DEAR ABBY: I'm a 15-year-old student who reads your column every day, and I hope you can help me.
I want to be closer to my parents. They yell at my siblings and me and call us names. It hurts me very much. If we make a mistake -- even a little one -- or forget our chores, we can expect to be insulted, yelled at, etc. I have learned to tune them out, but I don't understand how such intelligent people like my parents can act this way.
Years ago, I decided to talk to them about it, but that was seen as an act of defiance. My parents, especially my father, can't take constructive criticism and respond with more yelling.
Each of our arguments leaves me upset for days. But I still believe I need to do something. I want to be close to them before it's too late, but I have lost so much respect and trust for them, and they probably feel the same.
Please, Abby, I don't know what to do. I would greatly appreciate your advice, although I know you are very busy. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. -- HOPEFUL IN NEW YORK
DEAR HOPEFUL: You have my sympathy. Harsh words can leave wounds that last longer than physical bruises. Some parents develop hair-trigger tempers when they are under financial pressure. Others, without realizing it, model their behavior on the way their parents raised them and overreact when their children make mistakes.
Because you haven't been able to get through to your father, talk to a trusted adult relative about the fact that you would like to be closer to your parents but don't know how. If they hear it from another adult, they might be more open to the message.