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Tell Me About It author Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax
(The Post)
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Tell Me About It
Hosted by Carolyn Hax
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 6, 2002; Noon ET

Carolyn will take your questions and comments about her current advice column and any other questions you might have about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

Appearing every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday in The Washington Post Style section, Tell Me About It offers readers advice based on the experiences of someone who's been there -- really recently. Carolyn Hax is a 30-something repatriated New Englander with a liberal arts degree and a lot of opinions and that’s about it, really, when you get right down to it. Oh, and the shoes. A lot of shoes.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


To read the most recent responses, click "Get New Responses"
or select "Automatically Update Page."

Washington, D.C.: So, Hax, what is the friggin' deal with you?

Carolyn Hax: Fraid you'll need to be more specific.

Just curious: So, Carolyn.

Are you ready to deal with the inevitable onslaught of questions and comments about your personal life?

I'm willing to bet that there is a veritable avalanche headed your way, and that a good bit of it won't be too friendly. Even though we love you.

Carolyn Hax: Sure. I had wanted to mention it here before it showed up in Lloyd's column, but I dragged my feet a bit too long. Oh well. Happy to answer Qs, though, even the nasty ones. Thanks.

Washington, D.C.: Carolyn! Recently read the news -- you got divorced last year and now you're unmarried and pregnant. Nice going! Just the sort of example I'm proud to see in an advice columnist. Planning on getting strung out on prescription drugs, maxing out your credit cards, and filing for bankruptcy any time soon? Wouldn't want you to miss a thing! I mean, you're carrying bastards now; why stop while you're going strong? We all know that marriages that start with parenthood are more likely to crash and burn than marriages in which the partners get to know each other before adding children to the mix, so I assume we lucky readers can look forward to yet another divorce in your column; gosh! Won't that put you in an even better position to dispense advice to other people on how to straighten out their lives and clean up their acts.

Carolyn Hax: Like this one. Feel better?

washingtonpost.com: For everyone who's asking (and is scared to use search), here's Lloyd's column: Reliable Source (Post, Nov. 20, 2002) -- Lisa.

Washington, D.C.: Here we've been imagining you sorrowfully tucked up North when really you've been falling in love, planning a wedding, and buying (knitting?) baby clothes. It's a very pleasant surprise!

Congratulations! Any chance of allowing us some insight on your thoughts -- or will this stay out of the chat?

Carolyn Hax: 'Twas a pleasant surprise for me, too -- though woven in tightly with the sorrowful stuff. When Nick and I talked about the divorce last fall, we didn't include any details, including the fact that we'd been apart since the previous winter. So, I've been up here longer than it may seem. Part of my coming back here included tracking down familiar faces, since it was just separated me and my dying mom and a mild case of clinical depression. Don't mean to be maudlin, but it was what it was.

Anyway, one of those faces belonged to Kenny, who became my best friend through the worst time, and eventually more. So there it is, nutshell-like.

Washington, D.C.: Congratulations on your news. Very exciting times for you, I'm sure.

Fortunately, you are comfortable enough with your public role to share information about your personal life, and we appreciate it. We're glad to know that you struggle through some of the same life issues that we do. It humanizes you and makes us trust you as an advice-giver.

But for the life of me, I can't imagine you advising anyone to do things in the order you did.

What question would you have liked to send to yourself about your situation, and what would your response have been?

Carolyn Hax: Thanks, though I don't deserve the "comfortable" compliment -- if I felt I had a choice, I'd keep my private life private (thus the foot-dragging this time, though fear of revealing then miscarrying did play a part. They are twins and I am not young ...). Thing is, you guys come to me to talk about really personal stuff, and I don't see how you can trust what I say without knowing where I come from.

To that end, though, I think my viewpoint has not only been consistent unto itself, but also consistent with what has gone on with me at home. I don't jump on people, for example, for choosing not to get married; I jump on them if they tell me they've always wanted to get married, made 20 massive premarital life decisions with some guy -- relocating with, moving in with, having kids with -- and are now upset eight years later because the guy is "not ready" to get married.

I won't compose a question for me, if that's okay. Too much to do on the fly.

Somewhere, USA: Always thought you were a hypocrite -- thanks for the validation.

Carolyn Hax: Then why are you here?

Curious: Did you plan this pregnancy? Weren't you using protection?

