Can there be reconciliation with an estranged son who hates the way his father treated him as a kid and takes it out on the whole family? We’ll seek answers to this and more here on Feedback Friday!
And in case you didn’t already know it, Jordan Harbinger (@JordanHarbinger) and Gabriel Mizrahi (@GabeMizrahi) banter and take your comments and questions for Feedback Friday right here every week! If you want us to answer your question, register your feedback, or tell your story on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let’s dive in!
On This Week’s Feedback Friday, We Discuss:
- How do you reconcile with an estranged son who hates the way his father treated him as a kid and decides to take it out on the whole family?
- How can you move past the resentment you feel over your husband’s inaction when you needed help coping with postpartum depression after the birth of your son? [Thanks to licensed therapist Haesue Jo for helping us with this one!]
- Your parents reneged on their promise to pay for your college, leaving you stuck with massive debt that you only discovered after graduating. What’s your best next move?
- Your son is legally an adult, but you’re concerned about the evidence of vaping you’ve found in his room — especially since he wants to be a professional athlete and he grew up with asthma. Worse, he’s lying to you about it. What should you do?
- You’ve been (perhaps mistakenly) forwarded part of a conversation with another applicant for the job you’re going for. Should you do some research on your competition before your interview, or is it better not to psych yourself out by possibly discovering they’re more qualified than you?
- Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share with us? Drop us a line at email@example.com!
- Connect with Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHarbinger and Instagram at @jordanharbinger.
- Connect with Gabriel on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi.
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Miss our conversation with ethical hacker Harri Hursti? Catch up with episode 405: Harri Hursti | The Cyber War on America’s Elections here!
Resources from This Episode:
- Recycling | Skeptical Sunday | Jordan Harbinger
- Bill Browder | Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath | Jordan Harbinger
- Hustle Culture | Deep Dive | Jordan Harbinger
- Sophie’s Choice | Prime Video
- Affordable, Private Therapy Anytime, Anywhere | BetterHelp
- Haesue Jo MA, LMFT | Care Dash
- Postpartum Depression | Office on Women’s Health
- Postpartum Support International (PSI)
- How to Sue Your Parents for Identity Theft | Feedback Friday | Jordan Harbinger
- Dangers of Vaping | FamilyDoctor.org
- The Risks of Vaping | NIH News in Health
- What You Need to Know about Vaping and Oral Health | Sinada Dental
- Know the Risks: E-Cigarettes & Young People | US Surgeon General’s Report
- Shocking Images Reveal the Damage Vaping Can Do to Teen Lungs | Inverse
- Student, 18, Shares Shocking Images of His Lungs after Vaping for a Year Caused Them to Collapse | The Sun
- 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine
- Can Vaping Damage Your Lungs? What We Do (And Don’t) Know | Harvard Health
- 4 Major Health Risks Linked to E-Cigarette Use | WebMD
- How to Spy on Your Competitors | 11 Recruitment
683: Mad Lad Hates Dad and Treats Whole Family Bad | Feedback Friday
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to Feedback Friday. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with Feedback Friday producer, the QWERTY keyboard to my Dvorak layout, Gabriel Mizrahi. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And our mission on the show is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker. So you can get a much deeper understanding of how the world works and make sense of what's really happening, even inside your own mind.
[00:00:38] If you're new to the show, on Fridays, we give advice to you and answer listener questions. The rest of the week, we have long-form interviews and conversations with a variety of amazing folks from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, and performers.
[00:00:51] Hey, special announcement, by the way, I'm going to be doing a live show, like live in person in real life. I'm going to be interviewing Ryan Holiday, author Ryan Holiday. That's going to be in Los Angeles at the Venice West on June 13th. So tickets are available. I'd love to meet you in person. Tickets are available at jordanharbinger.com/tickets. Again, jordanharbinger.com/tickets, June 13th at the Venice West in Los Angeles. I'll be interviewing Ryan holiday and I hope to see you there.
[00:01:19] This week we had Bill Browder. He was also on episode two of the show. Putin wants him dead. He wants him even more dead now. Really interesting talk with him about Ukraine, about sanctions, about oligarchs and hidden money and just the crazy rampant kleptocratic corruption that is pervasive in Russia. And frankly, he has tentacles that reach into the United States and the rest of the west as well. Also this week, we had a brand new deep dive on hustle culture, why it makes you miserable. And this one Gabe and I explore why all that cheesy motivational content you see on Instagram and all that aspirational "always be grinding" crap on YouTube. We talk about why that's super toxic, why it's misguided, why it's ultimately ineffective. And we also talk about how to seek out better sources of self-help and how to use them the right way to create a richer, more fulfilling life. This is — I would say a huge pet peeve of mine, almost like a pet cause. You've heard me get steamed up about this before, so I hope you guys enjoy that one as well. Make sure you've had a look and a listen to everything that we created for you here this week.
[00:02:21] All right. Gabe, what's the first thing out of the mailbag?
[00:02:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Dear Jordan and Gabe, my 31-year-old son and I have always been extremely close and he always called himself a proud mama's boy. His father is bipolar and an excessive drinker, wasn't always kind to my son, and cross the line with him physically twice when he was a teen.
[00:02:40] Jordan Harbinger: Cross the line — what does that mean? Do we know what that means?
[00:02:43] Gabriel Mizrahi: Not totally clear. I'm guessing it means he hit him a couple of times. That's what it sounds like.
