how do I fire a volunteer who’s not getting her work done?

A reader writes:

I am the president of a local industry society with an all-volunteer board of directors. We have a very large project that one non-board volunteer eagerly agreed to lead. It was supposed to start last fall, but due to circumstances beyond her control, it’s just now getting started.

We gathered up a dozen volunteers to help on the project and are having a kickoff meeting soon, but the volunteer still hasn’t contacted those people to let them know it’s happening now. I’ve followed up with her several times, and each time the response is “I’m working on it today” or “I’ll get it out this week.” I have spoken with this volunteer about ensuring she has the time to commit to this project and she reassures me she does, though I’m not seeing any action on her part. Over the last 10 months I’ve given her several opportunities to gracefully bow out, but she doesn’t take me up on it. It’s very frustrating. I’m ready to find someone else to lead the project, but how do I fire her?

I answer this question — and two others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Did this job candidate mislead us about college?
  • My employee’s boyfriend asked for my permission to marry her

{ 341 comments… read them below }

  1. What's in a name?*

    I would have refused to look at Romeo’s texts with the employee. That is not something a boss has reason to see and blurs boundaries even further.

    1. FrivYeti*

      I agree, but also if I were the boyfriend I would want some way to prove that this exceptionally weird and creepy thing had been signed off on by my girlfriend and wasn’t coming entirely out of my own ass.

      But boy oh boy, how incredibly awkward. I wonder whether the female employee picked her boss because she knew “asking for permission” was a big thing with her boyfriend and she just wanted it dealt with, or whether she actually feels like the boss is a father figure (in which case, even bigger ‘oof’.)

      1. PollyQ*

        Some people, both men & women, are deeply into the formalities & traditions of weddings in general, and getting “permission” in particular. It’s all very “everything is important and you have to do it RIGHT.” It’s definitely weird to turn to the boss for that, but not all that surprising if they’re feeling like they need this approval but don’t have anyone else to play that role in their lives.

        (Personally, I think no one should be asking any third party for permission to marry anyone though.)

        1. Pickled Limes*

          This is true. My dad died when I was young and I don’t have any brothers, and the conservative religion I grew up in is VERY tied to wedding traditions. My announcement that I intended to give myself away instead of recruiting a father substitute for the day was not well received, to say the least.

          I can understand this employee being young and under that kind of pressure and just giving the name of the first male authority figure she could think of to make people stop panicking at her.

          1. allathian*

            Mmm. I’m in Finland, and here the tradition of fathers walking brides down the aisle went out with the Reformation. I hate that it’s making a comeback now with huge “Hollywood” weddings. I don’t think there’s anything remotely romantic about this tradition. May be appropriate in some conservative religious denominations where women are expected to be submissive to their husbands, at least in public. And asking the father for permission to marry the daughter is even worse. The only appropriate response to that is “she’s an adult and it’s her decision, if she’s willing to marry you, you have my blessing.”

            1. Galadriel's Garden*

              My now-husband didn’t ask my dad for his permission (Dad’s response would have absolutely, 100% been “What the *expletive* are you asking me for? Shouldn’t you be asking Galadriel’s Garden?”), but my dad did walk me down the aisle, which was really important to me – not because of a patriarchal “giving me away” thing, but because my dad has been an incredibly important part of my life and I wanted to honor and visually acknowledge that role. Husband and I definitely mixed-and-matched what we wanted in our wedding from the traditional and decidedly non-traditional, but I think the most important thing is that you have a wedding that *you* want that makes *you* happy, not the hoi polloi (which is easier said than done, I know, especially when said hoi polloi is holding the purse strings).

        2. Artemesia*

          And in this case if permission or blessing is felt to be needed then the MOTHER who raised her is the person to talk to — preferably for a ‘blessing’ and not ‘permission.’

          1. Here we go again*

            If Romeo asks again, Op should say it’s too personal of a question to ask of a manager to have something to do about an employees love life and would be unprofessional to say anything more.

        3. Hobbit*

          Exactly, I mean if the couple asks for permission, but the dad/parent, etc, said no, and then the couple gets married anyway, then what’s the point of asking???

          When my sister got engaged, my future BIL asked for my father’s blessing, but not his permission. Dad would not have said no, but he’s a bit old school and felt respected by BIL asking.

        4. I'm just here for the cats*

          This is true but why wouldn’t you go to the mother for her blessing or the next male relative if the girlfriend has one? After all the girlfriend (or the boss or both) will move on from this job, but the boyfriend/fiance/husband will always have to deal with her actual family.

          I wonder if she even said anything that he is a father figure or if it was taken out of context. Like LW is such a great boss and mentor for me at work. And boyfriend thought mentor=father figure= I have to ask him for his blessing.

          Also, what would boyfriend have done if the LW said no? I don’t want to loose my employee because if she gets married she may decide to become a stay at home mom?

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            According to the o.p.: “He [the boyfriend] even showed me texts where they discussed getting married in the future and she mentions my being like a father to her and says my blessing would be great.”

            So there seems to be written evidence that she said something along those lines, bizarre as it may sound to the rest of us!

        5. pancakes*

          I think it’s both weird and surprising. I know there are people who are extremely conservative about wedding traditions, but even so, I am surprised this seemed like a good idea to this dude. “The approval of an authority figure is important to me” and “I should ask my girlfriend’s boss for her hand in marriage” are (or should be) two very different thought processes.

        6. Medusa*

          The obvious answer to this would be to ask the employee’s mother. But this whole situation is so strange, especially considering that the LW said that the employee has never tried to cultivate a personal relationship. I wonder how old they are.

          (And I agree that no one should be asking anyone permission. My mom had once stated that she’d expect someone to approach my parents before getting engaged to me and I made it very clear that that would not happen.)

          1. Jasper*

            “Approach” seems valid to me, TBH. I wouldn’t want to marry someone without at least meeting their parents (if applicable — obvious exceptions if they’re dead and/or out of the picture). After all, assuming the person is close to their family, as often happens, you’re not just marrying the person — you’re marrying into their family.“Ask permission” is an entirely different thing, obviously.

      2. Amaranth*

        I do wonder if the OP was reading ‘no, the closest thing I have to dad is my boss’ as something a bit heavier when she actually meant ‘this is the only sane older dude in my life at all.’

    2. Tyche*

      Part of me wants to believe the employee just said that assuming her boyfriend would never actually ask the manager for his blessing. I just… don’t see how you could be that far off base on what the dynamic is.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        My cynical side went here and step further, she doesn’t want to marry him, so she created this ridiculous obstacle, because “of course he wouldn’t do that!”

    3. Student*

      This request is bonkers for so many reasons, but the part I find most hilarious is that Romeo wants the blessing of a complete stranger on his potential marriage. If this ridiculously old-fashioned ritual is supposed to serve some sort of safeguarding purpose, how is the boss supposed to vet Romeo? Or the Romeo-employee match-up? Does Romeo even know that the point of the ritual is that he’s supposed to demonstrate suitability to marry the lady in question to the person he’s requesting a blessing from?

      I’d have just told Romeo, “If you have to ask, then the answer is no.”

      1. Mannequin*

        I think I would be so genuinely confused by something like this that I would be saying “you are an adult, the only person you need to ask about this is your girlfriend”

    4. pancakes*

      Yeah, same. The guy already has blurred boundaries, clearly, and not through any fault on the letter writer’s part, but there’s no good reason to let it get to that point.

      1. Amaranth*

        I’m just assuming a different culture and upbringing where this Is A Thing. Otherwise Romeo is troublingly naive and kind of horrifyingly fixated on the idea that he Needs Permission from a Man to propose to his girlfriend.

        1. pancakes*

          I wouldn’t assume that. Sometimes people just have weird ideas about things. I spent a semester of college in a very rural region in a country where dowries are traditionally part of marriage, and even there this was not a thing.

  2. AnonNY*

    #3 makes my jaw drop. OP is of course very kind and correct to want to let the guy down gently and Alison’s answer is totally appropriate, but… UGH. On so many levels, UGH!

    1. Stephanie*

      I had to jump back in the comments for that one! I can’t even imagine what’s going on in the head of that employee and boyfriend; what an awkward spot for the boss!

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        I don’t think the employee necessarily did anything wrong.

        If my partner insisted on knowing who was my closest living father figure, I could see myself saying, “I don’t know, my boss, I guess?”

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Well, there were texts where she said he was like a father to her and that his blessing on their engagement would be great.

          1. Teapot Repair Technician*

            That’s my point. If pressed, I could say that my boss is like a father to me, in the sense that he’s an older male advisor and authority. And depending on what you mean by “blessing”, I might concede that his blessing would be a nice gesture.

            From what LW wrote, it’s not clear to me whether the employee endorsed her partner’s actions or merely conceded.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          I remember on the original post that someone did raise the possibility that it was all a mix up, that the employee had said “Fergus” meaning Cousin/Uncle/Family Friend Fergus and BF had misunderstood and thought she meant Fergus the Boss.

        3. pancakes*

          “I find this relatable” and “this isn’t the wrong thing to do” are two quite different ideas. They don’t always go hand-in-hand, and this letter is a good example of a time they shouldn’t.

        4. banoffee pie*

          But would you jump straight to asking him for her hand in marriage? lol. An offhand comment about ‘closest father figure’ and this guy sped off to ask his permission to marry! I’ve never heard of this type of thing before

    2. Curious*

      The only way this works is in a (fictitious!) world, where the employer is the employee’s feudal liege — and not necessarily there, either!

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Because WHY does Loverboy have to go to the Most Senior Male Figure in his girlfriend’s life to ask for permission to propose? If you do feel like you need that, why not ask her mother, who is presumably alive and did the actual raising? I know it’s sexism, but it makes me want to shake someone roughly.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        I mean, according to the letter, the girlfriend said that she would love to have her boss’s blessing on the engagement, so it sounds like she’s (part of) the problem here.

    4. Formerly Ella Vader*

      Yeah, a different ugh that hasn’t been talked about yet, I don’t think is: if I were the boss, it would go against my personal egalitarian beliefs. Is there a polite way of saying “I’m so sorry. That’s not a ritual I can participate in without compromising my beliefs.” Probably not. Because even if I did feel okay with participating in that ritual for a family member, I shouldn’t do it for an employee. I would try to be kind about it, but gently explain that I need to maintain a professional relationship with all my employees and as part of that, I don’t talk to their family members about them.

      That will probably hurt my employee’s feelings, and that will be awkward because I can’t talk to her about that directly until she’s already heard from her boyfriend that I snubbed him.

  3. writerboy*

    Regarding #3, if I was the ACTUAL father I wouldn’t want some dude asking my permission to marry my daughter. Although that might seem chivalrous and romantic to some, to me it feels like a throwback to a time when women were chattel.

    What would he have done if I had said no?

    1. High Score!*

      I tell people this and they act like it’s sacrilege for me to suggest such a thing. Tradition is indeed peer pressure of the ancient dead people.

      1. Snoopy Clifton*

        “Tradition is indeed peer pressure of the ancient dead people.” I am totally stealing this phrase! So many uses…..

      2. Mannequin*

        OMG, but it’s absolutely true.

        I spent my childhood asking about different traditions involving marriage because they weren’t logical, made no sense at all- and nobody really knew. Then I found out, and my head almost exploded! I was livid! People romanticize this stuff and act offended when you point out that it’s ALL holdovers from (not even that long ago!) when women were considered the property of a their father, other male relative, or husband. I think it’s more offensive to hold on to symbols of slavery and pretend they stand for love!

        1. allathian*

          Agreed. Asking any third party’s permission to marry is morally repugnant to me. The only time that’s even remotely appropriate is if you or your intended is in line to the throne and you have to ask the monarch’s permission to marry.

        2. banoffee pie*

          Do some people just not know where the traditions came from, or do they want to keep the information from little girls in case they ‘get angry’? I sometimes wonder

    2. AnonNY*

      It’s still shockingly common. I was shocked when people asked me after I got engaged whether my husband had asked my dad/parents for permission. It would never have occurred to either of us that he would do that and frankly I would have been furious if he had! I may have even declined to marry him, as it would have been a sign he didn’t really know me enough to know I would hate that. It’s also something my parents wouldn’t have expected–they are in their 70s now and I don’t believe my dad asked my grandmother (my mom’s only living parent) for permission to marry my mom.