Carolyn Hax: It was planned. The unplanned part was the wedding, if you must know. Neither of us had thought it necessary -- we have what we have, whether the state gives its blessing or not -- and so we had merrily launched a life together when it began to creep up on both of us that we owed it to the kids to get legal. Just the nastiness of the nastigrams today underscores that -- there are a lot of people itching to judge an out-of-mainstream family choice. K and I are big people and can take it, but unless we want to move to New York or Hollywood (A: no), the little people were in for stuff we didn't want them to have to deal with. Plus, we're happy as clams together (and boy have we seen the worst), so why not.

Feedback from October Writer Who Had Miscarried and Worried About Thanksgiving: Online, only, please.

I'm her sister, and I wanted to let you know that she did go to the in-laws' Thanksgiving, in no small part because she listened to your advice. And then saw it printed in her local, non-D.C. paper and figured it was a sign that if she skipped everyone would know it was her.

ANYWAY. When I heard you were spending your Thanksgiving getting married and being quasi-newly pregnant, I was concerned that sis might get nose out of joint about your advice, since you were newly-pregnant and non-disclosing.

Sis, instead, let out a big "OH! How WONDERFUL!" So, on Thanksgiving, she was being happy for newly pregnant folk INCLUDING YOU.

Thought I'd let you know. Congratulations. Out of hard times can come some true wonders.

Carolyn Hax: Great, great, great. Thank you. My best to her, please.

Washington, D.C.: Any chance of a holiday session this year?

Carolyn Hax: Yes! Better than a me session for sure. How 'bout next Friday?

Oregon: I for one am happy that you have some good fortune coming your way. Please post some nice comments too! I'm sure not everyone is being a whiny brat!

Carolyn Hax: Okay! Thank you. You're right, most people are actually being nice, and I do appreciate it. I just wanted to answer the people who want answers.

Washington, D.C.: Sorry to be personal ---

I know you and your ex are still on very good terms, which is great and we love his art! But, as I'm someone who has a really hard time withdrawing from an ex, even after an evil parting, which I know yours wasn't, I wonder how he's feeling about the babies and the marriage? Hope that's not too nosy.

Congrats. I'm happy for you.

Carolyn Hax: I just got asked if my pregnancy was planned -- if you want to be too nosy, you'll have to do better.

Nick's past two years haven't been a picnic, either. If anything, an amicable parting can be more painful, in its way, because you don't have the comfort of big angry issues to remind you how right it was that you split. Instead we both got to watch someone we loved hurt like hell. But that means both of did what we did because we sincerely want happiness for the other, and so N has been unfailingly supportive.

Fairfax, Va.: You have made a COMPLETE ASS of yourself. Congrats! Please end the column now so you won't sound like the hypocritical bastard that you are. You advice means nothing now, because it obviously wasn't something you believed in yourself.

Nice touch, idiot!

Carolyn Hax: Explain this to me, please -- I see the hypocrisy charges, but don't understand them. How have I been inconsistent?

All about me: Okay, enough about you, lets talk about me!

So my ex-boyfriend's best friend invited me to a holiday soiree this evening. Ex will be there and knows I've been invited (the two don't fart without telling each other so I know he knows I've been invited). I tentatively said that I would come but I had reservations. Ex and I are friends, but of course I would prefer to still be dating him. Two friends said they would come with me so I thought it could actually be a good time. Two friends have now bailed. Should I go alone or take the bailing friends as a sign I shouldn't go? In my heart, I know the answer, but I just want someone (objective) to tell me what to do.

Carolyn Hax: Gladly.


Unless going would mislead the farting friend of ex into believing you wanted to start something with him. That might be more mess that you really need right now.

Re: Marriage: So if you got married to conform, are you going offer conformism as advice in your column?

Carolyn Hax: Eesh. No. I got married because I thought it would be best for the babies, as I have endlessly advised people to do -- put kids first. For some people in my exact position, that might mean holding to their beliefs and raising their kids to hold to their beliefs as well. That's what we would have done if our beliefs were stronger; however, we weren't anti-marriage, just marriage-indifferent. So why hold fast to a difficult course for them when we were just as happy with the path of lesser resistance?

Baltimore, Md.: Just for the record, and of course it's none of our damned business, but would you say your situation is consistent with the ethics you're always talking about -- that is, did you deal fully and honestly with your marriage before the smooching with Kenny started?

