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    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Default Familial Diplomacy

    I need some help figuring out how to craft a diplomatic e-mail to my mother regarding the status of my senior capstone project. I am not in any trouble, and my project is going smoothly. But I have mistakenly set a self-imposed due dat that my professors have told me is completely unreasonable. However, my mother has been rather paranoid of late in regards to my academic status. Because my sophomore year was a very bad time for me academically and I was not honest with her in regards to my academics, she does not trust me about these sorts of things. Any time there's a blip in my academic journey, even if it's easily fixable, she immediately assumes that I am slacking off and lying to her again. I want to communicate to her that this is not the case, but I am unsure as to how to word it so I can make it clear to her that I was not lying to her and that everything is fine, but there is no way I would be able to produce a final copy before Easter Break next week (my professor's aren't expecting one anyway).

    Please help!
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    I have the same problem. My recommendation is honesty.

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Yeah, but she doesn't think I'm being honest.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Copy of your assignment, if possible, for her to see? I'm not a very good diplomat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandil View Post
    Copy of your assignment, if possible, for her to see? I'm not a very good diplomat
    I already send her copies of my assignment whenever I send something to one of my professors. It's a stipulation in the contract we established after my sophomore year. This is more to explain why she WON'T be seeing a final copy via e-mail tonight.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    "Dear Mother: I was working feverishly in another frantic attempt to provide my towering overlords of education with another hastily-cobbled demonstration of my academic prowess when one of these benevolent giants informed me that a due date of my own creation had been placed entirely too near. For the briefest span of time I must admit I was completely incapacitated as my mind reeled in a way fishermen would have envied for miles around had they witnessed it. Although seemingly unreasonable demands by the institution of enlightenment which I so begrudgingly attend have always been commonplace, it was a startling discovery to find that my own self had fallen victim to this preposterous mindset. Fortunately, my kind professors have assured me that should the worst transpire and by some unholy probability I fail to meet this self-conjured abomination of a deadline, the repercussions will be decided un-dire.

    In fact, there will be none at all.

    Everything is fine.

    Sincerely Waffles

    -Archpaladin"
    Last edited by shadow_archmagi; 2010-03-25 at 09:21 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I already send her copies of my assignment whenever I send something to one of my professors. It's a stipulation in the contract we established after my sophomore year. This is more to explain why she WON'T be seeing a final copy via e-mail tonight.
    ah... I see... no idea... Good luck!
    I have returned, and am back to abnormal. I'll probably be a tad sporadic due to a busy schedule but hopefully will not disappear again.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaZodiac View Post
    Look apon me, mighty Posid-Eon, ruler of the waves and saviour of people. Watch as I stumble about on dry land humoursly, AND TREMBLE!

    I'm a pretty good listener. If you EVER need to vent, someone that listens to what you are saying or just want to talk, my PM box is always open.

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Apologies for any typos. Although I am an english major I am also sleep deprived and working fast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi View Post
    "Dear Mother: I was working feverishly in another frantic attempt to provide my towering overlords of education with another hastily-cobbled demonstration of my academic prowess when one of these benevolent giants informed me that a due date of my own creation had been placed entirely too near. For the briefest span of time I must admit I was completely incapacitated as my mind reeled in a way fishermen would have envied for miles around had they witnessed it. Although seemingly unreasonable demands by the institution of enlightenment which I so begrudgingly attend have always been commonplace, it was a startling discovery to find that my own self had fallen victim to this preposterous mindset. Fortunately, my kind professors have assured me that should the worst transpire and by some unholy probability I fail to meet this self-conjured abomination of a deadline, the repercussions will be decided un-dire.

    In fact, there will be none at all.

    Everything is fine.

    Sincerely Waffles

    -Archpaladin"
    I doubt sarcasm will help...it'd work on my dad, but my mom takes my academics dead serious.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    I doubt sarcasm will help...it'd work on my dad, but my mom takes my academics dead serious.
    That isn't sarcasm! That is the unblemished truth!
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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Maybe ask one of your professors to send her an e-mail explaining the situation?

    Your mom may not trust you, but I'd be hard pressed to believe that she wouldn't accept a statement from your professors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldar Ditto View Post
    Maybe ask one of your professors to send her an e-mail explaining the situation?

    Your mom may not trust you, but I'd be hard pressed to believe that she wouldn't accept a statement from your professors.
    I'm already gonna do that.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Soooooo, you set a completely unreasonable deadline that you knew you couldn't meet... and are curious how to tell your mother you messed up? How about saying "Mom, look, I messed up. I can't finish by my self-imposed deadline. However, this doesn't impact my ability to finish it by the actual deadline."

