DEAR ABBY: I'm 14 and for as long as I can remember, my family has never really been "together." We exist with each other physically, but have never connected in a loving way. I can't remember my father ever smiling at my mom or being happy. There seems to be an undercurrent of hostility or resentment in our relationships with each other. The lack of love in our house is palpable.
I wonder sometimes what it's like to eat dinner together at night, and what it's like to see parents kiss because they love each other -- not a stressed, distant, obligated contact.
I finally asked my mother, "Why don't you ever hug me?" Her answer was, "Because I can't remember the last time you tried to hug me."
I'm crying as I write this. Why doesn't my mother understand that kindness is necessary and should not be conditional? -- TROUBLED GIRL IN FLORIDA
DEAR TROUBLED GIRL: Your mother may have been raised in a loveless home and not know how to easily demonstrate affection. Or her marriage to your father could be so unhappy that she has shut down.
You are a perceptive girl, and it is understandable that you are "troubled." But the only person who can answer the question you have asked me is your mother, who appears to need to receive kindness and affection before she will be able to give it. Make an effort to hug her more and the situation may improve. How very sad.