a distance in all things.

      1. AKchic*

        The money. She doesn’t own this business and she’s not my manager, so she really has no say, which affords me a good barrier. We also have very little in the way of traditional familial relationship. Alaska is very much still in a recession, and it’s only going to get worse. Financially, I am in no position to walk away from a good-paying position with excellent healthcare when we need the insurance. So, I deal with it for now. She can try to push her “you need to dress like this” or “only YOU aren’t allowed to cuss” bull on me, but I’ll just smile and tell her she’s wrong and tell her if she has a problem with it, she can take it up with the union. She’ll fuss and give me the silent treatment and act as if that’s some kind of punishment and things will go on. No problem.

        Right now, she needs me more than I need her, both personally and professionally.

  31. LQ*

    I have a friend who worked for his dad in a business he didn’t want to take over on and off while trying to get into a different field. It has been really bad for my friend. And his father recently sold the business and friend hasn’t been able to get any other work since. If you know you don’t want to do this forever I’d really seriously consider if this is the best stopgap between now and your next job.

  32. Savannah*

    My fiancee works for her family’s business, and I cannot stress how absolutely spot-on everything Allison said is. She hates it so, so much and everything is incredibly intensified because of family dynamics. Now I am worried about the potential adverse career effects that await us in the future, which I hadn’t really thought much about.

  33. Eringolightly*

    Let assume, for fun, that you do this and it’s amazing. You and your dad get along great the whole time, you get treated like a co-worker and not the boss’s kid, you learn a bunch of transferable skills… Now can you picture yourself telling your Dad you’re resigning? Maybe even going to work for a competitor? Or would you feel so indebted that you would stay and stunt your professional growth rather than risk hurting his feelings?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think OP and Dad need to decide how long this will be for beforehand. Is it temporary/transitional or is she staying with intent to take over the business later? Either way, you don’t just jump into this because you’re burned out or desperate. It needs some real thought into the outcomes.

  34. Troutwaxer*

    My own take on this, noting the numerous and wise caveats above, is that IF you want to go back to school for a year or two so you can change career directions, AND IF you and your dad can separate your work life from your family life, (note particularly the discussions of a contract above) that you might go work PART TIME for your dad while you attend school.

    On your resume you could emphasize going to school, hopefully with some recommendations from your professors, and downplay the work for your father.

    Otherwise, hell no!

    (Sorry for the all caps above, but I’ve noticed that the site software will sometimes flag a post for moderation if too many italics are used.)

    1. Troutwaxer*

      I forgot to mention something above, which is that you and your father would have to understand that this would not be a permanent position, just a way for you guys to help each other while you attend school.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      See, that’s what I was thinking – if you’re doing this so you can go back to school, would having your father as your last manager (for reference purposes) be any worse than not working at all while you were in school? “My last manager was my father” might make a hiring manager pause, but “I worked in the family business while going to school” feels different to me.

      It also might make the eventual separation easier, if you both agree that you’re working for him while you’re in school, but once you’ve graduated, you’re going to look for another job.

      (Assuming, like Troutwaxer said, that the actual “working together” part is okay.)

      1. MissDisplaced*

        In a temporary or transitional role, this could work out. Yes. But both parties would have to be very honest and upfront about what they hope to get from the time. And, I’d also have to assume that Dad’s “other” employee would also be OK with this arrangement.
        I got the sense though, that OP was burnt out and hasn’t truly thought this through and was kinda grasping at straws and not really clear what she wanted in a career future. And that’s the worst reason!

        I’ve worked at family businesses and had the owner kids come in for summer jobs and college internships. Mostly we were lucky and they were good kids and did their work without issue and weren’t treated differently, and thus it went fine. But everyone knew it was a temporary gig.

  35. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Since you’ve had your own career and now this is a fall-back after burnout, I’m leery that it’ll turn out well for you in the end. Did you ever do work for your dad so you have some idea of what he is like as a boss?

    I’ve seen father/child setups that work well, so I’m not falling on the side of most people who shun family businesses like they’re straight from the pit of hell. But those are done well because the kids have been working in some fashion for their dads since summers in junior high, spent doing menial tasks [sorting and stacking various things usually]. Then they move in and start essentially apprenticing their fathers to take over their roles at some point.