I don't judge for being pregnant (congrats). But if you behaved in a way that you've scolded others for, than I think some folks' criticism is valid.

Carolyn Hax: I agree. To a degree: I have certainly done some things myself for which I have scolded others, and worse. I'm hardly a saint. What I don't do is -defend- these awful things I did. Take a look at my track record in the 5.5 years of Tell Me. Scoldings are reserved for those who don't recognize -- or, worse, try to rationalize or excuse -- their sh*tty behavior. I am sympathetic to the flawed as long as there's appropriate remorse or self-awareness attached. I don't pummel everyone who screws up. I can't, because I'm about as flawed as they come. And, frankly, I can't stand being around people who never screw up.

As to the rest, I made a decision the day I launched this column that I wouldn't answer specific accusations of wrongdoing, because that's a no-win proposition. I look bad no matter what I say. So, all I will say is that I have no ethical hangover from Kenny.

Uh Oh: Lisa, Did we scare Carolyn away?

washingtonpost.com: Scared the hell out of me. -- Lisa.

Carolyn Hax: It's hard to type when I'm sucking my thumb, but I'm still here.

Question for one who's been there -- really recently: So, how DOES one tell a mild case of clinical depression from just being stressed out and moody? I'm perfectly functional, if a bit distracted; I'm capable of laughing and having a perfectly good time much of the time; I've always been a genuinely, through-and-through, cheery person; but off and on, over the last year, I have found myself some evenings getting weepy and moody and lonely and muttering darkly about some minor infraction by my loving (and beloved) husband, and that didn't ever use to happen.

Carolyn Hax: My situation was more black-and-white. I couldn't stop crying, so I made an appointment with a therapist. Still, I was also getting out of bed, getting dressed, working, being social--so, functioning. My blanket advice is: when in doubt, check it out. No harm in spending an hour with a trained eye.

Washington, D.C.: Dear Carolyn,

Congratulations on all your good news. I wish you and Kenny and your twins joy.

I am curious about something (unrelated to the above). My mother (my best friend and a brilliant, funny, kind, simply luminous person -- and I thought she was all of these things before she was sick too) died late this summer of a malignant brain tumor after having been diagnosed nine months earlier. I had taken time off of working to take care ot her, and I was with her pretty much constantly for nine months, and saw her die (suddenly and as unexpectedly as possible given the underlying diagnosis). I am obviously having a hard time, and miss her terribly. An interesting and particularly unsettling part of the aftermath for me has been the onset of fear of my own dying, especially every time I am in a car on the highway (I have always hated driving on highways, but it's gotten really ridiculous). I've also noticed that I've turned/am turning into a much more fearful person in general.

Did you experience anything like this? Any advice?

Thank you!

Carolyn Hax: Thank you, and I'm so sorry about your mom. And, yes -- my awareness of loss, both real and potential, has become acute, and I've noticed this in everyone else in my family. I'm sure we al saw this either in ourselves or others, to some extent, after Sept. 11. It comes out in strange ways, too. One person will shy away from long trips or time away from her kids, another will reach out to people socially in ways he never would before, just to ensure that he has enough connections to enough people. I have no fear of my own death, but I choke up quickly at the though of others'. Yours seems to be coming out as fearfulness. Have you considered a support group for the grieving? Common stories might give you some comfort.

Dysfunction Junction: Gosh, I almost feel like a "let's talk about me" question would be a favor to you, today. So here goes.

My sister is married to a jerk. When I was younger and more self-righteous, I tried to get her to leave him. Now she's raised eight kids (he refused to consider birth control) to adulthood and she's still with him, and I realize that it's none of my business. But it's still painful -- particularly where it becomes my business: she is deathly afraid of him and lies about everything she does so he won't blow up. And she wants me to lie too, to corroborate her stories. Frankly, I can't keep the stories straight. We're not talking about her having a lover or even going on shopping sprees -- we're talking about her driving to see our mom who's living in a rest home an hour away, for godssakes. I'm supposed to tell him she was with me, and so forth. Last time he "caught" her planning to go off and visit an old friend, he ran over all her suitcases with the car. So you see what we have here -- horrible bro-in-law on one hand, and complicated unpleasant lying requirements on the other, and me and my sister in the middle. I can't get her to change her situation, and I -HATE- the lying. What to do?

