DEAR ABBY: My dad has never really been in the picture. He just pops back in and out whenever he wishes and leaves when things get too hard. He has never had a job or a home since he walked out on my mother when I was 7. Recently he seems to have settled back here in town where my siblings and I live, but for some reason, he maintains contact only with me. I'm 18 and the oldest of three.
Since I have finally forgiven him for all the pain he's caused, I sometimes accept when he invites me out to eat or watch a movie. He doesn't own a car, so I give him rides when he needs them.
My problem is, he gets very touchy-feely. For example, when I'm driving, he'll put his hand on my thigh. Or when we're out together, he'll hold my hand and say, "Pretend to be my girlfriend." Of course, I immediately let go of his hand. Then he'll "playfully" hug me and force me to be close to him.
I don't know how to tell him he makes me feel uncomfortable. I have recently stopped answering his phone calls, but I feel bad because I would like a normal relationship with my father. How do I get him to start acting less like a creep and more like a father?
- Desperately needing advice
DEAR DESPERATELY NEEDING: You may wish for a normal relationship with your father, but from your description, it never has been. Your father's behavior is extremely inappropriate. You might be able to get him to stop "acting like a creep and more like a father" by telling him in plain English to cut it out. If he persists, avoid him, and do not feel guilty about it.
And if your siblings are female, talk to them and warn them about their father's impulses - if they don't already know. Hasn't it occurred to you that your father contacts only you because you are no longer a minor?
Live-in son's demands
DEAR ABBY: My 43-year-old son lives with my husband and me because of medical issues. On weekends he stays over at his girlfriend's house. Occasionally, on weekends he's not here, I'll invite people over for dinner.
He says that because he lives here, he should be told when people are coming to the house. I say because he is not here at the time, and my husband and I own the house, it's none of his business. Who is right?
- Lady of the house in Illinois
DEAR LADY: Your son has a point. I see no reason to withhold the information from him. He is a full-fledged member of the household. If his concern is that your guests might go into his room or go through his things, he may want to lock his door when company is coming in his absence.
DEAR ABBY: For the past couple of years, my husband and I have not been happy with the service provided by our dentist. We have been patients of his for years and recently decided to switch to someone else. What would be the best way to approach this? We are unsure how to diplomatically tell him that we won't be going back to him. We both have upcoming appointments.
- Dental dilemma
DEAR DILEMMA: You do not have to explain why you are leaving unless you want to do the dentist the favor of telling him why. All you need to do is call the receptionist and say you are canceling the appointments. Your new dentist can contact the old one and request your records. You do not have to pick them up and deliver them yourself.