Dear Amy: My brother and I are both in our young 20s and are still living at home. I am getting my master’s degree, and my brother has recently decided that he would like to study for the LSAT and attend law school.
He has never much liked school, nor spent much time studying, but he has decided that he will start writing practice exams and then do the LSAT.
My mother and I are supportive; we want to encourage him to continue his education. Working toward a goal, choosing his career path, all of this is awesome.
However, I am annoyed by his study habits. He demands absolute silence.
He studies on the main floor (next to the kitchen) in the late afternoon and into the evening.
If me or my mother are at all “disruptive” (by talking to each other while preparing the family dinner, or even simply preparing dinner too loudly) he will berate us — yelling and cursing.
I have argued that this isn’t a fair time or location (he could choose to do these practice exams during the day when no one is home, or study in his bedroom), but these suggestions have resulted in more shouting.
What should we do?
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Dear Chatty: I’m trying to imagine the sense of entitlement that gives a young man license to silence his own mother, while she is busy preparing his supper.
Wow, he’ll make partner at a law firm someday.
And I have to ask: What kind of household is your mother running?
At this juncture, she doesn’t seem to be running her household at all. Your brother is squarely in charge.
Your mother’s response to his demands for silence should be: “Go to your room. Go to the library. Wear headphones. If you want to spend time around us, you’ll have to be civil. And if you don’t like living at home, there’s the door.”
It sounds as if your brother isn’t working outside the home. Ideally, he should approach his studying like a 9-to-5 job, leaving time for conversation, exercise, good nutrition and good sleep.
Dear Amy: Help! There has been a big rift in my family since the 2016 election. My cousin is quite right-wing and has been particularly rude and insulting (to the point of unfriending on social media). We don’t associate socially anymore.
I, too, feel very strongly about politics and will challenge comments I know are not based in fact. Now there is a wedding coming up, and everyone is invited.
My stomach clenches at the thought of being in a room with him and like-minded members of the family.
My question is whether it is better to show up and shut up for the sake of family, or not go because I am appalled by their politics and beliefs.
I am really struggling with this.
What do you think I should do?
Dear Struggling: When encountering tricky social situations, if “show up and shut up” is presented as one of the options, I’m usually voting for that.
I hope you and your cousin choose to abide by this very basic — and easy to follow — social contract.
This wedding is not about your cousin’s — or your — politics. It is about celebrating the marrying couple, and embracing the growth of your family through marriage.
I suggest you toughen your spine, exercise your right to show up where you’re invited and choose to avoid talking politics on this day.
Steer clear of the most toxic cousin — and the open bar.
If you do engage, remain civil, and show your more boorish relatives that you won’t be riled or bullied, by responding: “I don’t think this is the time and place to fight about politics, do you?”
Dear Amy: Responding to the conversation about the question signed by “Disrespected DIL,” I am a man with a life-threatening anaphylactic allergy to any crustacean, penicillin, walnuts and strawberries.
Emergencies have occurred a few hours before a flight from London, when the emergency could have happened mid-ocean, once during car travel to my employer’s Texas plant and once in Tokyo.
It is a very scary situation. I am shocked that an in-law is so callous about attempting to feed life-threatening food to her daughter-in-law.
Disrespected should stop eating at her in-laws’. The victim’s husband should be more protective toward his wife.
Joseph, in Indiana
Dear Joseph: I wonder if readers advising “Disrespected DIL” to “suck it up” really understand what it is like to have this sort of allergy attack.