[00:02:47] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:02:48] Gabriel Mizrahi: Looking back. I should have done whatever it took to get my ex out of the house as soon as possible. And I have always owned that shame with my kids. I finally got a divorce when my son was graduating college and my daughter who's now 24, was a freshman in high school. Fast forward to a few months ago when our family went on a trip for my birthday, one day, we had all been drinking more than we should have. My son and his husband are very heavy drinkers, perhaps alcoholics. And my son started getting belligerent about his father's behavior toward him as a child, and also angry at my daughter and me for still having a relationship with him. At one point, my daughter put her hands on my son's shoulders to get him to hear what she was saying. And he violently swatted her hands away, resulting in a scratch on his neck. I tried to get him to calm down, but he proceeded to accuse my daughter of, quote-unquote, "choking him." After a lot of screaming and crying, he told his husband to pack their bags. They both flounced out of the hotel and flew back home the next day. My son then texted our extended family members about the incident and accused my daughter of assault. He also sent us cruel text messages that have caused us both to lose sleep and cry for hours on end. He unfriended both of us on social media after making dramatic, vague posts about the incident and left our private family group right after I posted about being evacuated, due to a wildfire. In an email, he said that he was, quote-unquote, "disowning" all of us wanted nothing to do with us, and would not even attend his father's funeral when it happens. He even took us off the streaming accounts that we share.
[00:04:16] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, you know, it's for real, when they take you off the Disney Plus.
[00:04:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah. "No more Mandalorian for you."
[00:04:22] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:23] Gabriel Mizrahi: Since then, my son has only called me once when he missed out on a job that he was extremely excited about. He says, he misses me, loves me, and would like to find a path forward, but it would have to be separate from his father and his sister. I tend to agree with the father part, but I feel that my daughter has been unjustly accused of a crime she didn't commit. And his behavior has caused a lot of trauma for both of us. I replied that I need him to take at least some accountability for his cruel behavior during and following the incident before we can move forward. I also gently suggested that he may be an alcoholic and have mental health issues that need to be addressed. As a PhD in psychology, I suspect my son is either bipolar or perhaps has borderline personality disorder. It has been three weeks since that exchange and there's been no response from my son. I love him dearly and I'm devastated by the loss of him in my life. What steps can I take to rebuild our relationship without being forced to choose between my children? Signed, A Mourning Mother Coping with a Warring Brother.
[00:05:23] Jordan Harbinger: Oh boy. This is intense. Your family has been through a lot, is going through a lot between your ex-husband and the divorce, and the not getting a divorce soon enough. And your son's possible/probable mental health and addiction struggles. And just the general way he seems to handle conflict. I actually have some empathy for him because he's clearly wrestling with some demons here. You don't drink excessively and then lash out at your family on your mom's birthday trip and then disown them without even talking things out and then poison the well with the rest of the family. I don't think you behave that way if you're not in a lot of. And sure you're right. Certain things you did as a parent probably did play a role in his psychology.
[00:06:05] And I do appreciate that you own that piece of this problem, but your son is an adult now he's in a position to take a closer look at his behavior, his feelings, why he's hanging on to so much anger, why he's responding to you guys the way that he is, why he's hitting the alcohol as hard as he is. From what you've told us, it just doesn't sound like he's being fair here. He's not looking at his patterns or his piece of the conflict, not in a real way. And he's not making it possible to really work through these issues as a family, because really working through these issues would mean acknowledging a ton of very unpleasant stuff on his part. Stuff, I'm getting the sense he just doesn't want to go anywhere near. So it's interesting.
[00:06:51] The question you're asking — "What can I do to rebuild our relationship without being forced to choose between my children?" I get it, but in a way, it's missing the entire point, because first of all, given the way this fight went down, it's primarily on him to repair your relationship or at least to start that conversation. Yeah, you have a role to play there. You should be open and supportive and willing to talk, but like you said, until your son is willing to take at least some accountability, I just don't know how much of a relationship there is to work on. Your son wants to remain that proud mama's boy, he's always been, he wants to be comforted when things don't go his way. He wants to pretend to want a path forward, but he isn't doing anything to show you that he's willing to have the difficult conversations that create that path forward. So that's the first thing, recognizing that both of you need to be ready to do this work, but that he's the one who has to come to the table in a real way.
[00:07:49] The second thing is you want to rebuild your relationship without having to choose between your children. And that is a truly awful position to be in as a parent. But then again, is that your fault? He's the one who's making you pick sides here. As long as he says, "We can have a relationship, but that it has to be separate from my sister," you're stuck in the middle. As long as those are the terms your son is insisting on and you're willing to play along with those terms, I don't know if there's a way to repair things without choosing between your children. Either you patch things up with your son without addressing all of this insane stuff that he's done, which will probably feel unfair and inauthentic, and also kind of like a betrayal to your daughter who to your point is one of the victims here. Or you side with your daughter and you don't cave to your son's demands, which will make him feel that you're not choosing him. It's a real emotional Sophie's choice.
[00:08:42] So how do you get out of that? Well, in the short term, you might not be able to. You might have to choose which side of this conflict you're on. And it sounds to me like you're on the side of you and your daughter who have been profoundly hurt by your son, but standing firm in that position means tolerating some really difficult feelings. Being on the outs with your own child that is incredibly painful and it's very different from the way you've related to your son his whole life. So it's probably very uncomfortable. You might have to sit with those feelings for a little while in order to hold your son to a certain standard. And to hold a healthy boundary here until he recognizes how his behavior is making things worse.
