DEAR ABBY: I'm a 27-year-old, white, female college graduate. I have a sensitive problem with my father.
My father is a racist. He's filled with hatred for blacks, Jews, Asians, even Native Americans (despite the fact that his own grandfather was a Native American). Somehow, I managed to grow up to be a very different person. To me, human diversity is a wonderful thing and a cause for celebration.
My father's use of offensive terms to refer to ethnic minorities has made being seen in public with him a humiliating experience. I have asked him repeatedly to refrain from using ethnic slurs in my presence, but he refuses to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with such terms. I get nervous when we go shopping or out to eat together, because he uses these words in public. It's so embarrassing that I'm afraid to have friends into our home because of something he might say in front of them.
I know my father will probably never overcome his hateful attitudes. I love him and want him to be part of my life, but I can no longer tolerate his racism. It is not only offensive to me, I'm afraid others will assume that I share his views, since most people's values are shaped by the values of their parents. To me, there could be no accusation more painful and degrading than being assumed to be a racist.
What can I do, other than dropping out of my father's life? -- NOT GUILTY BY ASSOCIATION IN MICHIGAN
DEAR NOT GUILTY: Since your father has been told repeatedly that you find his racial slurs offensive, and he persists in embarrassing you by using them in public, you are certainly within your rights to limit the amount of time you spend with him in situations that make you vulnerable to embarrassment. You can also minimize your potential discomfort by not exposing him to your friends, or by warning them in advance to be prepared to meet a bigot. Only as a last resort should you cut him off completely.