74

While I don’t have a bad relationship with my parent who tries to find out, you could say that our relation is rather cold. I haven’t lived with my parents for about six years.

Since I’ve already had bad experiences (my parent calling my boss at work), and my sister had similar situations (our parent appearing during work time and refusing to leave while customers were waiting), I have a rather bad feeling about sharing this detail. Also I don’t really see what they would do with the information where their kid works.

How can I politely refuse to tell my parents where I work?

  • 8
    Is the place you work large enough that if you gave the name of the company that they would not be able to find the physical location where you work? – Anketam Dec 6 '17 at 16:40
  • 3
    It's not about "avoiding" the parent but reducing the overlap of my work and said parent. I wouldn't mind if I didn't made multiple bad experiences which left my boss bewildered. Talking to said parent didn't helped neither unfortnately. – guesty Dec 6 '17 at 16:42
  • 1
    I agree with Anketam... Just be prepared for them to assume the worst if you choose to withhold information. If not the company, can you tell them what the position is without them knowing the location? – Acumen Simulator Dec 6 '17 at 16:47
  • 1
    You confuse the tenses, you say "Where my kid works" followed by "tell his parents where he works"? Are you the parent or the kid? – JohnP Dec 6 '17 at 17:29
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    @JohnP No, he means that if he had kids, he wouldn#t know what to do with that information => he doesn#t understand why his parents would need that info. – Polygnome Dec 6 '17 at 18:30
136

I would just straight up tell them how it is:

Sorry, but I would prefer that you don't know where I work. I feel like you haven't handled this information very professionally in the past [like showing up at work for no reason or disrupting service].

They might want to have a way to contact you during the day, so propose contact via mobile phone.

This way they can reach you in emergencies but you can ignore repeated senseless calls.

  • 1
    This is excellent, plus making sure you can be reached without disclosing said info. – Mister Positive Dec 6 '17 at 16:50
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    I'm not sure what the parent thinks they're doing if they show up to their children's workplace with no permission. I also don't know how they cannot be "gotten rid of". The secretary tells them they're trespassing, the security tells them to leave, then the police comes and arrests them. It has nothing to do with them being your parents. It has everything with them being on private property without permission. – Nelson Dec 6 '17 at 21:31
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    @Nelson being forced to bring in the police to get one of your parents removed from the premises is going to reflect poorly on you, though. It's not fair, but it'll still happen. – Erik Dec 6 '17 at 21:44
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    @Nelson: I can imagine that if you work in a shop then you have no secretary, you may not have security and the fact that they have apparently refused to leave means they were asked to... I would imagine that unless they are causing obvious problems that the police would be reluctant to arrest somebody in this situation. Also as Erik says the better way of dealing with this than calling the police is to not have them there in the first place. – Chris Dec 7 '17 at 0:24
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    @Nelson generally, people avoid using law enforcement to resolve issues with stubborn family members refusing to move. For example, you rarely see police showing up to pull children out of toy stores. Once those children grow up, it's expected they'll return the same courtesy to their parents :). – iheanyi Dec 8 '17 at 20:00
88

I absolutely agree with @AK_is_curious that a straightforward approach is best, but I would recommend being even more direct than their answer suggests.

I'm not going to give you that information.

  • don't apologise for this, just make the statement.

In the past you used those details in a way that was inappropriate and had workplace consequences for me.

  • What they did was absolutely inappropriate, so don't present it as an opinion 'I feel what you did..', that opens up scope for dispute. Don't go into the detail of consequences, that opens up scope for them to minimise or belittle what you experienced.

If there is anything urgent you can use my mobile number, but everyday stuff will have to wait until I'm home from work.

  • You are ending with an open gesture to reassure them that they are not being cut from your whole life.

And to the very best of your ability, don't get dragged into a dispute about it. State your position and be done with it.

Obviously this is a suggested approach rather than a script to follow to the letter, but my experience is that if you are dealing with people who don't respect boundaries, you have to make the boundaries firmer and limit their ability to breach them, and if you can do that decisively and unequivocally, and avoid the conversation descending into squabbles, it stands a better chance of working.

  • 1
    "... so don't present it as an opinion 'I feel what you did..',": what you say is true, but if you present this as an assertion then someone can argue with it. If you start the sentence with "I feel" then nobody can argue that you don't feel that way. If they try then you can just keep responding with variations on your feeling. – Paul Johnson Dec 10 '17 at 16:59
  • 1
    “keep responding with variations” puts you in a weak position. Taking one stance and holding it unvaryingly avoids the other party thinking that are gaining ground. – Spagirl Dec 10 '17 at 20:47
  • @spagirl Often true! But one's "unvarying steadfastness" is another's "desperate robotic repeating showing they're not sure why"... It depends on knowing the parent, and past interactions, to see which of the two (a consistent "No. No. No. No." or a spectrum of "NO! no. no-no. Hmmm, no.") works best? – user3445853 Dec 11 '17 at 15:02
  • @user3445853 in this instance the OP is sure why and my suggested script gives all the reasons that are needed. The OP doesn't have to keep coming up with new reasons because their parent's don't like the answer. The appropriateness of the behaviour is not up for debate, any workplace consequences are not the parent's issue to debate. There isn't even any point debating with the parents why they behaved like that, it only encourages a view that there would be a right reason that made it okay if only they could articulate it. The only way to win that game is not to play. – Spagirl Dec 11 '17 at 15:40
  • 1
    "if you present this as an assertion then someone can argue with it." OP is dealing with parents who are clingy and obviously cannot come to grips with their children becoming adults. In their minds, their children are still minors, have no privacy, and need help adulting. There is no reasoning with them, and the parents will always find a reason to argue. All one can do is follow the advice in this answer by stating a firm position, not budging an inch, and moving on with life. Restating the position and talking about "feelings" is not going to help. OP needs to be a brick wall. – user7098 Dec 11 '17 at 17:15
25

If there's some underlying issues between your parents and yourself, then you should probably address those. However, as far as not telling them where you work goes, it's quite simple:

Them: Where do you work?
You: Sorry, due to past experiences I'd rather not disclose that information.
Them: That's preposterous, how could you keep this from us, your parents?
You: I think you both know the incidents which are prompting me to withhold this information. Just know that I like my job, and be happy for me.

