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by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Complains That Dad Only Has Eyes for Girlfriend

DEAR ABBY: My children are grown and gone. The youngest left more than four years ago. For the last several years I have asked them to remove their stored items from my house, which is still crammed with their stuff I'm not supposed to move.

I have finally scheduled a Dumpster for a two-week period convenient for me and let everyone know they need to "claim it or lose it." One daughter, "Lynette," has decided that because I won't change the dates to suit her schedule -- of which she isn't even sure -- she will consider me "dead" to her.

Obviously this has hurt me deeply. I realize that Lynette thinks the world revolves around her, but don't I have the right to clean out my home at my convenience? Do I owe her more notice, even though most of the items have been here eight to 10 years?

I thought being assertive prevented people from walking all over you. It pains me that my daughter will no longer speak to me. She has also taken steps to keep other family members away as well.

Her older sister says she is overreacting and will come to her senses, but I'm not sure. I'm divorced from her father, so there is little support there. Should I proceed with my plans? -- IN A MESS IN VERMONT

DEAR IN A MESS: Being assertive will prevent people from walking all over you only if you stick to your guns and don't give in to emotional blackmail. Lynette's reaction is calculated to hurt you.

In addition to showing some gratitude for your patience in keeping her old things for so long, she should make it her business to come over and collect those items that are still important to her. But if she chooses to sulk and not cooperate, do not allow her to force you into changing the schedule.