Ask Amy: Contacting dad worries reader

FresnoMarch 9, 2014 

Dear Amy: I'm 28 and I'm thinking about contacting my father.

It will be the first time! He has a family that probably doesn't know I exist. He was never a part of my life. He didn't even recognize me legally.

He's old now and I feel like I deserve an explanation for this. I need to hear something from him.

Even though I have nothing to lose (we have no relationship anyway), I still feel a little bit emotional about that.

I cannot find the strength to just call, so I'm thinking about writing. But what can I write?

— Fatherless in Europe

Dear Fatherless: You claim you have nothing to lose by contacting your father, but you are so filled with anxiety about the prospect that you must acknowledge that in reality you have a great deal at stake.

For instance, you say you deserve an explanation (I completely agree that you deserve this). But you have to imagine that the person who has denied your existence for 28 years might continue to deny you — or might not have a satisfactory explanation for his actions and motivations.

On the other hand, there is some chance that you would gain a measure of satisfaction — and family relationships — as a result of this contact. Contacting your father could produce a myriad of results along a wide spectrum and you should do your best to prepare yourself.

Ideally you would do this with the help of a professional counselor. This is a perfect example of a big and important question to take into therapy.

Dear Amy: My beautiful, professional daughter is great in every respect, except she inserts the word "like" about every fifth word.

I thought she would outgrow this habit but she has not. I would like to bring it to her attention, but how? She lives in another state. I will see her in two months. Should I wait until then, or tell her on the phone, email? And what should I say? You always give good advice.

— Mother

Dear Mother: Don't overthink this, and don't make this correction by mail. You want to do this when you are conversing with your daughter because you are going to try to encourage her to hear herself as she is speaking to you.


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