    This will not necessarily help you get a foot in the door elsewhere when they ask for a reference and realize it’s your family business unless perhaps your dad networks well and you could work for someone he knows? Otherwise people will be really interested in why you’d be leaving your family business one day, which is another cross to carry of its own.

    I say do it if you want to take a time-out and refresh but don’t do it as a way to change career paths or if you think you’ll get something of substance out of it. Unless you are interested in working for small companies forever and even then, small companies will really be concerned that you’re bouncing on our own dad one day!

    1. FD*

      Yeah, the case where I’ve seen it work well was very similar–the child was working for years doing the most menial of jobs before they were allowed to ‘climb the ladder’. In that circumstance, there was much less resentment or assumption of favor, because everybody knew that the child had been required to start at the bottom. (It also made sense because as the son was going to take over the business, so he needed to really understand what’s involved in every job.)

  36. OG Karyn*

    The ONLY reason I work *with* my mother – not for, with – is because I own my own business and she is a client. We have a contract, and she’s so non-maternal in general that she understands and acts like any other client of mine. I am often asked if, after I pass the bar exam, I will go into business with her in a law practice and I say absolutely not. A) She doesn’t do the kind of work I want to do, and B) No way could I work under her. Love her, good client, don’t want to blur the lines by becoming her employee.

    Definitely take Alison’s advice. REALLY consider if you want to do this.

  37. Candid Candidate*

    The other thing that I think is really important to consider here is that working for a parent will make it difficult to negotiate things like your salary and benefits. My best friend (“Sarah”) left the restaurant industry two years ago because she was completely burnt out and wanted to move home to be closer to friends and family. Her dad is a plumber reaching retirement age and offered her and her brother (“Jason”) the chance to work for him and take over the business after five years. It’s turned out to be a disappointment for both my friend and her brother for all the reasons Allison mentioned, but also because neither of them are able to negotiate merit increases or benefits with their dad. He won’t even give them paid time off. Sarah and Jason are both in their early thirties, married, and ready to start a family, but they’re barely making enough to cover their own basic needs, let alone start a family or hell, take a vacation. And as it turns out, having two kids do all the administrative work and difficult field jobs day-to-day seems to have given Dad something of a second wind, so now he’s not sure he’ll be ready to retire in three years like he promised. My friends feel trapped and frustrated, and like their relationships with their dad (and mom and other brother, by extension) are very precarious as a result. Don’t do this to yourself, OP. Or at the very least, don’t do this unless you have very clear boundaries IN WRITING about salary, benefits, and time off.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes! This really depends on the parent, you usually see that the kid is being overpaid and getting all the time off they want in the other horror stories people tell.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        I’d think this situation is more common than the overpaid/underworked version when the parent owns the company and built it from nothing and is planning to hand over the business. The parent is likely thinking “if you are going to be an owner you need to start acting like it.” He’s going to make them “earn it.” Kinda like how the coach’s kid is often held to much higher standards than all the other kids.

  38. Long Island Mel*

    I cringe just thinking about this. I would never work for my father. I think to make it work, you would need to already have an exceptional relationship, that isn’t really the norm. I remember getting conned into working for my father as a young teen. He wouldn’t disclose any of the terms of the employment beforehand. He just said he’d pay me based upon how hard I worked. Well, for a week I busted my butt. I was rewarded with $1 per hour. Minumum wage was $3.35 per hour. Never again!

  39. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    Honest question: why do we consider it a bad thing when people start companies with the goal of eventually handing the reins over to their children? Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? Isn’t it meant to be a good way of providing for your children?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Properly done it can be an excellent way to keep wealth in the family over generations.

      1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

        I just know that if my mom started a business, it would be done with me in mind. It would be FOR me.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We’re in a vacuum here in this advice column world. The majority of people agree that family businesses are great and can be continued for generations when done well.

      It’s about providing for your children and their children and their children and so on and so on. Just like most people also leave their fortunes to their families but there are those people who will always do the Tori Spelling thing and not leave them much of their empire. It varies so drastically.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Do you have evidence that “the majority of people agree. . .”? (Genuine question. . .I could see something like SBA having stats on that.)

