DEAR NATALIE: I have an urgent problem. Our 18-year-old daughter had applied and accepted a five-week position at a summer camp. However, one week before she was due to go, she decided she did not want to go because she would miss many graduation parties, she has a job that she likes, and she wants to take a college course this summer. I let her make the decision and made her call the camp and tell them she did not want to come. I even went so far as to tell her she needed to tell them if they could not find a replacement to call her back and she would go. Well, my husband has indicated that the camp is now short a worker and our daughter has an obligation and responsibility to go. Our daughter has not received a call from the camp program coordinator telling her they have not found a replacement. Of course, my husband has an excuse for that, too. What employer would call and beg you to come to work? My husband believes I need to make our daughter go and make her fulfill her commitment. I feel I taught her another lesson on making her own decisions and following through to relay her decision to others. Finally, my husband said that we should have discussed this before a decision was reached. I still feel like it is her decision, and he needs to get over it. My concern is he will make her life miserable this summer if she doesn’t go. I hate to see that happen as she is heading off to college in the fall.
DEAR MISERABLE: I’m inclined to agree with your husband on this one, assuming that they have not filled her position. Teaching responsibility means that sometimes when you make a commitment, you lose out on fun things, parties and time with friends. But, I also understand your position. You wanted her to make her own decision, and she did take steps needed to see if the summer camp could manage without her. But, now it seems to have snowballed into something bigger because your husband feels slighted that he wasn’t included in the discussion. Now he is trying to show his dominance by exerting his will on to both of you. I would have your daughter call the summer camp, herself, to ask if they have found anyone to replace her. If they have, then she can continue on with her summer as planned. But if they haven’t, she needs to honor her commitment and work at the summer camp. If your husband can’t agree to those very reasonable terms, then there is something deeper going on with him. He is going to have to learn to let go and allow her to make her own decisions. We often can only learn by falling on our faces, and sometimes parents can do more harm than good by not allowing their children to fail or learn from their own mistakes. Hopefully, he will recognize that soon he won’t be there to make decisions for her, and he had better start accepting her for who she is.
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DEAR NATALIE: Our group of lifelong friends enjoys getting together at local bars for pizza and beers. We all pitch in cash at the end of the evening with everyone being generous, but one friend throws out her American Express card, which isn’t accepted at the establishment. Even at a local dive, which only accepts cash, she only brings plastic and one of us usually bails her out. We’re tired of rolling our eyes at this, and I want to tell her to carry cash when she is with us, but I don’t know how. She is generous in other ways, and I don’t want to jeopardize our friendship. It’s funny, but we think it’s in her genes. Many years ago her father used to carry a $20 bill when he and his buddies went out for beers when they were 5 cents. The guys carried him because none of them had change for his $20, until they wised up and made sure they could exchange his $20 bill. Help! -- EYE ROLLING
DEAR EYE ROLLING: Can you use technology to help this issue? Meaning, put everyone on a group text the next time you are planning a night out and remind everyone that the place only accepts cash. Then, follow up with her on an individual text and say something like, “Hey, wasn’t sure if you got the group text or not, but we are reminding everyone to bring cash tonight because this place doesn’t accept AmEx or other credit cards. Can’t wait to see you there!” This way, the group text makes it seem like you are checking on everyone, and the follow-up private text is a harmless reminder to let her know in case she missed the group text. If that doesn’t work, you could go somewhere that does take American Express so that when she does join the group, there is a place where she can’t get out of paying. Hey, if she won’t go to the mountain, bring the mountain to her!
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci