DEAR ABBY: I am struggling with a family problem that could permanently break the bonds with my parents. I am a dentist, married with a family, who followed my father's footsteps into the profession. After five years working at my father's practice, I purchased the practice at full market value.
When this happened, our roles were instantly reversed. I was now running the show. Over the next six years, I took the practice in new directions. My relationship with my parents became more strained and distant as they saw me become more successful.
Father is now retired, and recently needed to have two crowns redone. Although my parents' dental care is free, there was an outside laboratory bill for the fabrication of the two new crowns that came to about $300. I asked my father to pay the lab bill.
I thought things were all right until my mother came in for a routine cleaning a few weeks ago and called me every name in the book. She couldn't believe I would charge my own father for his dental work after raising me as their son. What should I do? I told my mother I'd pay the lab bill myself. Am I wrong on this? My parents and I seem to have completely different views. -- D.D.S. IN DEEP DOO-DOO
DEAR D.D.S.: Geez Louise, it was your FATHER! Where would you be today if you hadn't followed his career path? Allow me to share a philosophy I learned from my own dear mother: "If you're going to do something, give it your best effort." In your case, since you were providing your father's dental care "gratis," that means you should have gone all the way -- and been happy to do it.