I'm a 22 years old student, living in a little village, about 8000 inhabitant, in Germany. I'm not that old, but very independent. I have my own apartment, and just try to live my life.

In my village, everyone knows everybody and will identify you with your family name.

And here is my problem : anywhere I go, I get identified by my family name. The thing is, my family isn't known for good things.

Some backround: My mom is jobless, lives just like “I don't care about money”, and got kicked out of her old apartment. Now, she lives with my older brother in a little apartment, just two floors upstairs and cause problems with the landlord. And often with other persons.

Every time there is something new, everybody just ask me “oh what's up there?” or “can you help?” Just a few days ago, I tried to insure my new car and the first question was like “oh, can you ask your mother why she doesn't want to pay her insurance?

But I don't want to get into this crap. I want to live my own life but, at the moment, it's obviously not possible. Also, they can't manage the bit of money they have and always ask me to help out.

Actually, moving away isn't an option, because all my friends live there as well.

How Can I get rid of this? I think I want both, get out of your family's reputation in that village and get more distance to your family members upstairs

  • This looks like a "What should I do?" -question, which was determined to be off-topic here. When you know what you are gonna do about your situation but you struggle with how to do it, then we can help you with that (if it involves interpersonal skills).
    – kscherrer
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 9:07

1 Answer 1


Reputations are quickly gained, but unfortunately can take time to lose. Interpersonal skills may help you influence people's opinion of you one at a time, but you can't change a whole village's mind overnight.

You might actually imagine the situation to be worse than it is. Your living independently and studying for a career might already have changed the minds of many who know your family. Every time you meet somebody local, such as when you go to the store, you have an opportunity to give a good impression by your manners and conduct.

If you are faced with a situation where you are asked about your family's conduct or financial situation, use it as an opportunity to (i) state your independence, and (ii) gently remind the person of your good conduct. For example:

Landlord: Do you know why your mother's rent hasn't been paid?

You: I'm sorry, I have no idea about my mother's finances. My rent has been paid on time hasn't it?

If said in a genuine way and not as a quip then this should remind whoever you are dealing with that you are good at paying bills. It draws a contrast between your other family and helps to build your own independent reputation.

Some situations could be avoided - for example, have you tried arranging your car insurance and similar services online? That way you won't be faced with local people that know you. This isn't perhaps an interpersonal solution, but as it may take time to change people's opinion anyway you are just saving yourself some hassle in the meanwhile. If it really is a small village then they will still see you driving your insured and well-kept car safely, all of which contributes to your own good reputation.

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