[00:09:24] Maybe in a few months, he'll wake up and be like, "Wow, my mom won't really talk to me. I've driven away my sister. I've alienated my whole family. I wake up every day with a hangover feeling super angry. I have no one to talk about — frozen to with — maybe I'm the problem here." Now, I can't guarantee that'll happen, of course, but I think the chances of that happening are higher if you don't give into soon or play along with your son's, frankly, insincere attempt to patch things up or agree to prioritize him over your daughter. And that's just one of the many benefits to drawing clear boundaries, especially when you're dealing with a personality like your son, which can be incredibly destabilizing and pretty damn hurtful.
[00:10:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Wow. Well said, Jordan, I completely agree. It is so hard to have a real relationship with someone like this, or at least somebody who's in this state. Longer term though, I do think the way out of that emotional Sophie's choice you just described is to have some very frank conversations as a family. And there is so much for you guys to talk about. There are very old roots to this problem. I know you talked about the dad stuff, the abuse. There's also this sort of co-dependent relationship, you and your son have. I think that's worth taking a look at. And then there's the stuff that's happening now. Your son's mental health, his drinking, how you guys relate to one another these days, how you resolve or maybe more often don't resolve conflict when it arises. Until you guys delve into all of that, I just don't know if there's a ton of real progress to be made.
[00:10:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. But Gabe, do you really think that's possible? I mean, these siblings were literally at each other's throats at a freaking sandals resort. Are they really in a place to sit down and calmly hash out their trauma?
[00:11:03] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay. So totally fair question. It is a tall order, for sure. It's asking them, especially her son to find a very different way of communicating and a totally different way of processing his feelings, but for their sake, I hope they can at least try. But if this is just impossible, like if you guys can't even talk, like have a normal conversation about this, then I would seriously consider going to family therapy. And I know you're a psychology PhD. You don't need us to tell you that family therapy is a good idea, but this is what family therapy is for when communication is broken down and there are decades of trauma and patterns and resentments to work through.
[00:11:38] And, you know, there's another benefit to inviting your son to therapy, which is if he rejects that invitation or if he comes to therapy, but he doesn't really engage, then that will tell you a lot about how willing he is to truly work on things like, "Okay, you say you want to fix our relationship, but you won't come to therapy," or, "You came to therapy, but you just kind of stared at the floor the whole time. You didn't say anything. So do you really want our relationship to get better or do you just want to stay the way you are so that you can feel like you're right all the time?"
[00:12:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good point. But you know, I think what's really hard here is that her son has some very severe issues he needs to work through that are — they're separate from his family. I mean, they're informed by his family, but they're his issues to resolve.
[00:12:20] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:12:21] Jordan Harbinger: They can go to family therapy all they want, but if he's not getting a handle on his mood, this possible personality disorder, if he's not willing to address his addiction, if he's not trying to figure out why his relationships are so chaotic, then how effective will family therapy really be? I just don't know if they're going to make progress if he shows up to the shrink's office with all of the same issues that came out on the birthday trip.
[00:12:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Okay. So you're absolutely right. Because in family therapy, they can't spend all the time working on him. So I think her son needs to be in individual therapy as well as family therapy. And I would say that individual therapy is probably even more important. He just has so much to work through it to your point. And if he did that, I wouldn't be surprised if that alone improved his relationships with his family, but the really tough thing is you can't make your son go to therapy. I mean, you gently told him that you think he might be an alcoholic, that he needs to look at his mental health, and you were met with crickets. I don't know if your son is in a place to be receptive to that message from you, at least not right now, which means that you might have to deal with a son who isn't going to change at least for the time being. And that's why those boundaries Jordan mentioned a moment ago are so essential. You have to decide what your bottom line is, what you can tolerate from your son, what you won't tolerate from him, and then adjust accordingly until he's ready to really talk.
[00:13:39] Jordan Harbinger: That's exactly right. I just don't see a quick solution here that doesn't involve all of them coming to the table with a real commitment to doing the work. So I hope you guys get to do that. I know this is incredibly complicated stuff. There's so much going on here and I'm very sorry that you're stuck in the middle of it, but I think you have to protect yourself and your daughter from more chaos until your son is ready to look at things. And I know that's painful for everyone, but in another way, it might also be giving him a gift, a tough gift of having to confront that he's driven away one of the most important people in his life. So that he can realize just how bad things have gotten, then maybe something will change.
[00:14:20] We're sending you good thoughts. And I hope there's a way forward here. I really do.
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[00:16:55] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:16:59] This next segment is sponsored by Better Help online therapy, the world's largest online therapy service. You've heard of them. They sponsor the show. Better help wants me to give you the following trigger warning. Depression and suicide are discussed in this question.
[00:17:10] All right. Gabe, let's dive in.
[00:17:12] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey Jordan and Gabe. Six years ago, I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my son. It was a really awful and dark place to be. I felt like a ton of bricks laying on my chest. I didn't feel worthy of being my son's mom and I was suicidal. I had never experienced anything like it before. I opened up to my husband about all of this at the time, but I was met with crickets. He did nothing to help me. I had to look for services myself and thankfully found something in my local area. All these years later, I'm still hurt by my husband. He's apologized to me, but I don't know how to get over it. I had a great friend pass away from suicide before my son was born and I would do anything for a friend or a family member who said they were suicidal. So I'm struggling to understand why he did nothing to help me when I needed him the most. How do I move past this? Signed, Parting Ways with These Postpartum Pangs.
