My daughter, 25, graduated university with honours in my same specialized field, and asked if she could be my business partner.
I built my firm and good reputation on my own. I was a young widow whose husband hadn’t left any insurance or savings, so I had to make a go of it.
My daughter’s known a far easier life than I’ve had, because of my success.
Now, she wants to be a full partner and have regular office hours, whereas I spent years seeing clients in after-work hours for their convenience.
She’s smart and has the intellectual skills required, but I worry that she hasn’t the level of patience and compassion that’s also needed.
What if some clients don’t take to her, or her to them? Or, if I feel she’s not pulling her weight… do I still hand over half the net proceeds?
But my greater fear is whether my stating these doubts or holding her back from a partnership will prove a huge mistake.
Am I risking our mother-daughter relationship?
Professional or Maternal
You’re asking a relationship advice person about a major business decision?
Well, it tells me that your mother-daughter connection matters most, at least to you.
So, I’m urging you to see a business adviser on your own, but no, I’m not passing the buck.
First, look at your dynamic as family:
Does your daughter still see you as her “provider?” Has her education and current lifestyle been totally funded by you?
Do you two have a lot of areas of conflict and stress?
If any of these concerns apply, you’d be wise to insist that any plan to work together starts with some joint counseling sessions.
It’ll help boost your mutual understanding and self-knowledge. Both are necessary, to cooperate and compromise on joint projects.
You’ll both also need to feel comfortable that there’s a solid basis of mutual respect for working together.
Then, before responding to your daughter’s request, talk to a business consultant about partnership agreements, and what’s involved.
It’s rare that any new graduate, no matter how smart at school, could walk into an established business insisting on full partnership, without investing in it in some manner.
Should you insist she buy a share over time? Will she accept salary-only, during an entry year or two of getting hands-on experience with this particular business and its clients?
Once you’ve considered the logistics of taking on a partner, tell her what you now believe is necessary.
Both of you should then get legal advice on how to structure a partnership arrangement that’s fair and satisfying to you both.
All this takes time, which is a good thing, so that each of you can adjust to the new working relationship if you go ahead.
Meanwhile, keep massaging and building the family bond, that’s even more important to your harmony as parent and adult child.
FEEDBACK On why women are attracted to the so-called “Dark Triad” of Bad Boys (September 13):
Reader – “Good old science, I love it!
“I’ve always wondered why I was attracted to Bad Boys and felt that I was to blame. I am, but now I know it’s just unconsciously, from my hormones!
“I did notice, after I had children, that the men I was most attracted to, were the ones on the playground engaging with their child.
“My heart swooned when I heard them call their child “sweetheart.” (I kept my attractions secret… we were all married).”
My parents, early 70s, spend minimal time with our kids, aged four and six.
Their weekend visits last only 30 minutes for a catch-up coffee.
Their rare dinner invitations are set for 5pm, knowing we’ll leave at 6:30-7:00 for the kids’ bedtime.
Recently, they complained that they were too noisy and should play in the basement.
We’ve invited them to our place, but they always have other plans.
Meanwhile, my in-laws invite us over weekly and want us there early.
How do I stop resenting my parents’ behaviour? I’ve stopped asking how they’re doing.
Some 70-year-olds have energy and patience for youngsters, others don’t.
Look to your parents’ activity/energy levels and health conditions.
Consider whether they were actively playful when you were young, or preferred quiet talking and reading together.
Bring colouring books, puzzles, etc. along and encourage gentle interactivity while still catching up as adults.
Your parents still want contact. Keep trying.
Tip of the day:
Can a mother-daughter relationship survive partnering in business? Get clear agreements ahead, then co-operate and compromise.