DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are divorced but have a relatively amiable relationship, especially for a divorced couple. Last year for Father's Day, my mother, sister and I organized a brunch for him in a nearby bistro. He did not even show up or call us. My sister and mother were very hurt, but I half-expected this behavior from him. With Father's Day coming up this year, do I ignore last year or not even try to celebrate with him? -- Bother With a Father, Syracuse, NY
DEAR BOTHER WITH A FATHER: My mother used to tell me when I would complain about a man I liked who often misbehaved, "To know him is to know that," meaning people are the way they are. We often want to change them, but it usually does not work. In your father's case, he has proven that he is unreliable when it comes to celebrations. So now you know that.
What you must do this year is to honor him without creating too much vulnerability for yourself. You can do that by getting a gift for him and sending it to him in advance so that he has it for Father's Day. You and your family can call him when you are together and leave a voice mail for him if he doesn't pick up. What's essential is that you can experience closure whether he is present or not. In that way, you reduce the chances of feeling hurt or angry.