Dear Amy:

A few months ago, my mom downloaded some free word games for her electronic reader. My dad started playing them, and now he’s addicted!

He has been unemployed for more than 18 years. When my sister and I were younger, he took care of us at home during the day while our mom worked.

I am graduating from high school this year and my sister is a freshman. Now he basically has nothing to do other than household chores, but instead he plays these word games nonstop for hours every day! When he isn’t playing word games, he watches old movies or does crossword puzzles.

Our family’s financial situation has become precarious, and our mom is on the verge of taking a second job to pay for everything on top of having to do more chores. She already works 40 hours a week!

My sister and I pitch in more than we used to, but with school and extracurricular activities we don’t have time to do everything. How do we get our dad to put down the Kindle and shape up?

Boggled in Madison

Your father’s problem is probably too complex for you to solve on your own. He may not be able to simply “shape up.”

Your mother’s taking a second job to support the family while your father obsessively plays word games will not help, either.

Your father has not been “unemployed” if he has been taking care of the family. However, because of the recent change in his behavior, you should assume that something is wrong with your dad.

You and your sister should speak with your mother to urge him to see his physician to get a thorough checkup. It sounds as if he might be depressed.

Dear Amy:

I have several friends from college whom I used to get along with very well. Unfortunately, one of the girls in the group, “Cheryl,” decided she doesn’t like me anymore and is rather icy to me when we all get together. I get along well with everyone else.

I’ve tried to ask other members of the group if there is anything that I’ve done to Cheryl that would make her angry, but they all brush it off. Honestly, I wish she would either tell me what I’ve done or just get over it.

I’ve tried going to the get-togethers, but her attitude toward me is so cold that I don’t feel comfortable at all, and for about a week afterward, I scrutinize everything I said and wonder if anything I said was the “wrong” thing.

I have decided not to attend these gatherings anymore. I don’t want to tell the other members the truth, but I don’t want them to take my absence personally. What should I say when I’m declining the next invitation?

Odd Woman Out

You seem to have surveyed everyone in your world about this, and racked your own brain, but you don’t mention asking “Cheryl” what her problem is.

Instead of facing this social situation head-on, you are going to let this awkwardness affect all of your other relationships. In fact, you are looking for me to supply language so you can lie to several people instead of telling the truth to one person.

Sorry, no can do.

You should grab back your power and be brave enough to call Cheryl on the phone and ask her to explain herself. Even if you don’t receive a satisfactory answer, you will have taken the reins of this situation. From now on, if there is awkwardness at a social gathering, let her feel it.

Dear Amy:

“Missing My Brother” wrote that her father would not discuss her brother’s death.

You were so right when you suggested that instead of focusing on his death, they should turn their attention to his life.

I had a realization that I needed to do this to deal with my own grief, and it really helped.

Missing Too

Our loved ones really do achieve a kind of immortality through our memories of them. The transition from ruminating on death to remembering someone in life is an important and positive one to make.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

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