Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a conflict with my high school senior daughter that I cannot solve. She is a brilliantly talented girl who has been accepted at several prestigious colleges across the globe, and they are actually handing her money in the form of scholarships and grants. Then last week came the big news: A full ride to the best school in the country. It will literally cost me $5,800 a year to send this kid to a school “in Boston,” and she has been bawling uncontrollably since the phone call came. She doesn’t want to go! She had her heart set on a school in the United Kingdom and has also been accepted, but with less scholarship money, in addition to expensive air travel. I have struggled financially since her father and I split up 15 years ago. I cannot, as a responsible parent, say that it is OK for my daughter to start her life with huge loan payments that will follow her into middle age. She cannot see reason and accept this windfall as the gift that it is, and will only see what it is not, mainly not her first choice. She is now having a tantrum and saying that she’ll just stay home and go to junior college for two years. What do I do or say to make this girl see reason? Can I insist that she take this offer? Can I just say, “OK, here’s what I would spend if you go to Boston, the rest is up to you and your dad.” Help me, Amy. What should I do?
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Here’s what you must not do — cave in to your daughter’s emotional manipulation in the form of tantrums. This requires that you tackle a very tough form of parenting — tolerating your daughter’s distress and not functioning for her, but leaving final decisions up to her.
So, yes, you say to her, “I am willing to give you the following amount for college, and — given that — let’s discuss your options.”
Your daughter’s idea to attend community college sounds like a threat, considering her stellar options. But honestly, she may not be mature enough to accept her extreme good fortune, and so staying close to home while she grows up and forgoing these other options might be best for her. She could try to defer her enrollment and work during this time to help pay for her dream school overseas.
DEAR AMY: My fiance and I have been together for eight years and engaged for four years. During our eight-year relationship, he has had his fair share of lady attention. Last year, I found out that he had a relationship with a lady six years his senior and their “affair” lasted for seven months. He even took her to visit his sister and brother-in-law while I was on vacation with my family. I confronted him, then took her number and sent her a message. She said he told her that he wasn’t in a relationship and that he left me because I was cheating on him! That evening, he actually confessed to everything and answered all my questions. Everything went great after that. But then a week ago I just had another feeling that I should go through his phone and guess what I found — more messages between them. I again sent her a message, saying she can have him, as I am done mending my own broken heart over and over again. But it still feels like our relationship can be saved. Am I too stupid to see that he won’t ever change, or do you believe after eight years of constantly cheating there is hope? I really do not know what to do.
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: You actually do know what to do — you just don’t want to do it. Eight years of staying with a cheater who repeatedly promises to change but doesn’t — is more than ample evidence that he is happy with himself the way he is. You need to make some big changes — and I hope you can.
DEAR AMY: I was appalled at the harshness of your response to the letter from “Sarah,” who complained about her new daughter-in-law’s comportment at her expensive wedding. Yes, Amy — despite what you think, people do still talk about “good breeding,” and there is nothing wrong with that.
DEAR APPALLED: I stand by my statement that people with “good breeding” do not speculate and judge other’s supposed lack of same.