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Revenant

When to tell advisor extenuating circumstances

5 posts in this topic

Hi all, I am beginning a research-only PhD in history at Trinity in Dublin, Ireland this September. My advisor and I have only communicated by email and our last conversation was him giving me a long bibliography for my prospectus, so I've been working on that. 

 

I'm thirty years old, which he could probably figure out from my undergraduate dates, and I'm a married mother. I'm moving to a commuter town an hour out of Dublin to live near my friends and their similarly aged child, and my husband is staying in the US. Housing in Dublin is atrociously expensive and hard to find, and childcare is much cheaper outside of the city as well. I plan to only be on campus 1-3 days a week, which I have to imagine as a research doctoral student would be spent in the library. 

 

My question Is, how much of this does he need to know? I'd like for our relationship to be such that he'd know I'm essentially a single mother, and therefore not able to make certain conferences or meetings at the drop of a hat. Or to have to miss lectures or other events if my kid gets sick, that sort of thing. But I don't know if that would be detrimental to his nascent impression of me. My plan is to finish this 2-3 page prospectus and submit it, demonstrating my academic prowess, and then tell him about my family situation when we meet in person this May.

 

I've heard from academic friends that my advisor is a genuinely nice person, and I don't want to mislead him, but since I'm somewhat crossing cultural boundaries here I'm not certain what information is appropriate to share.

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On March 28, 2017 at 4:10 PM, Revenant said:

My plan is to finish this 2-3 page prospectus and submit it, demonstrating my academic prowess, and then tell him about my family situation when we meet in person this May.

I think this sounds like a good plan. Things like this are often best communicated in person when you can read one another's tone, body language, and expressions. If he's as nice as people have said, it should go well! Good luck and congrats on starting your PhD! 

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Make it clear not that you have all these issues, but that you have solved them.  

That way, you can get your work done and he won't have to worry (too much) about it.

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I'm a mother too and it is my plan to disclose nothing about my personal life to either  my advisor or my colleagues if I get in. This is to both avoid the assumption that I am asking for special favors and to avoid the trap that many academic mothers fall into of being seen as less committed than their childless counterparts. For me personally, I feel it is the better path to simply not discuss my child and to avoid the question. I certainly will not go into school outlining why I have scheduling conflicts. They simply must be worke around, and that is our responsibility alone to do so.

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If your adviser is a parent as well, he'll understand :) 

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