Originally Published: February 22, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I am 13 years old, and I have a problem that I am too embarrassed to talk about with anyone at home or school.
My stepbrother is 19 years old, and he enlisted in the Army after he graduated from high school. I don’t know why I feel this way, but I am scared to death that something bad is going to happen to him. Sometimes it keeps me up at night because I have dreams that he is either taken prisoner or killed. I was fine when he first enlisted, but he is now overseas, and I am scared all the time.
I have never been like this before, and I can’t talk about it because I am afraid people will laugh at me and think I am a baby.
“Justin,” my stepbrother, is my best friend. When I was 8 years old, his dad married my mom. He told me that day that I was now his little brother and he will always be there for me. Nobody ever had a better big brother. I love him and look up to him as my role model. I have learned a lot from him over the years, and I miss him so much.
What can I do to stop expecting something bad to happen? — Scared and Worried
Dear Scared: Justin sounds like a true American hero and an amazing brother. It is understandable how his Army service overseas causes you to worry. To calm your fears, try to keep in touch with him as much as you can. Skype and FaceTime are great. If you can’t do video chats, write to him often via email or good old-fashioned postcards.
It would really help if you shared your fears with your parents. I promise they won’t think you are a baby. In fact, they will probably think you are very mature for being able to express your feelings and worries. My bet is that they share some of the same feelings, and you could all be helping one another.
When the bad thoughts come in your head, try to say, “Stop.” Notice them in your mind and think about something peaceful that you enjoy.
What your stepbrother is doing is incredibly courageous, and I know you have the bravery inside you to fight your fears.
Dear Annie: I thought your advice to the parent of the 23-year-old daily marijuana user was perfect. You said not to focus so much on getting him to stop -- which would only make him fight back harder -- and instead let him learn from his own mistakes.
I’d just like to add that one other thing that might be important for the son to understand as he enters the world of work is that many employers require a drug test as part of the hiring process. It would be a tough way to learn the lesson his father is trying to teach him. -- A Former HR Executive
Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.