        Because my husband has a small business, I know quite a few people in family businesses, and I’ve seen a lot of different outcomes. I know a chiro whose son got his chiro degree, practiced with her for a couple years, and then moved to NYC and is a successful model. That was a lot of work to do something he didn’t want to do. I have more than one HVAC company negative story. I know a guy who took over his dad’s commercial leasing company, and that’s been a success. My former dentist’s son joined the family practice, but then he left to go become an oral surgeon instead. His daughter was also there for a while as a dentist, and is gone now, so who knows what her reason was. We also had a friend take over his dad’s roofing business. He has wound it down during his 50s, and his kids now in college didn’t want to do it. IDK. Of course these are just anecdotes, but I think it’s rare that your kids have the same skills, talents, and interests as you. My kids are good at absolutely nothing that I’m good at, which is unfortunate, because I was pretty academically talented as a kid and they are not. They are also not as good with their hands as my husband. They are better at soft skills than either of us, though.

    3. Washi*

      But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The OP gives no indication of wanting to take over the family business, she says she wants to use the job as a stepping stone. Alison gives a lot of very good reasons why this job might not end up serving that purpose quite as well as she is imagining.

    4. FD*

      It’s not exactly that it’s a bad thing! There are some issues though.

      1) In today’s world, it isn’t the default for children to do the same jobs as their parents. Five hundred years ago, if your dad was a cobbler, at least the oldest son was pretty darn likely to become a cobbler too, and if it was a large enough business, there was a good chance that the rest of the family might be involved too. When society was laid out with that pattern, people mostly conformed themselves to that. People in general lived a lot closer and I think a lot of our modern conception of boundaries just…didn’t exist. Most people were pretty much stuck with the people in the same small communities they were born into.

      Today, it’s not the norm, though, and I think we’ve lost a lot of the habits of mind and the attitudes that made living like that tolerable. Independence is more important to us than it seems to have been to our ancestors, and job mobility is the norm, not the exception.

      The upshot of all this is that there’s simply no way to know whether your children are going to want to run the same kind of business that you do, and there isn’t the social expectation that they have to both do it and accept it as the way things are. If you start a successful restaurant business, for instance, there’s simply no way to know if your children are going to want to own restaurants.

      2) Owning a business usually means working in that business. On the small business scale, it’s very rare for owners to simply sit back, let others run the business, and collect a check at the end of the month. And with any business, there’s likely to be times when that business is profitable and times when you have to pay into that business. It’s a full time job, and sometimes, it’s one that pays badly and has very long hours. Again, this CAN work out, but you can’t really know whether it will work out for your kids.

      3) To be a bit harsh…most small businesses don’t actually have that much value if you try to sell them. A lot of small businesses work because of the unique talents of the people who work there, and it’s often hard to replicate that with any other team. Many small businesses don’t survive being passed on for exactly that reason. This means that if a child inherits a business, it often means that the business has little to no value if they don’t want to operate it directly.

      There’s nothing wrong with starting a business! But I would say that if your only goal is to invest in your children’s future, there are ways that are less risky and more profitable.

    5. SarahTheEntwife*

      It’s good if you have a kid who wants to take over the family business and is good at whatever the business is. Otherwise it’s a recipe for resentment and poor management and people being unable to break into the field because they’re not members of the right family.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Sure it can be a good thing. Provided the offspring are interested in running it, and want to work in that business and do intend to take it over one day. I’ve seen several cases where this works fine, and the kids have been involved since they were 16 and working summers at the family business.

      But I’ve also seen it NOT work well, with some family members brought on who were basically dead weight and couldn’t be gotten out. And that is a really ugly perception for all of the other workers who work there. It also depends on whether or not a position is actually open, or if the parental unit is merely “creating” one for the offspring. I’ve seen a family member fill in part-time for a year until the position eventually got filled from outside, and I’ve seen lame high-level positions (with pay to match) be created for kids who couldn’t really do the work required, and the employees were expected to “help” them for half the pay. So yeah, it’s a mixed bag!

      In this case, it does sound like the OP really can do the work required, so that’s good, but I sense they wanted more of an “out” from their current situation and not a permanent career in dad’s business. That may still be ok on a temporary/transitional basis, but it depends. I personally don’t think it’s the best solution.

  40. Decima Dewey*

    Let’s try this again.

    My parents are both gone now, but they could drive me insane during a three-day weekend visit. I could never work with either of them.

    Don’t do it, OP. Keep looking for something better.

