Q. My mother is planning to move to a state far from the one in which we have lived since I was a preteen. She is moving with my younger brother, “Barney.” He is 12, and I am 21.
I want to go with them so my brother and I don’t grow apart as my other brother and I did. (I have another half brother who is my age. My father also has a son and daughter with another woman who are both younger than 10, whom I have only met once).
I’ve lived with Barney since he was born, minus a few times I’ve lived in different areas of the state, so we’ve grown up together and are close. It breaks my heart knowing he is going to be so far away.
I know I can’t go with them because I have an apartment and am finally starting my college education. Do you have any creative ideas aside from cellphones, snail mail, e-mail, etc., that we can use to stay in touch and not grow apart?
I still want to be his “big sis,” not the distant sister who lives in another state. He has other big sisters from his dad’s previous marriage who are at least a decade older than I am, but he doesn’t really know them.
A. Your thoughtful concern about your brother’s welfare touches me. I wish there were an alternative to your mother’s choice to move your brother to a new place. He is at a tender age, and this sort of transition can be tough on an adolescent boy.
You will have to offer him ongoing assurances that your relationship will always be a soft and tender refuge for him. Maintain a positive attitude about this change — but listen and commiserate during those times when he feels alone.
Maintain a presence with him on Facebook, where you can post photos back and forth and comment on each other’s doings. See if he is willing to Skype with you regularly. Ask him to describe his new room, his school, and friends. If you can, engage him in an online game like Words With Friends you two can play together every day. And send him things through the mail; there is nothing like a care package to keep a connection strong and to remind your brother that he is loved and appreciated.
Also plan a visit now that you can both look forward to.
Q. I am an 18-year-old high school girl about to graduate in less than a month.
My problem is that my sophomore friends are having issues with a girl in their group.
This particular girl can be mean and insensitive to her friends and to me. These younger friends want me to try to talk to this girl to help her realize that she’s being mean and hurtful.
The problem is that this girl is sensitive herself and blows things out of proportion a lot. How should I confront her, and what should I say on this subject without her freaking out?
A. You are in a great position to try to influence this younger girl, but beware — you should mainly speak on your own behalf. Acting like the designated “fixer” for the group could backfire.
When you see this person being mean to other people, you should react honestly by saying, “I don’t like it when you are mean and disrespectful to me and to our friends. We deserve to be treated better. You have the capacity to be a good friend, and I wish you would work harder to treat people better. If you don’t, I’m going to keep my distance.”
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.