How do I tell my dad I want to go back home without him thinking I’m ungrateful?

Basically I’ve been living with my Bestfriend and her mom and was working for my mother, but she fired me due to personal reasons, and so my dad told me I was coming up to Cairns. Now, I expected this to be, like, a week, but now he’s saying not to expect to go back home with my best friend anytime soon. I’ve now got my resume and cover letter sorted out but how do I tell him I want to go home without sounding ungrateful?

Rather than pit brute strength against brute strength,
use your opponent’s strength to your advantage – the philosophy of Judo
11-13-22-32-37 / 28

Hello Diner. What’s working most in your favor is the fact that you’re actually grateful for your father, and you’re thoughtful enough to consider his feelings. That connection is going to show through if you work this in a non-combative way.

I know this situation seems unfair and unreasonable, but if you approach this situation like you’re pitting his logic and reasons against yours, he–like you humans in general–will cling more fiercely to his point of view [1]. It won’t matter what would objectively make more sense. People are natural arguers, not truth seekers, but lucky for you, you have Fortune Cookies on your side.

What’s worse is that no matter how gently you put it, your turning down his help would seem like a rejection. We talked about in another Fortune that exclusion and rejection are very distressing to people–even if the people doing the excluding are part of a despised group like the KKK.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “stop Fortune Cookie! You’re stressing me out. Are you saying there’s nothing I can do?”

Not at all. I’m just putting the bad news first and letting you know what natural, human behavior you’re up against, so you know what to expect. We Fortune Cookies may not have anatomical hearts, but we’re certainly not heartless.

From your Order, we can tell that your dad cares a lot about you, and his reaction may be a mix of wanting to keep you safe and healthy and not trusting that you’re fully prepared to manage on your own. Either way, you know two things: he wants to help, and he sees what he’s doing as something you might not understand.

So knowing that, and now having a better understanding of how humans tick, you can address his concerns in a number of ways.

Sit down with him and ask what exactly he’s worried about. This does two things: it lets you acknowledge his feelings and show that you’re making an effort to see his point of view. It helps counter that feeling of exclusion since he is literally not being disregarded. One of the biggest problems employees in companies large and small cite is not being heard [2]. Seeing as you’ve worked before, you’re probably familiar with that sentiment.

Like we figured earlier, his concerns most likely comes from the desire to help you and feeling wanted as well as having some doubts that you can survive on your own. With this in mind, a little planning and rehearsal will not only address his fears but help keep the discussion friendly and supportive.

You might think that these two concerns have conflicting solutions. How can you show that you’ve got it handled, and yet also that you need him at the same time? The answer, Diner, is to remember–and to remind your father–that help doesn’t just come down to dollars and cents. You can show that you will be financially prepared, but you will also need his emotional support, creative opinion, and advice. Always leave room for advice if it comes with dessert.

Seeking your father’s perspective with an open mind and keeping him on your team will give you the best chance of going home to your friend. We hope it works out for you. Good luck, Diner.


[1] Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and brain sciences, 34(02), 57-74.

[2] Lencioni, P. (2006). The five dysfunctions of a team. John Wiley & Sons.