DEAR HARRIETTE: Whenever I go over to my father's house, it's as though I am expected to cook him and his wife dinner. I do love experimenting in the kitchen, but not all the time. When I arrive, there's usually a debit card on the table. The two of them are still at work and use me as a grocery shopper, home chef and dog walker.
I don't mind helping my father out, but I'd just like to cook with him as opposed to him waiting to be served dinner. I know he works all day, but I do, too, and I think we could bond in the kitchen. How can I cross the line from home chef to family bonding? -- Need a Sous Chef, Dallas
DEAR NEED A SOUS CHEF: It's time to speak up. Before heading to your father's for the next visit, call him and tell him your idea: You would like to cook with him, not for him. Be honest. Tell him that you most want to enjoy quality time with your father. Explain that being left the debit card and freedom to shop and cook does not make you feel special. Indeed, it makes you feel like hired help. Invite your father to have a date with you in his kitchen. Or, if he is not up for that, suggest that you three go out to dinner for a change. If your father is unresponsive, ask his wife.