Ask Amy

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: Our kids (19-year-old boy and 21-year-old girl) announced last night that they had gotten tattoos. They are no longer able to hide them because it's summer and they are wearing bathing suits.

We have no idea why they did this. They don't really have that kind of money to throw away, and they know how we feel about tattoos. It's not as if they made this choice while in drunken stupors; they planned it!

We just find this hard to believe. We feel we've done the right things to help them make good decisions.

Both kids are studying for professional careers. We are paying for their schooling. Both kids have jobs and help pay for some expenses.

My husband feels that having tattoos decreases their chances of getting good jobs, as corporations can find out "everything" about prospective employees. He also feels that the wrong group of friends is influencing them.

I disagree. I feel they are good kids overall who have made us proud in many ways. They are loyal, honest, smart and hardworking and have superb characters and integrity.

Also we're trying to determine a suitable punishment for spending that money and each making such a bad decision — making them pay for more of their way comes to mind. What do you think?

— Beside Ourselves

DEAR BESIDE: I think you may be overreacting to or misreading the professional "risks" associated with having a tattoo.

Unless your offspring have tattoos that are obvious and visible (on their hands or necks, for instance), or unless they wear their bathing suits to a job interview, there's no reason their ink should hold them back professionally.

The most important point is that they have made a choice and will have to face the natural consequences of this choice.

If their tattoos hold them back professionally, they will face the option of having them removed.

They have disappointed you and your husband, and the consequence of that will be the knowledge that they have let down two people who love and trust them.

If they used money for these tattoos that should have been spent elsewhere, then they should repay you. After that, let it go.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I are going through a difficult time right now (he recently lost his job). My oldest daughter is about to leave home for college. I'm about to turn 51 and possibly becoming more sensitive, but my best friend of 25 years, who thinks she is the Martha Stewart of manners, treats me as her lowest priority, and it's really starting to affect our friendship.

She never returns my phone calls, and when she comes to visit, she is so critical! I work two jobs and don't have help and am stretched pretty thin. I always remember her birthday, and she never remembers mine.

When her mom died, I sent flowers and a condolence card; when my dad died, I received nothing.

Sometimes I feel very petty. Life is too short to let this all bother me, but it does, and I feel that I'm the one making all the effort.

I don't want to lose her friendship, but it really does upset me. What do you suggest?

— Frustrated Friend

DEAR FRIEND: Good friends are like good husbands: They're all about you, baby.

A true friend values you, understands your challenges, supports your efforts and helps you grieve when a parent dies or a job shift throws you off your game. What a good friend receives from you is this same attention, loyalty and gratitude.

This person is not a good friend. She is someone who dips in and out of your life. You should appreciate whatever attributes she has and look elsewhere for true friendship and intimacy.

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