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Section: mental-health, manners, relationships, work

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."

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Reader Comment
Those parents need to realize that they are offending their son more than their locals. If they can't get a grip on this then the doctor should inform his parents that if they do not cease referring his patients to his home phone number that he will change his phone number and not give it to them. If this does not fix the problem he may also need a therapist to keep up with his home

YOLO's Comment
Just don't answer your phone in the evening. If they show up at your house to bring you the message just say "I am off duty and won't be calling them back"

Reader Comment
There is another issue in this letter that is far more important than the interfering parents. When this man says: I barely see my kids" and "I have few moments to spend with them" it is time to pare down your work schedule. And, yes, it can be done. Years from now, when the kids are gone, you will be sorry you missed out on what was most important. Money will never make up for the lost time you could have spent building relationships with your children that require more than "barely" seeing them or having only "moments" to spend with them.
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:

Dear Readers,
, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead, that is where your future lies."
-Ann Landers