[00:18:08] Jordan Harbinger: Oh man. Well, first of all, I am so sorry that you went through such a dark time in your life after you had your son. I understand postpartum depression can be extremely difficult. It can be isolating. I'm sorry that your husband wasn't there for you the way that you needed him to be. I can hear how hard all of this has been for you. And I appreciate why you still feel hurt by it. Although I have to say the fact that you found your own resources and you made it through that chapter, I think that's really remarkable. That takes a lot of strength and resourcefulness, and I'm glad that you're feeling better these days.
[00:18:41] Since Better Help was kind enough to respond to this question we spoke with Haesue Jo licensed marriage and family therapist, and head of clinical operations at Better Help. The first thing that Haesue shared with us is that postpartum depression, most people don't know anything about it. It can be really hard for many folks to even understand.
[00:18:59] As you pointed out, it's not like we learn about postpartum in school or in the media, or even from our own mothers, especially men I would add, most people in our society just don't talk much about the incredibly difficult stuff that happens after a woman has a child. Some new mothers become suicidal. Some have intrusive thoughts of killing their own child. It can get really intense, but we don't really like to talk about that because it's somewhat taboo. Plus there's this beauty of a new life and the baby's so cute. And oftentimes, the mother's state just gets lost in the shuffle.
[00:19:32] None of that, by the way, is an excuse for your husband not being there for you, especially because you told him point-blank, how you were feeling. But it might shed some light on why it was hard for your husband to understand you or to know how to respond. He's not the one writing in, of course. But for what it's worth, Haesue's hypothesis was that he probably just didn't know how to support you. So he shut down and withdrew, which a lot of people do, by the way. It's possible that he was even afraid of making things worse. As Haesue pointed out, there's a common misconception that if you talk about suicide with a suicidal person, you're somehow going to make them more suicidal. This is a myth. Maybe your husband saw how bleak things were for you and thought, "Oh gosh, well, if I talk about it, I'm going to make her more suicidal, and then she's going to do it. So I'm just going to not talk about it at all." People who aren't trained in this stuff, the way therapists are, they tend to be pretty nervous about having that conversation. And that's understandable.
[00:20:29] Still, none of that changes the fact that your husband should have been there for you. So how do you move on from this? Well, Haesue's take, and I think she's right, is that you probably won't be able to do that without your husband's involvement in some way. Because there's clearly some harbored resentment here. There's a wound, the memory of that dark time and how your husband left you alone with it. So, if you want to move on, you're going to have to heal that wound and healing that wound means talking about it, processing the feelings, communicating with your husband about what you needed, what you didn't get, and how that's making you feel about him and the marriage now, which by the way, he might still not fully appreciate because sometimes, you know, us guys, be dense.
[00:21:15] Haesue's advice, in situations like this, it's always a good idea to consider couples therapy. It sounds like you guys could really use a space with a professional to facilitate the communication that has not been happening these past few years and to figure out how you guys will handle challenges like this in the future. Because I wonder if that might be part of what's eating away at you now, not knowing whether you can truly rely on your husband from here on out. Haesue picked up on that in your letter too. This sense that you might need some reassurance that he'll be there for you if things ever get tough again in the future. There's the injury from six years ago, but then there might be this fear or anxiety now that he'll withdraw if another crisis comes along. Like, "Can I trust you to take care of our family? Can I depend on you to be there for me, for our kids?" Another good reason in Haesue's opinion is to explore all of that in a supportive, controlled space like therapy.
[00:22:09] Gabriel Mizrahi: So true. Therapy would be a wonderful place for them right now. But whether you talk this out in a therapist's office or you guys just talk it out alone and you're living room, you guys definitely need to open up. As Haesue said to us, it sounds like you have a lot to get off your chest. There are thoughts and feelings in this marriage that are largely going unsaid from the sound of it. And then there are the ripple effects of that earlier abandonment, the breakdown in communication, these residual feelings of being hurt of being misunderstood, being alone with all of these. The effect, all of that has had on the relationship.
[00:22:44] So I would make a real effort to bring that into the light invite your husband, to listen to you, help him really understand what all of this has been like for you. He might need to be told very directly how painful that period was to finally appreciate what you went through and hopefully recognize how he should have shown up back then. And as you do that, I would also invite him to open up, you know, what was that chapter like for him? What feelings did that crisis bring up on his side of the equation? Which topics or challenges made him panic and withdraw. Again, not because that lets them off the hook necessarily, but because you do need to really understand each other and recognize each other. This is the nuts and bolts of repairing the line of communication that's been broken.
[00:23:25] The more you guys can talk and open up and identify with each other's feelings, hopefully, get to the root causes of this dynamic, the better your chances will be of resolving the wound and rebuilding the trust and coming back together. And that might take some time. It might be a bit painful in the short term as well. Although I think, that's probably a sign that you guys are on the right track.
[00:23:45] Jordan Harbinger: Totally agree. This is a rift between them. But it's also an opportunity to understand each other and find a new way of talking and hopefully create a new and maybe even a deeper bond. So that's our advice. You want to move on, but it's not really the right approach. It's more like moving through. And moving through means processing this chapter. I know you want the resentment and the sadness to just disappear, but as Haesue explained it to us, those feelings probably won't just go away on their own, but they can resolve. They can evolve if you talk about them openly with your husband and he's willing to do the same.