      But I have a surprising number of friends whose husbands did this and my friends seemed to find it entirely normal and expected. My sister’s husband did it too and my parents were kind of bemused by the whole thing but my sister had told them in advance that her bf really felt he needed to do this and that they just needed to let him go through his spiel (I think he didn’t use the phrase permission, maybe blessing?)

      So I find myself having to bite my tongue all the time about how utterly sexist this is (yes, even if you are asking both parents and not just the dad) because my friends’ engagements are not my business. But UGH, this boss thing takes the cake.

      1. Jackalope*

        Yup. I put my experience below, but I wanted to add: the only way I would have POSSIBLY been okay with it would have been if we a) approached both sets of parents (so it’s not this thing where I as an adult can’t give my own permission but he as an adult can), b) together, c) to ask for their blessing rather than permission. Even then I find it a bit icky, but that’s not so awful. But I was happy just to skip the whole thing.

        1. banoffee pie*

          That wouldn’t be so bad if he asked both parents, not just dad. Otherwise it’s so insulting and sexist. That would remind me of a time when men actually would have owned me, which makes my blood boil! Even if he asks both parents though, it’s still embarrassing and I can imagine everyone sitting there all tense, feeling like they have to let him get through his speech. Yikes

      2. Marillenbaum*

        The only person I know who spoke to his partner’s parents before proposing was one friend, because her family lived out of state and he was coordinating their attendance at the proposal (as far as his partner knew, it was supposed to be his birthday party, and while they had discussed getting engaged, she had wanted the proposal itself to be a surprise).

      3. Bubbly*

        I dated a guy who thought we were going to get married some day (spoiler: he became a controlling, emotionally abusive jerk because his own self esteem was so low, so no) and told me he HAD to ask my dad for permission. My dad knows me well enough that he would automatically said no to anyone dumb enough to ask him because they clearly didn’t know me very well.
        This kind of misogyny and treating women as chattel is so ingrained in the culture and it needs to go away.

        1. Alexander Graham Yell*

          We have some family friends whose youngest daughter told them that if a guy ever asks her dad for permission, he has her permission to punch him in the nose. And then she’ll break up with him. And honestly…that’s kind of my take on it, too (I maaaay have told my dad that he had the same set of guidelines). It’s not about my parents, they have nothing to do with it. If I ever get engaged it will be exciting to inform my parents of my decision, but that’s it. I want them to hear it from *me*. And if you don’t know me well enough or value tradition over my stated wishes…well, I want a lot of nontraditional things and I don’t want a partner who is so hung up on tradition that he ignores me.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            “I want a lot of nontraditional things and I don’t want a partner who is so hung up on tradition that he ignores me.”

            This times a million! Perfectly put.

      4. KayDeeAye*

        The weird thing (well, one of the weird things) is that this is an ancient tradition that’s been revived. Back when I was young, it was not a thing that was done. I had heard of it, of course, but only in old novels. I don’t think it was done much by my mother’s generation, either – at least not among the people I know. It’s something that’s been revived just in the past 20-30 years, and I. Do. Not. Get. It.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yeah, a lot of people consider it romantic and “sweetly traditional” now all of a sudden. I am not one of them.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Could be because women have a lot more freedom now and have forgotten how bad it used to be?? So they can find some of these things charming. Kind of like watching a scary film but knowing it’s never going to happen to you. I don’t know, I don’t find it charming, that’s for sure. More like patronising and infuriating

      5. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        My Dad’s take was, “You guys have been living together for a decade and have kids. Could you just make an honest man of him already? I’ll buy you a dress.”

      6. Sleeve McQueen*

        Yeah same. I would be furious if someone thought that they should ask my father’s permission at all, but the fact that people seem to do it *before* the proposal is extra weird. Maybe be sure she wants to marry you first, tiger. I mean even Mr Darcy and Mr Bingley proposed to the Bennet sisters before asking Mr Bennet

      7. JB*

        This is very interesting to me, as a queer person who is mostly friends with other queer people.

        One of my friends got engaged recently and he asked his boyfriend’s (now fiance’s) parents for permission to propose. He did it because he knew they would appreciate being included that way, and he wanted to acknowledge how close his fiance is to his parents and how much they both appreciate his parents’ acceptance of him as a queer man.

        Nobody in our friend group found it strange or alarming, we thought it was very cute. It would have been very different if he thought it was required, or had done it knowing either his fiance or fiance’s parents would be uncomfortable, or had done it before he and fiance had thoroughly discussed the fact that they wanted to get engaged in the near future.

        1. JB*

          (I guess the correct term is ‘blessing’ rather than ‘permission’, but functionally I don’t think there’s much difference; does anyone asking for ‘permission’ really go ‘oh, okay’ if the parents turn around and say no?)

      1. Marzipan Shepherdess*

        I’ll find it “harmless and sweet” when I hear about the fiancee asking her (hopefully) future mother-in-law for permission to marry said MIL’s son. Until then, I totally agree; it’s very bizarre and does NOT bode well for the future marriage of the employee and her
        15th-century-minded fiance. Just when I thought I’d heard it all…

        Oh, and one more thing: A note to the LW’s employee – “RUN!!!”

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Yeah, I find it “harmless and sweet” when the couple already knows they’re going to get married (even if there hasn’t been an ‘official’ proposal yet) and the woman (assuming het couple) is on board with it and sees it as a formality.

        My father, meanwhile, is under strict orders to call me immediately if a man I am dating tries to ask for any sort of permission to marry me so that I can break up with him immediately. There is no universe in which my parents should know that I am getting engaged before I do.

        1. Botanist*

          I got married at 32. I knew that my five married siblings had all gone through some version of asking permission/blessing from the parents of the woman in the relationship. I told my now-husband that I had been living independently for about fourteen years and I would be really peeved if he asked anyone for permission to marry me. I did also mention that I would be okay if he asked my dad’s blessing (my mom is deceased). In the end he decided we were adults and he didn’t need to go through any formalities. And I had that conversation with him about blessing/permission after we had had discussions about marriage and gone ring shopping. I feel pretty good about the way we did it.

      3. Frankie*

        I think people here should just learn to respect other people’s choices. It could definitely be harmless and sweet. It’s also often cultural. As an Asian, this is super common.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Just because it’s cultural doesn’t mean it isn’t still rooted in sexist ideas. People are allowed to be annoyed by that.

          1. Jackalope*

            Yes. I was raised in a conservative Christian culture which had a lot of misogyny and sexism. There are things I treasure from the culture I was raised in, but that doesn’t mean that the traditions that are rooted in sexist ideas are good or that I have to embrace them just because they are a part of the culture I grew up in.

    3. Jackalope*

      I flat-out forbid my now-husband from asking my dad’s permission to marry me. I find it so offensive that I, as a grown woman, would need my father’s permission to get married but my husband can decide on his own. Especially since we got engaged in our late 30s, so I’d been an independent adult for two decades by that point. I can’t even imagine him having tried to ask the permission of my boss.

      1. Sleeve McQueen*

        I know someone who ended up breaking up with the person before the proposal but the man who wanted to propose to her was planning to ask her dad first, even though she’s in her 40s, has kids and is divorced.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      When my now-husband and I were discussing marriage he asked if he should get my father’s blessing (I grew up in a very conservative and traditional household which is probably by he wondered). I told him absolutely not! I don’t doubt that my dad would “given” it, but it’s not his to give in the first place!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I told my ex up front, do not even think about asking my dad for his anything, because one, *I* will find it offensive as hell, and two, my dad will tell you that if you think asking HIS permission for me to do anything is a good idea, then he’s going to tell you no on general principle on account of he doesn’t want his daughter marrying stupid.

        Ex was utterly horrified, and as it turns out, that was just the first of many things he had in mind were going to happen because It’s A Wedding And That’s How You Do Weddings And If You Don’t They’re Wrong. (I won the “no asking Red’s dad for permission” one and the “no, an engagement ring doesn’t have to be a diamond solitaire and if it is I won’t wear it after the wedding” one, and mostly just rolled my eyes and went with the rest.)

        (Joke’s on you, dad, I married stupid twice :P But I’ve learned.)

        1. UKDancer*

          With you on both. One of many reasons I broke up with my ex was his insistence that an engagement ring had to be a diamond solitaire because that’s what his family always had. I always wanted pink sapphires in a cluster and I wanted to pick it. He also wanted my father’s permission. We broke up before the wedding for other reasons as it became very clear how far apart we were.

          1. Former prof*

            If my husband had produced an engagement ring I would have been irate – we needed a new car. 42 years with a simple silver wedding band for each of us has worked just fine.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Funny memory of just how much my grandmother flipped her lid when she found my soon to be husband:

      1. Hadn’t asked my parents permission to propose to me
      2. Didn’t have a problem with me driving myself in my own car to said wedding
      3. Wasn’t trying to force a church wedding (husband is athiest, I’m Pagan)

      And so on. I just celebrated 16 years of marriage, she reckoned I wouldn’t last a month.

    6. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      It’s a good idea to ask ahead of time to curtail negative reactions and give them more time to process the news. This isn’t friends or someone down the street, this is their child.

      1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

        More notice than the person getting engaged? And that notice will come from a person other than their child? I’m afraid this view has a tendency to set you up for some weird parent/in-law boundaries at the outset of a marriage. Feeling like you need to give parents/in-laws extra time to process so they can have a mature reaction to pretty normal news is an indicator of something not quite right.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          An engagement should never be a shock to your partner. The discussion about marriage should be discussed thoroughly, down to how the engagement should happen.

          You don’t want to set yourself up for a no on such a big question, and you also don’t want to ask the question in a way that your partner would find uncomfortable possibly revolting.

          IMO, if you’re in a healthy family dynamic you’ve likely talked about marriage with your future in-laws before asking. Asking for permission is less about asking for permission and more about signaling now it’s going to happen.

          1. SometimesALurker*

            You appear to have some very definite opinions about how other people should live their lives. I guess I do, too, but yours surprise me, since I understand what mine are grounded in.

            1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

              I appreciate that. For reference, mine are grounded in open communication and strong sense of family.

              1. SometimesALurker*

                Huh. I think we’d need to talk a lot more to understand one another, which isn’t something I’m interested in, but have a good day.

              2. Jennifer Strange*

                Interesting that you say your opinions are grounded in “open communication” while also advocating that folks use asking for permission as a way to let their parents know an engagement is going to happen rather than simply stating an engagement is going to happen. That’s the opposite of open communication.

              3. Aquawoman*

                Living your life in a way to actively manage another adult’s reactions (“curtailing negative reactions”) is codependent and unhealthy. Strong sense of family is not synonymous with bad boundaries.

                1. Galadriel's Garden*

                  I’ll take “enmeshment” for $500, Alex.

                  That’s not to say it’s unhealthy to be close to your family, but “curtailing negative reactions” gives me a…lot of pause here. It is not the duty of the child to manage a parent’s emotional state, and the news of an engagement should ideally be a happy one, so…what gives?

              4. pancakes*

                Wow! People who make relationship choices that revolve around their own happiness rather than what would make their parents happy aren’t necessarily missing out on “open communication” or “a strong sense of family” as a result. Where I come from, arranging one’s own adult life around one’s own wants and needs is considered a good and healthy thing. Likewise centering a relationship around the well-being of the people in it rather than their parents.

                1. Kal*

                  Imagine if you applied this to all of the relationship’s major choices. Do you have to ask your parents if want to buy a house? Get your in-laws permission in order to have a baby? Get your mom to sign a permission slip allowing you to file for divorce? What if you marry late in life, do you have to ask your 90 year old parents for permission to get married when you’re 60 years old yourself? What about the rest of the family? Should I have been asked if I gave my okay before my SIL got pregnant? I mean, we are family, it doesn’t sound like my brother just announcing their pregnancy after she was already pregnant holds up to those standards of “open communication”.

                  All of this shows that “asking for permission” doesn’t have anything to do with healthy, open communication in a family.

          2. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

            Whether or not marriage has been discussed within a relationship before the decision to get engaged has no bearing on the original point that you believe in a heterosexual relationship it is a good idea for a man to give a woman’s parents notice that he plans to propose so that her parents have time to process. That idea is so profoundly boundary crossing to me that it would likely lead me to reconsider plans to get married if it were to happen in my relationship. I will manage my relationships with my parents, thank you very much, and there is no world in which I want them to know I am getting married before I know that I am getting married.

