My mom is very upset with me about how little money I make at my job. She's mad because I recently finished school and have a large student loan to pay off. I've asked her not to talk about these things as it's never constructive and always leads to a bad argument. She always finds way to tangent into the subject from a related subject, for example she says "I think you should get a new job" and I say "why?" and she says "because you're not making enough money". I've tried telling her I don't want to talk about work but then she says "well if I don't know which days your working, how do I know if you're available to visit or not?".

Things she says that upset me are "I know a librarian who is making twice as much as you!" or "it's going to take you 20 years to pay off your loan at this rate" (which isn't true).

I'm planning to send her the following e-mail and was wondering if it looks good or if I should make any changes?

Dear mom, I don't want to discuss my student loan or what I'm getting paid with you any more. If it does some how come up, I'd like to move away from the subject as quick as possible. If you try to discuss it, I will have to leave or hangup the phone. I've given this careful thought and this isn't up for negotiation.

One thing she doesn't get is I am looking for a better job and would like to make more money so I kind of don't get what she wants, me to flat out quit my current job?

Obviously a lot has changed from when my mom started her career. In their day degrees guaranteed a well paying job immediately and people found work from reading a newspaper. It's hard to discuss these things with her, for example I told her I had studied a topic which I did poorly with in an interview and she told me I should should call the interviewer and tell him I now know it. There's so many reasons this wouldn't work, but even if the position hadn't been filled, it's unlikely I would get another shot at it just for saying "I now know this".

My main question is, am I going about this right and does the email look good? Also any suggestions are welcome.

3 Answers 3


It sounds like your mom is having some trouble with seeing you leading this new adult life. She wants to be there for you and worries that you will not be able to pay off your student loans. She cares about you and means well, don't forget about that.

I would suggest having the conversation in person, but I understand doing so is not easy for everyone. Consider talking to her eye to eye and go for the email as a plan B.

To me your email comes off as a little aggressive. You sound angry and threatening. She's your mother; there is no need for that. Start expressing that discussing the topic is uncomfortable for you. Thank her for her advice, remind her that you are looking for a better paid job and maybe suggest doing a 'date night' with her once you've found one.

My example:

Dear mom, thanks for the advice you have been giving me on my salary. I am indeed looking for something better, but I need to pay my bills/loans so I need to hold on to this job until I have found something new. It will be good for my work experience as well. I feel uncomfortable discussing this any further, as my fulltime job and the job search are already giving me quite some stress. Can we please stop talking about this? Once I've found something nice we can go watch some movies with icecream, like we used to do. Thank you!

  • 1
    I have to disagree with this answer. All mothers want what's best for their children, but once they're adults, they deserve a certain amount of respect and autonomy. The mom has been aggressive and hurtful, and strong language is needed, as simple requests to avoid the subject have failed. "I've asked her not to talk about these things as it's never constructive and always leads to a bad argument." More drastic measures are called for. Sep 5, 2017 at 14:43

I think your email is almost perfect. Your mother is not respecting your feelings or your boundaries. It's time to set your boundaries and enforce them. Reading about boundaries helps.

If you can't do this in person (if you've tried - like in the email - and she's refused to hear you out), then go ahead and do it by email. I would change the wording and make it a bit longer, though.

Start by expressing love and appreciation for the things she's done (not for meddling in your finances unless she's helping you pay off your student loans!) Mine might look like this, but yours doesn't have to

Dear Mom, first I want you to know that I love you, and I appreciate everything you do and have done for me. I mean that sincerely. I hope my actions show this love and appreciation.

However, I don't want to discuss my finances - my student loans or what I'm getting paid, or any other aspect of money - with you any more. It leads to quarrels and hurt feelings. And I feel very hurt when you keep discussing them even though I've asked you not to.

So, I won't discuss or argue about them any more. If it comes up in conversation, I will change the subject. If you try to discuss it, I will have to leave or hang up the phone. I've given this careful thought and this is what I think is best for our relationship. And I'm sorry, but this isn't up for negotiation.

I hope you understand that I'm doing this for both of us. I don't want to feel hurt over this any more.

If you want job hunting, etc. to be avoided, include that.

Good luck! You're being honest, vulnerable, brave and adult here.

What Are Boundaries
Having a conversation to assert your boundaries

  • 1
    This is my favorite of the answers, but I might add this to the email/discussion: "I am an adult, and therefore responsible for my own financial decisions. As well-meant as your unsolicited advice may be, it does not help me to have you constantly questioning my judgment and undermining my decisions. This is a new experience for me, but I am handling it, and I'll get better at it over time. If I think I can benefit from your advice, I will ask you for it, but I need you to understand that I (and only I) will decide how to do things in my life, and I will be responsible for the consequences."
    – MAA
    Sep 7, 2017 at 2:14
  • Of course the first paragraph should not be used if it is not actually meant.
    – Weckar E.
    Nov 27, 2017 at 9:24

You're right. You need to set boundaries. How you go about setting the boundaries is as important as the boundaries you set.

Don't send an email

Don't send an email. It won't be as effective. An email cannot convey tone. You cannot know how your mom would interpret those words. This is your mom. Sit down, take her hands in yours, look her in the face and say something like,

Mom, I love you. I am so thankful for how well you've cared for me and raised me. I know you can't turn off your concern for me now that I'm an adult, and I appreciate you trying to give me advice. I wanted to let you know that I am looking for another job with better pay. I am also concerned with the level of my student loan debt. The thing is, I don't want to keep discussing my situation. Discussing it doesn't help me fix it, and causes me to feel uncomfortable. Please, don't bring it up again. I don't want to discuss my salary or my student loan anymore. I know that you might forget about me asking you this, so if you bring it up, I'll remind you. If you decide to keep pushing the issue, I'll end the conversation by hanging up or leaving. I don't want this issue to affect our relationship because I need to have my mom in my life!

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