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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I am the younger of two daughters. My sister is three years older, and we are very close. She is away at college. You’d think that since she is away from home, I would get more of my parents’ focus. But that has not happened. It’s not as if they neglect me, but I don’t feel my needs, wishes, and dreams are on the agenda.

My 16th birthday is in seven months. I want it to be special. I’ve always dreamed of having a day of just celebrating me.

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I remember back to when it was my sister’s 16th birthday, they talked about it for months ahead of time, with plans, a surprise party, and a special visit from family members. But my birthday is rapidly approaching and not a word has been spoken about plans for my day.

Should I tell my parents how I feel or just assume they’re working on something — or should I let it go?

A. Your situation reminds me of the movie “Sixteen Candles.” If you’ve never seen it, you should.

Your folks may have started planning something. If you have special things you want to do on that day, definitely tell them. You should also offer to help.

Talk to your sister. She can rattle your parents’ cage a little.

Parents get tired. They also get a little lazy when they have only one well-behaved teenager still at home. You may have to work a little harder to get their attention — but you deserve to have it, not only on your birthday but every day.

Q. Due to my husband’s health problems, I have had to do everything around our house for the last couple of months, and this will continue for another couple of months.

My husband’s friends have said that if he needs something to just let them know.

Their wives are also my friends, but not one has asked if there is something she could do for me — like fix a meal, go to the store, or help with the house.

If I had help, I could have dedicated more time to my husband’s care. I cannot understand why they haven’t offered.

I would like to suggest to others who have friends in our situation to not just ask, but insist.

A. Many people don’t know how to jump in and lend a hand. So sometimes you have to be brave enough to ask. Say, “Hey, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Would you be willing to help me out this week witt . . .?”

Consider caringbridge.org as a way to ask for and organize help from people in your circle. This smart concept makes it easier to reach out and offer to help — and ask for it. You will also be inspired by the suggestions for caregivers like you.

Q. I disagree with you and “New Bride,” who included the names of some charities on her wedding gift registry.

My first reaction wouldn’t be “How sweet.” It would be “Thanks, but I’m capable of deciding which charities, if any, I want to financially support.”

I have the same attitude when it comes to shameless supermarkets that try to extract donations to their personal causes by embarrassing customers at the checkout counter.

A. You might have a similar reaction to a gift registry, thinking, “Thanks, but I’m capable of choosing what china pattern, if any, I want to purchase.”

The idea is that these are suggestions for what the couple — not you — want to receive.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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