Without more information there's not much more advice that I can offer.

17

Give Broad Answer

If you commute any distance to get to work or work for a rather large company, then only give high level information about the location or company that you work for. Such as if I said I worked for Microsoft or I worked over in Vienna, neither would be very useful.

Change the Topic

If you want to attempt to avoid the conversation one strategy that I have used with people is the following:

Them: Where do you work?
You: I work in Vienna. Unfortunately because I live out in Leesburg means my commute is rather long if I do not leave early enough. Traffic can be such a pain.

In short when someone asks me where I work, I give a general location, and then start talking about northern Virginia traffic since it can get rather bad during rush hour, which many people in my area can relate to. Next thing you know we are venting about how bad traffic can get.

Ask Why

I have a very good relationship with my parents and they do not know the address or phone number of where I work. The reason being they have no need to know. If your parents press the topic, instead of answering it respond with a simple question:

Why do you want to know?

Be sure to ask the question sincerely with honest curiosity that you want to know their answer. Odds are any answer they give you can be countered. For example if they say they want it for emergency contact, then you tell them that they already have your cell phone. If they want to visit you at work, then state my work does not allow us to have visitors while we are working.

  • 1
    Works in Northern Virginia but doesn't want to say where...CIA then? – Matthew Leingang Dec 7 '17 at 18:42
  • @MatthewLeingang nope, but you would not be the first to assume that. – Anketam Dec 7 '17 at 21:18
  • 2
    Seems a dangerous approach, as it leaks information and eventually they'll get the puzzle pieces --- at a moment when it's least convenient for the OP. For example, maybe parents know generally what line of work from degree or past work or previously said; here you advise to say generally what area/locality the job is; somebody will spot the OP (an ex-neighbour mentions parent they often see them on their 7:35 train); ... . Don't underestimate (semi-)retired people and the time on their hands, especially if they feel wronged. – user3445853 Dec 11 '17 at 15:10
6

What happens if they decide to check your Linkedin or any other social media? Or simply ask to your friends? I think if they really want to know where their kids work, they'll find it out.

I think the better approach is to talk about it direcly. Tell them how the workplace is, how the work rotine goes, the rules, company policy and how incovinient can be any kind of unannounced visit.

They're adults. They should be able to understand. If you think they can't, then don't tell them.

2

What kind of information are they actually asking for? The field you work in, the company you work for or the adress you are working at?

Option 1:
The answer is usually broad enough to care about probably inappropriate visit of the asker. Maybe they are asking because they are proud of you and want to tell their friends/neighbours just "Our Bob is nuclear physicist."

Option 2:
The answer is usually broad enough too, but not as broad as the previous one. Reasons may be the same, showing off using "Bob is nuclear physicist working for Westinghouse."

Option 3:
Actually, this is awkward. You can answer it as Option 1 or Option 2.

If I am to bet, I'd pick Option 2 to be the real question. If #3 is true and they want to put you in an awkward situation, what can prevent them to, as dvc.junor mentioned, stalk your LinkedIn account?

0

I agree with the top-voted answers, given that your parents have betrayed your trust in the past in regard to situations like this.

However, you also say that your relationship with them is rather cold, and that you don't know why they would want to know where you work.

You should know, when parents and their offspring have a close relationship, they will usually know something about what their children do for a living. For most of us, our work is a huge part of our life, and something which impacts everything else. One of the most common things to ask about someone's life is "how is work?"

Seeing as we really don't have a lot of details on your family situation, I think it's possible (though maybe not probable) that your parents wish to reconnect with you. They may be asking in order to re-establish a relationship with you that you say has been lost. Maybe they heard a friend of theirs talking about their children doing important work and felt sad that they couldn't do the same.

Given their history though, it's probably still a good idea to use the straight-forward answers provided above. But maybe after delivering that message, you can then tell them something else about how you're doing, something that will make them feel like there is still hope for having a warm, close relationship with their child.

  • 2
    I see nothing in the OP's description to suggest the parents are trying to reconcile (although that doesn't mean they're not). However, if they genuinely do want to do this, they should be able to acknowledge the discomfort they caused in the past with this knowledge and readily accept why the OP doesn't want to let them know at the moment. (If they can't accept this, they're probably not ready for a reconciliation). Once some "bridge building" has taken place (on other fronts), then it may be appropriate to tell them. – TripeHound Dec 7 '17 at 14:01
  • @TripeHound yes, I agree with your comment completely. It seems to perfectly align with my answer? – Nacht - Reinstate Monica Dec 11 '17 at 4:15
  • 1
    @Nacht Yes, I think we're in agreement (and, FWIW, I wasn't the downvoter). When I first read your answer, I got the feeling you were slightly too eager to play the "reconnect" card, and so it warranted a note of caution. I've just noticed that since my comment you added "(though maybe not probable)" – if that had been there when I first saw your answer, I probably wouldn't have felt a need to comment. – TripeHound Dec 11 '17 at 8:03

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