DEAR AMY: Unbeknownst to us, our 23-year-old daughter ran up a large credit card debt in her last year of college, which she attended on an athletic scholarship.
Perhaps to take advantage of some graduation gifts involving travel, she told us she had graduated from college. She had not. She then asked to move back home, and we said yes, on the condition that she get a job and contribute her share of the expenses.
She stayed for seven months, making no visible effort to find work, meanwhile going out to clubs at night and even spending a weekend in Vegas.
Still, no diploma.
Announcing that she had a job as a professional athlete in Europe, she went abroad and almost immediately asked us to wire her money as an emergency, because her contract was "delayed."
After two months of this, we decided not to send any more money, because we were contributing to a situation that left us feeling hurt and used. We are close to retirement and need to save our money.
In spite of our help with some payments, she has made no effort to pay off her debts, which have accrued penalties and been turned over to collection agencies that call us almost daily.
We have not heard from our daughter since, but I expect that one day she will surface again, wanting to move home to "get back on her feet."
How do we say no?
DEAR WONDERING: Your daughter may have ensnared herself in a web of lies and debt, but you are wise not to become too entangled.
You should check with your accountant and lawyer about what obligations you may have (if any) to help pay down her debt. Don't commit any of your money to collectors or submit to pressure.
If your daughter calls you for money, you should only agree to send her a one-way ticket home.
If she comes home, you should do what you can to help her find housing and employment, while insisting that she see a counselor.
She has big problems, but if she maintains that she genuinely wants to live differently (and you believe her) you should help show her the way, without giving her cash.
DEAR AMY: A very sweet co-worker made a dessert item for everyone at the office, and someone found a hair in one of pieces. He proceeded to tell everyone about it, and was busting the woman in front of everyone. Now he calls her a rude and juvenile nickname in front of everyone.
I think that although it might be gross to find a hair in food, this could have happened to anyone.
Now the person who made the dessert is very embarrassed in the office, especially because he keeps bringing it up.
Perhaps she and I are being too sensitive, or perhaps he is just rude and mean. What do you think?
— Concerned Co-Worker
DEAR CONCERNED: I think your co-worker is a bully who doesn't seem to have matured much beyond the schoolyard stage.
You and your dessert-making colleague aren't overly sensitive. He is a jerk.
The next time he raises this in your earshot, you should say, "I think this little joke is played out and I'd appreciate it if you would stop it."
If it doesn't stop, or if this bully turns on you, you should bring in a supervisor.
DEAR AMY: "Desperate" wants to have more children and her husband doesn't.
I insisted on children when my husband didn't want them. He finally consented. My husband grew to resent the children and me, and he never loved them. They were a constant source of irritation for him.
My son got the worst end of it. The abuse was relentless.
We divorced, and my children paid the price.
Before we got married, he made it clear that he did not want children and I did not believe him.
Desperate should let it go.
— Been There
DEAR BEEN THERE: This is the worst-case scenario, which unfortunately you have lived. I hope others can learn from your example, and thank you for being brave enough to share it.
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