            1. Sleeve McQueen*

              Posting because partly because I agree with you but mostly for your user name. That’s where the bad guys go to school

          3. Delphine*

            *Asking for permission is less about asking for permission and more about signaling now it’s going to happen.*

            Then you can say, “We’re getting married,” not, “I want your blessing to ask your daughter to marry me.”

            1. EBStarr*

              Yeah… when my now-husband and I were planning to get engaged, I told my parents and he told his parents, and they were all thrilled! It was pretty straightforward and bore no relationship to asking anyone for permission.

              I find that when something is clearly sexist (like asking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage) people often argue that actually it’s just about some other, non-sexist thing (like sharing important news with your parents). It’s OK to just admit that some things are sexist.

            2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

              I agree! That’s a great way to go with it too, but it shouldn’t be a problem for the future son-in-law to do the same.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                So it sounds like what you’re really saying is the couple should tell their parents first, before they announce it to the world?

              2. pancakes*

                “Shouldn’t” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here, much more than it can bear. It would be a relationship-ending problem for me if I were to find out that someone I was dating had these views on marriage. Other people, clearly, wouldn’t mind at all, or might even like it. That’s fine for them and for you, and absolutely not imperative for the rest of us.

              3. Jackalope*

                In a perfectly egalitarian world, where gender power differences had never existed, then perhaps it might be no problem for the future son-in-law to inform his bride-to-be’s parents. I am doubtful that this would have become a tradition in our imaginary world, and I think I would still rather be the one to tell my dad* the exciting news, but YMMV.

                In the world we actually live in, where women have been treated as the property of, or at the very least subservient to, their fathers and then later their husbands, and where the idea of the groom talking to his (potential) future father-in-law to get said fil’s permission to marry the bride comes from the idea that women never truly become adults, but rather remain the dependents of the men in their lives such that even such a big decision as getting married is one she’s not allowed to make on her own, talking to the bride’s father first is not a value-neutral decision. Some people may like this tradition, and if so more power to them; I don’t have to marry any of them, and they can get engaged however they want. But we can’t pretend that a groom asking the bride’s parents if he can marry her before he asks her, or even (in the other example you gave) telling them that he’s planning to marry her *before he asks her* doesn’t both echo and find its roots in a very misogynistic view of the world.

                *My mom died when I was in elementary school so wasn’t around to tell; this is not related to the “asking the dad’s permission” idea.

                1. Jackalope*

                  Sorry, that 2nd paragraph was too convoluted; I am a fan of long sentences but it did not serve me well here. I’ve edited it a bit, so if anyone got lost in the labyrinth of clauses, this version might be easier to follow:

                  In the world we actually live in, women have been treated as the property of, or at the very least subservient to, their fathers and then later their husbands. The idea of the groom talking to his (potential) future father-in-law to get said fil’s permission to marry the bride comes from the idea that women never truly become adults, but rather remain the dependents of the men in their lives such that even such a big decision as getting married is one she’s not allowed to make on her own. In this real world, talking to the bride’s father first is not a value-neutral decision. Some people may like this tradition, and if so more power to them; I don’t have to marry any of them, and they can get engaged however they want. But we can’t pretend that a groom asking the bride’s parents if he can marry her before he asks her, or even (in the other example you gave) merely telling them that he’s planning to marry her *before he asks her* doesn’t both echo and find its roots in a very misogynistic view of the world.

          4. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I adore my family, I think they’re the best people in the entire world. I don’t want them to know I’m getting engaged before I know it myself. If I have big exciting life event news, I want to be the one that tells them. My partner can be right there with me by my side for the announcement, but he will not go forward without me for this, because that would make him the wrong kind of partner for me.

          5. Pennyworth*

            I’m always bemused when couples refer to plans to get engaged. As far as I am concerned once you have decided to marry you are, from that moment, engaged.

            1. Gerry Keay*

              Eh, my partner and I have discussed marriage, she knows I’m looking for a ring (because we discussed the stone), but I’m still planning on doing a traditional down on one knee thing. Fwiw, we’re both trans and queer, so claiming a tradition that’s been disallowed for people like us feels powerful, even though from your perspective, we’re already engaged.

            2. Tali*

              That’s how I and many of my friends/generation have considered it. We are privately engaged to each other, and then perhaps there is a romantic gesture and then announcements that you’re “officially” engaged.

              If historical stories are to be believed, it was common in the past as well for the couple to have “an understanding” before permission was asked to become officially engaged.

            3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              Oh, so much this. IIRC, my partner and I, who already had a child, were talking one day and one of us said, “We could get married” and the other one said, “Oh, okay.” We INVITED both sets of parents to the courthouse, but that was it for their involvement. We’re both boomers, so it’s not just a younger generation thing. My sister got married out of state with some friends attending decades before anyone dreamed of calling it a “destination wedding.”

              1. allathian*

                I was about 7 months pregnant when I told my cohabiting partner at the dinner table that I’d very much like to be married before our child was born. He just said something like “good idea, I’ll call city hall tomorrow about a license.” A month later we got married, with our birth families and my MIL’s current husband attending. The next weekend, we invited our parents to our house, and made an official announcement and invited them to the wedding in person. We never sent any invites, although I did text my mom and sister a reminder about time and place, and my husband did the same for his family.

                The wedding was very low key with no fuss, just the way both of us wanted it.

            4. EBStarr*

              I used to sort of think like this, due to my general impatience with sexist rituals around marriage. I would say to my now-husband (who wanted to do a traditional proposal) that “Technically, since I told you last year I wanted to get married to you someday, I’ve ALREADY proposed!”

              But, like, deciding to get married is a BIG DEAL. It’s a lifetime commitment. And it happens in steps, often as not — from seeing the person as someone you *might* want to marry someday, to someone you *do* want to marry someday, to someone you want to marry *soon*, to someone you’re ready to publicly identify as your intended life partner. Each step is a bigger commitment. But there’s not necessarily a bright line between “talking about marriage” and “planning to get married.” Whereas “engaged” or “not engaged” is a very big, clear difference for most people. Being engaged is a huge commitment!

              And it’s very human (though not universal, of course!) to want a ceremony of some kind to formalize that transition! I’m not talking a flash mob and a diamond ring, but just some *moment* when you both formally agree that you will get married. Humans hold whole ceremonies around lots of other things — the marriage ceremony is an obvious example, but also: why do we wait till graduation day to call someone a college graduate, even if they’ve finished all of their schoolwork weeks before? Why is the President sworn in on Inauguration Day, instead of just becoming the President by magic on the stroke of midnight? All of these ceremonies are ways that we make transitions feel more real (and celebratory, in many cases).

              So (assuming you accept my argument that a ritual is helpful for marking the step to a bigger commitment) there SHOULD be a time when people are actively planning to get married but aren’t calling themselves engaged yet, because if there is going to be some kind of ceremony/ritual by which they get engaged, ideally both of them should be on board before that happens.

              And the woman’s parents, too. (JK.)

          6. Eukomos*

            Not every engagement has to be an instagrammable man getting down on his knee to open a ring box and pop the question situation. Sometimes the “hey, do you want to get married? I feel ready” conversation is the engagement. And what would the pre-conversation be to that? Aside from maybe making a few jokes about “gosh hope you don’t mind being stuck with my weird chewing sounds for life” and seeing how they’re received, which is a solid option but probably not a shining example of open communication.

          7. Former prof*

            My parents met my husband when they flew in for the wedding. I met his two weeks before the wedding when they flew into town for his sister’s funeral. We dated for two weeks, then were engaged for three months. There was no proposal – it was just obvious that we should be married. That was over 40 years ago. We had great relationships with both families. Everybody does things their own way.

          8. anna*

            Why would you talk about marriage with your potential future in-laws without your potential future spouse present? How is that a healthy family dynamic?

        2. JustSomeone*

          So much this!!

          If you think they might react badly to the news, that is an extra-strong reason NOT to do this. Even beyond the obvious “what I’d they say no?” implications, it also denies their daughter—the one they have the lifelong relationship with—the chance to roll out the news in a way that has the best chance of being well received.

          When my spouse and I got engaged, it was a mutual decision between us upon which our parents didn’t get a vote. Our parents were very kind and supportive and well aware that we were likely to get married someday. I’m pretty sure my now-spouse and I got on speakerphone together and called each set of parents to tell them the news. But if I’d expected a bad reaction and valued the relationship with my parent, I would have wanted the chance to share more gently and with whatever reasoning made sense. For example, “Mom, Dad, I want you to know that Bartholomew and I have decided to get married. I know you’ve had your doubts about this relationship because [it’s so fast, he’s a Russian troll, he’s in federal prison, he used to cheat on me like crazy, he’s my cousin, etc.], but we have decided this is what’s right for us and I hope you will come to understand that.”

      2. SarahKay*

        So you would expect women to ask the parents of their husbands-to-be for permission also? If the answer to that question is not ‘Yes’ then I suggest you consider the sexism in your position.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          The answer is yes. Both should be discussing potential marriage with their future in-laws. These are people you’re going to be connected to for potentially the rest of your/their lives.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*


            Just…I was supposed to ask my in-laws opinion of our wedding before we did it? Heck no.

              1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

                I’m so sorry that’s a dynamic you had to deal with, but I’m glad that it eventually become more agreeable!

                1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                  Your views on engagement and marriage are okay for you to have *for your situation* but going around telling the rest of us how we should do it is going to get a lot of negative comments and derail the whole thread. So, maybe accept that different people do things in different ways and that’s ok.

              2. SarahKay*

                You have my sympathies.
                For what it’s worth, one of the most happily married couples I know have a MIL who pulled the groom (her son) aside on the wedding day and told him “You don’t have to marry her, you know. I’ll happily sort it all out if you want to change your mind and call it off.” He declined her not-so-kind offer; they celebrated their ruby anniversary recently. From your comments on AAM you and your husband sound similarly happy together so to heck with doubters!

                1. Bad dad*

                  My grandfather pulled my mother (his daughter) aside on her wedding day and said the same, and my mother declined, and they’re married more than 40 years now. But, frankly, grandpa was right. My father’s a pretty difficult man and my mother would be better off without him.

                  Still don’t agree with asking the bride’s parents for permission, though. Turns my stomach with how sexist it is.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            The answer is No. Asking someone to marry you does not require a referendum of family members, who you can be sure have already offered opinions their future in-law. The spouses-to-be are the only people who need to agree to get married because they are marrying each other, not the family. If they find out the couple is engaged only when they see the engagement ring, well, they’ll learn to cope.

            It’s true that families must (learn to) live harmoniously with – or in spite – of each other. If someone downvotes the marriage, no amount of lead time will change that.

            And Ben? If you ever lived as a woman who was treated as her father’s possession until she became her husband’s possession, you might not think ‘asking permission’ to marry is a charming custom. It reeks of sexism, paternalism, and other negative -isms women have dealt with for centuries. I can assure it, it’s anything but charming.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              I escaped from an abusive relationship at age 21 and vowed right then I would never ever allow someone to treat me like their property again. I’m a woman in my own right.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                I’m sorry you had to deal with that, and understand your thinking. You were not, nor are you ever, someone’s property. I’m glad you were able to escape, so many women and men don’t.

                My parents were fundamentalist Christians, and men ruled the church – and family – with an iron hand. My father always told our mother, my sister, and me, that he was the head of our house he owned everything in it – including us. Women were to be submissive to the head of the house and when we married, my sister and I would become the property of our husband.

                Don’t get me started on being given away during the ceremony.

                1. Polar Bear Hug*

                  My grandmother always said that the man was the head of the family… but the woman was the neck and turned the head as she saw fit. :)

          3. SarahKay*

            Wow. Well, I take back my accusation of sexism, with apologies.
            That said, while I’m all in favour of good communication, my choice to marry or not is mine, not my parents and in-laws-to-be, so on this point I think we will have to differ.

          4. pancakes*

            Nope, that’s not necessarily a thing either. You speak as if everyone is obliged to keep in close contact with their parents and their partner’s parents for the rest of their lives. Not everyone does. Some of them / us are much better off as a result.

          5. turquoisecow*


            I’m entering into marriage with my partner. I’m not getting anyone else involved in that discussion. Not my religious adviser, my boss, siblings, friends, or anyone’s parents. It’s a discussion between the two of us. When we come to a decision we tell others, but they don’t get a say.

          6. Mannequin*

            I was 40 years old (and I am a woman) when I made the decision to get married- my father was dead, my mother was nearly 80, and I barely knew my future in-laws…like hell I was discussing my potential future marriage with any of them! The whole idea is ludicrous.