Carolyn Hax: I appreciate the thought, but too scary a question for me to find much comfort -- especially given that there are now eight more adult students of abuse out there. Just what the world needs.

Anyway, I'd skip the speculation and call an abuse hotline -- 1-800-799-SAFE has never let me down. You're right that you can't change her ways, but there may be ways you can support her that don't cross over into enabling.

Sorry to disappoint the masses with a Non-Carolyn's Personal Life Question:: My father was diagnosed with cancer two months ago. Dad is the quiet type, and usually you have to drag info out of him. Anyway, the parents told me about the cancer, and my dad mentioned that he only had told a few family members. Well, this news came in the midst of some other personal problems (boyfriend decided he wasn't commitment material and broke up with me) so I was feeling pretty down and confided in a friend. Well, mom found out that I told friend about my dad's health and now she is extremely angry with me for discussing family business with outsiders. Frankly, my family is not of the talkative sort, and I just needed an ear to air all of my problems. I tried to explain to mom that I NEEDED someone to talk to, but so far she's not hearing it. What else can I say? (By the way, I live 400 miles from my parents, and this is a friend I have here and has only met my parents once, so it's not like their whole neighborhood is going to know!)

Carolyn Hax: You did what you felt was best, and you tried to explain it to mom, and now all you can do it wait till it blows over. Keep in mind that mom might be taking your "betrayal" disproportionately hard because it's a convenient place to put all this emotion she's feeling. She can't get pissed at the cancer, so she's pissed at you. Keep doing whatever you need to do to keep yourself afloat emotionally, within reason, and you'll be a better daughter to your parents through this. With luck, they'll both see that.

Alexandria, Va.: So, a logistics question -- just how anonymous are these chats? I have a friend whom I've been trying to convince to ask you a question that's been bothering her for a while, but she's convinced that all of the questions show up with info about the person who's logged in to the Post Web site, and she's a friend of a friend of someone in the Post IT department.

washingtonpost.com: All we get is the submission. This is a form, not e-mail, so no identifying information is included. -- Lisa.

Carolyn Hax: (Thumbsucking break.)

Thanksgiving hell: First of all, congratulations!

My husband I were worried about spending thanksgiving with my family. My husband is a different race than my family, which I thought was no big deal -- we'll leave it at that because the backstory is long. Lately, I've been noticing some less-than-nice comments from my siblings concerning cultural/racial issues. My entire family has very similar political views. My husband and I, of course, are at the opposite end of the spectrum from my family. The weekend was okay, until the morning we were leaving. A political discussion arose and my sister and brother-in-law made some comments that were really out of line and borderline racist. I thought it odd since my brother-in-law is from another culture and presumed he would be more sensitive to this issue. I know in the past that you've advocated that family members can't be changed and so we have to change our attitudes to deal with them. But, I don't know if I can just let this go. I feel that I have to say something because silence would condone their actions and words. I'm at the point now where I never want to see or speak to them again because it was that offensive. What would you do? Would you talk to them about this and when something further happens ignore it? Would you have the talk and the next time something happens cut off contact? Or would you cut off right away? BTW, getting them to listen to me will be difficult as a good 8 years separates my sister and I and she has a hard time acknowledging that I am not a child anymore.

Carolyn Hax: Thanks!

I have advised accepting that people won't change, but I don't think that precludes standing up for yourself/speaking out against offensive comments. If you object to something your sister said, say so, as rationally as possible and as close to the offense as possible. As for the letting go vs. cutting off contact, that's too personal for a third party to decide. You have to weigh one set of principles -- your view of family -- against another -- your view on race/culture, then see which one wins, then accommodate it accordingly.

Arlington, Va.: Twins! Will we ever hear from you again? What happens if one of them is evil? (Just kidding. Congratulations! It'll be great, I'm sure.)

Now, about me: I'll try to make this as quick and easy as possible. I have a friend of four years who I've come to learn is a so-called serial monogamist (spelling?) In the years I've known him, he's had about eight "serious to the point of ring shopping" relationships. In the beginning I was interested, supportive, everything a friend should be, I thought -- but I can't do it anymore with a straight face, and he's blaming it all on me: he says I'm mean (and worse, but I'll stop here). I mean, what do you say when two weeks into a new "relationship" the "couple" announces that they're throwing a holiday party together? If this was the first time, I think I could've just nodded and smiled, but it's gotten to be a joke.