[00:24:22] I really hope you guys get to do that. We're sending you good thoughts. We're wishing you and your family the best. And special thanks to Haesue Jo and Better Help online therapy, betterhelp.com/jordan will help support the show and get you started. The segment was sponsored by Better Help online.
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[00:25:03] All right, what's next?
[00:25:04] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hi, Jordan and Gabe, when I was 18, my parents promised me that they would pay for my college. My mother took out student loans for me that I didn't really understand the depth of. I grew up extremely sheltered around finances, and I went on and did my four years of college plus one more year of grad school. Fast-forward to two years ago, when I looked into buying a home, I had a nice 760 credit score and great pre-approval. But when I looked at my credit, I noticed these two weird unchanging credit lines, totaling $75,000. After talking to my loan officer, I learned that my mother had not paid a single dollar towards my principal student loans since I graduated seven years ago. She had only paid the interest. When I called her frantic, all I got back was how ungrateful I was and how I'm just a little spoiled bitch. Luckily, I still was able to purchase my home, but two years later I'm looking to grow even more, but she still hasn't made any payments. I've offered to make them, even though payments on top of my mortgage are incredibly tough, but she refuses and tells me I'm going to mess up the system. Part of me also feels cheated as my parents promised to handle my schooling. My mom recently told me, "If you have to pay off the loans when we're dead, so be it," which makes me even angrier. Is it worth saying screw you and just starting to pay the loans now? I fear that taking over the loans would make me resent them for the rest of my life. Or should I make my parents keep their promise? Signed, The Distressed Debtor.
[00:26:29] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. This has all sorts of messed up, Gabe, I'm kind of in shock that a parent would do this to their child, sign them up for a financial responsibility that they don't understand after sheltering them from these kinds of things. Fail to live up to their end of the bargain and then keep them in the dark about it for years.
[00:26:46] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:26:47] Jordan Harbinger: How can you do that to your kid? I understand. Look, reneging on your promise is bad enough, but okay, maybe circumstances change. Maybe that turns out to be harder than they thought. Maybe there's a miscommunication. Maybe they're embarrassed that they can't live up to their promise, but then to compromise their son's finances by just not even telling him.
[00:27:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: And then to make it even harder for him to take over the payments because it'll mess up the system. Like what system? The system, where you took out loans in my name and never paid them.
[00:27:14] Jordan Harbinger: Exactly.
[00:27:15] Gabriel Mizrahi: I don't get it.
[00:27:15] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Now paying student loans is freaking — the easiest thing ever. You're literally just paying a bill. It's all online now, especially I'm sure. This all just sounds incredibly manipulative and unfair. Look, maybe the system they're referring to is the whole student loan payments being frozen during the pandemic thing. Maybe there's something like that, but maybe if he starts making payments now, it would mess up some agreement they have with the loan company or something like that. I have no idea. I'm literally just guessing here, but that's the problem that his parents are still keeping crucial information about his own finances from him when he's well into his 20s.
[00:27:49] Gabriel Mizrahi: Right.
[00:27:49] Jordan Harbinger: So, here's the deal, first things first, you need to understand exactly how these loans work. I wouldn't even ask your parents to explain them to you. Just go straight to the source, call the student loan company or lender. Have them explain the loans to you, how they work, what the payment plan is, what you do or do not owe them right now, all of that. I know it sucks. I know it's unfair, but these loans they're in your name and whether or not your parents ultimately end up honoring their agreement, as far as the loan company is concerned, they're your responsibility. So you have to take this into your own hands before it starts to impact your financial wellbeing.
[00:28:26] Then I would sit down with your parents and get on the same page about these loans, stat. First order of business, y'all need to have a very frank conversation about who's going to pay them. Tell them what you learned, what you need to be doing to make sure these loans are being serviced, how to prevent them from impacting your credit. Hopefully, you guys can come to an agreement that feels fair to you. I'm guessing it's going to take some work on your part to pierce through your parents' smoke smokescreen about money stuff, but that's part of the agenda here too. Just calling BS when they try to wiggle out of a question, pushing for firm commitments from them, holding them accountable.
[00:29:02] And I don't mean like having a tantrum and making them pay your loans. I mean, getting the information that you need to take charge of this situation. And the main goal in this conversation will be deciding once and for all, who's going to start paying down the principal on these loans because until you do that, this debt is going to keep haunting you.
[00:29:19] Gabriel Mizrahi: That's exactly right. But Jordan, there is a larger conversation to be had here beyond just who's going to pay the loans because these parents made a promise to him. And not only did they fail to honor the promise that they made, but they're also handling it in a way that's potentially compromising their son. And then when he called his mom to talk about it, she like lashed out at him. She called him ungrateful, spoiled, which, I mean, that sounds insane to me, but she also told him, "If you have to pay off the loans when we're dead, so be it," right? So if I'm understanding that correctly, that means that his parents are probably never going to pay down the principal on these loans. And that they're totally fine sticking him with the bill once they're gone.
[00:29:57] Jordan Harbinger: That does seem to be what they're saying, which in my opinion is just objectively crappy on their part. If you can't live up to a promise, you've made fine, but then sit down with your kid and explain that to them. Apologize. Even if you think they're being entitled or whatever, find a way to handle it responsibly, don't just keep them in the dark about it, and then project your own stuff onto them when they confront you about it and then put them in an even worse position, then they were in at the start. I'm getting worked up over here because it's so nonsensical.
