Dear Amy:

Unbeknownst to us, our 23-year-old daughter ran up a large credit card debt in her last year of college, which she attended on an athletic scholarship.

Perhaps to take advantage of some graduation gifts involving travel, she told us that she had graduated from college. She had not. She then asked to move back home, and we said yes, on the condition that she get a job and contribute her share of the expenses.

She stayed for seven months, making no visible effort to find work, meanwhile going out to clubs at night and even spending a weekend in Vegas.

Still, no diploma.

Announcing that she had a job as a professional athlete in Europe, she went abroad and almost immediately asked us to wire her money as an emergency, because her contract was "delayed."

After two months, we decided not to send any more money. She has made no effort to pay off her debts, which have accrued penalties and been turned over to collection agencies that call us almost daily.

We have not heard from our daughter since, but I expect that one day she will surface, wanting to move home to "get back on her feet." How do we say no?

- Wondering

Dear Wondering: You should check with your accountant and lawyer about what obligations you may have (if any) to help pay down her debt. Don't commit any of your money to collectors or submit to pressure.

If your daughter calls you for money, you should only agree to send her a one-way ticket home.

If she comes home, you should do what you can to help her find housing and employment, while insisting that she see a counselor.

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