Bottom line is, he's no longer speaking to me. And unless anyone is tempted to feel sorry for him, he overlaps his relationships so he'll never have to be alone -- and when he (or she) breaks it off, doesn't bat an eye, his emotional involvement in it is so low. But he is a friend, and I want to do the right thing by him. But I'm not sure what that is. Keeping my mouth shut isn't an option, as last time "he could see the smirk in my eyes." Hehehe.

Any words of wisdom?

Carolyn Hax: That's why I'm so slow today -- I've got this damn smirk stuck in my eye.

I don't see what you -can- do. You aren't lying to him, you aren't condescending to him, you aren't preaching at him. HE's got issues with his issues, obviously. You've probably become a living reminder to him of his weakness and people hate those, so sometimes they stop speaking to them. Which brings us back to, what are you going to do? Wait him out. Sounds like he'll need your company soon enough.

Holiday Stress!: It's only the 6th of December and I'm already feeling burned out from the holidays -- too many things to do, parties to attend, gifts to buy/wrap/deliver. While I'm fortunate for being invited to parties and being able to buy gifts, what's a boy to do to have some fun during the season of ho ho ho?

Carolyn Hax: Shop online and use the time you save to make snow angels. Anyone else?

Roommate hell: Can you suggest the kindest way to ask a roommate in a group house to move out? She acts as if all the other roommates are citizens in her dictatorship, and she's nasty about it to boot, verbally attacking people who dare to disagree with her edicts on bills, dishes, guests, etc., even though she is always a minority of one on these issues. She generally gets her way, because no one wants to deal with her wrath. Talking to her has not worked, and all the other roommates agree that she should be asked to move out, but no one knows how to actually say it. She's not the most emotionally stable person, and no one knows how to tell her she needs to find other housing.

Carolyn Hax: No wonder she's walking all over you guys. So far, you've all decided that you'd rather be bullied than ask her to move out. So, get used to the bullying, or say, "We have let you bully us for months, and we were wrong to do that, and it stops here. We'd like you to stop forcing your demands on us, or find another place to live."

Washington, D.C.: Carolyn, I'm hoping you can take my question. I'm feeling very lost. I have a lot of respect for your opinions and know your perspective will help.

My cousin was diagnosed last week with a terminal illness. They're telling us she'll have at most six months to live and she'll be in a lot of pain. My family -- myself included -- has spent a lot of time at the hospital, of course.

My cousin and I aren't all that close, but she's a member of my family -- someone I grew up with and saw a few times a year at family gatherings. I guess my problem is that I am feeling wrong. I don't think I'm in shock, really. I know it's bad, and it's horrible for her parents and the rest of my family. Everyone else seems so sad and scared and devastated. I feel like, gosh, this sucks and I'm so sorry she's going to be in so much pain and I hate that everybody else is suffering. I keep forcing myself to think about happy memories, thinking that'll trigger the appropriate response, but -- nothing.

What's wrong with me, Carolyn? I'm starting to think I have no conscience.

Carolyn Hax: No no, I think you sound ruthlessly normal. (Although sometimes having no conscience seems to be the norm, but that's just too depressing to think about.) Some people touch us and some people don't, and blood-relative status really has nothing to do with it. Your cousin, cousinhood notwithstanding, is not an integral part of your life, and so you can't expect to feel for her as if she were. You can expect to say, as you would about any arm's-length acquaintance, "Gosh that's awful." Besides, if you really had no conscience, you wouldn't care how under-upset you were. Right?

Dad wants me to stop having sex: Over the summer, my mom found out that my boyfriend and I are having sex because she found my birth control pills. She said she wasn't going to tell my dad, but has since changed her mind. A few weeks ago dad sent me a long e-mail saying he was "shocked and disappointed" and that I am making "the biggest mistake of my life" by having premarital sex. He says that he is the only one of his college buddies who hasn't cheated on his wife, and that is because he didn't have sex before marriage. I don't believe that, and I think I'm being responsible by being monogamous, using birth control and condoms, and getting tested for STDs. My dad wants to drive to visit my boyfriend and I at our university and sit us down for a talk until we agree to stop having sex. I don't want him to come because talks with him are never discussions, they are only lectures. My boyfriend doesn't want to talk to him because he doesn't want dad to tell him how to live his life. I told my dad this, and he still wants to talk to us because "this will not go away and we need to talk about it." Now what do I do? (By the way, I am 21 and my boyfriend is 22.)

