Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My younger brother has become very unhelpful around the house. Our parents got divorced about two years ago, and although it was rough at first I think my brother and I are doing OK. He is a freshman in high school and I am a junior. My father has been very stressed, as he started a company around the time of the divorce. He asks us to do basic chores around the house. I happily oblige. My brother is asked to do something and he puts it off until either he goes to soccer (so I end up doing it) or my father asks him multiple times. Due to my own workload this school year, I don't have the time or energy to do his jobs AND mine. Any advice?
DEAR TIRED: Everybody growing up with siblings faces the inequity of work and responsibility. When I was your age, also growing up in a household with a stressed single parent, I had a sister whose job it was to clean a particular room. Let's say (for the sake of argument) that she was the worker bee and I the malingerer. She threatened that if she found any of my possessions in the room at the appointed cleaning time, she would throw them out the front door. And she did. In February.
When the snow finally melted, our lawn looked like a yard sale of my leftover stuff.
I'm not suggesting that you do this (although it was very effective), but there should be consequences for not doing your chores.
In your brother's case, the most logical consequence is that he doesn't go to soccer until he has done his jobs. Your father has to be willing to enforce this.
You should ask your father to call a family meeting. If you end up doing your brother's chores, would your father (or your brother) be willing to compensate you? If your father gives your brother an allowance, he could both dock brother's pay and reward you at the same time.
DEAR AMY: When I was in school, libraries were places where people went to read and study in a quiet environment. Librarians quickly squelched noisemakers with a "shush" and stern gaze. I have recently begun frequenting local city and university libraries, as I am researching various issues related to starting a company. However, the noise level at these libraries, without exception, makes it virtually impossible for me to concentrate. I'm sitting at a local branch of a city library. Children are running around talking loudly, and their parents respond in kind. Staff members speak at a normal volume, making no effort to set an example for patrons. Other patrons answer cellphones at a normal volume. Not 10 feet from me, two people are talking loudly while using a public computer. I recently went to a multistory library at a local university. Two floors were designated "Quiet Zones." The entire library should be a quiet zone! Whenever I ask people to please be quiet, they react like I am crazy to expect quiet in a library. Am I crazy?
DEAR FRAZZLED: Crazy? No, but you are very much behind the times. Today's libraries are morphing into community centers, with cafes, Wi-Fi, public computer terminals and, yes, kids.
I happen to think this is just right. If you want quiet, you can still find it in designated spaces at the library -- or at home. Wearing earphones might help you stay in "the zone."
DEAR AMY: "Confused Dad" was concerned about his daughter's married name, given that she already has a hyphenated surname. Your response was right on, but unfortunately people often use this difficulty as an excuse to keep their maiden name. Changing your name is not that hard. Most people over a certain age did it quite easily when we got married.
DEAR CHANGED: Women over a certain age likely started the process with very few credit cards, forms of ID, mortgages, car loans and professional identities. The process of adopting a new surname is more complicated now.