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DEAR HARRIETTE: My dad offered to pay me to take a college course for my brother so he wouldn’t fail. I’ve always had much better grades than my brother, and I used to help him with all of his schoolwork when we lived together. When I moved away, I hoped he would be less dependent on me and start to study on his own.
My dad called me to tell me that my brother isn’t doing so well since his school transitioned to online learning and that he could really benefit from me taking one of his general education courses for him. I know it isn’t my responsibility, but I do not want him to fail. At the same time, how will he ever learn anything if I’m constantly helping him? What should I do? — Not My Job
DEAR NOT MY JOB: It’s too bad you and your family created this practice of you doing work for your brother. You are right. He will never succeed if he doesn’t learn how to do so on his own. Not only is it unethical for you to take a class for your brother, it is also completely unhelpful to him in the long run. If he fails a class because he doesn’t understand or doesn’t apply himself, he will have to learn the material and repeat the course until he gets it. That is what’s best for him, even if he and your father don’t think so. Stop enabling him, and tell him and your father why. Your brother absolutely must learn to fend for himself. Only his own accomplishments can lead him to his path in life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I got into an argument, and he didn’t speak to me for an entire week. He insisted that it was all a misunderstanding. He said that he thought I was the one who did not want to hear from him, but I don’t want to be with someone who can go an entire week without at least checking on me. Is this valid? I don’t think there is any excuse for going that long without speak- ing to the person you are in a relationship with. — No Excuse
DEAR NO EXCUSE: Forget the one-week silent treatment and get to the bottom of the issue. What happened that prompted the argument? How did you resolve it — if you did? Plan a meeting with your boyfriend where you sit down and talk about what is bothering the two of you. Talk it out. Do your best not to be judgmental. Hear him out so that you get a sense of what is on his mind. Ask him to do the same.
Also, since you do not appreciate the silent treatment, tell him that you do not want that to happen again. Instead, if you two are at odds, agree to talk through your difficulties rather than retire to your corners and sulk. To strengthen your relationship, you have to figure out how to handle conflict.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.