My Mom is Embarrassing Me With My Boss
Alison Green | Ask A Manager
A reader writes:
My mother and my boss are casual email acquaintances. They’ve also met in person, and my boss has given her some contract work over the last few months I’ve been here. So they have a relationship that is not-friendly but not quite professional either. I don’t mind that he gives her work, because she’s job-seeking and could use the cash, and he’s a laid-back guy who is willing to help my family any way he can. That’s not my issue at all.
My birthday was on Saturday of last week (the 29th). Today, I went into my mother’s email at her request to find something for her while she was away from home. I got what she needed, and then happened to notice a Gmail snippet between her and my boss (you can see the beginnings of conversations in Gmail without opening the actual email) in which she actually REMINDED HIM that my birthday was on Saturday. I must confess, I opened the email at that point, because it concerned me.
His reply was short but cordial (“I know, I’m taking her to lunch next week.”), and he hasn’t mentioned anything to me, but GOOD LORD. I am really embarrassed, because I feel like this made me look entirely unprofessional and I think my mother overstepped her boundaries here. I asked her to PLEASE not do that again (and yes, I told her I read the email and she wasn’t upset about that), but I’m wondering, should I apologize to my boss for my mother putting him in what seemed to be a “aren’t you going to remember my baby’s special day” position?
Please advise – I am TRULY embarrassed over this one!
Don’t freak out too much. As long as you’re professional and mature, your boss is going to be smart enough to separate you from your mom. But if it will give you peace of mind, you can tell him you were mortified when you found out about this; he’ll tell you not to worry, and then if your mom does do anything like this again, he’ll have it in his head that you are Not On Board With It.
But you also need to sit down with your mother and have a serious talk about professional boundaries. Ask her to handle her relationship with her boss as if he doesn’t know you. No references to you, zero. (This is actually slightly overkill, but since she’s already overstepped the boundaries once — that you know of — it’s not unreasonable.)
Now, this would work on some mothers and wouldn’t work at all on others. If your mother doesn’t take you seriously, I’m not sure what else you can do, short of threatening to call her boss at her next job and ask him/her to remind your mom to take her calcium supplements or something.