My Mother Is My Boss

Your Career Coach My Mother Is My Boss Dear Michele, I work for a family-owned business that my mother has run for the last 25 years. I worked here in high school and college, and then I worked elsewhere for about 10 years. I only came back because my mother told me she needed me […]

Your Career Coach

My Mother Is My Boss

Dear Michele,

I work for a family-owned business that my mother has run for the last 25 years. I worked here in high school and college, and then I worked elsewhere for about 10 years. I only came back because my mother told me she needed me and promised that I would take over the business. However, now she won’t even talk about transitioning out, and she won’t let me make any changes to the business model. I’ve been working here for seven years. I’m really frustrated and it’s affecting our relationship. I’m considering quitting but I know that would break my mother’s heart. What should I do?

– Mother’s Little Helper

Dear Little Helper,

What do you want your life to be like? Can you visualize the elements you’d like to have in your future? Write them down, and own them. Be honest with yourself: Does your visualization include running the business or not? After you figure this out, find a quiet moment alone with your mother – say over lunch or coffee – and bring your mother up to speed on what you’d like to have in your future. When she can see that your vision for your life and for her business are good and make you happy, my guess is that she’ll be happy. If you don’t want to run the business, that may be disappointing for her, but framing how you are going to achieve your happiness will likely appeal to her mother side. If you do want to take over the business, her understanding your plans may allow her to drop her fears that you’re going to change everything and render everything she’s created as meaningless. That can be a huge fear for business owners. Be loving, understanding and hopeful. You’ll never lose with that approach. Good luck.


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