An employee in our office who has been with us the longest, five years, has decided to leave to start her own practice. As to be expected, I am not very thrilled with her decision or the way she is making this move. She is asking if she can throw herself a goodbye party at the office to wrap things up with coworkers. I know that the polite thing would be for me to host such a shindig but I am uncomfortable with this idea. I don’t want to send the message that we celebrate people leaving this way. I am thinking that I should suggest she throw her own party outside of work. What do you think? Does this come across as rude?
Sincerely, Janet from Hawaii
Mabel: Hi Janet. I understand how this situation is a struggle for you as the head of the office. I do think it is reasonable to do a casual send-off lunch. Nothing over the top, just a formal low-key goodbye. After all, you wouldn’t want to let her go without any recognition. Tell her if she wants to have a party then she can do it on her own. You can explain to her that you haven’t hosted a party for a previous employee and have no plans to throw one for a future employee. It wouldn’t be fair for her to be the only one you threw a party for. She should understand this, and if she doesn’t oh well. You are making an appropriate and fair choice.
Letter from concerned client: I decided to leave my hometown and move to accomplish my career goals, and now I really miss my family. My parents are getting old and they don’t understand why I decided to leave and not stay with them. My mom has always told me to ‘live simple’ and despite not agreeing with my decision to move she still supports me. It makes me feel even more guilty, like I am letting them down.
Mabel: I understand your desire to make your parents proud. You said your mom wanted you to ‘live simple’ but still supports you in your goal, however hard it may be to attain that goal. It is a little like how I wanted my kids to enjoy playing music but instead, their interests are art and tennis. Even though art and tennis are not my desires, at the end of the day seeing my children enjoying and working towards their own goals makes me profoundly happy. For them, learning to master these things frustrates them a lot of the time but that is part of life and reaching a goal. You decided to move because it is important to you in the reaching of your goals, and it isn’t always easy. The process of living in a new place and working can be very frustrating. Your mother has a desire for you to live a simple and happy life because that is what she knows of happiness. Most of us mothers have our own desires, however, supporting our children in their own dream is a lesson in parenting. A lesson that it’s not about us but about the child. It is about learning how to love someone, and how to see the world beyond us. It is an important lesson for all us parents. My dream is for my children to soar in whatever they choose to do, even if I have little understanding of it. If guilt is something that weighs them down, like most mothers, I would love to take that weight off their shoulders so they can fly more freely. I am not sure if this is how your mother feels, but my hypothesis is that most mothers share these similar sentiments.