  41. stump*

    I’ve worked at same company as a parent before and the only reason it worked out well for us was because:

    a) Parent wasn’t my boss.
    b) We didn’t ever work together. EVER.
    c) We had totally separate roles with zero crossover. ZERO.
    d) We didn’t even work on the same days.
    e) It was a larger company and honestly, a lot of people didn’t know I was Parent’s offspring.

    It was a more customer service role in an industry with…. looser regard for professional norms (which is probably why Former Company was cool with Parent saying, “Oh hey, you should hire stump!”), but even if this was an office job, you’d still need that degree of separation to keep things from going south (and I’d be way less likely to do it in a less janky customer service industry).

    So yeah, don’t do it, OP! It’s a total “Don’t poop where you sleep.” situation. :/

  42. CustServGirl*

    My SO works for his dad and it’s excellent!

    It’s truly a family business (only one employee that isn’t direct family) but they keep structured, regular schedules and any time off, etc., is processed as it should be by law and industry norms. He also loves what he does and wants to increase his role in the company once his dad decides to cut back on his work or retire.

  43. LawBee*

    I worked with a woman whose mother was our boss, and while I have no idea if it worked well for them, it was a complete and utter disaster for me. I am not kidding when I say I had PTSD flashbacks from that job for years.

  44. Rose*

    Beyond the (hugely important) dad complication, OP, I feel like it will be much easier to choose your next step if you stop thinking about your situation as either-or. I understand that your field is probably hard to get out of and still maintain many of the positive things you’ve enjoyed from a decade of work experience (e.g. same level of pay, benefits, important projects), but there always are more options than you think, many of which don’t include working for your dad. The tradeoff might be that you don’t enjoy work from home benefits or have to budget with a lower pay, but not having to deal with the complications of working for a relative might be worth that in the long run.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t think it can’t be done… but the tone of OP’s letter indicates she just wants OUT of current burnout situation without really thinking it all through and having a clear plan of how to get there. Don’t take the job with Dad because of and if/then/maybe.

  45. NoodleMara*

    I think that this might not be a good time to do this move. Going from burnout to an environment that requires a lot of negotiation and work to maintain relationships both personal and work is going to extremely stressful. Working with family is not a decision to be made in a short amount of time and it should probably have a good amount of transition time built in, so that at any point, you can bail.

    I say this with full honesty, I will go back to my parents farm some day. But it’s at least a few years out. Right now, I’m working every other weekend for a day or two and we are keeping honest and open communication about how we’re feeling about pay, hours and my drive time and schedule. We are all approaching this carefully because we don’t want to hurt each other and risk our relationship. Unless you can talk honestly about it and your dad can do the same, don’t do it.

    This requires all parties going in with good faith and intentions and a set (written) plan on working hours, pay, raises, etc.

  46. blink14*

    I worked part time for my uncle’s consulting business for 8-9 years, and used my direct supervisor there as a reference for applying to full time jobs (I was working else full time already). My supervisor was instrumental in me getting my current job, was my main reference. There’s generally less potential nepotism with an aunt or uncle than a parent, but I was asked about how and why I had the job (it was done remotely), and I was upfront that my uncle owned it.

  47. Anne Elliot*

    I interned for the law firm at which my dad was a senior partner between my first and second year of law school. I thought it would be a good way to get my feet wet but it was terrible. He was ten times harder on me than on other interns because I was his daughter, but the rest of the office didn’t take me seriously because I was his daughter. Then I’d go home with him since I’d moved home for the summer and have to try to re-align to a father-daughter relationship. We were fighting nonstop by the end of the summer and we both knew we would NEVER do that again.

    I adore by dad and in retrospect I can say I learned a ton from him, especially about depositions – how to take them, defend them, and review them. But I still wouldn’t work for him again under any circumstances. If the work situation doesn’t work out, it can be so, so damaging to the personal relationship, and in my case I would never want to risk the closeness between me and my dad.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Didn’t he have another person managing the interns? Wow, yeah, there needed to be space there.
      I worked for a family business where the owner’s kids came in as summer help/interns. I managed one of them. The other employees knew it was temporary of course, but there thankfully weren’t any issues with them.

      1. LawBee*

        It really depends on the size of the law firm. BigLaw often has entire departments just to handle the law clerks, but smaller firms don’t. We’ve got ~150 total employees – but definitely don’t have anyone managing the law clerks because there just isn’t anyone who can make that much space in their workload.

