DEAR AMY: I am 21 years old and attend college out of state. I am lucky to go to college, except that I can’t do anything without parents’ approval. They pay for college because they refuse for me to have loans. The problem is that since they pay for my schooling, they hold everything over my head. If I want to get a piercing, tattoo, etc., I need to ask — even if it’s with my money. When I come home they only let me go out or visit friends in other towns if I give the names, address and phone numbers of the people I’m visiting. I understood this in high school, but I can’t live like this anymore. I’m at a loss of what to do.
A Not So Independent Adult
DEAR NOT SO INDEPENDENT: Figuring out the solution to your problem does not require college-level deduction. It’s really very simple.
You are legally an adult. As an adult, you have the legal right to be in charge of your life.
This means that you can drop out of school, sign up for the military or try to get a job and rent your own place, tattoo and pierce yourself with abandon and let the chips with your parents fall where they may.
I gather that you are not ready to take on adulthood to that extent. And, of course, it would be wisest for you to stay in college.
And so — if you choose to stay in college, your parents will control certain aspects of your life. That’s the contract: As long as they are paying the bills, they will treat you like a teenager.
Please understand, however, that their choice to “refuse” to let you take out loans is a huge, life-altering gift to you. Many people would be eager to put up with parental control to get such a good deal.
When you graduate, you can live your life debt-free and use that economic freedom to create the life you want to live. I hope you’ll remember to thank them.
In the meantime, because you don’t like the control they exert over you while you are home on college breaks, then you might want to get a job in the town where your college is located and stay there over the summer.
DEAR AMY: I am a man in my 60s, married to a wonderful woman. The problem is, I feel she is often judging me. For example, each year we are invited to her friend’s house for Christmas dinner together with three or four other couples, and I often find the conversation boring and ponderous (they are all eight to 12 years older). I enjoy a good, stimulating conversation and can hold my own when I’m interested and engaged, but I find these discussions boring and don’t hide it. My wife thinks I’m being rude and that I should try to be a “good guest” with “good manners.” I think it’s false for me to plaster a smile on my face and pretend to be interested when I’m not. And I resent her judgmental attitude; I wish she would accept me for who I am. Is the concept of “good manners” a generational thing? Your advice?
Feeling Disrespected in California
DEAR DISRESPECTED: If you want to feel respected, then it would help if you would first be respectful.
You think it is false to feign interest when the conversation takes a boring turn, but your inability to glean even nuggets of interest from others says everything about you.
I’m with your wife on this one. Being engaged and polite is the definition of being a “good guest.” Good manners are not generational; they are timeless and lovely and help forge connection between human beings. You seem very limited on this score.
I feel somewhat sorry for the people who have to spend an evening with you, knowing that you are bored. Because bored people are also boring. Your hosts are probably too polite to convey this to you.
DEAR AMY: Thank you for inspiring your readers to donate to charities. However, I feel it is important to note that many of these charities sell their mailing lists for oodles of money, and you will receive phone calls all year.
Tired of It
DEAR TIRED: It is vital to do your own independent research before donating to a charity. Charities disclose whether they sell their lists, and often give you an “opt out” option.