Dear Amy:

I am a single mother with a daughter who is a senior at a major university. She and I have been "a team" for many years, and I always felt that we had an honest and respectful relationship.

Sending her to an expensive university has been financially difficult for me, but I made sacrifices and the school has been helpful with financial aid. By the time she obtains her degree, I will have depleted my savings, but I am proud to have been able to provide all I could.

It was always our understanding that she would work summers and have a part-time job during the school year to pay for her personal expenses.

Three summers ago, she worked at a major corporation for a boss who is very wealthy. She was friends with the boss's son, and then developed a friendship with the boss and his wife. They have dinner together whenever she is home for holidays, etc.

I recently found out that this man gave my daughter $15,000 as a secret gift. I learned about this in December, when it was clear that my daughter's spending outstripped her income and I confronted her. She admitted to a sum of $7,500 and to lying about her nonexistent, part-time job. She gave me her word that she would accept no more.

I was stunned and felt that this man had usurped my authority as a parent. My daughter's excessive spending continued through the spring and summer, and a couple of weeks ago, I contacted the boss and asked about the total amount of the gift. My daughter had hidden an additional $7,500.

I cannot begin to express how hurt and angry I felt.

I confronted my daughter about deceiving me, and she refused to apologize. She would only admit to being sorry that she got caught. As far as she is concerned, she deserved the money she received. I asked her to put some of it toward tuition. She sent me a defiant response and has been silent.

Amy, I feel I have lost my family. Although my anger is beginning to dissipate, I am grieving for the loss of the relationship I thought I had with my child. I am overwhelmed by sadness and don't know what to do next.

Lost in the Midwest

I feel for you, possibly because I know how intimate your mother/daughter "team" is and how disappointed you must be.

Your girl is behaving like a spoiled, entitled brat. I don't think that you should cut off your daughter during her senior year, mainly because you want to make sure that she obtains her degree so that she can go into the world and make a good living -- and because you promised yourself, and her, that you would do so.

You should go to her school and set up a meeting through the dean's office or the school's counseling office. A thoughtful third party could help you to broker an understanding. A meeting will also help to break the ice, where you can express your concern in a loving way and she can be given an opportunity to understand your point of view.

You should also contact her former boss and let him know in no uncertain terms that as far as you are concerned, he has contributed to her delinquency.

Dear Amy:

I am hosting a baby shower for my best friend, who is having her first child.

My friend lost her mother to breast cancer when she was only 18. Is it appropriate now, 20 years later, to mention her mother at this baby shower?

My idea was to attach the breast cancer pink ribbon pin or bracelet to each guest table favor as a way for her mother to be present in spirit. Is this tacky?

Should I just concentrate on the new life?

Trying to Do the Right Thing

I think your idea sounds lovely and very thoughtful, but you should ask your friend what she thinks of this. Showers are the perfect occasion to celebrate the entirety of a woman's experience.

Your friend might want to offer a special blessing to her late mother in the form of a toast or poem. Of course, if this gesture would make her uncomfortable in some way, then you should abandon it. The decision should be hers to make.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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