DEAR ABBY: I am a 48-year-old woman who was known by my nickname, “Pudge,” while I was in high school because so many other girls had the same common name.

After high school, I went back to my given name, and I have carefully told all my old friends that, while my nickname was cute for a 15-year-old, it no longer suited me. Most of them have made the change out of respect for me.

What should I tell my doctor’s receptionist, who did not know me before, but insists on using my nickname? I have told her I prefer my given name, but she refuses to use it. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I think she should address me as I introduced myself. I see this doctor four times a year, so I see her often. She also uses the nickname on mail sent to my home. The best she has ever done is to preface it with “Mrs.” What should I do? – NO NICKNAME, PLEASE

DEAR N.N.P.: Because you have already spoken to the receptionist, and your request has been ignored, your next step should be to address your complaint to the doctor. Tell him how annoying it is that she continues to address you by a nickname you’d prefer to forget, and even puts it on your mail. And be sure to let him know that you expect him to put a stop to it, because if he doesn’t, you will take your business elsewhere. That should “cure” the problem.

DEAR ABBY: I have been happily married for five years to a wonderful man I met on the Internet. He moved here to Idaho after our marriage. (He’s from Minnesota).

We have traveled by road or by plane four or five times over the last five years to Minnesota to visit his relatives. However, my in-laws have made only one attempt to come to visit us. My father-in-law has since passed away. We flew to Minnesota for his funeral.

We have attempted many times to coax my mother-in-law to come to Idaho to visit us and the four grandkids we have had over the last five years, but she claims she’s afraid of flying. When we suggested taking a bus, she came up with another excuse.

We invited his mother to Idaho for Christmas and again she refused, saying e-mail, Internet photos and phone calls are enough for her.

She is very involved with her friends, card games, weight-loss programs, Red Hat Society, etc. She is only 72 and healthy and wealthy.

I am very hurt that she makes no effort at all to see us. We can’t afford to fly six of us there even once a year to visit. Have you any suggestions? I think she is being selfish, but don’t know how to fix the problem, and my husband is very hurt by it. – FORGOTTEN IN IDAHO

DEAR FORGOTTEN: You can’t change another person; you can only change the way you react to that person. Your mother-in-law appears to be selfish and self-centered, but much as you would like to, you can’t change her. Continue to send her cards, photos and updates on her grandchildren’s progress. However, you and your husband will be less hurt and disappointed if you accept the fact that his mother is flawed, do not personalize it any further and go on with your lives. Trust me on that!

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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