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My family embarrassed me at work — how do I recover?

Today I’m answering a question about how to deal with embarrassing family members who intrude on your workplace.

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I moved across the country to distance myself from my family. Unfortunately, my parents unexpectedly showed up at my workplace today. After they left, my co-worker said, “Wow, your mom gives new meaning to the word ‘different.’ And is your father always like that?”

I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t answer, and my co-worker gave me a funny look. Now I don’t know how I’ll ever recover from the impression my parents made. Before my parents showed up, my co-workers saw me as someone who had her act together. I was someone others turned to for advice. Now I’m afraid they’ll see me as someone who puts on a façade but is really a mess underneath. What do I do?

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Although most of us long for perfect families in which life runs smoothly, our parents have it together, and our brother or sister love us, few of us grow up with or manage to create that reality.

The real question is why you let your self-confidence suffer a mortal blow because of one visit and a comment. Your co-workers know your parents aren’t you, and your co-worker probably gave you a funny look because you reacted so strongly to her comment.

Here’s something to consider: You became the person others turn to because of your past. Those who grow up in difficult circumstances learn much more than those raised in a perfect life. If you grew up with less-than-perfect parents or siblings, you learned early how to deal with difficult people and still love them. You learned to depend on yourself and to take imperfection and make it good. If you grew up in a somewhat crazy environment, you learned to learn navigate ambiguous, challenging circumstances. If you tried your best and things didn’t work out well, you developed empathy, which may be why others turn to you when things get rough.

You can’t change your parents. You can only continue to be the person you are. Let the visit pass, and get on with the life you’re making for yourself.

More: How do I handle a co-worker who is making me look bad?

Have a question for Lynne? Email her at with “SheKnows” in the subject line, and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.

Lynne is an executive coach and the author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. You can follow Lynne through her other posts on, via,™ or @lynnecurry10 on Twitter.

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