Understanding the separation between work and life can be tough. It is hard to know what information is appropriate to share inside and outside of the workplace, particularly at the beginning of a new job.
But, sometimes you have to establish clear boundaries. Even if some people aren’t happy about it.
Redditor frustratedmonkey13 encountered this very issue with her mom. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for refusing to give my mother my bosses personal number?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I am in my late 20s and recently got a new job. I love it, but ever since I accepted it, my mother has started demanding to have my boss’ personal number ‘in case I go missing’ (as I am nearly 30 I thought this was ridiculous and controlling).”
“To clarify, I currently live with my mother for financial reasons.”
“I explained to her that this was unreasonable, as it would be a serious privacy and confidentiality issue. Not to mention what message it may send to my new employers if I were to ask for a personal number for my mother.”
“I told her it was pointless anyway as we all leave the office at the same time, so no one would even know if I had an accident on the way home.”
OP’s mom is not buying it.
“However, my mother thinks I’m the one being unreasonable, and is now refusing to talk to me and getting angry when I try to explain that breaching my bosses privacy can and will get me fired.”
“I do feel extremely bad about saying no, as my mother recently suffered a mini stroke and it has caused her to become somewhat overbearing (more than normal) and have some memory issues.”
“She claims she would never actually use the number but I think asking for my boss’ number to give to my mother is both ridiculous and invasive.”
OP later added some additional information.
“EDIT: Thanks for the hugs guys and thank you to everyone who commented concerned for mom’s health.”
“She has regular appointments set up with the neurology team at our local hospital and our GP has been speaking with her extensively about what’s happening, as she has been helping mum transition into early retirement.”
“I wasn’t expecting such an overwhelming response, I genuinely felt like an insensitive a**hole because of mom’s health, but I am glad you all think that I did the right thing here.”
“EDIT 2: For everyone asking if I could use Google Voice to create a dummy number, Australia does not currently provide this service in an anonymous capacity. My own number would still be linked to it.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Most Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“NTA – Do not give her the number. It’s going to make you look wildly unprofessional when she calls his personal number when you’re 5 minutes late. And that’s what she will do.”
“You’re a grown adult and ‘no’ is a proper response to her ridiculous demand. You really need to work on setting boundaries.” ~ idrow1
The OP commented that she’d already tried setting boundaries.
“Believe me, I’ve tried. Like I said, she’s been having memory issues and forgets most conversations we have.”
One Redditor had a blunt suggestion.
“Then make a good sized sign that says, ‘No, you can not have my boss’s phone number’ and put it on the fridge. Tell her you’ll take it down after it sinks in because you’re tired of having the same conversation.” ~ idrow1
But other Redditors urged OP to exercise patience.
“That’s cruel. No, OP, don’t do that.”
“If she keeps forgetting verbal information that’s delivered intensely because of her stroke, she will not change due to a sign. It’ll just come across as rude and as a reminder that she’s unwell right now. Jesus christ.”
“EDIT (just to add some anecdotal reasoning): Alzheimers and general memory loss run on the maternal side of my family. My mom is only in her 50s, but medical complications cause her stress often and she’s prone to forgetting things.”
“She repeats stories to me somewhat often, and forgets small tidbits of information. My brother and stepfather are much less patient than I am.”
“When we were going out somewhere alone, my mother broke down crying. She’s aware that she’s forgetting things more often as per the harsh reminders and angry rants from my family, but she feels powerless and scared, because she literally cannot help it.”
“She has to balance the pain of actively witnessing her mind lose more of itself each day while the people around her lose patience with her for it. She feels she can’t get a break and was absolutely devastated when she forgot her bank PIN.”
“I know our situations aren’t the same, but memory loss is a terrifying thing. It is something adults dread. A sign on a fridge reminding her that her mind isn’t up to par anymore will not do her any favors.” ~ Duhboosh
The OP admitted she was scared of what it all might mean for her own health.
“I think we have more in common than you realize. My mother’s side carries a genetic disorder known as CADASIL.”
“My mum has been diagnosed and I’ve got my evidence for having it as well. Unfortunately it has been linked to early onset dementia, and frankly I’m terrified that this might actually be what’s happening.”
“Dude thats almost certainly what’s happening. A stroke is a massive brain wound, and she’s and old person with a pre-disposition to get dementia.”
“Get her to her doctor asap, not much can be done for dementia, but the earlier it’s caught the more they can do (even still, not that much).” ~ EnvironmentalFuckwit
Many shared their own experiences.
“I had to drive my roommate somewhere, but I wanted to reply to you ASAP. So I just pulled over into a parking lot, lol.”
“I know how frustrating it can be to have to remind my mother of things like appointment times, dates, events, names and plans. I was short with her at first because I felt inconvenienced. When I realized it was a recurring issue, I became even more short out of pure denial.”
“Why was my mother forgetting easy information somewhat often, yet she’s only in her 50s? I was angry at the universe for letting something befall her that made me much more aware of her mortality.”
“I always had some underlying impression that she was invincible. That she’d be healthy forever and pass peacefully in her sleep at the age of 100.”
“I was pissed off that something disrupted that perception of my mother.”
“Being patient with her has done wonders. The less stress, the better. She might not remember every detail relayed to her, but she always remembers the way in which she was spoken to, and the tone of the person speaking.”
“If someone berates her for forgetting information, she gets anxiety because she can’t stop thinking about the state of her mind and the burden she feels she’s imposing onto others. It makes it even harder for her to process new information.”
“Her case is by far not severe – forgetting her bank pin* was the worst of her incidents. But it still happens enough such that I fear for her state in the coming years.”
“At the very least, take solace in that this recurring conversation is rooted in her love for you and fear for your safety.”
“If this runs in the family, she’s probably seen what dementia has done to others close to her. She’s probably worried about her future, and when a parent fears for their health, they always then fear for the health of their children.”
“If something unexpected like a stroke is impacting her, who knows what’s going to impact her baby in the future.”
“You can try to do more every day to reassure her of your safety, but certainly do not give her your boss’ number. Just give her time. Don’t coddle her, but don’t reject her either.”
“Just make sure she knows you love her all the same, and although you need to be firm on this matter, you will not treat her differently for her insistence. She will remember your grace over everything else.”
“Alzheimers and dementia are no joke. My mom was raised by her great grandmother, who had a bad case of Alzheimers. Seeing her mother-figure deteriorate like that broke a piece of her.”
“She tells me if she ever gets that bad, to take her out back and shoot her. I had to go to the ER years ago for an asthma attack.”
“I was waiting to get a room, laying in a bed in the hallway. I had to listen to an 80 year old woman cry for her mommy.”
“She begged for her dolly and wanted to go home and be with her parents. That happened when I was about 12, and I’ll never forget how harrowing it was.”
“I’m unsure if your mother has witnessed something similar, but even the knowledge that it can get that bad is devastating. I truly hope that is not what this leads to, and that you find yourself avoiding such a condition as well.” ~ Duhboosh
The OP commented that her mom’s concern was definitely playing a factor.
“Yeah, my mom has made similar comments in the past, that Alzheimer’s/dementia is her greatest fear. It’s hard watching what’s happening, because I know how badly it affects her mental health in particular. It doesn’t help that we both have short tempers when we are frustrated.”
It sounds like the OP should take Reddit’s advice and try to exercise more patience with her mom.
After all, moms only care about your safety.