How 'bout I pay for your wedding if you sucker your friends into giving me money?
June 19, 2012 10:21 AM   Subscribe

My father asked me to use my social networks to get my friends to use his business. When I balked, he tried telling me that if I did, he'd pay for my wedding with the money. Am I right to be offended? And what do I do?

My family comes from a fairly traditional culture, where men are the providers, expected to provide for their entire family. My father, however, has not financially been doing well lately - he lost all of his own money due to a combination of bad investing and spending control problems. He previously, however, had significant amounts of money, such that him paying for a child's wedding would not be a thing. These days, he's living well enough, but it is off the money that his new wife brought to the marriage. He has recently sought and obtained a commission-based job in financial planning so that he can have his own money and not feel dependent on his wife.

When the topic of my wedding last came up several years ago, he offered to pay for the whole thing. Now, however, knowing his financial circumstances, my fiance and I did not even consider asking him for money. We're not loaded, but we can certainly afford a modest wedding. He, when told of the wedding, hasn't offered any help whatsoever until this conversation.

First, I'm a little concerned that my father isn't the best financial planner, given the state of his own finances, and I don't want to use my personal reputation to drive my friends towards what's probably going to wind up being a bad deal. I think he's looking at it from a perspective of, "You're family, you should help family out." But my friends also can't afford to lose sums of money in investments or insurance or planning that isn't really going to help them.

Second, I'm really offended that my father's offer of help with the wedding was stated as contingent on my friends buying his products. I should stress, it'd be totally fine if he said, "I wish I could buy this wedding for you, but right now, I can't, but I love you very much." I accept that the only way he could even possibly help would probably be if he did start selling this stuff. But I wish he would just say that, instead of making it sound like a tit-for-tat deal.

Third, I'm also offended at the idea that I would help him for money when I wouldn't help him for love - or that I'd be willing to sell out my friends for money.

My fiance thinks that I'm overreacting, and that in this traditional male culture, my father has no way to admit that his (female) daughter is now more financially secure than him, who is supposed to be the patriarch.

I think that's sexist bullshit, and he's had enough exposure to non-traditional culture by now that he should be past this.

Right now, I don't know what to do: do I have a conversation with him and explain why I was offended? Do I just not recommend him? Or should I recommend him after all, but just caveat to my friends that they should be very careful?
posted by corb to Human Relations (30 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In this situation I would do nothing. Certainly don't recommend his business to your friends, and don't bring the subject up with him again at all unless you are willing to deal with any drama that might ensue.
posted by something something at 10:26 AM on June 19, 2012 [12 favorites]

The offense isn't and shouldn't be about his ability or willingness to contribute to your wedding. It sounds like her was saying something like telling your grandmother, "if I hit the lottery, I will buy you a nice house!" Don't focus on that. The offense is the idea of using your friends for money/business reasons, which is highly, highly inappropriate.
posted by deanc at 10:28 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

As a total outsider, his proposition seems like that of a desperate man. I'd be more worried about his long-term financial health than anything. As for what to do, I would just not recommend him and not mention it again.
posted by sugarbomb at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would not do anything and would not bring it up again. If he mentions it again, I would explain that I would recommend my friends to him if they ask me for a recommendation of a financial planner but that I will not proactively push my friends to him.

Continue planning your wedding without plans to have him pay for any of it. (So if he ultimately pay for something it will be a lovely surprise and not a disaster and major drama if he doesn't)
posted by xicana63 at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

When I balked, he tried telling me that if I did, he'd pay for my wedding with the money.

I don't think he understands how social networks work. Anyway, just tell him you'll be paying for your own wedding but that if he would like suggestions on how to grow his business network, you'd be happy to help him out.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's possible he may not understand that spamming your friends on social networks is bad etiquette at least, and a violation of the Terms of Service at worst. But I agree with others that I'd just do nothing and drop it unless he brings it up again.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:39 AM on June 19, 2012

Offer to help him build his social network, but under no circumstances should you allow him to tap into yours.
posted by empath at 10:40 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a little concerned that my father isn't the best financial planner

Often these type of roles are glorified sales roles. He will take relevant information from his clients (which is what his employer is really after: his network), plug it into a formula, provide a selection of mutual funds to invest in, and then sell them insurance (which is what his employer actually wants to sell).

While being recruited for a similar role I was asked if I'd be OK calling friends and family. They definitely made it seem like they wanted to buy my friends list over my talents.

Disclaimer: Not all financial planners are this way. Not all financial planners in these particular firms are bad either.
posted by teabag at 10:56 AM on June 19, 2012

My dad got into a similar thing (Primerica) and spent a couple years trying to get me to send friends to him for either "job opportunities" or financial planning. (It's basically a pyramid scheme, where the way to make money is to hire people under you, because then you get a cut of their sales and a smaller cut from everything their hires sell.)