    Seems like that's all you can actually say here, since you put yourself in this situation.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    If you are paying your own tuition (or building up debt in your own name to pay it) then thank her for her concern and her past help in getting back on track, and tell her you'll be handling academic matters on your own from now on. It sounds like she's trying too hard to micromanage, and the best solution to that is simply to make it clear that you're in charge, not her. Don't be hostile; you can be sincerely grateful for her past involvement, while still making it clear that this is something you now need to handle yourself.

    If the contract you mentioned is that she will help with tuition, in exchange for regular updates and a voice in how you handle your classes, then honor demands you abide by your side of the deal. That still doesn't mean letting her micromanage, though. Send her a progress report on how the project is going, what the deadlines are, and the timeline you've set up to complete it. Then phone her, so that you can answer any questions she asks. If she thinks you're lying, don't get angry or defensive; just tell her that you're providing full information as you agreed, that you're doing what is best academically by taking the time to do this project right rather than rushing it to meet a false self-imposed deadline, and that while you're sorry she doesn't trust your judgment here, you will be going ahead with the work plan you sent her.

    And then make damned sure your grades at the end of the semester prove that your plan was a good one.

    Do NOT offer to let her talk to your professor to verify that you're telling her the truth. The professor is almost certainly not allowed to talk about your academic status with anyone other than yourself and maybe the dean or department head -- and even if you go to the professor and waive your right to confidentiality, you would be putting them in an awkward situation, and probably lowering their opinion of you.

    Good luck. Even if you have to take a hard line right now and let her worry a little, the results will speak for themselves, and she will have more confidence in you in the future.

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    how about you give it a try... post the text here.. and we give some tips from there?
    It's BACK!

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    Okay, here's the e-mail I sent:

    Dear Mom and Dad,

    As you know, I have been busily working on my senior capstone project, and am now at approximately 20 pages. You also know that this week I announced that I was altering the focus of my project after meeting with my professors to discuss it. While it still will take a significant amount of work to complete the project, I am now more aware of what I am doing and have a plan in place to complete it.

    That said, I had mentioned to you over the phone that I had a planned final draft due date of Friday, March 26th. Upon speaking to my professors about this due date, they all informed me that the due date I had set for myself was completely unreasonable. They were able to provide me with a clearer idea of what they expect from me and when. They do not expect a final draft until the end of the semester, which, while not too far away is still much more manageable than the expectations I had set for myself. They do not expect a final draft to be ready when I give my senior presentation after Easter Break. They told me the whole point of the senior presentation is in fact to get feedback that you can use to revise and improve your senior capstone project. I am currently in the process of gathering new research material and revising my essay to support my thesis. This is NOT starting the project from scratch. It is taking the information I have and looking at it from a different angle.

    I wanted to inform you about this because I understand that there have been trust issues regarding my assignments in the past, and I wanted to make sure you knew about these changes of plan. I am NOT behind on the project, and my academic status is NOT in jeopardy. I was operating under my own unrealistic and unfounded standards, and have been shown by my professors that I am working myself too hard over something that is not a problem.

    That does not mean that I have time to relax, however. I am dedicating as much effort as I can to making sure I at least have a solid second draft of my essay before I give my presentation, so I may work to make a stellar final draft. If you have any questions about the project, my professors have told me that they would be willing to answer them, so if you don't believe me, you may contact them, either by e-mail or phone.

    [Professors' contact information]

    Also, Susan informed me that students invite friends and family to attend their senior presentations all the time, so feel free to come down to see if you would like. My presentation will be Wednesday, April 7th, the Wednesday after Easter Break, at 3:10 PM. I will be the first student presenting, so you might want to get there a bit early.

    I love you,

    Jacob
    Think I said everything that needed to be said?
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Okay, here's the e-mail I sent:



    Think I said everything that needed to be said?
    As has been said, inviting them to be in direct contact with your professor is a terrible idea. Not only do the parents not have a right to talk to the prof, I'm sure your prof isn't allowed to talk to your parents.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SensFan View Post
    As has been said, inviting them to be in direct contact with your professor is a terrible idea. Not only do the parents not have a right to talk to the prof, I'm sure your prof isn't allowed to talk to your parents.
    But the contract I worked out with them stipulates that they can, and they have in the past. My professors gave me permission. It's not like they're going to ask for my exact grades, they're just going to want to know I'm telling the truth.
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2010-03-25 at 10:49 PM.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    But the contract I worked out with them stipulates that they can, and they have in the past. My professors gave me permission. It's not like they're going to ask for my exact grades, they're just going to want to know I'm telling the truth.
    Ah. It's your business, of course, but I think that was likely a big mistake on both your part, your parents' and your professors'.

    You're (presumably) and adult now, and you're no longer in high school. It's your education, and it will impact your life for years to come. Not your parents' education. Not to mention, if your parents feel it necessary to talk to your professors to confirm you're not lying about something as trivial (in the big picture) as an assignment due date, how do they expect to believe that you pay rent every month? Do they plan on calling your landlord every month, as well as your boss whenever you have a deadline at work?
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    Every school is different, every department is different within a school...but as an academic myself, I have to tell you I think it's a mistake to have your parents contact your professors.