      3. NotCreativewithNames*

        What exactly is the question? Telling someone and giving them “time to process” is not the same as asking for “permission” for something no one but the folks getting married have to give.

      4. Jennifer Strange*

        Unless the couple only just met (in which case engagement is probably not in the cards just yet) her parents probably know marriage is a strong possibility right now. If they have any negative feelings about it they are welcome to bring those up with their daughter if they so choose. And why only “ask” the bride’s parents? Why not the groom’s?

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        Their presumably-adult child. The fiance isn’t asking to buy/take their property; there’s no need to negotiate with the father ahead of time.

      6. Richard Hershberger*

        What an odd take! If the point is to put the father of the bride-to-be on notice, then surely the bride-to-be is the one to do this. I am quite sure that my in-laws were not the least bit surprised when they got the news of our engagement. This is entirely unlike asking the father (specifically the father: not both parents) for permission.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Very odd take. It’s like saying ‘you must discuss with your parents and your in laws before deciding to have a baby so it doesnt shock them’

          (I’m never having kids, but this was the best analogy that sprang to mind)

          1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

            I guess I look at it more that I want to discuss big life events with my family. I don’t want them to ever feel as if they’re the last to know something or that I keep them at a distance.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              But they’re not the last to know just because you know about it first? When I got engaged I immediately called my parents. That didn’t make them the last to know just because my husband didn’t talk to them about it beforehand.

            2. banoffee pie*

              Wouldn’t the in-laws be next to know after the couple? Isn’t that good enough?That isn’t keeping them at a distance! So it goes couple, then in laws, then family, friends, colleagues etc. You seem to be arguing for telling in laws before the couple even knows they’re engaged. This conversation is really tiring me out lol

      7. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        If you’re close enough to your child (or anyone else) that your opinion on whether they should get married, or to whom, is important, you’re unlikely to be shocked by the news.

        As for “curtailing negative reactions,” if you disapprove of your child’s partner, your child, and their partner, probably know that already, and the situation is unlikely to be improved by you calling or emailing or what-have-you to say “Mr. Warbleworth, I hope it’s OK for me to ask Tangerina to marry me.”

        I know someone whose culture expects people to ask for their parents’ blessing before getting married. Their parents refused to give that blessing. They went ahead and got married, and have been happily married for a couple of decades; they no longer speak to their mother, and this is part of why.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          To be clear, I would consider a family member getting overly emotional (in a happy way) during the engagement to be a negative reaction. It’s detracting from the couple. Anything that makes the moment not about the couple would be a negative reaction and talking about it ahead of time can diminish what may happen.

          But that’s also a discussion to have ahead of time. Will family for either side be present for the question, or will it be just the couple?

          1. PollyQ*

            People can of course please themselves with how the actual proposal works. Personally, I don’t understand the preference to have a proposal that involves more than the two people getting proposed — not family, not friends, and not a whole arena full of sportsball fans. But if you’re going to do the thing in front of your family, asking them not to be too happy is just not reasonable.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              I also feel like there’s so much emphasis on “popping the question.” For some people that works and they have a special memory and that’s great. But I’ve got friends who were talking over dinner one night and mutually decided that they’d like to get married. Neither of them proposed, they had a conversation, came to a mutual decision, and got married. And I think that’s beautiful.

              1. Coenobita*

                That’s what we did, though we were living in different states at the time, so the conversation happened during our nightly phone calls – people I’m close to know I have a pretty firm “no surprises” policy (with exceptions for things like “guess what, I brought you a donut!” LOL). And I also know lots and lots of people who did the “let’s definitely get married at some point, but first I want you to pop the question in a creative way” thing and they have lovely memories of it. But NONE of these stories involved anyone’s employers!!!

              2. allathian*

                That’s the way it happened for us. By that time, my husband-to-be and I’d been cohabiting for more than a year, and I was 7 months pregnant.

          2. JB*

            Obviously if you’re going to propose in front of a group then the group needs to know, but that’s a discussion of logistics that involves all the people who will be there, not just the parents.

      8. a tester, not a developer*

        I can see a “we’re giving you a heads up” type of thing – my husband and I did that, mostly because we were quite young and didn’t want anyone freaking out publicly. But often there’s an undertone of “I won’t ask your daughter to marry me if you say no” to the asking for permission/blessing thing that’s icky.

        1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          I agree, permission isn’t what should be sought. It’s a conversation about intentions.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            But there doesn’t need to be a conversation about intentions. A person simply calling their parents and saying “Hey, [partner] and I are now engaged!” is a perfectly sufficient conversation.

      9. NeutralJanet*

        Isn’t the whole point of an engagement notification that a marriage is coming? Why would you need to give a notification to expect a notification of a marriage?

        1. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

          yes. exactly this. And why would anyone other than the child of those parents in question be the person to share the news that they have made a decision to get married to a specific person at some point in the future?

        2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

          It may be that I’m too grounded in tradition on this, but an engagement is supposed to be an announcement to your extended family, friends, and so on. Immediate family would be aware that this would be coming before hand.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            I completely disagree. The discussion of an engagement is just for the two people becoming engaged. Immediate family can find out after just like everyone else. They have no part in the engagement any more than they will have a part in the actual marriage.

          2. I should really pick a name*

            I think this is where a lot of confusion is coming from.

            Most define engagement as the act of deciding to marry each other.
            Notifying others isn’t generally contained within that. (an engagement party happens after the actual engagement).

            Who gets notified when is up to personal circumstances.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think you’re working from a very different set of norms than most people. Which is fine, you’re entitled to them — but presenting it as “this is how it works/how it should work” is very out of sync with the actual current day norms on this, and it sounds like you don’t realize that part!

          4. allathian*

            In many jurisdictions, including mine, the engagement no longer has any legal meaning. When my mom was born, her parents had been married for about 6 months, but because they were officially engaged for a year before that, and got married before she was born, my grandmother wasn’t ostracized for having premarital sex. The engagement proved the intention to marry, and a broken engagement was almost as serious as a divorce, although it had fewer legal consequences.

      10. Artemesia*

        but you don’t need to ask — you need to tell as in, she calls her folks when she has accepted to share the news — or the two of them visit and share the news.

      11. NotAnotherManager!*

        I was almost 30 when I got engaged married, and I did not need my Mommy’s permission or even blessing to do so. (She also has terrible taste in men – exhibit A: my father – and I joke with my husband that the fact that she liked him so much might be a bad sign.)

        We’ve been married 20 years and have strong relationships with my mom and his parents, despite making adult decisions about our own lives without pre-approval.

      12. JB*

        Oh goodness no. If you expect negative reactions, you shouldn’t be involving them pre-engagement at all. This is a tradition that should only be acted out if you know EVERYONE involved is going to be happy to be a part of it.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      So weird. Asking permission never crossed my husband’s or my mind when we decided to get engaged, so I was absolutely shocked when I learned that my sister’s boyfriend asked our parents for permission. Yes, it was a formality–he had already purchased the ring and they had a great relationship–but…still…

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        My own Dad’s response to the pearl clutchers who were tutting over the fact that he was not asked “permission” by my husband to propose to me: “why on Earth would he ask ME? He’s not marrying ME.”

    8. Phony Genius*

      I once heard a woman paraphrase Groucho Marx: “I won’t marry any man my father would approve of.”

    9. Beth*

      YES! If my daughter’s SO ask for permission my husband plans on telling them that they are clearly misunderstanding the independence of said daughter.

    10. Marriage*

      I know when my SO proposed, WE talked to my parents about it…we didn’t ask them, rather informed them that momentarily he would propose to me in their back yard. Originally, he wanted to talk to my dad but I insisted that my mother and I both be there for it.

      1. KateM*

        Informed that he will propose? Doesn’t that mean that he already has proposed, or rather, that you already have agrred to marry – that is, are engaged?

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Gotta admit, I’ve always found the planned proposal between people who have already agreed to marry to be confusing. If you’re planning to marry each other, you’re engaged to be married. You don’t need a public display of Asking.

          1. NotCreativewithNames*

            Agreed! When I first started hearing this from peers in my 20s I was so confused. I knew a couple planning on getting married (because both had told me). Then the male partner tells me he “proposed” and I was like, proposed what? You asked about the thing you’d already agreed on? Why?

          2. Autumnheart*

            Think of it this way, I always know when my birthday is coming up, but I still like it when people show up with a cake and sing “Happy Birthday”. Celebrating milestones is a nice way to break up the routine.

          3. allathian*

            Yeah, definitely. I honestly find public displays of affection beyond a hug or a kiss on the cheek embarrassing to witness. Public proposals are *cringe*. I mean, what’s the point if you’ve already agreed to get married? If it comes as a surprise to the person being asked, that’s even worse. I wonder how many people only say yes to a jumbotron proposal because they’re put on the spot, and then quietly break off the engagement before there’s a wedding?

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’ve only witnessed one public proposal – a couple sitting behind me at a football game. And yes, it involved the announcer and the jumbotron. He produced a ring, she said yes, they kissed, and after the camera moved away they went back to what they were doing. It clearly wasn’t a surprise to her. It was like they had checked off a box. “Showy public proposal we can tell our friends about? Check!”

          4. JB*

            God forbid people have some fun and enjoy a little ceremony around an important decision in their lives.

            You can conduct yourself however you like – personally, I don’t plan to marry at all – but it’s silly to act like it’s ‘confusing’ why people would want a fun, celebratory proposal. Get your nose out of the air.

        2. JB*

          I really hope you don’t think the proposal and presentation of the ring should be a surprise to one of the people involved…

          Both people absolutely should have agreed that they want to get married prior to the proposal.

    11. FD*

      Yeah, I personally really dislike this even when all the parties involved like the tradition. I definitely know people who have done it and liked the tradition–I suspect my sister’s husband may have, though I never asked. If I had married a man, we would have had WORDS if he’d tried it.

      But it’s extra EXTRA weird and gross to try this with some random man in your SO’s life! Also, it’s one thing if the parties involved have talked and one partner is like “Hey this is a tradition that matters to me, can you talk to my parents before you propose” vs. just randomly assuming that it’s OK to contact your SO’s boss.

    12. Abbey*

      Maybe the boyfriend is trying to get the boss to cover this woman’s dowry? Not sure how many goats are required these days though.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I agree that asking permission is gross.

      I feel differently about asking for a blessing (from mom, dad, grandparents, or whoever), because of the religious/cultural meanings of “blessings” in my upbringing. In a family that is close and loving, asking for parental blessings can be simply a ritualized acknowledgment that they are all going to be part of the same family going forward. (And gives the family a heads-up that the proposal is happening).

      It’s an opportunity for the parents to express support for the relationship and the marriage. Could be the grandparents, another person who is like family – whoever you would look to for support. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise, any more than a proposal should come as a complete surprise. If the parent has no idea where this came from or what it’s about, something is seriously wrong.

      In no way should it ever involve asking your *boss*, or searching around for a generic “father /parental figure” to fill that role, regardless of the actual relationship. It only makes sense if it is appropriate to the relationship.

      My husband asked my dad for his blessing before he proposed, and my dad said basically, “if she’s happy, I’m happy.” Everyone involved felt like it went the way it should have.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I don’t think that folks who are against the idea of seeking permission (or even a blessing) are not having a sensible take.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, exactly this. My brother-in-law took my dad to the pub and told him that he and my sister were planning on getting married, and my dad was really chuffed with that – he didn’t feel he needed to give ‘permission’ or a ‘blessing’ but he appreciated the gesture.

    14. dry erase aficionado*

      I instructed my dad that if anyone is dumb enough to ask his permission to marry me he should feel free to tell my suitor an emphatic no, because no one who knows me well enough to propose would think such an outdated patriarchal tradition is a good idea for me.

  4. Sis Boom Bah*

    #3, just shudder, shudder, shudder. So creepy, so weird. Imagine thinking a grown up woman needs anyone’s permission or blessing to do anything, especially when she has a living parent still even if she did want this.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Should I ask my bank manager for permission before I accept a job offer? I mean, he might think the pay isn’t enough.
      Should I ask my line manager for permission to have an operation to fix an issue? I mean, she’d be impacted by my time off.
      Should I ask my parents for permission before I start a new medication? I mean, it might be one they’re morally against.

      All of these are as ridiculous as asking someone’s boss for permission to propose!

