Dear Dr. Wallace:
I’m a 13-year-old boy, and I have to share a room with my 15-year-old brother, who is a total slob. His side of the room is always messy and dirty, while I keep my side neat and tidy. He rarely makes his bed, and I always make mine. What really bugs me is that he gets home from school before I do (I play sports), and instead of lying on his bed to read his magazines and play games on his cellphone, he plops his stinky bones down on my tidy bed! I’ve told him a million times to stay off my bed, but all he ever says is, “Bug off, gnat!”
What can I do to get my total slob of a big brother to stay off my bed?
— Younger Brother,
Dear Younger Brother: If you have already talked to your parents about this, perhaps they do not consider it to be a very serious problem — but to you, it is. And your parents, not you, must resolve this particular type of problem. Show them this column, and they will know the problem was serious enough for you to write to a columnist for advice.
Ask your parents to have a talk with your brother and tell him to keep his side of the room neater. At the very least, they should insist that he stays off your bed, as fair is fair. My own mother had a saying she was quite fond of when I was a young boy: “You made your bed, so now you have to lie in it!” I feel this saying applies to your older brother quite well. Let him lie in his own bed after school.
Dear Dr. Wallace: My mother has told me that a cousin of mine has a disease called anorexia. She says it is a very serious disease. Our family plans to visit my aunt and uncle over Thanksgiving, and I want to know if I can catch this disease from her. I’m 13, and I’m totally too young to catch a really bad disease.
Please answer my letter real soon as I might be able to get my parents to change our holiday plans.
— Worried Sick,
Dear Worried Sick: Anorexia nervosa is not a disease that can be transmitted from person to person. It is an eating disorder and a form of self-starvation. Ninety percent of anorexics are female. It is a very serious affliction and can become fatal in some circumstances. In fact, 10 to 15% of anorexics die from being undernourished.
It is extremely difficult for anorexia sufferers to overcome this disorder by themselves. In most cases, the help of a therapist is necessary. I would suggest that your parents and you read more about anorexia nervosa so you can intelligently discuss this eating disorder with your cousin and her family. Please give them all the support and encouragement you can; they could use your positive words.
You have nothing contagious to worry about here, and educating yourself may help you and others in the future.