My father is very uneducated and has worked only physically for all his life. I have studied computer science and I now work in Home Office due to Covid. Behind my back, he talks to all family members that "home office" is not "real work". One can only play at the computer at home, but not work. He doesn't know better, and he's unwilling to learn. When I ask him if he wants to join me for a day at work, he just goes silent and ignores it. He does neither understand what I do nor does he care. But still he always talks behind my back to family members about how lazy I am because I'm in home office.

I understand the psychology of it. For him, home != work. Since he has very little theory of mind, he cannot imagine that others life other lifes, and that his work != the work of everyone else.

He hates thinking (he once said that he'd rather lift tons of heavy rocks for weeks instead of spending a single minute thinking). He hates opposing opinions, since that may lead to the thought that he may have been wrong, which is a thing he hates. Talking about this is nearly impossible.

In his mind, he thinks "he's playing computer games" when he thinks about me being in front of a computer, since he doesn't do anything else with them and what I do (HPC programming) is way to abstract for him to understand. All my results are also way too abstract for him to understand. And since he doesn't understand them, he thinks they're useless.

Is there any chance I can get him to understand that physical work is not the only kind of viable work that exists?

This is a terrible situation. When I was not in home office, I, in his mind, was still lazy, but at least I went to the office and since he kind of knows that office can be work, he more or less accepted it silently. But now he doesn't anymore.

  • 2
    How do family members react to him talking like that, what is their opinion? Do they tell him they disagree with him? This is what makes the point for you. Do they inform you about that, how do you respond?
    – puck
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 7:44
  • 14
    I think this question is more fit on Interpersonal SE than here since the OP does not live with their father.
    – Nobody
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 8:10
  • 11
    I’m voting to close this question because this about interpersonal relationships between family members, and not about navigating a workplace issue
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 8:24
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    Does your father pose any actual problems for your work or workplace? Does he interrupt you at work or do you live under the same roof and he's noisy when you need to focus? I'm afraid the personal opinions of your father are hard to change and not actually a workplace problem. You might be better served over at IPS. If your fathers behavior is actually conflicting with your work, feel free to go into details so we can try and help here.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 9:52
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    Since I see quite a few comments here recommending you ask over at Interpersonal Skills, let me clarify that as it is now, this isn't a good question for that site: Asking whether there is any chance of getting him to understand isn't a matter of interpersonal skills, and besides that, the site can only help you with your interpersonal skills, so in order for this to be a question there, there should be much more information on what your arguments are and how you've tried to present them, instead of mostly describing your father and his reasons for not wanting to understand. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 10:25

5 Answers 5


Is there any chance I can get him to understand that physical work is not the only kind of viable work that exists?

I know exactly where you're coming from and the answer is always no. For dads like this if it != manual labor it != work. Your effort to debug their opinion is futile and exhausting. It's an endless loop that's using a lot of CPU, draining your resources and sucking the life out of you until you crash. You have to take a moment to consider the possibility that maybe they're a virus and that's exactly what they want.

File their stupid opinions about your life under /dev/null

  • This is a great and correct answer. The fact is one cannot change that mindset!
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 10:52
  • Even it answers a question not fitting the scope of this site, +1 for the style :D Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 11:54
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    This was not a bad answer up until the point of insulting people who are "uneducated". There are plenty of stupid people who are "educated" and plenty of intelligent people who aren't "educated". For evidence, take a look at the software industry where a degree isn't even required to be successful.
    – Bardicer
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 16:28
  • I was very tempted to edit this into English but I fear it would lose its soul.
    – solarflare
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 23:41

This question may be better suited to IPR than here, but you could do worse than tell him "What matters is that my employer considers this to be work and is willing to pay me for it".

Depending on your relationship, you might even take his position and run with it: "You're right, I've convinced these people to pay me X dollars a year to play computer games. Pretty cool, huh?"

  • 1
    I agree this is more of an interpersonal question than a workplace one, but the SE for it is very dogmatic and lots of questions get closed. It's been 6 days since that last non-closed question was asked :\
    – Yuftre111
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 9:44

I don't understand why you still care about your family's opinion. You're an adult who lives alone and has a paycheck. Who cares if they think you're lazy and playing games. As long as you're making your own money and living your life. Even if you were making money from playing games, they should respect that.

But since they are the type of people who like to criticize anything they don't relate to (believe me, my family is a nightmare), you won't change their mind. No matter how hard you try to explain. No matter how logical and convincing are your arguments. They will keep talking sh*t about you because they like to feel superior to someone that didn't turn out like they wanted him to be.

In two words : stop caring. You won't change your profession just because they want to, they won't change their opinion just because you want to. Let them talk trash, keep doing what you like, be nice to them and ignore their mean comments. If they are too toxic, only talk to them when necessary.

  • I agree. Build up your own confidence, and be separate from your father. Commented Apr 28, 2021 at 2:29

This isn't something to get unduly upset over.

You left home 10 years ago, so if you're still hearing this then that is your family gossiping for some reason, otherwise they wouldn't stress you out with it.

From your fathers and many others perspective he's correct. Half my career is blue collar, now I make money in my office, but I 'work' in my plantation and when I'm building things. It's just a matter of perspective through experience. After 10 years you should be used to it. All my old friends have a laugh at me. It's not something to get upset over. I laugh as well and agree that I just prefer researching bikinis in an airconditioned room rather than sweating.

Lastly you have just posted a question which badmouths your father in several ways to random internet strangers, apparently he is uneducated, unfeeling, unchangeable, denigrates his own children and knows little or nothing, you may want to have a think about what you're saying about him in public.

If you feel you must do something, then it should be in-house. Ask your mother or siblings to talk to him about it.

  • 4
    "Lastly you have just posted a question which badmouths your father in several ways to random internet strangers.." +1 for that statement
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 8:13
  • When I’m building things or working manually, that’s holidays to me, not work.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 10:05
  • I regret that I have but one downvote to give. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 13:42

Show him your pay cheque. Ask him if he thinks your company is paying you for playing games at home.

Maybe you can get someone as high as possible in the company to call him and give him a good talking to, it’s probably worth asking. My company owner would most likely do this if one of my younger colleagues were in the situation.

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    Might be a cultural difference, but I would think it totally out of line to discuss my father in such a manner with my boss. Especially basically asking them to discipline him with a good talking to.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 7:51
  • Well, it must be depressing for OP, which may very well affect his productivity, so it is the company’s problem. And the father’s behaviour is to me also totally out of line.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 10:03
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    @gnasher729 Maybe if my girlfriend breaks up with me, I can ask my employer to get in touch with her and tell her what I nice person I am. After all, that negative event will have an impact on my productivity. Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 11:44
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    I liked the advice in the first paragraph. The advice in the second sounds like a great way to wreck an employer's opinion of their employee's maturity
    – Player One
    Commented Apr 27, 2021 at 12:51

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