Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: When one of our daughters was attending college, my wife and I established an understanding with her that we would pay for her entire college expenses provided she took advantage of the opportunity and simply produced good grades. As a result of her poor performance, we reduced our financial participation but offered to lend her the money for tuition with the promise that she repay us. During her final two years, unbeknownst to me, she was using our credit card number to spend over $1,000 per month for more than a year on an extended shopping spree while at school. My wife suspected what was going on but was in denial. This had the effect of turning a molehill into a mountain. We confronted her, whereby she informed us that she was getting back at us for "making" her attend this public university versus the VERY expensive private school she wanted to go to. I was dumbfounded. After graduation, we allowed her to live at home to repay us. She paid back more than half of what she owed. She also persuaded us to co-sign a lease on a new car, forward her $2,000 on it and another $500 down for rent on a house, which she moved into. Now the mere mention of paying us back causes her to blow up. I know she can afford to repay us. It has affected my relationship with my wife (I feel she allowed this mess to turn into a major issue). I feel it would be unfair to our daughter's siblings to forgive her debt. I can't comprehend this type of behavior.
DEAR DAD: It seems there is a pattern in your family of messing up and then blaming someone else. You, for instance, take no ownership of this situation. You attempted to control your daughter through money; when she committed fraud, instead of delivering consistent consequences, you blamed your wife and then doubled down by giving your daughter more money (which you claim she "talked you out of"). You do realize that if you hadn't opened your wallet again, she could have paid you back by now? Yes, your daughter should pay her debt. You and your wife should see a counselor, to focus on exploring your own dynamic and behavior, so you won't make the same mistakes with your other children. Blaming each other only enables your daughter to take advantage of the breach in your relationship instead of dealing with her own (substantial) problems.
DEAR AMY: I am a 66-year-old man who is, to put it mildly, offended by tattoos. I am not referring to the kind sailors used to get, but the ones that go all over the arms and up and down the neck, etc. If I am in a restaurant and the server has the type of tattoos that offend me, is it acceptable for me to ask for a different server? My wife says no. It offends me, and I am the one patronizing the establishment and spending my money. I should have the right not to be offended. What would be the best way to ask the manager for a change of server? I am not looking to offend anyone; it is their choice to do what they will, but I should not have to be subjected to it.
Disgusted in Denver
DEAR DISGUSTED: When you are the customer, you have the right to politely ask for anything you want: ("Is it possible for us to change tables to be assigned to a different server?"). Be prepared, however, to be offered the option of taking your business elsewhere. According to a 2012 Harris poll, 1 in 5 Americans reports having a tattoo. Eliminating contact with tattooed people could be quite a challenge for you.
DEAR AMY: "Worried Friends" wondered about the health and disposition of their friend "Stacy." I encourage everyone to tell people they love how they feel, to let friends know regularly how their friendship enriches lives. Warm their hearts with your affection while they live, because showing up at the funeral is too late.
DEAR LONELY: This is beautiful and timeless advice. Thank you.