Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 1, 2011: Twin sister bullies me

Dear Annie: I have an 18-year-old fraternal twin sister. We have the same friends, the same classes and the same extracurriculars.

The problem is, she bullies me. If I have something she wants, she throws things at me. She pushes me out of my chair so she can sit in it. She constantly teases me, even when our friends are over. She says things like, "People only hang out with you because you're my twin," and "You should lose some of your fat."

Everything I do, we do. Everything we do, she's the boss. If I resist, she hits me. We have an older sister, but she favors my twin. My friends don't want to get involved or are oblivious to it. My parents do nothing. It's obviously hard to avoid her, and I'm tired of sinking to her level. What can I do?

— Twin Problems

Dear Twin: This is extreme sibling rivalry. Bullies are often jealous and insecure. Talk to your school counselor. Then look into switching classes and extracurricular activities so you are not together. Make different friends. Join sports groups outside of school. Be sure to attend different colleges. You and your twin need to separate yourselves and develop independent interests so she no longer feels so threatened by you. And she needs to grow up.

Dear Annie: My son and his girlfriend, "Mandy," have a beautiful baby boy, "Cal," who is my first grandchild. Mandy also has a daughter, "Lila," from a previous marriage. Lila is now 4, and Cal, with whom I spend a lot of time, is 2.

Lila used to call me "Grandma," but recently began calling me "Grandma Kay." Mandy has always kept her distance from me, and I suspect this is a way to keep Lila from getting too close. I am worried that Cal will start calling me by my first name, too. I asked Mandy to have Lila simply call me "Grandma," but she refused and now laughs when her daughter calls me Grandma Kay. Cal is already starting to pick up the name. Any advice?

— Just Call Me Grandma

Dear Grandma: Where is your son in all this? You should be registering your complaint with him, not Mandy. He might want to point out to his girlfriend that it is in her best interests to get along with you. That said, however, this is not such a big deal. Many children use "Grandma First Name" to distinguish one set of grandparents from the other. It is not an insult and is no reflection on how close and loving the relationship is. Kids also find their own nicknames for grandparents, which is something you can encourage. Please don't make a fuss over this.

Dear Annie: You cautioned "New York" not to get between her husband and his unemployed son who lives with them and frequently threatens suicide. I have a similar situation with my wife and her 49-year-old son. "Tom" has been living under our roof for two years, drawing unemployment. He also has a drinking problem.

My wife tolerates his behavior because she worries he might kill himself otherwise. It is hard to communicate with Tom about his directionless behavior, the drinking and the fact that he doesn't eat.

We have planned for him to be out of our house by spring, but we worry that he won't be able to take care of himself. He refuses counseling or medical help. I know if Tom does not make it on his own, he will end up living with us again, and I fear I will be forced to move out. I have been married to his mother for 30 years. It is sad to know that I may be going into retirement alone.

— East Texas

Dear Texas: Alcoholics often have poor eating habits. It's also possible Tom is suffering from depression and is using alcohol to self-medicate. Since Tom refuses help, please look into Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-800-4AL-ANON (1-800-425-2666).

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