      1. banoffee pie*

        The daftest thing is that she just picked the closest man figure she could think of. Might as well ask the guy who serves her coffee every day in a cafe or her local postman. Hey, he’s a man who recognises her face!!

  5. RJ*

    OP2, there are so many reasons for someone to fail courses in college, and frankly, success in courses does not necessarily predict success on the job. The biggest thing grades tell you is how good someone is at “being good in school.”

    Alison is spot on – ask the candidate directly and be honest with yourself about how the answers they give you will predict success on the job.

    1. Serenity*

      If anything, that transcript tells you that the person is goal-oriented, great at persevering, and dedicated. They understand working within the available system to achieve results. Yes, ask questions, but I suspect you have a fantastic potential employee in front of you!

    2. RJ*

      I agree. Perseverance can tell you a lot about a team member. Not everyone scores an A immediately and I know that in the course of my upskilling during the pandemic, there have been a few tests that I’ve had to retake a few times. Sometimes you don’t get all the material right away. Sometimes there are subjects that just take a bit longer to master. It happens.

      And hey, I love your username!!

      1. Artemesia*

        failing a course in your major — connected to the job as this was suggested in the letter — is in fact a giant red flag. Do you really want someone so incompetent that they require several tries to pass the core skill courses in your business? A conversation is at least in order and I would want some demonstrated competence in the field before hiring this person. If it were an accountant, I’d want them to do some accounting challenges in my office under observation before accepting that they knew what they were doing. It is hard to fail courses. Repeated failures are very uncommon. Perhaps there was a health crisis or family crisis or whatever — but barring that, you have a not very able person in your field even if they manage to pass the courses after several attempts.

        1. Remote_remote*

          Or they have challenges with test taking which have absolutely no impact on real life, or some sort of mental or physical health issue that took a long time to get under control or had relapses . . . There are so many other options beyond “this person is not very able.”

          1. HM MM*

            This. I have a dear friend who has an absolutely brilliant mind when it comes to math and physics. He’s the only reason I passed a physics class I was in with him. Because as a high school student he had a deeper understanding and was a better teacher than the actual teacher. Unfortunately he also has a terrible case of ADHD, and some other possible mental health issues that make him really struggle with traditional schooling.

            I know he struggled immensely in college and he never was able to finish his degree because he just kept failing classes. It’s such a shame, because his knowledge and understanding on the subject would be an asset to so many different companies/roles. He’s just unable to handle the US school system. And without that piece of paper he’s been relegated to mostly food industry roles

        2. BluntBunny*

          Test scores can just be how much time they had to study. If they are from a working class background where they have to work to be able to afford to study, they will have less time to revise.
          If they passed the modules then they know the information now. Knowledge that is relevant to the job can be tested in interviews.

        3. Anon4This*

          You’re awfully harsh. You don’t know why they failed the courses- you even say ‘perhaps there was a health crisis or family crisis or whatever’- well yes perhaps that exactly, that’s why you ASK.

          Personally I failed multiple courses my freshman year because I experienced a major trauma and just stopped going to class or doing homework for a while. After some time and the shock of getting put on academic probation I was able to pull myself together enough to repeat those classes and get all A’s in them. I’m glad no one ever asked for my undergrad transcripts or judged me on that bad first year.

          1. Artemesia*

            uh I suggested they ask. I am sort of shocked that so many people think repeatedly flunking courses in the major related to the job — MANY different courses, repeatedly, is not a pretty clear sign of someone who is likely to be incompetent in this field. Maybe not — but the need to prove that shifts strongly to the candidate demonstrating they can do the work.

            1. Transcripts*

              I failed a ton of classes in college. All due to absences and work not turned in. I didn’t go to class or turn work in because I was raped twice, once the first week of freshman year and once spring of junior year. Being raped caused me to spiral into eating disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, and severe depression with a suicide attempt. Took me 7 years to graduate, in large part due to having to retake classes I failed to replace the grades I got when I didn’t prioritize school over trying to stay alive. I’m glad no one ever dug into my transcripts in a job interview. I have a degree, that’s all that mattered.

        4. HS Teacher*

          For most jobs, the skills you need to do it will be learned on the job and not through lectures and textbooks. I can’t even imagine denying a candidate employment for something as silly as grades. What about students who are working full-time or raising children or dealing with health issues while attending school? You think someone who fails a class is “incompetent”?! This is so out of touch I can’t even imagine working for someone like you.

          1. Lexie*

            My internship was incredibly useful and so was the lecture associated with it. The rest of my courses gave me theory and and a lot of random facts about my field but they weren’t very helpful in my day to day work.

        5. JB*

          This is a very strange position.

          The fact that they eventually DID pass the class shows that they ARE able. It may have taken multiple attempts, but they had to have learned the material, or they never would have passed.

        6. ErinWV*

          Speaking as someone in academia who views transcripts every day – repeated failures even in major courses are NOT uncommon. There are a million reasons for this, and incompetence is not in the top twenty of them.

          It is absolutely common for failed courses which are retaken (AND PASSED, which I think is not being acknowledged enough in this conversation) to not be figured into the GPA. At my institution, subsequent retakes are figured in even if the second or third try is a lower grade. The grade that is figured into the GPA is the most recent (and likely most accurate) reflection of the student’s knowledge.

    3. nothing rhymes with purple*

      Yes this. I would have looked at that transcript and seen that the candidate re-took the failed courses and did well the second time on all of them, and been impressed by their perseverence.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I am will Alison here. Question asked and answered. Now ask a different question.
      I don’t think failing and retaking a class is like doing time in jail. Is it the number of classes? Would OP have felt this way over one class? Was the GPA so high that OP investigated because it seemed unnaturally high?
      Maybe OP will find out that the person skipped the final to fail the classes to be able to retake and ace them. If s/he had time and money, and a skewed sense of priorities and a unique interpretation of the school guidelines, it could have been a master plan!

      1. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

        I gleefully admit that I bombed the heck out of an exam in a class to study for a different exam (in the same class — all exams had the same due date except the final. It was a very chill biology class) because I knew I’d still get a B overall. We were allowed a retake and the instructor would average the two grades, but I had to explain that I literally couldn’t devote the time necessary to study for the retake AND pass my other exam, and since I knew I’d have a B in the class, I simply didn’t care. I was in my 30s and working full time. I had to prioritize a test that I could pass with studying over a test on subject matter that was so detailed (it was the instructor’s favorite subject and he went ham on the exam questions for that one) that I might study and still get a poor grade and it was the best way to do so.

        1. AnonymousHOU*

          +1. I finished a professional masters program in 2020, and I had to retake several classes due to health/work/family issues that came up during my time in the program. If anything, taking the classes more than once strengthened my understanding of the material. I also had to have at least a handful of firm, polite conversations with professors to say “I’m not going to submit this paper worth 10% of my grade because 1) I can still make a B without it and 2) this is one of the busiest weeks of the year at work and that’s more important”. No, I don’t want an extension.

          To OP2 – why is the transcript so important? I understand verifying that they got the degree they said they did, but reviewing a transcript with a magnifying glass feels weirdly invasive. Makes me wonder if employees’ work is regularly scrutinized the same way.

      2. not a doctor*

        To be honest, I think we also need to stop caring about someone having been in jail/prison, at least to the extent that any conviction at all stops being an instant disqualifier. Like, would I hire an accountant who’s done multiple stints for fraud? No. But some people have messy pasts to overcome, about things that are totally irrelevant to any job they’d apply for.

        Example: One of my father’s favorite employees at his IT consulting gig turned out to be a former gang member — the truth came out when he was unfortunately arrested again (because owning a weapon is both a major parole violation and common sense if you’re afraid of retribution from old enemies and/or former friends). He was otherwise completely and totally reformed, and such a positive presence at work that my dad testified on his behalf as a character witness.

    5. The Rural Juror*

      Exactly. My poor brother had to retake a course three times because he couldn’t understand the professor’s accent and was having a hard time (engineering major, course was some sort of advanced math). The third time, he took it over the summer with a different instructor and passed with flying colors.

      I can understand exactly what he meant, I once had an instructor who was very difficult to understand, but luckily it was a studio course and doing the project was more important than learning out of a book. My instructor’s first language wasn’t English, which was all good and well, but he didn’t seem to be able to understand his students when they were asking him questions in English. Pretty much everyone in that class had an instance where they asked a question, but then got an answer to a completely different question, and walked away confused and unsure of how to proceed with their project. It was rough…I think I slid by with a C…

      1. H2*

        This definitely does happen, but if the job candidate has multiple Fs in multiple classes, I think that’s much harder to explain. This is true especially if they occurred over multiple semesters.

        I am a college professor and teach a lot of classes both in my area and for non-majors. I have found that it is very uncommon for students to fail a class twice. I’ve only had it happen twice in 10 years of teaching. Once the student definitely partied his way through the first time around and had something legitimately bad happened to him that messed his whole semester up the second time around. The other one definitely cheated through both semesters and failed as a result.

        A bad semester is totally understandable, and a bad time in any given class is totally understandable. But it’s much harder to explain something larger scale, like a lot of failing grades across several semesters.

        OP, the candidate definitely did not mislead you. This is a thing that a lot of universities are doing now, and while it is pretty controversial, it’s also pretty standard at this point. What I would say is that you probably can’t say too much about the candidate either way, but it would be a red flag for me and I would ask.

      2. Cold Fish*

        OMG, I had the same issue. I took a computer programing class in college and could not understand the teacher, nor the computer lab attendant, as they both had very thick accents.

        I got thru the class and the final exam and was working on the very last portion of the final project. I was near tears, I was so frustrated. The lab attendant came over and I finally understood something he said. It was an actual lightbulb moment where I distinctly remember thinking “Oh!, that’s all I have to do?”. Ten minutes later my final project was running without errors. I avoided anything resembling programming for years after that.

        I ended up with a B in the class and the only thing I could think is everyone else in the class must have been struggling as much as I was because I know I bombed the class and exams up to the final project. Now, one of my favorite things at work is playing with Excel Visual Basics formulas to see what else I can get Excel to do. I really wonder how my career path may have been altered if I actually understood that class at the time!

    6. Jennifer*

      Yep. I have an entire semester of “Failed” courses because I switched majors but it was too late for me to pull those courses.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      I was surprised that all universities don’t treat re-taken courses the same way. I know this is what my school did – when you re-take the course, your old grade is not calculated in your gpa. (Source: This is what happens when you drop out without officially dropping out.)

    8. Autumnheart*

      I have a bunch of failed courses in my transcript.

      Here’s the deal: when you transfer to another school, your GPA is wiped clean, but you get credit for the courses you pass.

      So, since my first attempt at college was a travesty, and I decided to go back later in life, I enrolled at a local community college and took a few courses. My credits transferred, but my GPA only accounted for the classes I took at that community college. I got two As and a B.

      Then a few years after that, I decided to finish my bachelors, and tranferred to a 4-year university. As with the community college, the credits transferred and the GPA did not. Over the next 3 years of attending the 4-year university (I went part-time because I was also working), I got all As except one B. I graduated with a 3.9 GPA.

      So that’s how that works. A GPA reflects the quality of work performed in total. If someone failed a class, then clearly they made up for it elsewhere or it would be reflected in their GPA. I don’t know what the issue is, though–is LW just disturbed that the candidate failed at something? We all fail at something. It doesn’t mean we can’t succeed later, even at that very thing we failed at earlier. That’s the whole point. Maybe looking at transcripts for recent grads isn’t a great policy if you’re going to use their learning process against them.

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      Here’s a chair, sit down and breathe deeply. :-)
      (Could not resist responding since our AAM names are so similar!)

  6. awesome3*

    Too bad there is no update yet to the question about permission to marry an employee, going to put it on my list of updates to request next time Alison asks!

  7. MegPie*

    I feel so sad for the Employee in #3. Yes, totally inappropriate and the boss should do exactly what Alison says, but I can’t imagine what her life must be like to have such a warped view of relationships.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        I mean maybe? That’s a lot of psychology to infer from a second hand source about a third person’s actions.

    1. Aster*

      It could just as easily be a failure on the boyfriend’s part to understand social cues or jokes.
      I can see someone joking about needing her bosses’ blessings to take time off for a wedding, in a joking kind of way, being confused by someone overly literal with an actual desire to “get permission”.

  8. Martha*

    I’m a person who graduated with a decent GPA but had to take several courses over again. Turns out that everything that made me bad at school makes me good at my work. If someone asked me about it, I would say that I struggled in a school setting, but am very goal-driven so did what it took to get my degree.

