DEAR ABBY: I was 11 when my father left. I'm 16 now and it is still very difficult for my mom and me. Dad was involved in my life until he met his 28-year-old girlfriend. He's 54.
I have told him I'm not comfortable around her and I don't want to be in her company. It's embarrassing when they hold hands and hug in front of me and my friends. I spend one night a week at Dad's and I want him all to myself. Even when I'm there he locks himself in his room and spends all night talking on the phone with her. I have asked him to pay attention to me, but he doesn't get it.
Last year, he told me he "had a dream" that I was going to get a little sister or brother. He asked how I felt about that, and I was honest. I told him thinking about him having sex with a woman so young makes me sick. Dad doesn't see that she's using him for money and a green card. I want him to be discreet and keep his private life private.
I live with my mom six nights a week, and I think that gives Dad plenty of time to spend with his girlfriend. What can I do to get him to focus on me on our one night a week together?
— MISSES MY DAD IN RHODE ISLAND
DEAR MISSES YOUR DAD: Your father's girlfriend may make him feel like he's 16 again, but that isn't an excuse for him to act like it.
You have communicated clearly to him that you need more of his attention than he's giving. The next person to deliver that message should be your mother. Perhaps he will pay more attention if he hears it from another adult.
In two years you will be 18 and gone. The time he has with you now is precious and he should recognize that fact and stop squandering it.
DEAR ABBY: My children are grown and gone. The youngest left more than four years ago. For the last several years I have asked them to remove their stored items from my house, which is still crammed with their stuff I'm not supposed to move.
I have finally scheduled a Dumpster for a two-week period convenient for me and let everyone know they need to "claim it or lose it." One daughter, "Lynette," has decided that because I won't change the dates to suit her schedule — of which she isn't even sure — she will consider me "dead" to her.
Obviously this has hurt me deeply. I realize that Lynette thinks the world revolves around her, but don't I have the right to clean out my home at my convenience? Do I owe her more notice, even though most of the items have been here eight to 10 years?
I thought being assertive prevented people from walking all over you. It pains me that my daughter will no longer speak to me. She has also taken steps to keep other family members away as well.
Her older sister says she is overreacting and will come to her senses, but I'm not sure. I'm divorced from her father, so there is little support there. Should I proceed with my plans?
— IN A MESS IN VERMONT
DEAR IN A MESS: Being assertive will prevent people from walking all over you only if you stick to your guns and don't give in to emotional blackmail. Lynette's reaction is calculated to hurt you.
In addition to showing some gratitude for your patience in keeping her old things for so long, she should make it her business to come over and collect those items that are still important to her. But if she chooses to sulk and not cooperate, do not allow her to force you into changing the schedule.
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.