Carolyn Hax: "Dad, I love and respect you, but I am 21 now, and we do not need to talk about it."

Gee thanks Mom.

Cleveland, Ohio: OK, for someone who always advises people not to rush into things and what a serious matter marriage is... the news of your expectation of twins and an upcoming marriage, all within a year of your divorce, doesn't seem to leave too much time for healing and establishing a life on your own before jumping into another marriage, and the drastically more important role of parent. Is your past advice just null? As a devoted reader, it really doesn't seem that you're practicing what you preach.

Carolyn Hax: See, now there's a criticism with substance to it. Thank you. Most of you (and all of me) were probably glad I got off this subject, but since I was the one who asked critics to explain, I didn't then want to ignore them.

So, if the prior responses haven't covered this, here's the answer: I actually had more time/life/healing on my own than it appears, since the time frame was more like two years than one. Still, I won't pretend it wasn't a staggering amount of change in a small stretch of time, especially combined with my mother's illness and a major mid-life relocation. But there's only one way I can really describe it: After months of upheaval and followed by months of solo, contemplative regrouping, I started to wake up feeling ... un-staggered. Things made sense. Feelings felt manageable. And so major decisions, which had scared the hell out of me for more years than I can count, seemed like no-brainers. Again, hard to explain.

So, past advice still stands: heal enough and get to know yourself enough to think clearly, then go where those thoughts tell you to go. Past advice on imposing numbers or rules or a schedule on said process applies as well: All three are useless.

Thanks for the opening.

College parent world: Carolyn,

I have three kids in college and while I feel for the Dad (and I actually understand the mom's position) and believe that he truly is worried about his daughter, he can't be serious in thinking that he is going to be able to control her personal life anymore - especially long distance. That said, if he is that controlling, the daughter s/b prepared for the possible answer to the "I'm 21 ..." with "If your 21 then you can support yourself..."

Just a thought.

Carolyn Hax: A good one, thanks.

El Segundo, Calif.: Re: Dad wants me to stop having sex

If dad is financing any part of daughter's college education, dad sure as hell does have a right to talk to daughter about it, and daughter listening is part of paying the piper for accepting support.

Carolyn Hax: ... but phrased this way, I don't like it one bit. Using educational pursestrings to gag a 21-year-old child's personal life is egomania all the way.

Washington, D.C.: My girlfriend and I are probably getting engaged in the next few months. She's decided to save herself for marriage. Over our almost three-year relationship I've had some affairs due to this.

Is it reasonable to expect I can stay faithful after marriage? I did bring up this issue but didn't want to pressure her into sex. Even though this all sounds bad I actually know few guy friends that have done this hookup even with sex.


Carolyn Hax: So your affairs are her fault. Niiice.

You can expect to stay faithful if you stay faithful, unless you've lost all zipper control, which I imagine rules out the use of public transportation.

Faithful or not, you can expect all kinds of other marital problems if you don't recognize that your affairs are a sign of major disrespect for her choice, not to mention a failure to stand by your own. She should know that you will not pressure her to change her mind, but that in the meantime you won't be saving YOURself. Right? Isn't that the only fair response?

Carolyn Hax: 2:35, egads. Sorry Lisa. I sacrificed a lot of good questions to the me me me hour, which was probably way too much for some of you and way too little for others. Hard to make everyone happy. For those with unaddressed non-me questions, please feel free to resubmit next week. I know I said it would be the annual holiday melee, but that's usually just an hour, so we'll save the bacon death poop for the 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. slot. Cool?

Have a great weekend, and thanks for just being you.


That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

El Segundo, Calif.: "But phrased this way, I don't like it one bit. Using educational pursestrings to gag a 21-year-old child's personal life is egomania all the way."

Understood. And if daughter is being supported by her parents, isn't it egomania on her part to believe that they should just hand her money for support and not say anything about concerns they have?

Carolyn Hax: But he did voice his concerns. He wants to keep voicing them until she lives her life his way.

Plus, I think there's an age-appropriate amount of control -- by the last years of college, I think it's fair for both sides to understand the money is for the last stages of launching a child into adulthood, which means letting the adult child decide, within the broad context of "college education," how that money will be spent.

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