    1. Dust Bunny*


      I started out in a STEM field but it turns out I have an arithmetic-based learning disability (this was 25+ years ago before things like this were much on the radar) that makes things like calculus and chemistry almost impossible. Then–long story–my schedule imploded and I had to reconsider it all, anyway, just to finish, so I switched to history since I already had a bunch of history classes and could finish it easily. I can do history with my hands tied behind my back. My GPA my senior year was suddenly a whole lot better than it had been the preceding three years.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      A common reason people struggle in school is that they *are* working and are prioritizing their jobs. All that work experience may actually make them a better, not worse, employee (compared to someone who had rarely worked before graduation).

      Of course, it could be a million different reasons. But it’s better not to assume either way, and to me, someone retaking courses shows admirable persistence.

    3. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      Agreed. I also struggled as a student (still do! I’m working on another degree), I couldn’t always keep pace with how fast information was supposed to be consumed and needing to work 50+ hours/week also didn’t help.

      Once I got to the workforce, I was a force to be reckoned with, and generally seen as an extreme performer. I’m now on the other side of that academic equation and I’ve shown to be quite proficient at teaching students.

    4. TiffIf*

      I struggled in college, which was really an uncomfortable experience for me because I had always excelled in school, even in highly rigorous and competitive courses. But I was also struggling to make a living while in college–sometimes working part time jobs in between classes and sometimes taking whole semesters off to work full time, or struggling to work full time and take classes part time–and was diagnosed part way through with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

      My GPA from college is frankly TERRIBLE. My university also changed its policy on GPA calculation part way through my tenure–it used to be if you retook a course your GPA only reflected the higher grade, but the change meant the grades for all attempts at the course were averaged together for GPA.

      But in the work world? Not nearly the problems I had in college! I was a rockstar on my previous team (I changed positions internally about a month ago) and am now diving in to some exciting new challenges in my new position which came with a hefty raise.

      1. Cold Fish*

        I remember a parade of speakers my senior year of high school coming in and talking about how much more difficult college is. When I got to college, I came to a very similar conclusion as you indicate. College itself wasn’t that much more difficult than high school; It was just that once in college I had bills and work and all that on top of the school stuff to worry about that made life that much more difficult.

    5. Srra*

      Due to learning disabilities associated with being on the spectrum my daughter had to take classes more than once in college. However once she got it, she excelled. She has gone on to be an excellent worker. Another thing she learned was perseverance – because things didn’t always come easy the first time she learned the value of hard work, attention to detail, not giving up. All of these have been very helpful in life, both in and out of work.

      1. Run mad; don't faint*

        I have two in this exact situation still in school. Their level of perseverance amazes me as does their ability to analyze the situation and problem solve. I really think they’ll be okay when they start working full time. I would hate for someone to judge them on the classes they retook and not on the strengths they will bring to a job.

  9. mcfizzle*

    The first letter reminds me of that ” who would you want to pack your parachute” analogy. Isn’t the point that the student did indeed master the content, even if it didn’t happen on the first try?

    Copying from the internet (sorry – hope this isn’t some kind of trademark / copyright infringement): Students are often given only once chance to be tested on a topic, in the format of intimidating exams which comprise large percentages of the grade they receive in any given class. Afterwards, a student is able to see the mistakes they’ve made from comments and feedback their instructor provides, yet they still suffer the consequences of errors they may have made from a not receiving a perfect score the first time around. There was a graphic that showed, ‘Who would you want to pack your parachute?’ There was one person who packed it perfectly the first time, but didn’t do it well the next time, did alright the next time, and so on. And would you want to jump out of a plane if the person who packed your parachute didn’t do it well consistently? On the other hand, there was another person who started out not knowing how to do it, but then, over time, built up a proficiency to pack it well every time. And that’s what I’m thinking about…I want a student to show that over time, they have built consistency in their [mathematical understanding], even if they start out not understanding how to do it.

    1. Duckles*

      With the caveat that Alison’s advice is spot on— it really depends whether “learning quickly” is a requirement of the job or not, and if there’s a reason for the failures (coming from someone who caught mono in college and almost failed a class because I missed so many quizzes, and got an A on retaking)—

      There’s a theory that everyone has three levels of math they can learn (no idea if this applies to other fields)— 1 is they learn, understand and retain it, 2 is they can learn enough to pass a test but don’t truly grasp it and don’t retain it, and 3 is they can’t understand it enough to begin with. I’m quite good at most basic algebra, stats, geometry, etc but definitely hit Level Two with calculus and just couldn’t grasp higher level math at all. So whether or not the grades matter may depend whether you need someone for whom the material is a Level 1, not Level 2.

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        I’ve really noticed that with second language teaching too (I’m in Canada, so I’m thinking of French). My son is friends with more than one kid who is in French immersion but can’t handle free-flowing conversations in the wild. They retain all the grammar rules and vocab, but jumping from one topic to another as you do when chatting with a friend is a struggle for them.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I studied French for 8 years, even minored in it in college. Could read it fluently, write term papers, and ace tests. But I never mastered regular, casual conversation!

          1. a tester, not a developer*

            We just came back from Quebec, and it really drove home the differences between “I have a general idea of what we’re going to be talking about” and “Oh, crap – they’re completely out of dark roast coffee and blueberry muffins – what do I do now?” LOL

          2. Gumby*

            See also: did better on the Spanish Literature AP test than the Spanish Language AP test. It was easier for me to write an essay about symbolism in a poem (poem and essay both in Spanish) than to answer questions like “what did you have for dinner last night?” and record my answers on a cassette tape. (Yes, yes, I am ancient.)

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Gentle suggestion: next time credit the web page. The text may be public domain, but it also may not be. Caveat: I’m not a lawyer.

  10. EBStarr*

    Wow, you have to be *really* committed to the whole asking-permission thing to get your boyfriend to ask your male boss’s permission to marry you. It’s like, “I have no men in my family but how could I *possibly* get married without some older man, somewhere, telling my boyfriend that it’s OK?”

      1. EBStarr*

        Yeah, there’s just so much commitment to sexism here. Women need permission to get engaged + women are not adequate to *give* permission for their daughters = I guess I have to pass my boss’s number to my boyfriend so that we can get engaged? It’s a lot.

    1. Prefer my pets*

      No kidding. I’d be watching this employee a lot more closely for awhile to make sure that these types of sexist beliefs weren’t seeping into the workplace elsewhere. Reminds me of the younger version of the employee who told her supervisor she couldn’t eat lunch with her husband because it gave the appearance of an affair. I’d be really concerned this employee also bought into mixed gender coworkers shouldn’t be alone together, people need to stick to gendered career ladders (female admins, male IT, etc). It might just be one weird hang-up…but it might not be since it’s such an extreme version of women needing permission to marry.

  11. JohannaCabal*

    #2 If you can, I’d push back on requiring transcripts. I was a recent college graduate about 14-15 years ago, and the only prospective employer that requested them was the federal government (and they required unopened official transcripts which meant considerable time and money). The company I did end up working for never requested a transcript, although they did perform a background check to confirm I received my degree.

    Alison is right; sometimes family situations happen. Plus, last year, universities had to suddenly switch to remote learning and many students perform better in class. There are so many factors that go into grades.

    1. Bob Howard*

      I really reccomend reading Matt Reid’s take on this here:
      Do you really want to select for people who have gone for the easyist grades possible throughout college in order to achieve a high GPA?

      P.S. I strongly reccommend this blog anyway; while education is it’s own world with it’s own rules, there is a lot about the practice of being a senior manager in a tightly cost-limited situation.

    2. LadyK*

      I think it’s ludicrous to get transcripts for anything other than entry level/first jobs into the industry or if you’ve only been out of school under 5 years with no applicable job experience. I’ve had to provide transcripts for jobs and I’ve been out 20+ years. What grades I made in undergrad or grad school does not reflect on what I can do today.

  12. Teapot Repair Technician*


    …but on the other hand we risk hiring someone who can’t follow through or is willing to sweep negatives under the rug…

    This is some one who tried, failed, then tried and tried again until they succeeded. That’s the opposite of “someone who can’t follow through.”

    Also, they willingly provided their transcript–the opposite of sweeping anything under the rug.

    I understand being concerned, but I think it would help to think about what exactly those concerns are.

    1. Midwestern Scientist*

      This. I thought that was such an odd take. They reported to you their GPA as calculated by their university and provided transcripts when asked. They aren’t hiding anything. Retaking and eventually passing courses to me shows resiliency/commitment

    2. Public Sector Manager*

      The fixation on grades is also puzzling. Granted, the applicant is new to the workforce and is a recent graduate. But they graduated. They earned the degree they said they earned. They earned the GPA they said they earned. So they had to take classes again, they did, and succeeded!

    3. Medusa*

      I don’t get why the LW is suddenly alarmed. Studying is very different from working, and they didn’t lie or omit anything. Why on earth would they disclose to a potential employer that they had to retake several courses?

  13. Kitry*

    Regarding #3
    Judging by the other comments so far, it looks like I’m the only one who thinks that boss should just give his blessing. I agree with everyone that it’s an incredibly odd and awkward request, but it sounds like it’s important to the employee and refusing is going to feel like a slap in the face to her. I feel very sad for the employee and I don’t see what what harm it would do for the boss to extend her a little kindness. I’m just imagining myself in her shoes- the closest thing I have to a father figure is a man that I have no relationship with outside of the professional, and then he can’t even be bothered to say (Not even do! Just say!) something that costs him nothing and means a lot to me? Just… ouch. It seems mean-spirited to no purpose.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      nooooo. The relationship needs to stay professional and above-board and not get into weird emotional territory. Boss wants to create distance from this whole “he’s like my dad” notion, not encourage it to continue.

      1. Haha Lala*

        Especially since this ‘request’ isn’t even coming from the employee directly– who knows if that’s really how she feels?! Maybe she sent those texts as a joke to get the bf off her back and she’d be mortified to know that her boss saw them. LW needs to stay out of it as much as he can!

      2. Kitry*

        So part of the reason why I feel boss should have given his blessing is that he WAS blindsided by the request. To me that suggests that employee actually doesn’t have a history of blurring professional boundaries or other inappropriate behavior. Of course boss can set boundaries later on if need be, but it’s fully possible that employee just wants this one thing and that will be the end of it.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But to do this now WOULD blur those professional boundaries! It will be harder to set those later on if he does this one thing now.

          1. Kitry*

            You’re right, I don’t disagree with you there. I just think it’s OK to prioritize kindness over being normal/appropriate in this situation.
            Honestly the “appropriateness” ship sailed all the way back when employee’s father left her. That was obviously not appropriate. What’s left now is doing the best you can in a not-OK situation.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              But how is it kindness to simply give in to your employee? What about the OP? Doesn’t he get a say in not performing actions that make him uncomfortable (as this one clearly does)? And again, doing this one thing is going to blur boundaries and has the potential to create very awkward work issues (not just between OP and the employees but also any other employees who hear that he “gave his blessing” to her union).

              Honestly the “appropriateness” ship sailed all the way back when employee’s father left her. That was obviously not appropriate. What’s left now is doing the best you can in a not-OK situation.

              But none of that has anything to do with the OP. It is not his fault that his employee’s father wasn’t a nice guy.

            2. Teapot Repair Technician*

              In my experience “father left ” is shorthand for a much, much more complicated story. And considering we’re hearing it from the LW, who heard it from the boyfriend, who heard it from his girlfriend (and depending her age when it happened, she might have heard it from her mother), that makes it a 4th-hand account. Hardly enough reliable info to the judge anyone’s appropriateness.

        2. Sharon*

          I think the boss should just say “Of course I wish my employees happiness in their personal lives, but the only person who you need permission from is your partner.” It’s kind but boundary-setting at the same time.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I’m with you on this. If I were the manager, I would say that I’m honoured that she considers me in this capacity and that I would give my blessing as her mentor and friend. Or something like that. (Sidestep the father bit, if that’s uncomfortable.)

      Why rain on both of the happy couple’s parades? It isn’t like this woman is going to list every male manager she ever has as her next of kin.

      (Assuming that the manager feels the employee is a good person and a good employee, that is. If she isn’t, that’s when I would feel it gets really weird.)

