Dear Ann Landers, I am a busy physician in a small town. My wife and I have a wonderful marriage, and my practice is thriving. The problem? My parents. I work 12 hours a day and usually bring work home at night. I barely see my kids, and those few moments I can spend with them are precious to me. My telephone number is unlisted because I do not want to be disturbed when my workday is finished.
Patients who are trying to reach me at night often call my parents, who then track me down and insist I call the patients back right away. I have asked my folks repeatedly to direct these patients to my office or to the doctor on call for the evening, but they refuse. They say, "We don't want to offend anyone." Well, when they do this to me, I am offended greatly.
I love my parents and am willing to give my patients 100 percent when I'm up at-bat, but I need some time for myself and my kids. I feel as if I am suffocating. Please tell me how to deal with this. -- Going Under in Kentucky
Dear Kentucky, It may be difficult to retrain your parents, but it's not impossible. Inform them that you will not return any calls to patients after hours, no matter who gives you the message. Then, keep your word. If your parents don't want to offend anyone, they should say, "I'm sorry, but our son is not on duty now. Please call his office in the morning and make an appointment. If it's an emergency, go to the hospital immediately."