DEAR HARRIETTE: Last year, my husband promised me he would dial down at work to spend more time at home. He has missed most important milestones in our children's lives, but I think he can redeem himself by being present now. Although I had his word, he broke his promise and is at work even more than last year. He's missing our children grow up and laments this fact, but he also loves his job doing research in the medical field. I told him his job can wait because he will see his kids grow up only once. What else could I do to make him realize he's a ghost to our children? -- Workhorse, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR WORKHORSE: Rather than making a blanket plea to get your husband to show up or a blanket guilt trip to make him feel bad for his absences, take another tack. Identify specific activities that you want your husband to attend. Suggest them one by one so that the request is not overwhelming. Have your husband put each item on the calendar well in advance. Then remind him a couple of times as you get close to the event. Once your husband has shown up, thank him, but do not make a big deal of it. Instead, just sign him up for the next activity in the near future, and work to get him there. Over time, you may be able to change your husband's patterns without creating unnecessary discomfort.