      1. PollyQ*

        So it would be OK for the boss to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t give you my blessing to marry Jane because her 2nd Q sales are way down. Maybe if she turns things around by end of year”?! This just underscores how wrong it is to be treating a purely work hierarchical relationship as a personal one.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Except that doing so will only further blur the boundaries of their relationship. He has no business giving a blessing on this. IMO parents don’t either, but it’s especially weird for a boss. Not to mention if word gets out that he gave his blessing for his subordinate to get engaged I think that’s going to raise a lot of eyebrows and questions.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      It’s about maintaining professional boundaries.

      Imagine being fired by the person who gave you their blessing for your marriage?

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly! The blessing is about something in the employee’s personal life that the manager probably has very little insight into (are they a good match? Are they ready for this level of commitment? Do they agree on the Big Issues in life?). The manager is not in any position to give a blessing, no matter how the employee thinks of their relationship.

        By giving a blessing, it would further distort the employee’s perception of the role of the manager. Hopefully the manager kindly declined and explained that it’s not his role to serve as a father figure.

    5. FD*

      No. This is inappropriate. If all parties involved want to participate in a frankly pretty sexist tradition outside of work, that’s their prerogative. It is not okay for a boss to participate in that tradition inside work.

      This is in the same way that a couple could decide for themselves that the woman’s place is in the home and that the wife shouldn’t work but it would NOT be okay for her boss to make that decision or to refuse to promote/mentor/give her raises for the same reason.

    6. PollyQ*

      No, this may not be a huge problem, but it’s still a problem that needs to be fixed. At minimum, the fiance doesn’t understand the nature of the boss-employee relationship, and there’s good reason to think the employee doesn’t understand it either. Setting an appropriate boundary is the right thing to do for everyone involved, including other employees, who shouldn’t need to worry that this employee is somehow more like a child to the boss than the rest of them. It’s not mean-spirited to state the truth that LW does not hold that role in her life.

      This also reminds me a little of the BDSM employee who wanted everyone in her workplace to call her boyfriend “master.” No, it’s nowhere near that egregious, but there’s still that flavor of dragging unwilling 3rd parties into your relationship.

    7. Here we go again*

      The only way Romeo should be calling op with regards to a relationship is getting the address of the workplace to have flowers delivered.

    8. MistOrMister*

      It’s a very odd thing to be asked by someone that you have no real relationship with. And it would make me nervous. Say the boss gives their blessing just to be kind. What if that turns into a request to walk her down the aisle or be otherwise more invovled in the wedding than he is comfortable with? Or leads to the employee suddenly trying to force a relationship outside the office? To me, Alison’s way of turning them down is kind and keeps things where OP wants them. Not to mention, this is coming from the BF, so there is always a chance that it’s not actually something the employee would want or be comfortable with.

      1. banoffee pie*

        I know what you mean, knowing me I’d just give the blessing/permission to be kind and get them off my back (but I wouldn’t be asked since I’m a woman. Handy!) Even though I really don’t agree the tradition. But then I’d start worrying I shouldn’t have done it and be creeped out :/

  14. Ali G*

    At my last job, the head of my department was ex-military and had been deployed a fair number of times. When I got engaged to my husband he made a joke about meeting him “to make sure he’s for real.” He must have seen my appalled expression and went on to explain. Apparently it’s very common, mostly among the young (19/20) men that are deployed to get “trapped” by local women looking for a meal ticket to the US. He had to interview each couple and on many occasions explain to his cadet that “Jane” was in here last week, head over heels in love with Bob and he was not going to approve this marriage.
    I can’t imagine.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I once had something similar happen while learning a South Asian language for my old job. Our instructors were all native speakers, mostly women in their 40s and 50s. When I was with my then-partner, he happened to come to an event, and one of the instructors said how glad she was to meet him “to make sure he was good enough for our girl”. It was mostly a self-aware joke about the extent to which moms in her country approve matches, but it was a semi-serious reflection of the fact that we spend 25-30 hours a week together, often discussing our personal lives, as part of this language learning.

    2. pancakes*

      It’s very sexist to depict women as “trapping” men in marriage this way, and young men as their hapless prey. If these particular young men are prone to finding themselves paired off with women who have ulterior motives, that’s on account of their lack of experience and sophistication, not their gender. Yikes.

      1. Shychi*

        But, it sounds like there were actually women doing this, not just some stereotyping that the boss was referencing. He had firsthand experience with the situation.

        1. Hen*

          It’s the “trapping” language that irks me. Do people pursue relationships with US nationals for green cards? Yes, of course. But it’s a situation that arises from lack of opportunity and often abject desperation. Calling it “trapping” implies a somewhat different motive. Just my two cents.

        2. pancakes*

          Very similarly to what I said about the men, women convincing men who don’t want to get married to marry them, or pressuring them to marry right away, or marry very young, etc., are doing so on account of their character, not their gender. It’s entirely possible to talk about people making controversial and/or seemingly unwise relationship choices without gender essentialism, sexism, and internalized misogyny.

  15. nothing rhymes with purple*

    For #3 — I find myself wondering if Boyfriend revealed things that Employee said to him in confidence that she would never have talked to LW about. Or put another way, I wonder if Employee knows that Boyfriend went to LW to ask permission to marry her, and I wonder how freaked out she would be to find out.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      I don’t know, I feel like if you tell your boyfriend that you think of your boss as a father figure and he should ask for your boss’s blessing to propose, you can’t really get mad if he does.

      1. nothing rhymes with purple*

        So I went back to the letter.

        ” she mentions me being like a father to her and says my blessing would be great. ”

        We are reading this second hand and can’t read the actual texts (thank God) but I wonder if this was more like “I love my boss, he’s like a father to me, I hope he would approve of my getting married” or “my boss is my surrogate father, please go ask him if you can marry me”. I know I’ve said gushing things about my few humane bosses that I would not say to them because the statements would have been Too Much, and I’d be mortified if someone went and told them.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Wish I could read the actual texts! They sound juicy. I agree with you, it’s quite likely she mentioned casually that the boss is like a father to her, and his blessing would be nice, but didn’t actually mean boyfriend to go ask him!! She probably didn’t even want the boss to be told he was a father figure either. Maybe the boyfriend just talks too much lol

  16. Pure Snark*

    A month later. . .

    Dear Alison,
    Since I do not have a father, my beloved asked my boss’ permission to marry me. My boss declined to grant this permission, and yet has not proposed any other suitable candidates for the position. What should I do?

  17. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    For the college transcript question: it doesn’t even need to be a dramatic reason like a family emergency or medical issue for a student to fail a college class; you have no idea what percentage of the class failed — what if that was a particularly awful instructor? What if in their inexperience of attending college, they signed up for a course above their level (first-year thought that 400-level course sounded cool) and realized it too late to officially drop the class. What if they were overly optimistic that they could faithfully make that 7:00 a.m. class and realized that with all of their other course work, a job, uncooperative roommates, social life, etc., they could only crawl out of bed 1/3 of the time. College is time of discovery for a lot of things and not just academic.

    I think requesting the whole transcript is a terrible idea. They got the diploma, that should be enough evidence they learned the information, unless they went to an unaccredited school.

  18. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    #2. – I know someone who lost their mother very suddenly when in college and just stopped going to school without officially dropping classes and failed an entire semester. While perhaps not the most responsible thing, I don’t know how much responsibility we should expect from someone who’s gone through a major family crisis at such a young age. You don’t know what went on with this candidate.

    That being said, even if they didn’t have a crisis, there could be other explanations. Perhaps they realized they needed accommodations and finally got them, which is how they were able to pass eventually. Perhaps they didn’t know how to study well their first go around and got tutoring or learned what worked best for them. I do think we’re sometimes quick to discount people who work to find solutions to their difficulties rather than just excelling immediately. You may have someone on your hands who now knows how to recognize their weaknesses so they can make adjustments to do their best work. (Or you may have someone who excels in certain areas and just isn’t super into some of the classes that were required for their major.)

    All that being said, I agree that just asking is a good way to go. Don’t go at it like you’re accusing them of hiding something; just explain your company’s processes surrounding transcripts and ask about those classes. The way they answer may be quite telling as well.

  19. RC Rascal*

    I was once fired as a volunteer for not getting my work done. I needed to be fired. I should have quit, but was fairly young and didn’t realize that was the responsible option.

    At the time, I was in graduate school. And working. And completely overwhelmed. I had a position of responsibility on a major fundraiser for a large volunteer organization, and I couldn’t deliver the work. The chair fired me after several conversations like the OP outlines above. It was the right decision on her part. For my part, I did learn something from it.

  20. Beka Cooper*

    #2 – I look at college transcripts from all over my state as part of my job (in a college), and as far as I know, EVERY school counts the retake and it negates the earlier failed course. This letter makes me feel like that meme, “Tell me you don’t know anything about college credit without telling me you don’t know anything about college credit.”

    1. Minerva*

      The schools I have attended count all course attempts. I am not in the US, but maybe the letter writer didn’t attend university there either.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’ve seen some convoluted formulas about how colleges/universities either replace or average credits when a student retakes a course — some of it depends on how quickly the student retakes the course, how much of the failed class they completed (unofficial drops or Incomplete count differently than completing the class with a D or F), whether the class is a major requirement vs. general ed requirement vs. an elective, etc… state schools are probably more standardized than private schools

    3. Gumby*

      My school counted all attempts but! it also had an absurdly late drop date for courses. I think you could withdraw halfway through the course and it wouldn’t appear on your transcript at all; after that it was shown as a ‘W’. And an even later date for switching to pass/no credit which meant it would be excluded from your GPA. So you could wait until basically the Friday before finals week, decide that you didn’t need Intro to Chem E for your major anyway and you’d rather not put in the time studying for that final when the other final over there would count towards your major, and switch to P/NC. Ahem, not that I would have any experience with that…

      1. After 33 years ...*

        We exclude all previous attempts from the calculation of average. We also have no limit on the number of times a particular course can be taken. It’s not uncommon for students to take first-year calculus more than 5 times before getting a pass.

  21. Stepped on a Lego*

    LW2 – Please think about this out of kindness.
    When I was in college, it was a struggle. I came from a very small town that didn’t prepare me for college, and was the first generation in my family to go to college, so didn’t know what to expect. I never had the opportunity to take AP courses, and saw other students came in with half their college already completed because of AP classes. My parents had just had a nasty divorce, and saved no money, and didn’t contribute anything while I was in school, so I had to work 25+ hours a week while taking a full load. My grades really suffered. Some classes were easy, some were more difficult, and we will not discuss organic chemistry. Multiple choice tests are really hard for me, and I never learned how to study. I graduated with loans that took me 17 years to pay off. I still have dreams that I have to go back to school because I forgot to take a class, or failed one, etc.
    You don’t know this person’s situation, and personally I wouldn’t even ask about the GPA. Why is that important? What does it prove?

    1. Jean (just Jean)*

      @Stepped: Stop whatever you’re doing right now and give yourself credit for perseverence, responsibililty, and stick-to-it abilities. You took up a challenge and met it with plenty of character left over for life post-graduation.

      Re the chemistry: give yourself additional credit. You made it a year further than I did. (I bailed out of *in*organic. Never even *thought* about enrolling in organic).

      Finally, tell your dreams dept. to discontinue the “back to school” dreams. If it has to channel anxiety, make it the “went downtown in my pajamas” dream … at least your body will be cozy in your dream when you look down to see flannel jammies instead of a standard-issue business suit, or chef-s toque and apron, hard-hat-and-steel-toed-boots, smock and hairband (working artist) or whatever’s your regular uniform.

      Standing ovation over here.

  22. Sleet Feet*

    #2 I don’t understand why OP thinks this can be a reflection that the employee fails to follow through?

    They failed, tried again, persevered, and then mastered the material to the level their gpa reflects. Seems like the opposite of someone not following through.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Exactly! They weren’t brushing anything under the rug. They did the work and improved.

      I mean, isn’t that what school is supposed to be for? Learning things? Getting better at things? Sure, it took more than one try, but ultimately mission accomplished.

  23. Sara without an H*

    Re OP#1: I know managing volunteers can sometimes be challenging. There can be a sense on the part of the organization that, since these people are contributing their time without salary, they can’t be held to performance standards. This is unfair to the organization’s regular employees, the population the organization serves, and to those volunteers who are actually trying to do a good job.

