DEAR ABBY: I live with my father and my brother. My mother passed away when I was very young, and I was pretty much raised by my father (with the help of family, of course).
My father always took great care of me, or so I thought when I was younger. Now that I am older, I realize he has made me the little "domestic" of his house. He makes me do dishes, clean my room, and he badgers me about my weight. He says if I would just lose weight, guys would love me.
He goes out with my older brother to baseball games, car shows and just about anywhere else. I'm not included. I don't mind doing my share of housework, but it has become unfair. My brother is only a few years older than I am, yet he has almost no responsibilities, and my father gives him everything (his old car, pays to go to baseball games, dinner, etc.) while I must buy my necessities.
I know my father loves and cares about me, but over the last year or two I feel it's gotten worse. When I bring up the inequality between my brother and me, he claims I'm being "dramatic" or that I have many females in my life who compensate for him. I think he has some sexist ideas, and I don't know how to address it with him.
— ANONYMOUS IN THE EAST
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Your father appears to have created a "boys club" with your sibling that you aren't welcome to join, and badgering you about your weight is not only cruel but counterproductive. Men do not fall in love with women because they are skinny. Other, more important, qualities enter into it, whether your dad chooses to recognize that fact or not.
Because you have "many females in your life who compensate for him," marshal your army and confront him together about how he is treating you. Perhaps if he hears a chorus he will pay attention. It's worth a try. However, if that doesn't raise his consciousness, consider making other living arrangements as soon as you are 18.
DEAR ABBY: What is the protocol when you are regifted something you bought someone (birthday, Christmas, etc.)? I have no problems with my gift being kept, sold, donated or gifted to someone else. But given back to me?! I found the surprise regift hurtful and insulting.
How should I respond since I am the one who bought it in the first place? Normally I'd send a thank-you note. Should I reply with sarcasm, be ironic or find a regift of my own? Thoughts, please.
— DISTRAUGHT IN NEW YORK
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: It's possible the person had forgotten from whom the gift was received and didn't realize it was being sent to the original giver. Try to dig deep and find your sense of humor when you respond. If it were me, I'd compliment the giver on what "great taste" she had, comment on the color or the usefulness of the item, and then thank the person for taking the time and effort to select something I would enjoy and sign off with love.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.