I work at a large corporation that my father also happens to be employed at as well. I was not given this job as a form of nepotism, and have since advanced in rank and role above my peers outside of his shadow. We work in the same department of 10k+ employees however in different application teams. Occasionally in my current project, we will have a dependency on my father's team which puts me in the uncomfortable spot of having to work with him alongside my peers for a week or two.

I get the impression from most people that they think it is neat when the two of us are working together, but I feel very self conscious about it especially when certain peers are not aware we are family. I wish to work with him with the respect of professionals, without being disrespectful as a son.

In email or verbal communication I typically address him by his first and last name but it feels terribly awkward and I am afraid others might see it that way as well. I don't want to refer to him as "my father" because then I feel like that relationship in the forefront of the conversation is a giant distraction from the work that needs to be done.

Is there a proper etiquette to professional correspondence where the subject of conversation also happens to be a family member?

(Note: This working relationship is not in violation of any nepotism or ethics policies as neither of us directly report to each other.)

  • 2
    How does your father want to be addressed under these circumstances? – Dan Pichelman May 18 '17 at 13:21
  • Surely the answer is something along the lines of: In exactly the same way as you would address anyone else in the company of your father's rank- your family connection is irrelevant in a working environment – User632716 May 18 '17 at 13:24
  • That might be culturally dependent. Are you in a country that puts a strong value on family hierarchy and respect for elders? Regardless, I think you can safely cross "daddy" off your list. – sleddog May 18 '17 at 13:58
  • @sleddog I am white American. No intrinsic cultural expectations of respect for elders. – maple_shaft May 18 '17 at 14:53
  • I used to work with (and somewhat for) my mother. She was the Controller, I was the computer guy. To her, I called her Mom. To people we both worked closely with I referred to her as "My mom" i.e. "I just gave the invoice to my mom" but to others I used her first name, "You'll need to see Jeri to get that changed." – Chris E May 18 '17 at 16:36

If you want to avoid anything appearing inappropriate refer to him that same way that your coworkers do, first name, Mr last name, etc. You are both at work and adults, this isn't Greg Brady deciding he is a grown up and calling his parents Mike and Carol.


In any situation like this the correct course of action is to be professional at all times. Do not think of him as your father while at work. He is another coworker and should be treated as such.

I work in a somewhat similar situation myself. My son's mother and her brother both work in the same building as I do. We work in different departments and we don't interact often but when our separate departments have meetings or do work together on a project it is always professional.

The only time where I have seen family working together that refer to each other as their family titles (dad, mom, and so on) is in a family owned business that was a casual business to begin with.


I'd ask him this question.

I've worked in office environments with parent/child colleagues, and face to face, they were always referred to as mum/dad, and informally to colleagues familiar with the relationship as 'my mum' 'my dad', but in more formal correspondence as 'Fred Bloggs/Mrs Smith'. Seems the most natural approach to me.

However, in your case, it is for you and your Dad to decide how to refer to him informally. Formally, he's just another employee.

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