On three occasions (so far) my father has blurted out a phrase along the lines of "my son works as an X. he makes really good money. Tell him/her how much you make", then he looks at me.

The first time this happened my jaw almost hit the floor because I know my father doesn't have the best social awareness, but I couldn't believe he would say something that I would consider so rude, even if bragging about his son.

The second time I interjected and said "dad, dad, DAD, really let's not talk about it". This is as he's trying to talk over me to get me to tell the person my salary. After he realized I wouldn't tell them, he told them anyway.

Then the last time the same thing happened where I tried to prevent him from saying anything further. All of these times were to random strangers, like waiters.

Is there anyway I can approach this subject to possibly prevent him from mentioning it in the future? He's obviously not taking the hints from me talking over him to stop him from talking about it.

  • 2
    Have you tried to confront him directly about this "Dad, it makes me uncomfortable when you..." or "Dad, in the future please don't..."?? And if you haven't, is there some reason that you feel uncomfortable doing so? Or that doing so is not an option?
    – scohe001
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 22:45

3 Answers 3


If this happened more than once, then you should already have set up a specific conversation about it.

Forget about "sending hints", especially if you do this only at the heat of the moment. If I liked to brag about my salary, I'd love if people asked me how much I make, but I would still send a hint implying that I don't like discussing the matter. This is basic technique to brag while sounding less arrogant. Friends will do it with friends who want to impress girls: "Tell me again about that Ivy league university you attended" or "tell them about that time you've made lots of money on that stock trade".

You should go to him in private, or by message and say "we need to talk" (people hate hearing this). And make sure the person understands it is a private talk. Do say the words "talk in private".

Then explain that this makes you uncomfortable, and enough that you needed to schedule a private conversation. Explain that (at least where you live, or among people your age) it is very rude to ask or disclose salary numbers. Keep a calm and serious tone during the conversation, be firm and assertive. Try to finish on a positive note by saying something like "keep in mind, I do enjoy hanging out with you, I'd just like to make this moments best for both of us".

I've done this a few times when people would say or do thing in public or in a group that I would find unappropriated. People will almost always respect the demand you've posed afterwards.

They might react in different ways to the "intervention" scenario you'd be creating. In my experience, I've had people denying that what they've done is inappropriate, and started making complaints about me as a defense mechanism, but these are the "hard-to-deal" people. Reasonable people will simply hear you and say "ok", they're not eager to acknowledge fault, but they acknowledge that is part of respecting people and living in society. A small bunch might realize just then that they've done something bad, and apologize a lot. Be prepared for all cases, it is important to be firm, assertive, not sound accusing nor rude.

Possibly your father means well, but you need to sit him down for a talk before he understands you are not enjoying this game.

  • 1
    Hi Mefitico, welcome to IPS! I'm glad to see you jumping right into the site by asking, answering, and editing. We are a bit strict about answers here, and one thing that we require is that they be backed up either by personal experience or external references. Towards that end, have you used the skills you've laid out in this answer before? How did others respond?
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 20:46
  • @Rainbacon : Fair point, I've done this a few times and so I've added the usual outcomes to the answer.
    – Mefitico
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 17:10

I'm guessing that the reason he does this is to brag. In a world where money sometimes gets confused with status, earning above average suggest a above average status. I'm making a small assumption that he uses that to show off.

When I get asked how much I make (or in this case, when your father asks you to tell someone) I reply with a simple:

"Enough :)" or a "can't complain".

I've noticed that the small answers are enough. Nobody likes it when someone else brags about their salary and this way you did answer your fathers question with a graceful answer.

He could follow up with a "yes, but what amount?" which can be countered with a simple "Why does that matter?" I've learned that this way of replying seperates that actual question from the intent.

If you act calm instead of a "omg, I dont want to say because it is above average and I feel uncomfortable", the answer is ineffective for the original intent.


I'm unfortunately quite familiar with embarrassing parents that refuse to stop partaking in a certain behavior or conversational tactic no matter how much you ask. In my case, my father would almost always insist on flirting with waitresses at restaurants we went to, even though he is significantly older than them and even when my mother is present.

It was annoying, awkward, and seems to check a lot of similar boxes to your situation, so hopefully my advice will be useful to you.


TL;DR: Leave the situation.

You can't control him, not really. From what I can tell from your question, you've tried to talk to him about it with no success. If he doesn't choose to control himself, the only thing you can control in the situation is yourself. Once he finishes his usual spiel, give a polite smile to the other conversation partner, apologize on behalf of your father, and then walk away. It's critical here that you don't seem angry, only disappointed.

Here's a fairly extreme example, for when a waiter is talking to you at a restaurant.

Waiter: Hello gentlemen, how are you doing tonight?
Father: You know, my son makes XYZ etc etc.
You: Polite smile, shake head I'm so sorry about my father, please excuse me.

Then calmly stand up and walk away. Your father will inevitably come to follow you, or if he's stubborn perhaps you will simply need to browse your phone for a few minutes before returning to the table.

By taking this stance, you are controlling the situation and removing yourself from a frustrating situation. You've shut down the conversation entirely. Your father will likely ask why, but thankfully you can be honest and explain that you didn't want to be in that situation since it was so awkward and uncomfortable, and so you thought it would be best to leave for a moment.

Ideally, your father will get the gist, realize you've taken control of the situation, and decide to moderate his behavior.

If not, you can at least control how long his nonsense continues.

Either way, I hope it helps. Choosing when to leave is also a form of boundary-setting, and hopefully you can set healthy boundaries that your father will understand are acceptable.

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