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Why to separate family and business

Dear Annie: My aunt works at the doctor’s office where I am a patient. I am very private about my personal affairs, especially my health records. When I first saw this physician, I requested that my records be kept in a separate area so they could not be accessed by my aunt and would remain confidential. The receptionist assured me that would be done, saying many patients make similar requests.

Somehow this got back to my aunt, and she is creating a huge family fuss over this, telling everyone she was called in by her boss and almost got fired over it. She also said I posted derogatory information concerning this on Facebook, which is a complete lie. I am beside myself. I never said anything about her looking at my records. I only asked that they be kept separate. How do I handle this? She is making something innocent into something ugly. Please help.

— B.K.

Dear B.K.: It’s a good thing your aunt doesn’t have access to your records. It sounds as if she would put them all over the Internet out of spite. You have done nothing wrong and should say so. Tell your family members that you posted nothing on Facebook, nor did you make any comment to the doctor or his staff. (Although we wonder how your aunt heard about it.) Hold your head up and let her rant. As difficult as it may be, the storm will pass eventually. Your relationship with your aunt, however, may not recover. Sorry.

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Dear Annie: My ex-wife and I put our 24-year-old son through college. He recently was accepted to a foreign medical school that will cost $50,000 per year for the next three years. My ex decided to remortgage her house in order to finance a year or two of this expense. I’m sure she will feel that any additional expense he incurs should fall upon me.

We shared his educational expenses up to this point, but as a retiree on a fixed income, I am not in a position to match her largesse. This has made me feel inadequate as a provider. I took out loans to finance my own graduate education and believe it would do our son a world of good in the long run to arrange his own tuition through loans and part-time jobs.

I am thankful that my ex is able to assist our son, but it pains me to be unable to contribute equally. How can I best cope with this feeling of inadequacy?

— Worried in Altadena

Dear Worried: Please don’t feel inadequate because you aren’t financing your child’s post-graduate degree. That is his responsibility. We understand that your ex wants to make this exorbitant expense easier to bear, but no parent is under an obligation to finance their adult child’s continuing education and the accompanying expenses. Remind yourself that you are teaching your son to be self-sufficient — something much more valuable to his future than borrowing from his parents.

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Dear Annie: “Parents at Wits’ End” said they are trying to deal with their 31-year-old bipolar son, who refuses to take his medication because it makes him feel “slow.” You recommended NAMI’s Family-to-Family Program.

Please suggest to these parents that they also contact Al-Anon Family Groups in their local area. This wonderful organization provides comfort and understanding to the families of alcoholics and those suffering from other addictions. Al-Anon focuses on oneself and not on the alcoholic. Meetings are held almost daily across the country and around the world. They can get more information through al-anon.alateen.org.

— Nelson

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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