[00:30:26] Gabriel Mizrahi: Well, it's upsetting and that's exactly what they have to talk about because I think that's the real wound here, not the loan payments, which are tough but manageable. It's the deception and the insults and years of shielding their son from crucial information, which I imagine must be very disempowering to this guy. And to your point, highly manipulative.
[00:30:46] Jordan Harbinger: Right. But man, I do not see this conversation going well. I hope they can see his side and make things right. I really do. But if they're so ashamed about what they've done or just totally in denial about it, our boy here might not get the commitment that he wants, which means he might have to prepare to pay down the loans himself, which is not the end of the world and find a way to process the very understandable resentment that he feels towards his parents. So tough.
[00:31:13] I'm really sorry that you're in this situation, man. I really am. I can only imagine how stressful this is, but I'm glad you figured out what was going on before these loans tanked your FICO score or got you into some other kind of hot water. I hope your parents step up and honor their commitment. Maybe the answer is to make a deal with them and you guys split the payments or something like that if that's the issue. Keep looking for a solution, but long-term keep charting your own financial course here and teach yourself to be on top of your finances in a way that your parents did not. That might be the tough lesson that this situation is teaching you. Hang in there, man. We're rooting for you.
[00:31:52] You know who will always tell you exactly how much you owe them? The sponsors that support this show. We'll be right back.
[00:32:01] This episode is sponsored in part by Squarespace. People spend most of their time these days on the Internet, buying products and using services. If you don't own a website, you might be losing a lot of potential customers online and, of course, missing the key to growing your business, manyfold. So what is stopping you from building yours? I get it. It can be complicated. It looks like a lot of work, probably really expensive. You don't have any idea where to start. Don't be a disgrace, try Squarespace. You don't have to know the first thing about tech or the intricacies of web design, because Squarespace covers all that. You can focus on the things that are important to you, like selling. Squarespace has all the tools you need to get your online business off the ground. You can even generate revenue through gated members-only content, manage your members, send email communications, leverage audience insights, all in one, easy-to-use platform. Add online booking and scheduling, connect your social media accounts to your website, create email campaigns, all with Squarespace's tools and these examples don't even scratch the surface of what you can do on Squarespace. Give it a try for free at squarespace.com/jordan. That's squarespace.com/jordan. Use code JORDAN to save 10 percent off your first purchase of a website or domain.
[00:33:09] This episode is sponsored in part by apartments.com. Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize it's time to find a new place? At apartments.com, they call it an out-of-apartment experience. It could be life-altering, like finding out your little family is growing or something more life-annoying, like dealing with a broken change machine at the Laundromat. If you find yourself in an out-of-apartment experience, start your search for a new place at apartments.com. They've helped millions of renters find their perfect place to live and their powerful search tools help you find a listing that'll check all the boxes. So take a moment and check out apartments.com, the place to find a place.
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[00:34:00] Now, back to Feedback Friday.
[00:34:01] All right, what's next?
[00:34:05] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey, Jordan and Gabe, my son is 18 and in college, and over the past few years, I've periodically found empty vape cartridges in his room as I was cleaning up. I would always ask him, "Hey, I found this, are you vaping?" Or I would take a picture with my phone, send it to him and ask him, "Anything you want to share with me?" Then I will talk to him about how addictive they are and remind him that he had asthma as a little guy and that this is about the worst thing you can do for his lungs, let alone his brain. He would always reply that he hasn't done it in a long time. I'm the kind of parent who likes to inform and educate. He's a young adult. He's on his own at school. He's making his own decisions. So getting mad, just never felt very productive to me. I finally got around to cleaning his room after he left to go back to school. And again, I found a stash of empty vape cartridges along with empty packages of other nicotine products. I'm mostly feeling disappointed that he's been lying to me as I provided him with opportunities to talk about it. My son plays college baseball and isn't having a great season. So he's under a tremendous amount of stress. I've recommended a performance coach to see if he can get his head right with his confidence, but so far he hasn't taken action on that. His dream is to play D1 Baseball. So we've always used that as a goal to focus on in order to help motivate him to make the right choices. But I'm at a loss as to how to get him to be honest and take some responsibility here. How do I get my son to stop vaping? Signed, Snuffing Out This Nasty Habit.
[00:35:33] Jordan Harbinger: Uh, yeah, I get your concern here. I know there's some evidence that e-cigarettes are better than traditional tobacco products and they probably do help a lot of people quit cigarettes, but that doesn't mean that vaping is totally safe. I wouldn't be surprised if, in 10 or 15 years, the medical community looks back on e-cigarettes. Like, "Oh my god, what were we thinking? How wasn't this stuff more regulated or straight up banned for—?" You know, it should be like medical prescription for people who smoke and want to quit. And you're already seeing that play out now. People realizing that there are real long-term risks to hitting a vape all the time.
[00:36:07] Kids getting hooked on nicotine when they're like 14, tons of creepy side effects, it's just not good. And don't tell me they don't market this stuff to kids when there's flavors like raspberry, bubblegum, there's just nonsense. The challenge is your son is 18. He's not living under your roof anymore. He's in charge of his lifestyle. The window for you to pull the parent card here is kind of over. You might still have some influence over him, of course, but it's not like you can ground him or whatever. He can't show up at the frat house on a Friday night, two states over, and make sure he's not hitting a Juul when he should be practicing his swing. He has to make the choice for himself.