    I hope the OP followed through as Alison recommended. In that manager’s place, I think I’d make a point to be very explicit about the time commitment required and what the final project needed to achieve. I’d also suggest building in some benchmarks along the way to give me some advance warning if the volunteer was falling behind.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I almost quit a volunteer position because other volunteers weren’t pulling their weight and were creating hardships for me. Don’t let this one person run off others who *are* willing and able to get things done.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        I HAVE quit volunteer projects where others weren’t pulling their weight and where the organization for which I was volunteering wouldn’t step in. Sorry, I can’t do this alone and my staying on just made it sort-of-look like there was still a functioning project committee. When the few of us who were doing anything quit the organization could not longer pretend the project was still going to happen and had to either do something to make it work or stop promising clients it would be a thing. (I don’t think it ever got off the ground.)

  24. Princess Hylia*

    LW2 — I failed a bunch of classes, dropped out of college for several years, and went back and retook my flunked classes and got the degree and salvaged my GPA back up to acceptable. When I dropped out, I was 19, working 50+ hours a week, living on the opposite side of the country from my family, and trying to figure out how to afford my next meal while not knowing how to study. When I returned to school, I was 23, had a savings account, was working fewer hours for more money at a job that actually supported my studies, and had learned how to study and take notes. My transcript has a mess of F’s and C’s, but my last semester was straight A’s. I also have a decade of solid work experience, because I was working the entire time, and while I could be a poor student, I was always a stellar employee.

    All that is to say — grades don’t tell you the whole story, so ask. The candidate will be able to articulate *why* their transcript looks like that! Then you can decide if it’s something that needs to be considered or not.

    1. JohannaCabal*

      I know so many people who were better students in college the second, or even third, time around. Also, I’ve known quite a few “stellar students” who were “poor employees” too (not that this is universal).

  25. RagingADHD*

    A lot of people are reading #3 differently than I did. It sounded to me like this was entirely the employee’s idea, that the fiance was surprised by the boss’s reaction, and whipped out the text messages to prove that he wasn’t a wierdo.

    I got the impression that the fiance expected the boss to feel parental toward the employee, because that’s how she portrayed the relationship. I felt sorry for the guy, because he wound up in this awful, cringey situation based on what his girlfriend said.

    At least, that was my interpretation.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      On second look, I think your reading is equally plausible. Reminds me of the LW from yesterday who also had problematic personal feelings about their boss.

    2. PollyQ*

      Yes, I’m surprised by how many people are leaning toward the notion that this isn’t what the employee wanted and was driven by the fiance. There’s no shortage of women in the world who believe strongly in what some of us might call “the patriarchy” but what they call “traditions.” And certainly anyone can have boundary confusion.

  26. YL*

    #2 college transcript

    It doesn’t look like the candidate lied to you. And even if those things were absent on the transcript, a piece of paper isn’t going to tell you much about how that person can deliver. You won’t know that until they actually start working with you.

    1. YL*

      TW: suicidal thoughts

      Just wanted to add that I agree with all the comments about life circumstances affecting college. In grad school, A professor purposely humiliated me by telling my classmates that I was going through a health problem. This was during a graded critique of my work. I tried to stand up for myself, but my classmates sided with him because they wanted a better grade. I should have reported him and refused to let him grade me. I didn’t because I was so traumatized by the incident (and by all my attempts to resolve my health issue) and I didn’t believe the school would discipline him. He was getting a lot of press for his work and it looked good for the school. I’ve felt sad my whole life, but that was the first time I contemplated suicide. When I went home after the semester was over, I had thoughts of regret for not taking my life “when I had the chance” and living with that pain. Eventually, I did tell my program director. My director had to advocate for me so I didn’t have to retake the class and be delayed from graduating. I was already delayed a year because the trauma required me to take a leave of absence.

  27. Bess Marvin*

    I just came here to say: I LOVE the image on the Inc. post for this: the lady boss pulling a lever to send the guy into the floor. I don’t know if you play a role in selecting those pictures, Alison, but I laughed aloud.

      1. Kronk*


        And if you think about it, Kronk would have a terrible transcript but is the person that actually get things done.

  28. MyLlamaPeggyHill*

    I liked the advice for OP #2. When I was in college, my dad was laid off and the fastest job I could find was 3rd shift. I was exhausted and failed so many classes that year I was nearly kicked out, so I left. Two years later when things were more stable I came back and retook those classes and my GPA was calculated much the same way. I’m glad that I was still given opportunities even though I had such a rough year.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that of there’s a technical portion of the interview and that they aced it, so they clearly internalized some of that schooling or any other relevant experience they have.

  29. Grades Aren't Everything*

    #2: My Dad worked full-time in college. He got appendicitis one semester and did not know he could drop classes. He failed a few. He retook them later and passed. He married quite young and his wife left him because he was too busy with work and homework; he then went thru a period of depression. He did graduate with his major intact (and his GPA wasn’t great) and years later when he finally retired he was the vice-president of a company.

  30. Jane*

    #2 – there are so many reasons for a transcript like this, and I find the take that they misled you, or that it says anything about their ability to the job bizarre and alarming.

    I have a transcript like this, though they’re almost all authorized withdrawals (with 1 WU and one F), but the only reason for that is that even in a true crisis I’m reasonably good at navigating complex bureaucracies. If that were not the case they could have easily been Fs and WUs.

    I had a serious health crisis in college, and a second health condition I did not know about that was affecting my academics. Working while going to school, being a parent, financial challenges, undiagnosed disabilities, health issues, and family or personal crises are some of the most common reasons for this type of transcript. The fact that they kept going tells you that they’re not a slacker.

    If an employer saw my W’s as a serious red flag I’d want to know – partially
    so I could explain, but also because depending on other context I’d be likely to opt out of working for someone who clearly doesn’t understand things they have not personally experienced.

    I’m excellent at what I do, and have the privilege to be able to reject an employer over something like lacking empathy.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      Yeah, this. Having taught (and graded college), outright failing a class is almost always due to some kind of extenuating circumstance. The students who party their way through school are usually capable of half-assing their work enough to pull C’s and D’s. The students I have had to fail are usually struggling with health or other personal issues that prevent them from completing work.

      And as Jane says, *preventing* failing grades from appearing on a transcript in these situation usually involves in-depth understandings of how to navigate the system, whether that’s withdrawing before the withdrawal deadline or negotiating an “incomplete” with the professor (and at my university, “incomplete” grades are reserved for students who have an emergency that forces them to miss the final — otherwise, if they are in danger of failing and miss the withdrawal deadline, they’re SOL). I also once had a student who remained in a course she was failing because her scholarship required her to be enrolled in 4 courses, and she had missed the “course add” deadline. So she opted to fail the course and retake it another semester for the sake of keeping her scholarship.

  31. Anonosaurus*

    The thing is – I can understand where LW #3’s employee is coming from. Many years ago, I had a male boss who was a really supportive person and with whom I got along really well. I never knew my father and I didn’t have any supportive relationships with older men growing up, so I found that this relationship touched something in me that I had never been aware of before – it made me very much more aware of how that type of energy and support had been missing in my life.

    What I actually did was (a) get therapy and (b) contact my birth father. I would not have involved this boss in my personal life this way, but I can kind of understand a situation where one might.

    (Also when I got married, nobody gave me away, I would never have subscribed to that entire idea. Husband and I walked up the aisle together and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.)

    1. Filosofickle*

      I don’t think I’ve seen a couple walk up together and I really like that! I’ve seen brides walk alone, but that’s still him waiting for her. She’s coming to him. The symbolism of two partners approaching marriage together is just right.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and that’s the way it’s been done here for the last 500 years since the Reformation. Even when women’s rights otherwise were pretty non-existent, she was supposed to walk into her marriage with both eyes open. So I’m a bit dismayed by the big weddings where fathers are walking their daughters up the aisle that have become more popular during the last 20 years or so.

  32. twocents*

    Since LW#2 is kind of getting a beating here… I want to say I understand their concern. Someone who consistently and repeatedly failed at their relevant major courses all through college — only eventually passing them after as many as four attempts per class — can easily raise the concern of: do they know their stuff?

    And considering I know many competent people who suck at interviewing and many incompetent people who are great schmoozers, I can see how LW is questioning if the applicant is the latter.

    1. Teapot Repair Technician*

      If LW#2 is getting criticized, it’s because they’re concerned about the wrong things, not because they have no cause for concern.

      LW’s two stated concerns are that the candidate “can’t follow through or is willing to sweep negatives under the rug.” Both of which are arguably untrue: they can follow through (but it may take several tries), and they are honest about their failures (but not forthcoming until required).

      For me, my concerns would not be that the candidate is uncommitted or dishonest. Rather, my concern would be that the candidate is slow to learn. Which might also be disqualifying, but is more about their suitability for the job rather than questioning their moral character.

  33. Condoms From a Satchel*

    LW #2 is the very reason that I have pushed back on providing a transcript for a job when asked. You can have a copy of my diploma, you can have a letter from the Registrar saying I do in fact have the degree but under no circumstances will I hand over a document that shows my actual grades unless you are the admissions office of a graduate school and I am applying for graduate school admission.
    Why? Because I failed two courses in my major due to depression, both were not required courses and I was taking them to make up the required number of credits. One of the classes had a horrible instructor, everyone in the class did poorly, and after each test the instructor told us that the whole class was dumb and had failed the test. I retook that one the next year and passed. The second course was a topic that I just could not grasp, the instructor did tell me after grades were turned in that I had only just failed. I learned a lot about asking for help from those experiences.
    Since then I’ve gotten treatment for my depression and I’m doing pretty well. I’ve also gotten a Masters Degree and made all A’s and B’s during that.
    Could failing a class four times be a red flag? Absolutely. But Alison often points out that people are not asking the questions that will really get the information they need.
    It seems to me that real info that the LEtter Writer needs is can this person learn something the first time or in a year are they going to be training this person on things he should have mastered in the first month. I’m not sure the best way to get at that information but it certainly involves talking to the candidate

  34. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    “My employee’s boyfriend asked for my permission to marry her”
    Gives a whole new meaning to the term work family :D

  35. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I can still imagine the bf asking mom about asking the missing dad’s permission and her laughing saying “you might as well ask her boss as that guy.”
    Meaning “not necessary bud.” And bf taking it seriously.

  36. gwen*

    OP2, what does the candidate’s university transcript state their GPA is? If the GPA listed on the transcript matches the number that the candidate told you their GPA was, then the candidate is indeed telling the truth.

    1. Amaranth*

      I also think its great the candidate persisted – if the poor grades were in courses that are key to the position, then it would be fair to do a skills assessment, but regardless of the reason for the initial failure they regrouped and managed to eventually succeed.

  37. Ellie Rose*

    For the candidate with multiple failed courses, one possibility is requirements for scholarships at state schools.

    In my state, there’s both a minimum number of credit hours and a minimum GPA that has to be maintained for a student to keep their scholarship. Many of these students are also working part-time jobs on top of school.

    As noted in the letter, these schools also allow you to retake courses without hurting your GPa — but usually only if you get an F. So if a student is taking more courses than they can handle to meet the minimum required hours, or even if they are getting a lower grade than they want (e.g., a C), they cannot drop the course, but if they stop turning in work etc. to get an F, they can retake it without it affecting their final GPA.

    This may not be the case for this candidate, but I know it came up for someone I interviewed. I asked around from people from the same school and found out it was a fairly common practice that scholarship students would need to deliberately fail about 1 course a semester to keep up with work and the rest of their courses. Pretty messed up system that there’s really no winning in.

  38. Mrs. Hawiggins*


    Although I will say, if I were not already married for a thousand years, I would actually ask my current boss to walk me down the aisle. Considering how I feel about others in my own family around me, I would jump at the chance to ask my boss. That’s how lovely and wonderful my place is. And I know he would!!! Fortunately my dad did before he passed on and I had a wonderful day a thousand years ago. It worked out back then.

    If my fiance asked my boss for permission to marry me, both I and my boss would tell him he had it all wrong. Alison’s answer is again, spot on. You don’t do this. I appreciate tradition as much as the next person but if there are no family members you can go to, you just flat out ask the prospective bride. My mind thinks that the prospective bride casually mentioned “he’s like a father figure to me,” and things went weird or awry from there.

    But I have been at weddings where bosses walked employees down the aisle and there were just as many tissues used that day. But in the case of the OP, no. It’s cute and nice, but nowhere near appropriate.

    OP I hope you can take Alison’s advice and answer with what she’s given you. Nice gesture but this is in no way your responsibility.

Comments are closed.