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DEAR HARRIETTE: Growing up, I never really knew my biological father — aside from what my grandparents would tell me. When I was 7, my mother remarried, and my stepfather has been my daddy ever since. Now, as an adult, my biological father has reentered my life and is an active granddad to my kids. This is wonderful, but he often speaks as if he raised me, and ignores the fact that he missed over 20 years of my life. How can I respectfully ask him not to do that? — Daddy Issues
DEAR DADDY ISSUES: You and your father need to have a heart-to-heart conversation. Start by thanking him for coming back into your life and acknowledging how important it has been for your children. Then, ask him what took him so long. Don’t be mean or accusatory. You don’t want to scare him off. But you do need him to talk to you. Ask him what his life was like for those 20 years that he wasn’t there. Ask why he chose not to continue to have a relationship with you after he and your mom broke up. Tell him what life was like for you.
Even if you grew up fine and don’t have any so-called daddy issues, your father was absent for your childhood. Ask him not to pretend otherwise. Agree that you can create new memories right now and that when you talk about the past, you do so honestly.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve had some wonderful things happen in my life over the last year. I’ve gotten a new car, started my dream job and really begun to feel happy about my life. The only thing is, when I tell my best friend, she says things like, “Wish that would happen for me” or, “That must be nice.”
It really bothers me that we can’t celebrate good times together, and it almost makes me feel bad for doing well. How can I confront her about this and stay sensitive to her feelings? — Be Happy for Me
DEAR BE HAPPY FOR ME: Start by asking your best friend what she thinks it will take for her to be happy. She says, “Wish that would happen for me.” Ask what that would look like. Rather than being stuck on jealousy, she needs to take action for her life. Point out that the reason you are where you are is because of a dream and a lot of hard work.
Tell your friend that it hurts your feelings that she doesn’t seem to be happy for you. Ask her to stop making those snide comments when you share your joy with her. Know, however, that she may not be able to comply. It really depends on what’s going on in her life right now and her capacity to look past her experiences and circumstances to have empathy for yours.
It is time for you to expand your friend pool to include people who are focused on building their lives. Find people who will encourage you to continue pursuing your dreams. You cannot force your friend to be your cheerleader. You don’t have to dump her either. Just be aware of what she can — and cannot — offer.