Annie's Mailbox: Pulling My Hair Out
Dear Annie: When my brother "Steve" comes home from college, he stays up until 3 a.m., sleeps until 2 in the afternoon, and leaves his chores and homework until the very last minute.
I don't understand why he doesn't keep a regular sleep schedule or take care of his homework and other chores early in the week. Instead, he dumps his laundry on the floor and "forgets" about it until he has no clothes left, something that stresses him out and makes him lash out at me. He also complains to me about incidents that occurred years ago and still make him angry now.
I've tried to talk to my mother about it, but I end up sounding like a broken record. Steve manages to be responsible for himself at his school, so why doesn't that responsibility follow him home? -- Pulling My Hair Out
Dear Pulling: Because he reverts to his less-responsible childhood when he is home. Part of moving out of your parents' house, whether for college or work, is to develop the skills necessary to be independent. This doesn't happen overnight. Steve is trying to grow up, albeit slowly and in spurts, and needs to do it on his own.
So here's a life lesson for you: You are not responsible for Steve's bad habits, whether or not he succeeds, or how stressed he becomes. Do your best to ignore those things, absent yourself or express sympathy (nod knowingly and say, "That's rough") while remaining neutral. If he brings up things from the past, respond the same way. If he cannot seem to get over old hurts and grudges, then suggest he speak to his college counselor when he gets back to school. But please, do not engage in an argument. It serves no purpose and will only make you miserable.
Dear Annie: My wife recently passed away after nearly 60 years together. I miss her more than words can say.
While selecting a vase at the funeral parlor to hold my wife's ashes, I noticed matching miniature vases. I ordered six, three for our grown children and three for my wife's sisters. My children were delighted to receive them.
The problem is, my wife's sisters consider my gift to be in extremely poor taste and I fear it may have caused irreparable damage to our relationship. What I thought would be a visible and lasting remembrance of their loving sister has turned ugly.
Did my grief affect my judgment? Was I out of line? -- Heartbroken Brother-in-Law
Dear Heartbroken: We think your wife's sisters are the ones whose grief has affected their judgment. Your gift was thoughtful and kind, but perhaps too difficult for them to process right now. Please apologize to them for not consulting them first to see whether they wanted these gifts. Let them know you value the relationship, and ask how to make things better.
Dear Readers: Today is Flag Day and the 36th annual Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). For more information, log on to
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.