It really put a strain on our otherwise-great relationship, until I finally made it clear to him that I was not going to hear about it at all, and if he couldn't stop mentioning it I would be cutting our conversations short. Basically what I said was " I am not your employee, and I will not be recruiting or generating leads for you. I already have a job, and I am not interested in this one." Making it super clear that he was not asking me for a favor but for real, dollar-value work seemed to sort it out in his head.

I think the wedding thing would actually make that tactic more effective, because it really brings home how transactional he's making it (in a way that has nothing to do with traditional culture.) In any case, he's being inappropriate and I wish you the best of luck with it - it took me a good couple years to get my dad to shut up about it.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

You have every right to be offended, but what are you going to do? That's your dad.

You're 100% percent correct that you shouldn't be recommending your friends to him. I'd sit down with him and tell him that if he can't plan his own finances, why would I trust him with my friends? But as the name says, I'm Ruthless and I don't know him from a bar of soap. Just think it.

As for the wedding. Do what you can afford. Spending gazillions of dollars on a wedding is stupid anyway.

You're fine, he's off in some way. Just smile and shine him on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:06 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but to clarify: he asked me to post it on Facebook, because he knows I have a ton of Facebook friends. So if I don't do it, he'll definitely be aware. I can't really not do this quietly - unless I create a Facebook post visible only to him, which, I'm not sure on the morality of that either.
posted by corb at 11:17 AM on June 19, 2012

You're under no obligation to shepherd your friends to your dad's "business." This offer doesn't come with strings — it comes with cables.

Now, however, knowing his financial circumstances, my fiance and I did not even consider asking him for money. We're not loaded, but we can certainly afford a modest wedding.

There's your answer. Do that.
posted by phoebus at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2012

Even if he'll be aware that you haven't done it, I still would do nothing and wait for him to bring it up. And if he does, you can say, "I'm sorry, I don't feel comfortable with doing that." And then walk away. You don't have to be forced into an argument with family members just because they're related to you. You can just say no in a polite way and decline to discuss it further.
posted by something something at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Compromise: on your facebook say "Congratulations to my dad on his new career. He just started at XYZ company selling financial widgets. Good Luck Dad!

a promo hidden in a normal looking FB post.
posted by Gungho at 11:59 AM on June 19, 2012 [11 favorites]

I think that's sexist bullshit, and he's had enough exposure to non-traditional culture by now that he should be past this

I agree with MoonOrb above, I also wanted to suggest giving him a little slack. Ingrained cultural norms can be quite powerful and hard to really truly shake. If pressed, he could probably agree that there is nothing logically wrong with a wife and daughter who are more financially secure than him, but because of his upbringing and the strong cultural identity he has... knowing it might not be enough to prevent him being ashamed of it.
posted by Beacon Inbound at 12:01 PM on June 19, 2012

The word "offended" implies that the other person is doing something unfair, inconsiderate, not respectful. Your father may well think is request and proposed "reward" are perfectly okay. That's why your driends are saying you're 'over-reacting," a word I hate for situations like this.

You have reasons to be pissed about it, and those reasons are valid. Think about why you don't like the request, just from your own point of view -- leave out the part about your father wanting to compromise your social capital, or his implying anything. Maybe don't like it because you don't want to be drawn in to his financial thing, or because you don't want to use your friends in this way. You might also be pissed because you don't know how to raise objections or say no, given the differences between your father's values and your own. You now have a problem that came about because he asked you to do something you don't want to do. It's natural to be mad at him as a first reaction, but skip that and go to the more relevant consideration: what you want and need.

I suggest that you tell him you want to use social media just for social reasons, and that you prefer to mention his business to them individually. It's more personal, and besides, you've already done it.
posted by wryly at 12:18 PM on June 19, 2012

I've had friends and relatives ask me to do this kind of Facebook promotion in the past. What I do is either "like" their FB page for their business, if they have one, or share their website, and comment on the action saying "This is my friend Matt's law firm" or "This is my cousin Ben's fishing tour service" or whatever. No more promotion than that.

If you don't want to do even that, that's totally reasonable and fair. But there are ways to "promote" without endorsing, if you know what I mean.
posted by KathrynT at 12:37 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So along the lines of my first suggestion, based on your update I would now suggest you offer to help him setup a Facebook business page which you'll Like, as well as other more concrete things you can do to help him build a network. Do you need more suggestions?
posted by DarlingBri at 1:15 PM on June 19, 2012

Explain to your dad, when he raises the topic again, that it would be terribly rude and crass for you to post something like this, and that it would hurt both of you more than it would help.

