When I was 14, I severed ties with my dad. I was a messed-up teenager, living with my certifiably nutty mother and visiting my dad on weekends. When he remarried and had another baby with my stepmom, I was furious. I treated them badly, cursed at them, hollered at them, stole from them, and went so far as to set "booby traps" in the house so my stepmom and new baby brother could get hurt (luckily, they didn't). I treated my stepmom like dirt, even though she was never mean. After I stopped answering my dad's calls and threatened to report him to the cops as a stalker, he stopped trying to get in touch with me. I can see now that he and my stepmom were good people who wanted only the best for me. Now that I am 27, I am trying to get back in touch with my dad, because I'm getting married. However, he will not respond to mail, e-mail, or Facebook messages. I've asked my uncle and cousins to tell him that I want to see him. They told me that he was too hurt by my behavior and has no desire to get in touch. Am I wrong to try to re-enter his life? Should I just leave him alone?
—Stupid Teen, Now Regretful Adult
Write a letter to your father and stepmother very much like the one here—explaining that you were a miserable, troubled teen who, following the troubled-teen guide book, took out your unhappiness on the nearest target (although you don't need to mention the booby traps). Say they showed you extraordinary patience, and looking back, you appreciate that they were the one stable, loving influence in your life, and you are sorry about how you treated them. Explain that you've worked hard to be a decent, productive adult, and now you're getting married. Add that as you are about to become a spouse, and contemplate becoming a parent, they will be role models for how to deal with difficulties. Tell them that your fervent hope is that they can be part of this new phase of your life. Then ask one of your relatives to be the go-between and deliver the letter. Accept that your father and stepmother may feel they did everything they could for you at the time, and that the breach was so painful, they've decided not resuming contact is the best choice for their family. If they don't contact you, following the wedding, you could send a short letter and some photos saying you don't expect to hear from them in return, but you hope they don't mind that you wanted to send them this update about your life. If you never do re-establish contact, take comfort that you've come out of a difficult, painful childhood and found happiness and love.
I am a woman who started working at a company earlier this year. I share an office with a man who doesn't really want me there. Because I do my job well, it creates more work for him (which is actually great for business!). I ignore any smart comments he makes, stay professional, and get my job done. My work is beyond reproach. Here is the problem: We have to share a bathroom. He changes into his uniform and leaves his dirty socks there during the week, then takes them home on Friday. (Yuck, I know!) I think he leaves the bathroom this way to protest me being there. The issue is really about the toilet seat. He refuses to put it down. It is his final act of protest against me. I have asked him repeatedly to lower the seat and am completely disregarded. I have talked to my boss about this, and he said he would mention it to my co-worker, but he either forgot, or it didn't help. I told my co-worker that if I have to put up with his dirty socks, he can at least put the seat down. No reaction. There is another bathroom, but it's not close. I don't feel I should have to go out of my way so he can have his own personal bathroom. Any advice for how to handle this?
—The New Girl
Dear New Girl,
Go into the bathroom, rip off a few squares of toilet paper, and holding them between your thumb and fingers, lower the seat. Your work may be beyond reproach, but dumping the matter of the toilet seat position on your boss is neither a way to make friends with your co-worker, nor have your boss feel anything but dread at the sight of you. Probably your co-worker has been piling his stinky socks in the bathroom since before you came, and it is only because of your objections that he now sees the socks as a biological weapon. Consider that your superior attitude and stream of complaints may have something to do with your co-worker's reaction to you. So if you can't live with the bathroom as he leaves it, instead of getting pissy, just decide you could use the exercise and hike to the other facility.
And become a fan of Prudie on the official Dear Prudence Facebook page.