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by Abigail Van Buren

Checklist for Checkups Will Help Readers Stay Healthy

DEAR ABBY: I am home for the summer after my freshman year at college and need some advice about my mother's behavior.

Before I left, I thought Mom and I had a normal mother/daughter relationship. However, the whole time I was away at school, not once did she ever call, write or e-mail me. (My father did stay in close contact.)

Now that I'm home, Mother gets annoyed by everything I do and say. Five days ago, I became so stressed about my summer job and things going on in my personal life that I started to cry. Mom marched into my room and screamed at me to "stop bawling!"

I screamed back, telling her to leave me alone. She continued to yell at me, saying I don't appreciate all she's done for me. Nothing could be further from the truth! I have always been grateful to both of my parents and have worked hard to make them proud of me.

Then Mom floored me by saying she "didn't need me around" and "didn't want me anymore." I ran out of my room sobbing and we haven't spoken since. She occupies herself with her girlfriends and her women's club.

Abby, my poor father feels caught in the middle. Can you please help me sort out what to do? -- SAD AND DESPERATE IN VERMONT

DEAR SAD AND DESPERATE: Have a frank talk with your father about your mother and find out what has caused her change of behavior. You are an adult, and you have the right to know. It appears that she is overwhelmed, stressed and angry about something -- and it may have nothing to do with you. Since there appears to be a major communication problem right now, ask your father to schedule some appointments so the three of you can talk this out in family counseling. If your mother refuses to go, you and your father should go without her.