As for feeling offended, I'm not sure it would help to mention it right now. Weddings are fraught with financial/emotional baggage. Your dad may have meant, "I really want to pay for your wedding, but I can't do it unless I get my business going, and I need a little bit of help from you in doing that." Or he may have meant it in a more tit-for-tat way, in which case you now know something more about how he operates. But it would be a mistake to saddle yourself with resentment over this issue, or to stir the pot and get everyone's emotions all fluffed up over it. You're planning a wedding: there's potential from drama-stress all over the place. Sidestep it whenever you can.

One of the hardest parts of growing up is accepting our parents for who they are. You get to a certain age where you realize your parents have character flaws, and there's nothing you can do to change that. What you can do in this case is set a boundary concerning business and financial affairs, and then enforce that boundary.

Mazel tov!
posted by brina at 1:23 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm with restless_nomad; I've had this kind of pressure put on me in the past by pushy friends and relatives and it flat out sucks. I'm generally not a confrontational person, but I really dislike it when friends or relatives try to take advantage of a relationship in this way. After all, if they're awesome at their job or the product they sell is so freaking fantastic, I'll already be singing their praises to everyone I know. There's no need to bribe me. Presenting it as an either you do this or I won't do that proposition will guarantee someone a permanent place on my Shit List.

Don't mince words. Tell your dad how you feel. If he doesn't like it, tough shit.

(I am not on facebook, but even if I were, I would not deceive my friends by "liking" someone's business if I felt or knew that they sucked at whatever they do... even if the business belonged to a close relative.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:24 PM on June 19, 2012

I agree that it is offensive to do this kind of business promoting in a social setting.

You could do as Gungho suggests, I do think that that would be kind and within appropriate bounds. If he presses you, you're just going to have to say that anything more overt than that would be counterproductive.
posted by tel3path at 2:32 PM on June 19, 2012

Best answer: Dad, I'm not comfortable advertizing to my friends, but I'd love to help you put together an Internet marketing plan. And I know you'd spring for a big extravagant wedding if the economy wasn't such a mess, but we're really happy having a quiet wedding. The only wedding gift I need from you is you being my Dad and walking me down the aisle (if that's your plan) and celebrating with us. I love you.

He's in a bad place due to his finances. Change is hard. Forgive the hurt feelings, and forgive them the best way - by not mentioning them. The closer I got to my wedding (a long time ago), the nuttier my family got. Focus on the real stuff - love of family, and credit him with better intentions, deserved or not. You'll both be happier.
posted by theora55 at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you are using Facebook to network for your job, then would this work? "Dad, my personal Facebook is also a face of my non-profit. Your new line of work conflicts with the goals of my employer. I need to be really careful about what I do on Facebook, and I think this would put me in a bad position at work."

I wouldn't be offended, though. I think your fiance has the right idea.
posted by Houstonian at 4:11 PM on June 19, 2012

Is it Primerica? As Restless_Nomad mentions, they're known for "hiring" independent agents with no financial experience and for their pyramid-scheme-like structure. If so, I would recommend reading some of the MLM threads for perspective on how to deal with a family member in the throes of the MLM spell. Your father may be hearing some pretty high-pressure "motivational speeches" that the key to get rich quick is to rope in friends and family and use "social networking" (handwave-voodoo-magic) to bring in leads. In reality, it's a lot of smoke and mirrors designed to hide that the game is rigged against him. Not finance related, but this is another great mefi post about folks getting conned for more and more money as they try to make their "independent business" successful.
posted by Gable Oak at 4:44 PM on June 19, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you, everyone! I think I am going to try a combined "I use my Facebook for my nonprofit work, and don't want to get in trouble with my know how important jobs are in this economy..." and "but I'd love to help you set up a Facebook presence!"

I definitely will not take him into account with any wedding planning - I should stress that was never something I was looking at, but I will continue with existing modest wedding plans.

In regards to what's not Primerica, I don't /think/, but you know, I did actually suspect "scam" when this first came up. He had to come in for several "interviews" and pay for "qualifying tests," and they are putting him in an office, but they're not actually paying him any salary whatsoever, not even minimum wage. He only makes money if he sells "financial planning" products - he says they give him 50 percent of the commission the first year, and then tiny bits every year after that. He's not supposed to recruit more people to sell, but the one "product" he tried to talk to me about sounded sketchy. So, not MLM, but maybe still problematic?
posted by corb at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2012

Best answer: Yes. My initial reaction would be to be very offended....that he was using and viewing the people I cared about and my association with them as a potential income (Miss Manners would not approve) and that I was being used as potential income. I too would be offended that his offer to help with my wedding was prefaced on my friends being able to help with the in he tried telling me that if I did, he'd pay for my wedding with the money. I might be less cranky about it if he hailed from a culture that mixed business and personal relationships as a matter of course. Still. I'd be cranky.