[00:36:44] So the best thing you can do is approach him like an equal without threatening or pushing him too much and present him with as much information as you can. And you should do your research in advance. Look up some studies and articles about the effects of vaping. Find some photos of vape lungs versus non-vape lungs. The more visual, the better, by the way, photos have a way of just breaking through to somebody when words don't. And by the way, we did a quick Google on all that for you and found some pretty gnarly stuff on e-cigarettes. We're going to link to all that in the show notes for you. So it saves you a few minutes there.
[00:37:17] Then I would grab a little time to talk with your son the next time he visits. You might want to start by acknowledging his autonomy. Like, "Listen, I know you're an adult. I know I can't make you do anything you don't want to do, but as your mom and as your friend, I am really worried about the vaping. I think you should be too. And I just want to explain why." And then I would show him your research. Show him the stats on respiratory diseases, lung damage, long-term illnesses. Show him the CT scans of those creepy black dots and inflammation on teenagers' lungs after they hit an e-cigarette for a few months. Force him to see what can happen when you use those products. I'm guessing that the images of the lungs will have the strongest impact on him as an athlete. I would try to make this as personal and visceral as possible. So you can cut through this feeling of invincibility that a lot of young people have.
[00:38:07] Once you've done all of that, then I would say to him, "So given everything I just showed you, the fact that you're an athlete with big goals, you want to play D1, you're smart. You want to live a full, healthy life, I got to ask, why in the world are you vaping? Help me understand." And then let him talk, let him explain his reasoning. Just be prepared for him to possibly attempt to rationalize what is an emotionally triggered behavior like an addiction with a logical explanation that might not totally make sense to you. The immediate goal here, it's not going to be, to convince him logically to quit but to plant a seed that leads him to come up with the idea to quit on his own.
[00:38:46] A much better approach is to get them to the point where quitting seems like the only obvious answer, the more that he can come to that decision, the more likely it is that he will stick with it.
[00:38:57] Gabriel Mizrahi: I liked that approach a lot, Jordan. The only other thing I would say is it's interesting that he wants to play D1, but he's not having a great season. He's under a lot of stress and he hasn't reached out to that performance coach, and he's vaping. And I do wonder if that's another thing that you could point out to your son, like, "You have this amazing talent, you have this super exciting goal, but I don't see you giving yourself every possible advantage. You haven't talked to that coach. You're compromising your health. Vaping is probably making your stress even worse. Does that sound like a D1 athlete to you? You know, are you going to be proud of these choices in a few years?" I do wonder if that might give you even more leverage there.
[00:39:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's a good idea, Gabe. There's some ethical influence at work there. Not shaming him for being an idiot, but helping him live up to his own standards. I like that.
[00:39:44] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah.
[00:39:44] Jordan Harbinger: If you can do all that, then I think you have a shot at persuading, your son to quit or making him persuade himself to quit. So I hope you get through to him. You could really help them out and save him from some nasty health stuff down the road. Sending you both good thoughts.
[00:39:59] All right, next up.
[00:40:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Hey guys, I recently completed an interview for a new job I really want. I'm relatively well qualified for the position I connected very well with the HR consultant and the role they described matches my skills. The one thing I'm missing from the job requirements is a bachelor's although I do hold an associate's and ample experience. The HR consultant just send me a follow-up email for a second interview with the hiring manager, but the email chain includes a forwarded conversation with another candidate who is interviewing a few hours after me on the same day. Now, I'm wondering whether I should investigate this other person to see what their experiences. I can see the value in researching the competition, but at the same time, I'm worried it might influence how I come across in the interview. Should I do some recon on my competition or should I just focus on myself and not psych myself out by possibly discovering that the other applicant is way more qualified? Signed, Reluctant Reconnaissance.
[00:40:57] Jordan Harbinger: Interesting question. Also epic fail on HR's part.
[00:41:01] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yes.
[00:41:01] Jordan Harbinger: It's kind of funny, but it just gives you an interesting opportunity to scope out the competition. Possibly give yourself a leg up here, but it also makes me question how safe my info is with this company's HR department. Whether it's a good idea to do recon on this other candidate that really comes down to what you ended up doing with that information. If knowing their background is going to help you differentiate yourself or plug some holes in your story, or maybe just give you a dose of confidence because you know, you're for sure more qualified, yeah, that could be really helpful. But if creeping on their LinkedIn is just going to make you self-conscious and insecure for some reason then yeah, maybe you shouldn't do it. That all really depends on how you process and respond to that kind of information.
[00:41:42] The good news is you do have some control over how you process. You can choose to use your data on this other candidate to make you stronger, more prepared, more articulate, or you can use it to confirm your worst suspicions. And I think it's important to remember that you can't control what you learn about this other person. Maybe they're great. Maybe they're not as great as you, maybe they were about the same. The question is — how are you going to apply what you learn to become a better candidate?
[00:42:11] Gabriel Mizrahi: Yeah, that is absolutely the question. And you know, it's possible that there isn't a really good way to use what you learned. Like let's just say that this candidate is more qualified than you they've held more jobs, or maybe they have a certification that you don't have. Maybe they have a bachelor's degree, whatever it is, what can you really do about that? All you can do is speak to the experiences you do have and present yourself as well as possible in the interview, which hopefully you would be doing anyway. And by the same token, if it turns out that you're way more qualified than this other person, is that going to help you or will it just take some healthy pressure off of you? Maybe make you feel a little bit cocky in the interview or something like that, which could then potentially backfire. So, I don't know if there's a right answer here. It's an interesting dilemma, but I think you're right, Jordan, this really does depend on his mindset and what he plans to do with the data.
