Dear Annie: My only sibling has stopped speaking to me. My brother had a son 26 years ago. He claims he knew nothing about the child until I told him six months ago that he should take responsibility for his oldest son. We had words, and he texted me not to contact him, ever, and to have a great life.
I did call and left a message wishing him and his wife a Merry Christmas, but I never heard back. He's holding me responsible for "keeping a secret," while I am quite sure he knew all along that he had a son out there. He said some nasty things directly to me and has told outright lies to other people about me.
But Annie, he is my brother. Do I just go away? Or do I send him birthday wishes next month? -- Grieving Sister
Dear Sister: You can send any kind of wishes you like, but we can't promise he'll respond. Are you sure he knew about this child? If no one had ever spoken of it before, it's possible he was truly unaware and angry that you kept the secret. Or, if you mentioned the son in front of his wife, it's possible that he didn't want her to know, and reacted by claiming ignorance. And of course, he could simply be ashamed that he has not financially or emotionally supported his son and, like many guilt-ridden people, became defensive.
You can try apologizing, sincerely, for bringing up a subject that he wasn't prepared to deal with, and then ask him how you can make things better. You also can try going through his wife to see if she will act as an intermediary on your behalf. The rest, sorry to say, is up to him.
Dear Annie: Every day I do word scrambles and "spot the six differences" puzzles with two great people. But now I'm annoyed and upset. One time -- just once -- I started the puzzles before they arrived and now they keep calling me "cheaty pants" and refuse to give me the newspaper until they have already started.
I don't know whether I should confront them about it or leave it be. I think they should be fair, not rude. I know I shouldn't start the puzzles until they can be there, but sometimes I get so impatient with them. I think they should be nice about it, too. -- Very Frustrated
Dear Frustrated: All of you should be nice, which means name-calling is off-limits and no one starts the puzzles before everyone shows up. We recommend that you make the first move to put things back on track: Apologize for your original faux pas and ask them to please stop rubbing it in your face so you can start fresh. But if they keep acting like the mean girls in high school, bring your own newspaper and then you can do your own puzzles in peace.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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