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My daughter no longer wants to be a part of the family business.


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My husband and I have worked regular jobs our entire lives, but we always had dreams of being full-time creatives, for all the many ideas we've had separately and together over the years. Our children know this about us, and they are as artistic as us. We've always been a very creative family.

About 20 years ago, we named our business company, but due to decades of child-raising and homeschooling and life responsibility (I worked, my retired husband was the stay-at-home parent), we never pursued any ideas until 2012, when a few starter projects led us to finally taking the plunge into releasing our first book. My husband wrote it, the family got together to help edit and share ideas, we hired a proofreader, and then self-published it and did online marketing.

We were super proud of it, it brought us so many moments together as a family (and many fights, lol!), but it did not sell well. We did several more books that way and it was the same. Believe me, we researched and marketed and tried, but we couldn't get them off the ground. My husband felt we could start a t-shirt business to bring in money that could help recoup what we spent in the books, and so much time and money and trademarks and effort later, that also did not do well.

We returned to books under another author name and another book genre, and for the past ~6 years, that has shown more promise. Again, it's the same process of my husband writing the books, but as my daughter has grown up, she has become our sole proofreader, and the whole family helps in editing the books/being beta readers/write emails to illustrators and formatters/help us copywrite/anything to create and sell the books. I cannot tell you how close this has made us, the dream of creating something successful together, and all the many laughs and close times this has brought us.

But last year, our daughter told us she was moving out this year, and here it is, and she has been gone for a few months now. When she first told us, the first thing I thought was how so many of those moments would end, because she's moving 30 minutes away, will continue her job and have her own life, and so many of those beautiful family moments happened because of proximity. She still edits our books, but only through email sending back and forth, and it's not the same with so many in-person discussions missing. We sometimes forward emails for her to review to see if they sound good, and she can take all day to respond, and I get more and more the feeling she doesn't want to be a part of this anymore. I remember a couple of weeks before she left, we were reviewing drafts of our book together and my daughter was kind of distant and disinterested in what we were doing and it broke my heart.

Obviously, this change really bothers me, and I feel heartbreak at not getting our projects to take off before she left, at what has brought us together now falling apart, and other complicated emotions that's hard to parse out. I don't understand where we failed and why she still doesn't want to be a part of this, this was always about family legacy and everything we have and created is going toward our children.

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I can't help but feel that you may find some comfort in all this if you can broaden your perspective on things, and what's now happening, just a bit. 

Your daughter is still very close by, and still involved. It might not be the exact version of proximity and involvement that you've always imagined, but she is her own person, and her life, and whatever she does with it, should be fueled by her own dreams and imagination, not by adhering to yours and your husband's. 

Or, put another way, this does not strike my eyes as a story of where you've failed, but where you've succeeded: in raising a young woman who is now finding her own place in the world, while remaining very close to her roots, to you two and the creative adventure you've all been on. That's a family legacy to be proud of, I think, while understanding periods of adjustment and transition can be tough. 

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I don't understand why you perceive this as a failure of some sort?

Its normal for adults to want to pave their own way, branch out from family, and make their own mistakes that are their very own. It's not a rejection of you, nor what you've built and contributed. She's more than an extension of you and the family legacy, she's someone seperate unto herself too. 

I've seen adult children outright sell off and discard family businesses that spanned several generations. Same with heirlooms. There's just no guarantee children or grandchildren will value exactly the same things their parents and ancestors did. It's best to just be content doing it for its worth along the way and not getting stuck on what will happen when it leaves your hands. 

Just my 2 cents. 

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Before it's said, I want her to leave the nest but I don't see why that necessitates leaving us completely behind. I get the feeling she doesn't want to edit the books any longer too, and I know she has the time to alongside her job and hobbies so what is up? No one edits like her, with the time and attention and care and nuance for plot and discussing things as a family is always a joy, so it feels like being thrown away unnecessarily.

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16 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

I mean failure in the sense we never got it to be profitable before she left.

What do you really value? Is it the shared journey, the closeness, the fun moments with your family shared in this journey OR is it just the final destination?

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30 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

It's always been an "us" thing

Your daughter, however, was only 15 when this us thing started, and 19 when you got into the new genre of books. So: not an adult, and barely an adult. To expect that to be who she is, in the same way you know it's who you are, is a recipe for disappointment.

