Dear Annie: I've been married for 20 years to a wonderful, kind man whose family is a real piece of work. "Bob" apparently has been a disappointment to his parents his entire life. He had a speech impediment as a child, and his father, who considers himself a real "he-man," thinks Bob is "stupid" because of this. My husband's brother treats him the same way. Mom is no help.

Bob's parents only call when they want him to do some physical labor. They must think that is all he's good for. They have never been to our house, despite many invitations. My brother-in-law cursed at my husband last week for not helping them more, yet Bob was at their house at the time, taking care of their numerous dogs.

Now his parents are old, but after 50 years of this, Bob wants nothing more to do with any of them. My family loves him and comes to our home often, and we are welcome in theirs. I was brought up to be respectful of parents, so this has been upsetting to me. Can this situation be resolved, or should we just stay away from these hateful, ungrateful people? — Bob's Wife

Dear Wife: It can be resolved if his parents and brother are interested in doing so. It's possible Bob's folks will be more receptive now than in years past, so try approaching them, together with Bob, and let him explain that he feels unappreciated and mistreated. Ask them to go with you for family counseling so you can work out your differences and be closer. If they refuse, it's up to Bob to decide what kind of relationship, if any, he wants with them.

Dear Annie: After being with my partner for 10 years, we eloped last year and had a lovely reception for our family and friends. To make a long story short, I am very upset about my sister's gift.

I know I should be grateful for whatever I receive, but not in this instance. I have been very generous with my sister's two children, but she gave me a couple of inexpensive religious gifts, knowing full well that I am not religious. I thanked her, but I didn't mean it. I find these gifts tasteless.

I told my husband I will save these things and give them to her son when he marries. I know this will end whatever relationship we have, but at this point, I don't care. My sister is well off and this seemed a big slap. Should I do this or just send the gifts back and tell her I don't like them? — Washington

Dear Washington: You are upset because your sister is not as generous as you think she ought to be and gave you gifts that hold great significance for her, but not for you. It would have been nice if your sister had given something that more reflected your taste instead of hers, but that's part of the surprise of receiving a present. Treat her religious things as any other gift. If they can be returned to the store, do so. Otherwise, give them away. Say nothing to her other than "thank you."

Dear Annie: I am writing about "Need Help in Wisconsin," whose physician blabbed about her to his teenage daughter.

That physician seriously violated patient confidentiality and could be liable for civil and criminal penalties or fines under the HIPAA Privacy Rules. She may wish to file a complaint and get information at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.

If health-care providers cannot demonstrate professionalism and integrity, I question whether they should be entrusted with the physical and emotional well- being of their patients. Caring for people is an honor and privilege and should not be used to provide fodder for gossip. — Michigan

Dear Michigan: "Need Help" didn't want to change doctors, even after this breach of trust, so we doubt she would report him, but thanks for the information.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.