DEAR HARRIETTE: My father has been dead for many years. I feel ashamed that it is only now that I have been able to fully forgive him for how mean I thought he was when I was growing up. He criticized me for every little thing. It was horrible, even though it did propel me to succeed. Just the other day I was talking to my sister about my dad, and it turns out he had been bragging about me for years to everybody who would listen. He never told me he was proud of my accomplishments, which have been many, but apparently he was quick to tell others. I appreciate this fact, long after he’s gone. How can I deal with the guilt I feel for not being able to forgive him while he was alive? -- Forgiving Daddy, Washington
DEAR FORGIVING DADDY: You are facing a huge hurdle in your life’s evolution. Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest action one can undertake in life. It requires you to surrender completely and allow your heart to open. It requires you to have compassion for yourself for holding on to bad feelings for so long and for the object of your criticism -- your father.
Keep reminding yourself you did your best at the time, and today your best is showing you another way to look at the past. Here is where faith can come in. Ask God to give you the strength to show yourself compassion at this pivotal point. You may also want to get professional counseling to help you talk through your bevy of feelings and release old pain.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dating a guy for a few months, and it is going great. The only thing is, he is so into trends that I’m not sure if I can keep up. He is the cool boy that is so popular right now, meaning he wears a beard and a bun. This is fine by me, but I worry about how my conservative daddy is going to react to him. My dad doesn’t believe in trends. How do I introduce him to my family so they will take him seriously? Once you get past the look, you learn he is a smart and thoughtful guy. -- Don’t Judge, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR DON’T JUDGE: First, you have to decide you are comfortable with your date’s style. You said you aren’t sure you can keep up. Be sure before you introduce him to your family. Be clear about why you like him and why you think he may be a good fit for you.
When you are confident about that, take him to meet your family. Prep him so he knows how conservative they are. Share any expectations they may have, like what to wear when you visit. Give your parents the heads-up that you are bringing a man you really like, who is very stylish. Ask them to welcome him with open arms. Your advance work can lay the foundation for a good introduction.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)