Ask Amy: Sibling 'weary' of making effort

Dear Amy: I have an older brother who has been married for 10 years. He has two kids and a third child on the way. I am single and 30 years old.

I find that I always get the short end of the stick when it comes to family stuff. I always have to travel to wherever my brother's family is for holidays. I am the one who plans group gifts for my parents, and I am the one who does the legwork when things need to be arranged. My brother's family has never come to visit me, even in the seven years before the kids came along.

I know that I should get over this and appreciate all the wonderful family connections that remain strong. When I get upset, I have always left it alone and forgotten about it eventually. Then it happens again, and I feel slighted all over again.

Today I sent a 40th anniversary present to my parents signed with five names -- mine, my brother's, his wife and kids -- and I was the one who did all the work.

I try to remember that someday I may have kids, or I may need their help in other ways. I may come to appreciate the lifetime balance of things.

Do you have any advice for how to keep these upset feelings from building up?


Amy says: Sometimes, one family member ends up doing the heavy lifting for others simply because he or she has always done it, is good at it and has never indicated that things need to be different.

When you provide all the family gifts, you deny your brother the opportunity to get his own act together in order to participate fully in this important process.

Having a spouse and kids does not make a person so busy that he can't find the time to get a gift for his parents, so stop enabling him. Get your parents a gift from you alone, and let your brother figure out how to do his own gift-giving.

I assume that you have invited him and his family to visit you in beautiful Wisconsin. If they won't visit, you should visit them instead. This connection is important to you, so you may have to do the heavy lifting required to maintain it.

Is bra needed at work?

Dear Amy: I am wondering what you think about bras in the workplace. I have small breasts and am comfortable not wearing a bra. In fact, I am more comfortable not wearing a bra. I find them itchy and pokey and constraining. Just wearing my shirt or dress is so nice! I've stopped wearing a bra unless I'm wearing a formal, strapless dress and need a little "help."

However, my boss -- whom I am very close to -- has mentioned that I don't wear a bra, so I know it's noticeable.

I am hoping bras are like sweaters. Wear one if you need to; don't if you don't. Am I wrong?


Amy says: I'm a big believer in bras in the workplace -- especially when people are wearing them. Otherwise they just get tangled up in the equipment. If your boss has noticed that you don't wear one and has decided to mention it to you, you should follow up by asking if you should wear one at the office. I have a feeling your boss will suggest it.

There are wonderful little camisole-thingies with built-in shelf bras that do not poke, constrain or itch -- but offer adequate coverage. You should try one on for size.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Av., Chicago, IL 60611.

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