It's Complicated Advice Q&A: Should I Let My Dad Back in My Life?


My father was in and out of my life until I was 15, when he just walked away. At 18, I got in contact with him; he said he wanted to be around for me. Everything in our relationship was great for several years. Then, about four years ago, he stopped taking or returning my calls. I tried for many months to make some kind of contact with him, with no response. As far as I know, I did not do anything wrong. A year ago, I had a second child, a son. Now my grandma (my dad's mom) is pushing me to try to get in touch with him again. She tells me that he says I can call any time. Should I try to reconnect with him, even though I am not sure I can handle the rejection again? -- A.L., 29, Dayton, OH

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You know the old saying about how if you have to ask how much something costs, you can't afford it? That applies to your situation too. If you're worried about the emotional cost of reconnecting with your dad, it may be out of your price range.

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My advice is to listen to your gut and, for now, sit tight. (And by the way, if he wants to have a relationship with you, there is no reason he can't call you.) The good news is, time passes, and what seems impossible to handle today shifts to difficult (but not impossible) to handle tomorrow or a year from now. Eventually you might feel emotionally prepared to rekindle your relationship, knowing full well that your dad might do another disappearing act. You won't be okay with it, but you will be able to accept him as the complicated, unreliable parent he is. Until then, take the steps you need to protect your heart.

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Karen Karbo is an award-winning writer and author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman. She's also a mom, a writing teacher, and a horse owner. Check out more advice from Karen.

Need smart advice?
Whatever's bugging or perplexing you - about your friends, brother, sister, parents, in-laws, husband, you name it - REDBOOK's Karen Karbo has the smart advice you need. Email your questions, rants, and worries to her at karenkarbo@redbookmag.com and please include your initials, age, city and state. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

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