Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I have a lovely 16-year-old stepdaughter. I've been married to her daddy since she was 4. We have two other children together but she has always been treated fairly and as a full member of our household, despite only seeing her every other weekend. We've tried to be kind and friendly to her mom but our efforts have always been rejected (to put it mildly). Recently she has developed a lot of anger issues and has loud, tantrum-like outbursts where she curses out her dad and says very hurtful things to him. Then she will refuse to see us. The first time this happened we forgave her and she and her dad had a long conversation about how to have a discussion or disagreement without the tantrum. A month later she did it again (about being expected to do chores). Rather than talk to us she yelled, cursed and said nasty things to her dad. Dad and I agreed that this time she needed to suffer the consequences. We decided she needed to initiate an apology and ask before we let her return to our house, but I don't think she'll do this. Maybe she needs to graduate and be away from mom's influence before she can see her way back. Her mom has long been trying to sever her relationship with us. Can you shed some insight on what we can do here to help her? We have suggested therapy but she has refused. She can't go through life like this.

Sad Stepmom

DEAR STEPMOM: You are in a very tricky spot because while you want your daughter to understand and absorb the natural consequences of her behavior, you don't see her often enough to provide the consistency she needs.

I understand your desire to punish her by banishing her from your household, but this is the opposite of what she needs, which is more of you. If she refuses to see you, you will have to respect her choice, but she needs more compassion from you, not less. It is when people are at their most unlovable that they need love the most.

You should not demand an apology from her so long after the fact, because you will not likely receive it, and then you will both remain on opposite sides of her anger.

React calmly. Say to her, "We're sorry you are in such a tough spot and we would like to talk to you about it when you're calm." If she chooses to stay away, keep in touch with her in a positive vein and attend school and extracurricular events, even if it is awkward for you.

DEAR AMY: My college roommate's boyfriend, "Dan," was recently injured in a motorcycle accident. The other driver's insurance covered replacing the bike and his medical expenses are covered. Since Dan owns a small business and isn't able to work, he is receiving financial help from his parents. His children are going to summer camp at half price (because of the accident). People take them meals. They're in their best financial situation in years! Now he's set up a "caring campaign." He writes the updates himself and pretends that his girlfriend wrote them. He's raised over $5,000. I won't donate, but I've had mutual friends ask about it. Part of me feels it's not my place to say anything, but I'm so annoyed that people are helping this scam artist. My former roommate even rolls her eyes, but this doesn't stop her from soliciting money.

Disgusted

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DEAR DISGUSTED: These campaigns are more common, as various websites have made it easy to solicit donations for virtually anything. It is each individual's responsibility to make a choice about donating.

If asked, be honest about your own choice, but no -- I don't think you should denounce him as a "scam artist."

DEAR AMY: "Always a Bridesmaid" reported her despair that her boyfriend of seven years simply would not propose. Weddings had become very painful for her. Oh, boy. I feel bad for her, but I have news. If he hasn't proposed by now, he never will.

Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: I quite agree.