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by Abigail Van Buren

Elderly Know It All Makes Family's Life Miserable

DEAR ABBY: How can you get through to an 87-year-old father who thinks he knows everything? You can't imagine how difficult it is to live with someone who "knows everything" and is wrong 90 percent of the time.

"Papa Luke" has lived with my husband and me for the last eight years. When I had the opportunity to purchase separate but equal living arrangements, I foolishly ignored my initial instincts.

He is a very controlling person. He has to be involved and have a say in everything that goes on in MY house. People outside the family think Papa Luke is terrific, but they don't witness the intimidation, the controlling and the tantrums this family must deal with almost on a daily basis.

I find myself having to lie to him when I want to go shopping or visit my children, because if he hears the plans do not include him, he will fake illness so that I must alter my plans. Sitting down and talking won't solve the problem because he's stubborn and doesn't view himself as the family does.

When I find the nerve to put my foot down and refuse to cater to him, he calls me selfish and throws a fit. I can't plan anything social at the house because he takes over the planning and then the actual event. The grandchildren limit their visits because they don't want to put up with him and they don't see how I do.

Thanks for letting me vent, Abby. Can you provide some words of wisdom to help my family survive this no-win situation? -- PAPA LUKE'S PRISONER, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

DEAR PRISONER: Although the henhouse belongs to you, your father seems to be ruling the roost. It's up to you to change the balance of power. Since he's a bundle of energy, try to find him an outlet. Surely there are senior citizen groups in your area. Waste no time in finding one for Papa Luke. It might provide the respite you need.

In the meantime, perhaps it will preserve your sanity to repeat the following prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

DEAR ABBY: Could you please inform your readers that if they rent a post office box from a private company and then change addresses, they cannot use the U.S. Postal Service to have their mail forwarded? It is their sole responsibility to inform anyone they have dealings with that they are moving.

I work for the U.S. Postal Service, and it's amazing how many people don't know this. If they want a P.O. box from which they can have mail forwarded, they must use the official U.S. Postal Service. -- POSTAL WORKER IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR POSTAL WORKER: I was unaware of it. I'm sure it will also be news to many of my readers. Thank you for pointing this out.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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