Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World

DEAR AMY: Our daughter is a bright, talented 19-year-old who has already gotten four small tattoos, several ear piercings, and a nose ring. You know, the usual. She has now told us about her next piece, an elbow-to-shoulder full-color floral arrangement. She says she is planning to start gauging her ears and was considering a dermal implant near her collarbone.

My husband and I pay for her college tuition and housing, and we give her a generous monthly allowance for food and gas. She also has a part-time minimum-wage job. We told her that we felt that someone who could pay for these body modifications was saying that she had no need for extra funds, so if she proceeded, we would stop the allowance. We would still pay for college and housing.

She expressed her hurt that we would withhold that money in an attempt to control her actions. We expressed our frustration with the permanent changes she was considering at a young age. We are asking her to wait till she’s 21 and working so that this doesn’t affect her ability to get a job. I really do hate threatening to stop the extra money, but I felt it was a natural consequence of making adult decisions.

Are we being too harsh? Where does the parental guidance end and the self-expression begin? Six months ago she wanted us to co-sign for an apartment so she could leave student housing and move in with her boyfriend. We refused that too. — Only Slightly Old-Fashioned Mom

DEAR MOM: You are not trying to control your daughter’s actions, I hope. You are simply trying to make the best possible investment, as well as introduce her to the concept of natural consequences. You are not docking her pay to punish her. You are saying, “We will pay for this, you can pay for that.” I assume that if your daughter chose to use your subsidy to purchase a video gaming system, you might feel exactly the same way. Imagine how much more meaningful her tat-sleeve will be to her when she has saved up the money for it.

Otherwise, I don’t think you should weigh in at all on her body modification choices. It’s her body.

DEAR AMY: “Upset” heard her English friend use anti-Semitic language.

We Brits are politely blunt, so I suggest she say, “You’ve made that comment a number of times and I am not sure what you mean by it, can you explain?”

Listen to the answer because there are people out there who are completely oblivious to the fact that what they do and say is offensive. She can tell her friend, “You should know that it is very offensive and rude.” — Ex-Pat

DEAR EX-PAT: Politely blunt. I like it.

Contact Amy Dickinson via email: Follow her on Twitter @askingamy