DEAR HARRIETTE: I finally spoke to my father for the first time since May. I wanted to know how he was doing, and he told me he was doing well. I got the courage to tell him that he missed my graduation ceremony, which hurt me terribly; he skipped over that response, and he went to ask me another question. I was happy to speak with him, even though I really wanted to tell him off, but I was restrained. How do I proceed with future dialogue with my father? I told him to answer my phone calls in the future, but we will see how far that goes. -- Little Faith, Memphis, Tennessee
DEAR LITTLE FAITH: One of the most difficult tasks for a person to navigate is building a meaningful relationship with someone -- even a parent -- when the other person is either reluctant to do so or unable to be committed. Sadly, you cannot control your father's reaction to you nor his behavior as it relates to communicating with you.
I can tell you that people do not like to be confronted about their behavior, especially when it is irresponsible. They tend to flee. So if you want to have a relationship with your father, you may have to stop confronting him about his actions -- or lack thereof -- even if they are egregious.
You have some very tough decisions to make that include whether you are capable of accepting him however he comes and goes or whether you want to draw the line. If he cannot treat you with respect, you can choose to close the door to him -- at least to reaching out to him.