17 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

I mean failure in the sense we never got it to be profitable before she left.

But she hasn't "left," best I understand things. She's 30 minutes away. (When I was her age, I was 3 hours away, later 1700 miles, today 3000, and I've always felt very close to my family, for reference.) And she is still contributing. Squint at it all from a different angle and there's a lot here to be grateful for, no? 

2 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

I want her to leave the nest but I don't see why that necessitates leaving us completely behind.

At the risk of sounding like a one-man echo chamber, I think the "leaving us completely behind" is really more of a fear of yours than a reality. Leaving you completely behind is moving out, shooting you guys a happy holiday text every other year, and telling you nothing about her life. That this very small step toward independence on her part is being processed as a total rejection by you is something to explore, and come to term with on your own, as an act of love for her. 

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I understand your disappointment and you probably miss your daughter too, as she has just moved out. I'm an only child and my Mum cried when I first moved out at 23. However I hope you won't be putting any guilt on your daughter about this (not saying you will). 

She's an adult in her mid 20's and I think it's completely normal to want to move out and live her own life. She helped you with your businesses probably because she lived at home and when you first started was still at school and had more free time.

She's not actually required to have the same interests as you and your husband. Though she's your child but she's actually her own person and now in her mid 20's so a grown adult. Though of course your child can be similar to you, but they are not actually you. If she wants to pursue other interests or career then I think that's completely normal.

By the sounds of it she still does help you here and there and keeping in touch. She hasn't left you behind. She simply wanted to live independently and have her own life.

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My family has a business my father, along with my mother, started. None of the children are included in the business. 

Many times people have asked me, why I didn't follow into the business.  

Growing up, my father said many times, I was to have and create my own dreams, to live my life by my choices. 

A wise man and the greatest gift- freedom!

You give life to your children, they don't owe you theirs. 

I don't know if its just the way you phrased things here, but it's unfair to impose the pursuit of your dreams on your kids. At 25, it's common to want to move out and start living your own life.  It's not really about your parents. 

I would welcome her with open arms on her terms. Try not to push her further away.  Because surely that's what it sounds like you're doing.

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It's hard because editors are very expensive and we've had editors in the past who have missed grammatical mistakes that were left in books. My husband and I are also not good in this area and we need help so that's why we cannot do it ourselves. As well, we are not comfortable sending copies electronically because they can be stolen or at least make it easier to steal. We would truly be lost without our daughter, though our son could possibly help and edit instead.

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This may come across harsh but I don't think you should be banking on free labour from your kids to try and keep this afloat. If it's not profitable by now, maybe it just isn't going to be. Either way, you need to let go of it just being a fun family project and be brutal at looking at it as a business. 

You shouldn't begrudge her not wanting to prioritize giving free endless labour for the family business. She has her own life to build too. 

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1 hour ago, ConcernedMom said:

Also we never forced this on our children, they always enjoyed doing it together as a family. It's always been an "us" thing

“ Us” things change as our kids get older. My child is almost 25 as well and he doesn’t want to do the be with mom and dad thing. That is ok. 
 

Our children are supposed to fly free and live their life and their dreams. That is what we had them for so they can give to the world and not live for us. 
 

 

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5 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

It's hard because editors are very expensive and we've had editors in the past who have missed grammatical mistakes that were left in books. My husband and I are also not good in this area and we need help so that's why we cannot do it ourselves. As well, we are not comfortable sending copies electronically because they can be stolen or at least make it easier to steal. We would truly be lost without our daughter, though our son could possibly help and edit instead.

OP, instead of doing this as a do it yourself, you need to find a good literary agent and work with them. They will help you find appropriate editors, publishing houses and get you the best contracts for your books. They are worth every penny if you are serious about writing and publishing. If your books are good, they will sell, but do leave it to the professionals.

Editors are expensive when you are trying to do it yourself precisely because it is intense work that takes up hours and hours of time. On the other hand, when you do it professionally through an agent and a publishing house, the publishing house pays the editors, not you. Again, you cannot expect for your children to be your tireless free workers forever.