I too might get into a bit of a feminist snit and wonder if it was all about some macho stuff. I'd kind of roll my eyes a bit at that.

Then I would be hurt that my dad didn't know me well enough to understand that his request would make me very uncomfortable. If he did know me well enough, I would be doubly hurt that didn't care enough to not make the request.

Then I would be sad. Sad because to me fairly traditional culture, where men are the providers, expected to provide for their entire family and he lost all of his own money due to a combination of bad investing and spending control problems and sought and obtained a commission-based job in financial planning so that he can have his own money and not feel dependent on his wife all string together to tell a rather sad story.

To me the story conjures up an idea of someone who's definition of manhood, fatherhood, identity, providing, and worth as a human are all bound up in one another. Making and having money is the thing that stitches it all together. I'd be sad to think that bad investments and spendthrifting could add up to my dad feeling like a failure. I'd be sad to think he was still trying to somehow compensate for that feeling of failure, that the only way he can redeem himself if by trying to make it big one more time. I'd be sad that loving me is the best thing he could ever do for me and that he doesn't get it.

I can't help but wonder if your dad has never said anything like I wish I could buy this wedding for you, but right now, I can't, but I love you very much" because he doesn't believe it's enough - for him or for you.

So that's my take. I see no malice in anything that you've written. What you've written strikes me as someone who is either benignly clueless - as others have suggested - or as someone still trying to work out a deeper drama about who he is...or something else entirely.

You know your dad better than anyone else. You're instincts are absolutely right to not go along with his request. How you decide to not go along with it will depend largely, I think, on what you believe to be most true about him.

Good Luck and Congratulations!
posted by space_cookie at 6:21 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you have some right to be offended but, based on the information you've put forward here, I think you can afford not to be. It's hard for someone to shake off a lifetime of being and feeling a certain way, particularly when something you may have looked forward to for decades (providing your daughter with the dream wedding) is taken away from you as the rest of your world is crumbling.

I'm not sure that it wouldn't make things worse anyway, but it's not difficult to agree to your father's request without really spamming your friends or doing anything unethical, as others have mentioned. Why I think it might make things worse is that your father may be like many 'social network unaware' people that think you can just like his page of Facebook and the money will start pouring in the door. I hope he's not pinning all his hopes on that happening, but plenty of people do and it often doesn't end well.

tl;dr - maybe cut your dad some slack because he's trying to do what he sees as his duty.
posted by dg at 8:23 PM on June 19, 2012

If it were my relative, I'd tell him this: A lot of people have lost money in the markets the past few years, and when their brokers or financial planners were friends or family, it strained and/or broke those relationships. You hear some story like that just about every day. Come to think of it, the same was true before the market went bad. I don't know how many times-- literally hundreds-- I've heard someone complain about financial losses blamed on some friend/family connection. Sometimes it was actually just a "normal" loss; other times, this so-called friend was deliberately exploiting his/her connections and churning portfolios. But the potential for alienating people is real and I'd not be comfortable getting my friends involved with this.

For what it's worth, I get a certain amount of mail from friends and acquaintances in more or less your situation; it's not them selling whatever; it's their brother or something. I always read that as being that their brother is pushing them to do this, I never respond and never hear about it again. I think practically every one of those people is responding to the kind of pressure you describe by making a token gesture so they can say they did it. I wouldn't want to take that approach, but people do it all the time.
posted by BibiRose at 10:42 AM on June 20, 2012

The compromises mentioned above are good - I get this myself a fair bit, as I am an active LinkedIn networker. I would suggest that while FaceBook is good - LinkedIn is where more actual "business" happens.

You want to show him how to make a LinkedIn page in addition to a FaceBook page - like them both, and as was suggested above - "congratulate" him publically on his new role, but that is about it.

Ultimately the majority of my business LinkedIn network was built from "in-person" networking at technical conferences, user groups, "formal networking events", seminars, etc. Eventually it got big enough, people started approaching me.
posted by jkaczor at 6:13 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I did in fact resolve the problem with him asking me to use his contacts for business..though admittedly not how to get people out of MLM-type schemes. He may or may not be offended, but certainly hasn't said anything about it. I've also avoided mentioning wedding finances to him, and thus far things have gone well. I'm still hurt, but have been working on letting it go.
posted by corb at 2:33 PM on July 20, 2012

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