Ask Amy

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: We sent our daughter to the expensive private college of her dreams. We paid for school, so she has no loans to repay. Graduation was two months ago. Now that she is home, she will not make a serious attempt to look for work or an internship.

I forced her to volunteer for something, but it was very short term. I would be fine if she found an unpaid internship because I know the job market is not great for certain fields.

Her father seems to agree that she should be doing more, but he claims I am too hard on her (because I have pressed her to refresh her resume, make contacts, look for something to do and not sleep until noon, 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. every day). He also said we will have to wait until she is motivated.

With free room and board, Internet and a big-screen TV, she might never be motivated.

I made her go to a job workshop and a job club. They offered good suggestions and contacts, but she didn't follow up.

Today she lied about submitting a resume, so I told her point blank that if she is not making a serious effort to find a job in her field starting now, I will find her a job at McDonald's or in local retail.

I will also have to review her efforts and documentation each day, as if she were in kindergarten.

— Fed-Up Mom

DEAR FED-UP: You and your husband need to present a united position. As long as he tolerates this behavior, your daughter will continue her career as a couch potato.

You are part of the problem, too. Stop treating your daughter like a kindergartner and start treating her like a seventh-grader.

Take away the car.

Take away any allowance.

Take away her phone; she'll have to use the home line.

Take away the TV (store it in the garage).

Give her a deadline — let's say Sept. 1. Tell her that on that day you'll start charging a reasonable rent.

Don't provide your daughter with ideas unless she asks for them. Make her ask you directly for any money you give her. If she wants to go to the movies and you feel like financing it, give her exactly $15.

This is a very challenging time of life. Don't feel sorry for your daughter, but have confidence that she will figure things out. You'll help by showing her the reality of what life is like when you are unoccupied or under-occupied. It's tough. It's boring. And it's a waste of precious time.


DEAR AMY: What is the proper way to address formal mail (invitations, etc.) to a married gay/lesbian couple with the same last name?

Would it be "Mrs. Jane and Mrs. Barb Smith?"

— Curious

DEAR CURIOUS: I shared your question with a representative from Outvite.com, a company that produces invitations for gay couples. We agree that there is no single "correct" answer.

Do your friends refer to themselves as "Mrs." in written correspondence? If so, then "Mrs. and Mrs. Jane and Barb Smith" would work.

Otherwise, you could address it to "Barb Smith and Jane Smith," without titles and with their names on separate lines, or to "Barb and Jane Smith," written on one line — though these options are less formal. (Your friends might also prefer "Ms." over "Mrs.")

This question and the variety of answers illustrate that while etiquette takes time to catch up to social realities, good manners are timeless.


DEAR AMY: I am single and date a lot. A while ago, I had a date who got too drunk to drive (I think on purpose). I believe he wanted to stay the night.

While I was concerned for his safety, I wouldn't compromise mine.

Dude slept in his car for a while and then headed home. I never went out with him again. He even had the nerve to try to make me feel guilty later.

— Holding Her Ground

DEAR HOLDING: The worst reason to let someone spend the night in your home is if he is too drunk to be elsewhere. I agree with letting him sleep it off in his car.

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Filed under: Lifestyles