Dear Abby:

My dad went to prison in 1989 and was released last November. My sister and I were excited that Dad was coming home, but it has been a nightmare. He is manipulative, whiny and endlessly needy.

He moved in with my sister and she's going crazy. She asked me to take him, but after my husband saw the way Dad behaves, he flat out refused to have him in our home. I agree with him.

Dad keeps making excuses about why he can't live on his own. He claims he doesn't have the money, but then he goes out and buys all kinds of things for himself. He refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and insists that things are everybody else's fault.

My sister feels too guilty to kick him out, and I am at the end of my rope. Dad won't go to counseling because he thinks he doesn't need it. Is this a case for tough love?

Needs to Know in Washington

The person who could benefit from counseling is your sister. Until she can emotionally distance herself from Dad, she will continue to be manipulated by his stance as a perpetual victim and his guilt trips. Once your sister has established boundaries, setting a date for Dad to be out of her home and insisting upon it are excellent ideas.

Dear Abby:

Please advise other divorcees and me about proper funeral etiquette. Because I initiated the divorce from my ex-husband, my former in-laws no longer speak to me. Both of them are in failing health, so I am wondering if I should attend their funerals for the sake of my children, or stay away. I am willing to endure an awkward, hostile reception to support my children if you think my attendance would be appropriate.

Wants to Do the Right Thing

Funerals are for the living -- in this case that means your former husband, your surviving former in-law and your children.

Since you are persona non grata, it might be best if your children attended the funeral with their father. If they need you to be there, then sit in the back and remain as inconspicuous as possible.

Dear Abby:

I have never seen this problem in your column. My husband and I have been seeing "Dr. Smith" for more than 10 years. We like him, but we're considering going to another doctor who was recommended by a friend. Dr. Smith does only cursory examinations. He doesn't ask enough questions or really listen to our complaints. Our friend says her doctor is very patient and thorough.

This is a very small town, and we run into Dr. Smith at the country club from time to time. We don't want to offend him or be uncomfortable when we see him.

Your advice will be appreciated.

Allan and Krystal in the U.S.A.

Change doctors if you feel you will receive better care. Your doctor may have such a full roster that he won't even miss the two of you.

Please do not feel the need to apologize. Medicine is a business, and if Dr. Smith isn't customer-friendly, you are within your rights to seek care elsewhere.

If you are asked why you felt the need to change doctors, tell him the truth. You'll be doing him a favor and helping to improve his practice for other patients.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate