Advice: My in-laws don't respect my profession, even though I support their daughter and grandchildren.

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Dear Quota Team, 

This probably isn’t anything anyone could help me with, and maybe I’m just looking to vent. I sell software, and make well into the six figures. I’ve been with the same company for just under four years, and I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for almost ten years. She has a PhD but is a full time stay at home mom for our two daughters. This was a decision we made together, and even though it’s difficult sometimes, we are both generally happy with the arrangement. 

The problem is her parents. Her dad is a retired doctor, and was (from what I understand) some sort of visionary in his field. Her mother is also a PhD, but like my wife, stayed home to raise children. The problem is that neither one of them has any respect for what I do professionally, and they both look down on sales as a profession that they seem to think is beneath them, and, I’m assuming, therefore beneath their daughter. 

They’re nice enough to me, and I’ve known them for about twelve years, but the father even makes these underhanded comments to me about my profession. For example, he says that the “Guys designing the software are probably quite brilliant,” implying that since I’m the one selling it, I’m not. He’s also asked why I never wanted to pursue something more challenging, and said that all it takes to get an advanced degree is grit and perseverance. 

Mind you, I’m busting my ass to support their daughter and grandkids, and the job they’re so condescending about pays for a great house in a sought-after school district, and we never, ever have asked them for a penny. My wife tells me to just ignore her dad, and that he doesn’t mean anything by it, but part of me wants to tell him off. Thoughts? 

Annoyed in Connecticut 


Dear Annoyed, 

Your in-laws sound pretty obnoxious, but that’s not uncommon, is it? People who have never worked in sales often have preconceived notions about the profession, especially if they’re older and their frame of reference is the fast-talking car salesman of 20th century lore, not to mention that your wife’s parents sound like they might be intellectual snobs. 

Here’s what we think: while your wife doesn’t want to rock the boat, it sounds like she might not fully grasp just how much this is bothering you. You should let her know, because she might be in a better position to tell her parents to cut the crap before it comes to a head during a family barbeque or over Thanksgiving dinner. 

Ultimately, though, you should let your father-in-law know that you don’t appreciate his snide remarks. A good place to start is to say everything you said in the first sentence of your last paragraph. And don’t worry that much about his reaction. You have every right to stand up for yourself. And, more than likely, he will respect you more for doing it directly. 

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