Ask Amy: We had to fire our son from the family business


Dear Amy: My husband and I have a small family business, but we do not run the day-to-day operations.

We started the business with one of our sons and he worked very hard for the first three or so years. But he started slacking off about three years ago, feeling like he’d “earned” the right to work when (and if) he wanted. For the last 18 months, he has hardly worked at all. He did nothing to help the company’s bottom line, even though we were struggling financially.

So, after consulting with counselors and a lawyer through this ordeal, we decided we had to let him go. He will receive salary and benefits for six months.

I feel terrible that it has come to this, as he is also going through a messy divorce. He’s obviously quite taken aback and distant from us, although I think he realizes that it’s ultimately his doing.

How do I reach out to him and stay connected and convince him that we still love him and want a relationship? This includes the grandchildren who, in addition to our love and support, need us and the stability we offer.

It breaks my heart and hurts, but we had to consider other employees and the sustainability of our company. I hope we can get through this and find a way to maintain our family bond.

Sad: I can imagine that your son may not welcome a detailed discussion of this decision, as to reconsider it is to reconsider his own failure. But I think you need to talk about it – or at least convey that you’re willing and ready to talk about it.

I suggest you start by acknowledging that you are aware that this is a difficult time for him. Tell him that you hope he understands your career choice and that you are willing to discuss it or answer any questions he may have.

Reaffirm your love and support and let him know you’re in his corner as he goes through this challenging time. Keep talking to him, even if his reaction is muted. Invite and include your son and grandchildren in family events.

This episode might prove to be a wake-up call for him, but it might be a while before he realizes that.

Dear Amy: I am a night shift nurse for almost 30 years. I can sleep well during the day and function very well at work.

My problem? My mother read in a pseudoscientific (supermarket checkout) magazine that night shift workers are at risk of sudden death. He keeps quizzing me about my work schedule, then moves on when I admit that I’m still working the night shift.

I explained to her that I love my job and that I am functional and happy with my schedule.

Is there anything I can do to reassure my mother that I am not only safe, but blessed to be working this schedule and getting extra pay?

Night shift: A good friend of mine recently shared how she deals with her elderly mother’s overthinking about a topic.

The daughter listens, answers once on a well-worn topic (“I know how much it bothers you…”), then says bluntly, “Let’s change the subject and talk about something else.”

Then he asks his mother a question about another topic.

Dear Amy: “Stuck in the middle” was a bride-to-be who was unsure who should walk her down the aisle because her father is an alcoholic and would probably drink on her wedding day.

When my husband and I got married, he and I walked down the aisle together. My dad was an alcoholic and I bet he would drink. Besides, as I told those who questioned me, I was not my father’s property to give away. This is a custom that needs to be stopped.

Yes, my dad drank all the time. I have never regretted my decision.

No regrets: I agree with you about the concept of the father “giving away his daughter.” It is a convention that has completely outlived its symbolic meaning.

You have made the right choice for your wedding. The best way to look back on this momentous event is “no regrets”.

©2022, Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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