  48. Delta Delta*

    Put me on Team “This Might Not Be The Worst Thing Provided You Do It Carefully.” (We don’t have shirts for our team because the name is too long.) Here’s what I’d suggest:

    If this is meant to be time-limited, go into it with that expectation and time frame. That doesn’t mean things couldn’t change in the future, but if it’s meant to be work while OP goes back to school or decompresses or looks for other work or whatever, then everyone ought to be clear about that. It would also be good to get everything in writing about job description, salary, benefits, etc., so there’s no question by Dad or OP or anyone about what the scope of the job is.

    OP says the company has flexibility to be able to work from home. That could be really key. If OP can do much of the job from home much of the time – and as long as the other employees have the same ability to work from home – that’s going to lessen the OP/Dad face time and can help keep the peace. And, be very clear with coworkers and other employees that you’re really there to work and not just because it’s your Dad’s company. Keeping everything professional helps.

  49. JSPA*

    OP: has your parent led the scout troop you were in? Coached your sports teams? Encouraged (maybe advised when asked), but kept excellent boundaries when you had major, creative school or extracurricular projects? Try to focus not (primarily) on the enjoyability quotient, but on the (mutual!) maintenance of excellent boundaries / professionalism / avoiding the look as well as the reality of favoritism. And no overcompensation in the other direction.

    When did he last pull rank on you / guilt trip you in an argument, rather than using actual argument? And you: when did you last answer a legitimate complaint or issue he brought up with a hug or a flip remark? In both cases, if you were 14, OK. If it was in the last five years, ouch.

    Do you generally shrug off guilt trips, when they come your way? Do you have any practice telling your dad (politely) when you need to leave a conversation because it’s becoming unproductive? Is that method suitable for a business environment? Will something in you feel a little bit unsettled if your father uses the same management tone with you that he would use with a relative stranger / any other employee? Is there any risk that your long history together will lead one or the other of you to use terms or express attitudes more suited to 2000 than to 2019?

    Can you visualize and name the things that he says and does and the things that you say and do when each of you wants the other to cooperate / agree? Are all of these bits of conversational shorthand business-appropriate? If not what can you find to replace yours (and will he be willing to replace his)?

    Parents so easily (unintentionally!) trigger the juvenile in their adult children and frankly children equally automatically trigger the young parent in their older parent.

    It may not be as blatant as “go to your room young lady” or a Spongebob / sesame street phrase, but there are a lot of ways for you to trigger each other to behave in ways that will raise eyebrows with other employees and make the workplace weirder.

  50. hate being late*

    I’ve worked for my dad. All of Alison’s advice is spot on. His staff all resented the perks I didn’t even know I was getting by being the boss’ daughter.

  51. SemiRetired*

    This discussion is very timely for me. I’m considering taking a very part-time, remote position working for my daughter, who runs a small family farm. One of their primary revenue sources is weddings on their property, and the help she needs is routine administrative… replying to inquiries re the calendar, catering questions… nothing creative or involving management of others. This would probably be my last job for pay ever, so I don’t need professional development or future job references. About an hour or two a day responding to emails and such. So far I have offered to do it on a trial basis for free, to get her through a period when she’ll be away from the farm for a couple of weeks in May. If that works out, we will consider a work for pay arrangement. I’m not sure whether to do it as a freelancer/contractor, or as an employee, but either way, I want to suggest time limits… like re-evaluate every six or 12 months how it is working and have a natural endpoint if not.
    I’m not too worried about how it would affect our relationship, but it seems like the distance (we live several hundred miles from each other) and the inversion of the parental authority model might mitigate potential drawbacks.
    My daughter and her husband run the farm together but she does most of the admin type stuff, and “supervises” lots of other employee/contractor relationships… farm hands, pickers, cleaners, caterers/chefs for weddings and farm-to-table events, etc. She is experienced with running a business in ways I am not, but I can handle gmail and google docs sufficiently for this.

    If this is too OT, I’ll ask again on Friday. What do you all think? Is working for offspring as fraught as working for parents.

