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Dear Abby: Long-running family joke is no laughing matter for sister

Abigail Van Buren • Updated Oct 29, 2017 at 8:00 PM

DEAR ABBY: I’m in my early 20s, and my 18-year-old sister, “Judy,” is attending community college. All my memories of her consist of her putting me down. We reconciled just as I was moving out. 

Abby, she is extremely dependent on the family. She cannot do for herself. If I refuse to help her, I am told by my family that I’m selfish or a “b----.” They have a running joke that she’s going to live with me and be dependent on me when our parents die. I have heard that Judy is actually OK with it and looks forward to the day I can support her.

I have tried pointing out that it’s neither healthy nor realistic, and her issues aren’t my fault, but again, I am put down. They say we’re family and it’s my job to take care of her. But when did family become a job? — OVERWHELMED SISTER

DEAR OVERWHELMED SISTER: Rather than listen to hearsay, ask your sister directly if she expects you to support her in years to come, because it may not be true. However, if it is, she needs to hear firsthand that it’s not going to happen. 

If your parents truly believe that your sister will not become self-sufficient, point out to them that they had better start putting money into a trust for her, if they haven’t already, and name a trustee other than you. Being her caretaker is not your job, and you should not allow yourself to be bullied, shamed or ridiculed into agreeing to it.

DEAR ABBY: My fiance always sets his alarm for between 5 and 6 a.m. for work or school. His clock has two alarms, which he sets 10 minutes apart. If he doesn’t get out of bed on the second alarm, he either hits “snooze” or turns it off and goes back to sleep.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I wake up at 5 a.m., so I make sure he’s awake before I leave at 5:30. However, on Tuesdays and Thursdays – or any day that I don’t get up to wake him – he’s late for work or school.

I have tried telling him that I won’t wake him up and he needs to be responsible for himself because I don’t want to get up every morning at 5. This hasn’t worked. Help. — MORNING MARY IN MOSCOW, IDAHO

DEAR MARY: I’ll try, but you may not like what I have to say. Much as you want to help your fiance, what you have done is enable him to “mom-ify” you. Until he suffers the consequences for his chronic tardiness, nothing will change, and he will continue to place the burden of dragging him out of bed squarely on your shoulders.

DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 40s and live in New York City. I was taught to hold doors open for women and to allow women to exit the elevator first. Problem is, in our lobby there are two separate glass doors that must be opened to walk outside the building. If I let a woman neighbor leave the elevator first, she will then have to open and hold both doors for me. But I always feel awkward if I don’t allow them out first, and I sometimes worry they think I’m rude for walking ahead. Sometimes I even want to explain my actions. I just figure holding and opening two heavy glass doors is more polite than allowing someone to exit the elevator first. What’s the proper protocol in a situation like this? — A GENTLEMAN IN NEW YORK

DEAR NEW YORK GENTLEMAN: While it is polite for a man to hold a door open for a woman, it would also be considered good manners if she returns the favor if she’s the first to reach the lobby door. As to the rule of etiquette for elevators, the person at the front of the elevator should exit first, if the elevator is crowded.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at dearabby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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