Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: All our lives my parents have made sure my sister and I were treated equally when it came to gifts and money. That continued into our post-college early adulthood -- sometimes Mom would give me money because she went shopping with my sister and bought her clothes or things for the house. I find myself feeling hurt because my parents are now lavishing money on my sister's family and no longer treat us equally. My folks help them with household expenses (my sister and her husband decided to work part time when the kids were born), pay for private school tuition, the kids' clothes, lessons, after-school activities and vacations. Mom and Dad have bought two new cars for them and have set aside money for the kids' college expenses. In the meantime, my partner and I work more than 60 hours every week in demanding careers and live on the money we make. I know that my parents' hard-earned money is theirs to do with as they please, but I feel hurt that my partner and I do not benefit from their generosity. I find it hard to believe that it's because I'm gay, since they have always been supportive of me, but I am beginning to wonder. I hate that this is beginning to affect how I feel about my parents and my sister. But I cannot seem to talk myself out of feeling that my sister and her husband have no reason to support themselves because Mom and Dad take care of all their expenses. How can I have a conversation with my parents about this? I love them but hate this growing feeling of resentment. Or am I totally off base with my feelings?

Hurt

DEAR HURT: Your feelings are your feelings, and you get to have them.

I agree with your instinct to communicate with your parents about this. They might assume that their largesse is directed toward the grandchildren and so they might not see this as affecting you. This inequity isn't because you are gay, but because you are childless.

Start by thanking them. Tell them you are aware that they have worked hard for their money and it is their right to spend it any way they want, but that their lopsided generosity has started to affect your relationship with your sister.

Don't ask them to do anything differently -- but do tell them how you feel. They may respond that they don't give you more because you are simply more capable and less needy/greedy than your sibling. However, you should also prepare yourself for the possibility that this may create stress, pressure or resentment from them.

DEAR AMY: I'm a college student on a campus where bikes are widely used, and I lent my bike to my roommate to use while I was away. She texted me, saying that she just got back to campus from a short break home and realized my bike had been stolen. Eventually she found the bike, but the basket had been removed. Obviously I'm very glad it was found. Do I have the right to ask her to replace the stolen basket? It wasn't cheap, and I feel like since it was taken under her watch she should replace it. I don't want to be petty about it. We're great roommates. What would be the best way to bring it up?

Conflicted

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DEAR CONFLICTED: I agree with you that the bike (and basket) were your roommate's responsibility while she was using it.

Email her, saying, "I'm so relieved the bike turned up. Here's a link to where you can get a basket to replace the one that was taken." Include a link in your email and let her take it from there.

DEAR AMY: You were correct to encourage "Widow" to check with a lawyer regarding her mother-in-law's claim of unpaid debts on the part of the widow's deceased husband. Her obligation is determined by the laws of the state in which she lives, and her mother-in-law's claim would be against the estate, not her daughter-in-law. If she has no legal claim, then it reverts to an etiquette question.

N.C. Paralegal

DEAR PARALEGAL: Thank you.