Etiquette School is in session! > "Why would I want to do that?"

S/O Work from home: the full time student

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This could be in the "interesting assumptions" folder, but I've actually used the "Why would I want to do that?" line with this. Over my past few years in grad school, I've lived relatively close to my parents. My mother retired while I was in grad school. She's been doing little home projects and just enjoying retirement.

So, I've had a few relatives, including my obnoxious Uncle Roger, say, "Why can't you help your mother with the projects?" I've used the "Why would I want to do that?", and usually, I got met with the "You're a grad student. You're not doing anything!" to which I used to reply, "Really? That's news to me, since I spend 15 hours a week in class, 30 more studying, and I have a part time job." (Then after a few times, I'd just say, "That's an interesting assumption.")

I mean, it's not that I don't want to help my mother with her projects. First, she never asked me to help her, and she is/was quite content doing her thing. Second, these people had no business telling me what I *should* be doing with my time. Third, I don't live there, and it's not my house. Really---why WOULD I want to do that?

Sometimes I wanted to reply, "If you're so concerned with my mother's work, why can't YOU help your *Sister/SIL/aunt* with her home improvements? After all, you *only* work 40 hours a week!" BUT I  :-X

When you answer that way, it sounds to me like you are agreeing with Roger that your mom needs help but you are far too busy or don't care to help her. I would probably respond to Roger and others with, "Why do you think mom needs help? She hasn't asked for any...."

And then I might talk to mom later and ask her if she needs help with projects, because everyone seems to assume she does. Who knows, perhaps she is telling people these little projects are too much to handle.

I did offer to paint the walls over Christmas break, but she said no because she was in no hurry and painting was very relaxing for her. The stuff that she's doing involves some creative talent (making curtains, putting a border on the walls, making those stain glass decorations, etc., etc.) and sadly...I didn't get that gene. So, when I say, "Why would I want to do that?", it's more along the lines of "Why would I want to do that when I don't have any creative talent and would most likely mess up her projects?"

And Mom's definitely the type to ask for help if she needs it, and I can't see her complaining about not being helped, especially since my father lives with her. I just got the feeling from these relatives, who have a history of assuming that college students and grad students simply go to school to put off working because they are lazy, are implying that I *should* be over my parents' house, redecorating in my spare time since because I'm *obviously* not busy enough.

I didn't mean to imply that mom *does* need help and you are refusing. I just meant that your response could be taken that way by others. In many situations just coldly saying, "Why would I want to do that?" sounds, well, rude. And, I guess I don't understand why people would be asking you why you aren't helping your mother with her hobbies. I would address that in my response.

Uncle Roger: Why aren't you helping your mother?? She needs help with her projects!
Mopsy: What projects? You mean her sewing and other crafts? Those are mom's hobbies! She doesn't want me interfering with her fun!
Uncle Roger: But you don't have anything better to do!
Mopsy: Oh, Uncle...hahaha. I have a full class load, and when I'm not studying I'm at work! I'm quite busy, but thanks for your concern. Have some bean dip?

If you know these relatives don't appreciate higher education, just ignore them. You don't need to justify yourself to them. I was the first person in my family to go to and graduate from college, and I get comments from certain people, including my own dad.

"Oh, Uncle Roger, I have offered to help Mom, but she finds her projects so relaxing and fun...I don't want to deprive her of that!"


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