Dear Amy:

I am 29 years old, happily married for six years with an 18-month-old baby.

Something has been weighing on my mind. I have never really had much of a relationship with my father. Growing up we had every-other-weekend visitation and shared holidays, even though he lived just 15 miles away.

My dad never took the initiative to spend extra time with me. Even though he had a well-paying job, he did not help pay for extra things that I needed and/or wanted, such as a class ring, senior pictures and college.

I thought that things would change once I had my son, his first grandchild.

I can count on one hand the number of times he has seen my son, and I am the one who has made the contact.

The only time that my father calls is when it is a holiday (with gift exchange) or when he needs something such as my husband to help him move furniture.

I am tired of being a holiday daughter, but everyone tries to make me feel guilty, saying that I should be the adult and continue to call even it he doesn't.

My father isn't easy to talk to; he blows up and gets mad.

Last year I called and invited him and my stepmom over for dinner on his birthday, but they never called back.

I stressed my feelings, and he said he doesn't have time.

Deep down this really bothers me, and I need your perspective.

Thank goodness I have a wonderful and supportive mom and stepdad.

Fatherless Daughter

I'm concerned that you describe yourself as "Fatherless." You have a father, my dear. He's flawed and disappointing, but he exists.

Some of your father's behavior might be because of his own feelings about being a "holiday dad." Your mother may have created impediments to your relationship that you know nothing about. I'm not saying that this is a fact, but a possibility.

You have nothing to lose, so please tell your father (perhaps in a letter) that you wish you could be closer and that you want your son to have a relationship with him.

He will either greet this news as an invitation to try to change, or he will retreat, as he has done in the past.

Let's hope he changes.

You might benefit from reading "Embracing Your Father: How to Build the Relationship You've Always Wanted With Your Dad" by Linda Nielsen (2004, McGraw-Hill). Nielsen's book is geared toward the often-prickly daughter/father divide.

Dear Amy:

I am hoping you will publish this letter as a way of making cashiers aware of something annoying they are doing more and more lately.

The correct way of giving change is to first place the coins in the patron's palm, followed by the bills, which can be grasped between the patron's thumb and fingers. Now, cashiers balance the coins precariously on cupped bills, or hand me the bills first, which forces me to close my palm and leaves no easy way for me to grasp the coins!

This simple adjustment will make lines move faster, cut down on patrons spilling their change on the floor, and make everyone a lot happier.

Fumbling in Maryland

According to a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, there is no specific protocol or strictly "correct" way to give change -- in fact, I happen to prefer the coins on top of the bills.

Being a cashier seems like a thankless job, especially when dealing with people whose happiness hinges on where their coins are laid. I hope you'll kindly let your neighborhood cashier know how you prefer your change before the transaction is over.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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