    If a student wanted me to contact their parents, or to give the parents information if they contacted me, I would tell the student that was a very bad idea. If the parents went ahead and called or emailed me anyway, I would be polite, but not give them any information, and ask them not to contact me again. And while this would not affect the grade I gave the student, it would make it hard for me to ever write them a recommendation letter, since I would feel that the student had behaved unprofessionally.

    Again, every situation is different, and it might be that the arrangement you have set up isn't bothering anyone. I'm not telling you these things to seem harsh, but only because it's important that you know the possible consequences of allowing your parents to act this way.

    One possible compromise: does your professor have a website with a syllabus or other information about the project? You could give your parents the url, or better yet show them how to link there directly from the department's page, so that they can be sure it's legitimate.

    Also: I think the email you drafted for your parents is a good one, although you might delete some of the "I am NOT lying" parts, and replace them with specifics about the project itself and where you're going with it. A phone call, either before or after you send the email, will be even better; give them a chance to ask you any questions they've got.

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Is there something prohibiting you from talking on the phone? That always seems more sincere to me than textual communication.

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Zovc View Post
    Is there something prohibiting you from talking on the phone? That always seems more sincere to me than textual communication.
    On the phone, people talk back. And over. And aren't obliged to listen. And can remember the conversation quite differently from what was actually spoken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quincunx View Post
    On the phone, people talk back. And over. And aren't obliged to listen. And can remember the conversation quite differently from what was actually spoken.
    Fair enough, I suppose I don't get myself into enough situations for phone conversations to be "unconstructive." ("Destructive wouldn't have kept the appropriate connotation, sorry.)

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    How about "adversarial", which is the situation we're setting up in the initial post, or at least by the third one when party B does not trust party A?

    This seems like one of the (not frequent) times age is relevant: all of the people saying that a parent/professor link is bad are your peers or older, and those saying that it's good are still dealing with high school or lower. Don't mention it now, but keep that knowledge pocketed for later use.

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    Letter looks perfect to me, good luck with reaching the final deadline.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Quincunx View Post
    On the phone, people talk back. And over. And aren't obliged to listen.
    Sigg'd.

    And Archpaladin, I wish you the best of luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kneenibble View Post
    You rascally psychopath, you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quincunx View Post
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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    mucat touched on a very important point.

    Your mother, well-meaning as she might think she is, is possibly interfering with your future success by denying you the chance to show yourself as being professional. It does sound like you have a good relationship with your professors, and such you are allowed the use of sarcasm I assume your father as well, but your mother could very well develop into a problem.

    She is over-reacting. If she is unwilling to believe you or any physical evidence you provide, then I would enlist your father and any other person in your family to help rein her in. Have them explain to her that she is in danger of no longer guiding you on your success but actually harming said future success.
    1. Have fun. It's only a game.
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    Well, the situation looks okay. My phone call with my father this morning was cordial, and from the sound of things my mother understands too. I call my parents every morning, as soon as I wake up, as per the contract we revise and sign every year.

    I got a bit of a surprise when my parents called a couple hours ago and said they were on their way to pick me up for the weekend though. My writing specialist and disabilities coordinator were concerned that my assignments were piling up and wanted to help me set up a plan to make sure I really make progress on them this weekend. We agreed that tonight should probably be a "fun night" for me, since I wouldn't make much headway tonight. Then, while I'm browsing at the local Barnes and Noble, my parents call saying they've decided to bring me home for the weekend so they can help me and oversee my progress. I've got mixed feelings about it. I've never been able to concentrate on my work when I'm at home, since that's where all my computer games are and stuff. If I'm going to get anything done, I'll probably have to have one of them hovering over me to keep me on task. I also wished they'd given me more of a heads-up. Granted, they knew I was seeing a movie with a friend, so they probably wanted to wait on calling me so they didn't interrupt the movie, but they could have called earlier too.

    I've also got mixed feelings about the conversation we'll have on the way home. Hopefully they're not interested in making accusations, but making plans instead, which is what they sounded like over the phone. I'm not upset over how things turned out, but this is certainly not what I was expecting.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Familial Diplomacy

    For your own sake, take a stand - breaking the contract if you have to - and get them to leave your education to you. Trust me, it will do possibily irreperable damage to your relationship with them (and possibly your evolution into an independant adult) if you keep allowing them to control your schooling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SensFan View Post
    For your own sake, take a stand - breaking the contract if you have to - and get them to leave your education to you. Trust me, it will do possibily irreperable damage to your relationship with them (and possibly your evolution into an independant adult) if you keep allowing them to control your schooling.
    If one takes that route, one must be prepared to pay for said education as well.

    Just sayin'.

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