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by Abigail Van Buren

Dad's Story of Divorce Plays to Big Audience

DEAR ABBY: On a recent trip back East, my father reunited with his childhood sweetheart and is now seeking a divorce after 32 years of marriage to my mother. Apparently my father has never gotten over this woman and had pined away for her since the day he married my mother.

The trouble is, he feels the need to tell everyone (including friends, family, strangers and my new boyfriend) about his dilemma in complete detail. He goes on and on about how terrible my mother is, why he needs to leave her and be with this other woman, etc.

How can I approach my father on the subject of appropriateness? I would like to tell him to put a lid on it, but then he pouts because he feels I'm not "supporting" him. Have you any suggestions, Abby? He doesn't need to be airing our family laundry in such detail with each and every person he encounters. -– THROWN FOR A LOOP IN L.A.

DEAR THROWN FOR A LOOP: Tell him exactly what you have told me and don't mince any words, because you are absolutely right. Also, don't count on muzzling the old dog. He's trying to justify throwing away his marriage and abandoning the wife he "tolerated" for 32 years. And frankly, he's only making himself look bad.

DEAR ABBY: I have a beautiful, brilliant daughter who has graduated with three degrees and high honors, but she seems to have no common sense.

She was engaged to her high school boyfriend, whom we all loved, then ditched him to date his friend. She gave up several excellent jobs, always landing on her feet, dated several men we all disapproved of, almost married a physical abuser (who, thankfully, dumped her just before the wedding), traveled all over the U.S.A. and Europe, and returned to another wonderful job.

She now lives with a slob, 15 years younger than herself, with no future and no money. He looks like an unmade bed with long dirty hair. I am mystified about how she can possibly introduce this person to her co-workers or others, ignoring the embarrassment to all of us. What is going on here? We had a huge blowup, and she now refuses to speak to me. -– HER LOVING MOTHER

DEAR LOVING MOTHER: Your daughter appears to be experienced, accomplished and successful at almost everything she has attempted. Apparently she is happy with this man, so he must be doing something right.

If you are truly a loving mother, be less critical of what you perceive to be his shortcomings and concentrate on the fact that he makes your daughter happy. Although you are well-intentioned, this is a choice that only she should make –- and she has made it.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from the woman who was uncomfortable about using her father-in-law as her OB/GYN prompts this letter. "Uncomfortable" posed a question I often receive at the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners from practicing physicians.

It would be unprofessional and unethical for the father-in-law of "Uncomfortable" to serve as her physician, according to the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs.

If her father-in-law treats her, his license could well be subject to disciplinary action by his state medical board, and if he does so against her will, it SHOULD be. The father-in-law has only one ethical alternative: Decline to treat "Uncomfortable." –- AARON J.KOZLOSKI, J.D., M.P.A., BOARD ADMINISTRATOR

DEAR AARON: If my prior column on the subject did not settle the question, I'm certain that your letter will put the matter to rest. Thank you for your expert opinion.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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