Dear Annie: I need help getting my stepbrother to like me. I am a 12-year-old boy. I grew up without a dad or siblings and really wanted them. When I was 11, my mom married my stepdad. I was excited because not only did I get a new father, but also a big brother.
Having a new dad is great. He is nice to me, takes me out to movies and ballgames and works hard. I like seeing my mom happy. The problem is my stepbrother. “Philip” is 17 years old and he hates me. I don’t know why. I never have done anything bad to him and don’t ever pester him.
When my mom and stepdad were dating, Philip barely spoke to me, although he wasn’t mean. However, the day we moved into our new house together, he told me to stay out of his way and leave him alone. He also said we will never be brothers, and not to expect him to do things with me or ask for his help with anything.
A month ago, I was having trouble with an older kid who was bullying me at school, knocking me off the bus and calling me names. One day, Phil saw this as he pulled up in his car. He grabbed this kid by the shirt and threatened to beat him up if he ever messed with me again. Phil then drove me home. I tried to thank him, but he said that he didn’t do it for me. He did it because he hates bullies.
After that, things went back to the way they were before. I guess the worst part is, I really look up to him. He’s a great athlete at school and knows about cars and sports and girls. I think he could teach me a lot if I can just get him to stop hating me. Please tell me what to do. -- Phil’s Stepbrother
Dear Step: We think Phil is still working on the idea of a younger sibling. He used to have his father’s full attention, but now Dad spends time with you. This is wonderful for your relationship with your stepdad and we are glad he is close to you. But it probably makes Phil a bit jealous, which is no one’s fault and not your responsibility. Please understand that this is normal. He doesn’t hate you. In fact, he treats you the way a lot of older teenagers treat their younger siblings -- as an annoyance. We suggest you be patient with him until he can see what a great brother you are. And please talk to your parents about it, too.
Dear Annie: You’ve printed a few letters from women whose husbands complain about what they cook. I once made a meal for my grandson, who was then 16. I asked how he liked the food. He said it was “OK.” So I told him the following:
Making a meal for someone is like giving them a gift. You want them to like it, so you carefully figure out what will make them happy.
You “wrap” it, by preparing it to make sure it will taste delicious.
Then you present it to them. And hopefully their faces will light up when they take that first bite. -- Indiana Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.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. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.