Dear Annie: My father and I have never had the best relationship.
He was domineering, controlling and verbally abusive to me as a teenager, and as a result, I rebelled and did things specifically to irritate him. Several times, he kicked me out of the house, saying I forced him to behave the way he did. I always apologized because it was easier if I kept the peace.
Three years ago, my parents separated. Just before Mom and I moved out, Dad and I got into a huge argument, and he nearly punched me. I did not speak to him for six months. Since then, there’s been a thaw in our relationship. He even apologized (which he never does) and seemed more understanding. When I saw him at Christmas, we had a great time together.
However, he hasn’t spoken to me since then. There was no fight or argument. I’ve tried to call him several times to make plans or just talk, and he has ignored my calls and doesn’t respond to my voicemails. He broke every coffee date I made, and instead of telling me, he informed my brother or mom that he couldn’t make it. Dad is obviously avoiding me, but I have no idea why. I’m tired of his imaginary issues and “nobody loves me” attitude. Should I confront him and find out why he stopped talking to me or forget him? — Confused and Exhausted
Dear Confused: Your relationship with your father is tenuous, and it’s possible that maintaining his equilibrium around you is stressful for him. And although his behaviour may be difficult, your response likely has its flaws, too. If you want to know what’s going on, please ask your mother or brother to intercede on your behalf and find out whether you have unintentionally done something to aggravate the relationship and how you can repair it. Learning to get along with someone who pushes all your buttons requires ongoing effort. Since it’s your father, we think it’s worth another try.
Dear Annie: I am boiling mad. My boyfriend has an adult son who is autistic. After he and his ex separated, she started telling the son horrible lies about both of us. The son believes her and now wants nothing to do with his father or me. The boy used to speak to us, but now runs the other way when he sees us coming. What can we do about this? Please don’t say talk to the ex-wife. She is the source of the problem. My boyfriend is paying child support but doesn’t get to spend any time with his son. Also, we suspect little of the money is going for the child’s benefit. — The Girlfriend
Dear Girlfriend: Since your boyfriend is still paying child support, he may be entitled to regularly enforced visitation with his son. Also, some courts are beginning to recognize and address parental alienation. Please suggest to your boyfriend that he discuss his options with a lawyer who has experience in this area.