DEAR ABBY: I am the father of a middle-aged, unmarried, well-educated daughter I'll call "Yvette." My problem is, whether we're together or talking on the phone, Yvette seems to find it difficult to converse with me.
It's most noticeable when I'm sharing something with her, not the other way around. She'll comment on what I have to say, but rarely show any real interest in knowing more. "How are you?" is about all she ever asks. It has been this way for years, and it has affected my wanting to spend time with her. (Neither of us comes from a background where love or affection was openly displayed.)
When I called it to Yvette's attention, she told me she doesn't like to pry, that she figures I'll tell her whatever I want her to know. She doesn't seem to understand that, without some display of interest on her part, it's difficult for me to know if she's interested in what I'm saying.
I know she routinely "tunes out" her mother -- my ex-wife -- who dominates conversations with almost everyone. That isn't my M.O.! Yvette added -- with a chuckle -- that "maybe subconsciously" she does the same with me. I fail to see the humor. Yvette is my only child, and I'd like to feel closer to her. Any suggestions? -- UNHEARD IN PHOENIX
DEAR UNHEARD: Many a truth is said "in jest." When Yvette stated that she also tunes you out, she made an important admission. The time has come for a frank discussion. Ask your daughter why. Could she be punishing you for your inability to show love or affection while she was growing up?
Ask her directly if the reason she shows so little interest in what you have to say is that she's really NOT interested. Tell Yvette that her behavior is rude, uncaring and distancing. Be sure to tell her that you love her and would like to have a closer relationship, but that achieving one takes effort on the part of both of you.
It's a shame this has gone on for so many years, but if your daughter is willing, the stalemate does not have to continue.