Dear Annie: Because of the struggling economy, my mom needed to take a full-time position.
I now have the responsibility of taking care of my younger brother, who is almost 12 years old. That means that I cook our meals, wash the dishes and do housekeeping.
Although I enjoy cooking, it can be tiring to decide what to eat every day, clean up after and make sure Mom doesn’t have work to do when she comes home late at night.
Here’s the real problem. My brother doesn’t acknowledge the effort I put into taking care of him.
He is an extremely picky eater, and sometimes I have to cook two meals because he won’t eat what I originally made.
He also never cleans up after himself, so I have double the work that I wish I had.
He never washes a dish or does anything to make my job easier. And he never says so much as “thank you” for the hard work I put into making sure he is happy.
I once didn’t make dinner for him, hoping it would make him less picky, but he just found something else to eat.
I don’t think it’s fair that I do all this work on his behalf and he sits around and watches television.
I feel so unappreciated. What can I do? — Sister of an Ingrate
Dear Sister: You are to be commended for taking on the responsibility of running the house and caring for your brother.
But you don’t have to cater to his every whim, nor should he be exempt from household duties.
Talk to your mother and ask her to assign chores for him, including cleaning up his own dishes.
Do not make extra meals for him.
Either he eats what you prepare or he feeds himself.
He won’t starve.
It would be nice if he appreciated your efforts, but 12-year-old boys aren’t always conscious of such things.
We can guarantee, however, that when he is older, he will look back on these times and think you were the best sister in the universe.
Dear Annie: For years I have been trying to talk to my husband about his foul language, to no avail.
At least every other sentence contains the “F” word.
He also does this in front of everyone else. It is very embarrassing. I was not raised like this and it seems disrespectful. The men in my family never spoke this way in front of women. Any suggestions? — Beleaguered Wife
Dear Wife: Unfortunately, vulgar language has become commonplace and it is a difficult habit to break.
The first requirement is that the person must want to stop, and this doesn’t seem to be the case with your husband.
You can raise his awareness by calling it to his attention each time he does it, explaining that others may think less of him because of his language.
You also can fine him a dollar every time he uses a vulgar expression, but we can’t guarantee it will help if he refuses to co-operate.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from Desperate Alcoholic, who can’t seem to stay sober. I have been sober for over two years.
I, too, tried numerous times to get sober, and it didn’t work until I was ready to be uncomfortable.
Alcoholism is a cruel disease, and to truly beat it, you have to be willing to go to any lengths. I had to leave my comfort zone and do what was suggested by a treatment centre, AA and a sponsor.
There are no quick fixes. Sobriety requires a willingness to work hard.
I would suggest that Desperate go to local AA meetings in her area until she locates one that feels like home.
Then she should find a sponsor and talk to other women in recovery, and honestly try to do the work.
She might be surprised.
I certainly was. — Surprised Recovering Alcoholic
Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.