Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Teenager Is Bewildered by Parents' Short Fuses

DEAR ABBY: My parents just aren't "there" for me anymore. I need to be able to go to them for advice, but now I can't. They get mad when I ask them for help on anything. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I mean, I cook, clean, help around the house, but it doesn't seem to help.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my parents, but they get mad so easily. I'm not sure if it's because they're aging -- they are 44 and 46 -- or if it's something I have done. I also feel like they aren't being fair to me because my siblings, who are younger AND older than I am, get more privileges than I do.

I just want a better relationship with my parents, the kind I had when I was younger. I mean, I haven't changed. (I only changed fashions. Like, I dress better and stuff.) Oh, and in case you're wondering, my parents don't drink or smoke.

So how do I talk to them in a way they will understand and consider thinking about my feelings without getting mad? -- ANONYMOUS TEEN, PASCO, WASH.

DEAR TEEN: You may not be doing anything wrong. Many adults are under pressure in the workplace and/or financially -- which can make them appear to be short-tempered and distracted. Your parents may also be trying to encourage you to think independently or be less reliant on them for advice. Maybe you should ask your parents what's wrong.

I don't know them, but at 44 and 46, I am sure their problem isn't "aging" because they are in the prime of their lives. However, if their problem is stress-related, the next time you want to discuss something serious, try it about an hour after dinner when they are relaxed and not distracted, and you may have better luck.