Whatever help you need in terms of electronic file sending, finding the right agent and so on, that's the sort of thing that your kids will happily help you with. What you cannot do is expect hours and hours of labor from them on what is ultimately your labor of love. Tough love here, but if you have been at this so many years without seeing a profit, you have a hobby not a business. Nothing wrong with what you are doing and do carry on, just.... let your kids go live their lives as they deserve. 

Even if you were making tons of money, your children still have every right to move on and live their own lives and take their own paths.

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8 minutes ago, itsallgrand said:

This may come across harsh but I don't think you should be banking on free labour from your kids to try and keep this afloat. If it's not profitable by now, maybe it just isn't going to be. Either way, you need to let go of it just being a fun family project and be brutal at looking at it as a business. 

You shouldn't begrudge her not wanting to prioritize giving free endless labour for the family business. She has her own life to build too. 

I actually agree with this. I understand where you're coming from but just because you have a business doesn't mean your kids HAVE to work in your business. Especially as you mentioned that your business wasn't really profitable until now and even now not 100%. So your children didn't get paid anything for their work.

Your daughter for example has moved out so she has a lot of responsibilities like rent and bills now. Surely she needs to have an actual paid job to be able to get by in life? I think that's not really fair to take up her time with the editing and proofreading when she has to work somewhere else too. She's also allowed to have other hobbies, friends or a boyfriend in her free time. 

I think you've probably been projecting your business dream onto your children. You say they did it willingly but are you sure? Considering you feel so strongly that your children should be helping in your business, maybe they felt that too?

Also I think it might be fair to ask your children to help with your business when they don't work and live at home, so you're financially supporting them. But if they move out and get a job, they are looking after themselves so I don't think they have this obligation to you.

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9 minutes ago, ConcernedMom said:

I disagree it is "endless", I remember seeing her edit at home and it would take an hour or two a day, and only for a few weeks for one novel, which we maybe do twice a year, so the time is actually quite limited.

That doesn't actually mean she HAS to do it

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DancingFool, you mentioned literary agents and publishing houses, my husband went that way many years ago but not only is it near impossible to get in and get accepted but we are not comfortable with the large degree of rights and profit these publishing companies take so we have chosen self-publishing. We have done so much research into this world and have seen many people become successful in it, we are just trying to find a way to do it for ourselves.

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1 minute ago, ConcernedMom said:

DancingFool, you mentioned literary agents and publishing houses, my husband went that way many years ago but not only is it near impossible to get in and get accepted but we are not comfortable with the large degree of rights and profit these publishing companies take so we have chosen self-publishing. We have done so much research into this world and have seen many people become successful in it, we are just trying to find a way to do it for ourselves.

OP, what rights are you clinging to when you can't even make a profit? There are literally millions more successful authors who work with agents than there are DIY types. There comes a point where you do need to get real with yourselves about what you are doing. You can't keep searching for a way forever and you've already spent over a decade in total. Stop the madness and take a different approach.

What I'm sensing more than anything is that you are panicking because you have completely relied on your daughter to do the heavy lifting for you so you can keep playing at running this business. She is now choosing to walk away, although she hasn't quite yet. Bottom line being is that she is still helping you out even if less willingly and definitely less warmly. So what will happen if she walks away completely?

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This isn't a business... you guys aren't making a profit. This is a mom's and dad's hobby that the kids, being good kids, said ok in participating.

And even tho you said it takes no more than 1-2 hours for her proof read, I think you are being unrealistic. As a busy college kid, my m-f class schedule was 9-3pm and 6 hr homework daily. So yea, I would have hated being emailed by my parents wanting me to proof read their newest chapter when my schedule was already packed AND I trying to actually have a social life on campus.

I applaud your daughter for forging her own path and if she doesn't get back to your proof-reading requests, you should let it go because she's a busy college student and you want to fully support that.

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My daughter has long graduated college, LootieTootie, and is now working. And her job is WFH and when she was still living at home and working (same job), again she has a very low-stress job and she could take many breaks throughout the day so she is not that busy.

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DancingFool, if anything were to take off we would like to retain full rights so we are pursuing self-publishing. And most published authors are pushed to the side and neglected by the agencies in favor of a select successful few, so many published authors find they have to promote and market their books on their own too. We've researched this decision a lot and feel confident in it.

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