[00:43:00] Jordan Harbinger: Right. And the fact that he's already concerned that it's going to psych him out, maybe that's the answer right there. Maybe he already knows there's more downside than upside to Googling the competition. I personally couldn't resist, but if there's some very specific benefit to studying your competition, like if, you know, for a fact, the company wants this one niche skill and you don't have it, but this other person does, yeah, maybe it would be helpful to plan for that. Maybe you explain how you're going to bridge that gap in your first few weeks on the job, or you start reading up on that skill before your next interview. So you can tell the hiring manager that you're already doing work on it. But again, if you're preparing the right way, you'd probably be doing that anyway.
[00:43:38] Also keep in mind that even if the other person is more qualified, that doesn't mean they'll get the job or that they will accept the offer. So I'm kind of leaning towards not studying the competition, not because it's, quote-unquote, "wrong" but just because I don't know how much of a difference it's even going to make in the end. Your best bet might be to just focus on you, do your homework, trust the process. Be the best candidate you can be. And good luck, man. We're rooting for.
[00:44:05] Hope you all enjoyed that. I want to thank everyone who wrote in this week and everyone who listened. Thank you so much. Go back and check out Bill Browder and our deep dive on hustle culture if you haven't yet.
[00:44:15] If you want to know how I managed to book all these amazing folks for the show, it's all about my network. I've got systems, software, and tiny habits. I would love to teach you exactly what I'm doing every single day. Just in a few minutes. Check out the Six-Minute Networking course. It's a free course. It's over on the Thinkific platform at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't wait and do it later. The idea here is to dig the well before you get thirsty. These drills, they literally take a few minutes per day and it's like three to five minutes. This is the type of habit that you really ignore at your own peril and stuff I've been using for years to great effect. jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:44:52] Don't forget, I'm going to be interviewing author Ryan Holiday live in person in Los Angeles at the Venice West on June 13th. I'd love to see you there in person. Tickets are available at jordanharbinger.com/tickets. That's jordanharbinger.com/tickets. Again, June 13th at Los Angeles at the Venice West. That's me and Ryan Holiday live onstage. Hope to see you there.
[00:45:13] A link to the show notes for the episode can be found at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are in the show. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or hit me on LinkedIn. You can find Gabe on Twitter at @GabeMizrahi or on Instagram at @GabrielMIzrahi.
[00:45:28] The show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and of course, Gabriel Mizrahi. Our advice and opinions are our own, and I'm a lawyer, but not your lawyer. Do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show.
[00:45:46] Haesue Jo's input is general psychological information based on research and clinical experience. It's intended to be general and informational in nature. It does not represent or indicate an established clinical or professional relationship with those inquiring for guidance. Haesue's feedback is in response to a written question and therefore there are likely other unknown considerations given the limited context. Also just because you might hear something on the show that sounds similar to what you're experiencing, be aware of self-diagnosis. Diagnosis is not required to find relief and you want to find a qualified professional to assess and explore diagnoses if that's important to you. If you or your partner are in crisis and uncertain how to handle postpartum depression or something outside of that issue, reach out for support. Crisis hotlines and local authorities have a safety plan. That can be done with a therapist too.
[00:46:30] Remember, we rise by lifting others. Share the show with those you love. If you found the episode useful, please share it with somebody else who can use the advice we gave here today. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[00:46:46] I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a preview with ethical hacker, Harri Hursti about how vulnerable our election systems are to being hacked by enemies of the state and why we should all be concerned, no matter what team we're rooting for. On this episode, Harri takes us through how secure or insecure our voting technology really is and explains how we found the vulnerability, what's been fixed so far, and what hasn't, and what we as citizens can do about this to ensure the integrity of our elections and of our democracy.
[00:47:17] Harri Hursti: It doesn't matter how much money you spent to have the best military if the war is fought in cyberspace and an election hacking, because that's the way you can influence the government. And that's the way you can influence the minds of the people.
[00:47:30] Jordan Harbinger: Somehow Al Gore had negative 16,000 in Florida, only the totals for the presidential race were affected. So it wasn't just a machine failure.
[00:47:39] Harri Hursti: Think about this explanation afterwards was the minus 16,000 was a malfunction of the memory card but not possible. That memory card doesn't know how it can make negative numbers. At least the official explanation given at the time, not possible, something else happened.
[00:47:55] I always say when you are examining any kind of device, whether it's an ATM, whether it's a life-support system or a voting machine, you always find vulnerabilities.
[00:48:05] Jordan Harbinger: This is not just to get a specific outcome in that election, it's to chip away at democracy itself. Correct?
[00:48:12] Harri Hursti: I mean, it's got to be a nation-state who wants to undermine democracy, but it can be a religious group. It can be all kinds of disruptors who just want to create chaos.
[00:48:22] Jordan Harbinger: Is it always Russia or is that something that happens from other countries too?
[00:48:26] Harri Hursti: There are certain big countries, Russia, China, Iran, which are the big three and after that, North Korea and the USA underneath, but it's never only one country. Email, FTP with no security, these are the common methods to send the most mission-critical programming from the private company, which might be out of state to the local county, who is putting into the machines, and it is whoever controls that data, controls the election.
[00:48:56] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including why electronic voting machines are more vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation than mail-in ballots, check out episode 405 on The Jordan Harbinger Show with Harri Hursti.
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