    1. ZucchiniBikini*

      That’s an interesting question. I’ve never had a parent working for me in quite that kind of way, but 20 years ago, when I was an early-career professional, I did recommend my mother for a 2-day-a-week general admin job at the public service agency I was working for. She got it and stayed 12 months or so until she left to take over some vet-nursing shifts in my Dad’s vet practice instead. Although I was not her boss, I was one of several people at the next layer of seniority who could ask her to do tasks. She always did them with the same cheerfulness (high) and competence (middling, but we weren’t paying enough for a superstar, frankly) that she displayed for everyone else. Our desks were co-located and I did notice that I felt more constrained in my behaviour on the 2 days a week she was there, but that won’t be an issue for you, obviously.

  52. labtech*

    I started working for my dad’s company at the beginning of this year (had similar motivations as OP, hated my job and it was the easiest option for a change). It’s a biotech company and I work as a lab tech in the lab, which is in a separate part of the building from the offices, where my dad works. I only see him at our monthly staff meeting or when he occasionally comes into the lab. Distance and not reporting to directly/interacting much has been key, but it’s working out well. (I did need to prove myself to the other techs and it was slightly awkward at first, but after working hard and not expecting any special treatment I think everyone else sees me as just another person on the team.)

  53. Tom*

    Years ago, i worked for/with my mother, in a team of about 9 other people.
    As the only male in a group of female long time colleagues.

    From day 1, we were clear – this is temporary, she would treat me as a normal employee (whatever that is), and be fair.
    Sadly, that failed, in the most spectacular and pleasant way.
    Due to the nature of the job / employer – i`ve been a known entity to all the ladies working there since the age of 4/5.
    Coming there to take over a parental leave of the youngest of them – i landed in a chicken coop of ‘grandmothers’ – and it was truly a warm bath.

    I did some shifts with my mother together / or partially overlapping – but as i was ‘on the floor’ and she was the manager – we didn`t exactly do the same.
    It was a great 3 years – i gained a lot of new experience, made some friends, and still go past to chat with them on occasion – now with my own son with me – who also gets the ‘grandma’ treatment.

    So, yes, it CAN go well – but it depends on your personalities, (employee and parent), the company dynamics and size, plus – let`s be honest – a dose of luck.

    Good luck in finding the right way for you in this tricky situation.

  54. boop the first*

    If it were me, honestly I would do it.

    I work in a 5-person workplace, and it’s a bit of a nightmare for the usual reasons:
    – the boss is impossible to get along with personally, which causes significant stress
    – the workload is frequently too high
    – it has that annoying “family” feel, even though we’re not family (for example, we have to eat together with an assigned group meal, so the breaks feel in-genuine and we can’t just wander off or make personal diet choices)

    Frankly, it kind of sucks!

    Even then, I would probably go in your shoes, because a year goes by really really quickly and I don’t know about all of you, but switching industries is just too damn hard. Plus, in my case, if our boss brought in his wife or son to help with the workload, we would actually be happy just to get help. I’ve worked with bosses’ kids before, and it’s not the Distrustful Spy situation people make it out to be. They’re actually more likely to talk shit about the boss than you are, since they have to live with them. I really really doubt that coworkers are going to look down on you, especially since it’s a FIVE PERSON workplace… there aren’t even going to BE promotions to “steal”. Not sure where the fear comes from, to be honest.

  55. MaureenSmith*

    I wish I’d listened to this advice 10 years ago.

    Some things that have worked for me:
    – I knew that we don’t work well together and set boundaries based on that.
    – He retired after a 4 month transition period, I’m now the general manager of our small firm.
    – When ‘family’ and ‘business’ collided badly a few years ago, I brought in a mediator to help us reset expectations.
    – Having the lawyer, accountant, etc back me up, fact check, etc.
    – When I worked for him as a summer high school job, I called him by his first name, it reduces the immediate assumption of family / nepotism. Also felt more comfortable in the office.

    I do know a few other companies that are multi-generational, but it only works when the personalities match, boundaries are set, and compromise can be reached. There is a lot of prejudice about nepotism, many future employers will assume that your family connections outweigh your work performance, no matter how exceptional an employee you are.

    It depends on the level of risk and reward you are willing to take on. If you are taking this position with an eye to eventually take over or inherit the business, GET IT IN WRITING. It can work out well in the long term. Make sure you have a written agreement about your role, expectations, salary, raise timetable, inheritance, conflict negotiation, termination by either party, future job reference, etc.

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