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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl's Epilepsy Causes Stress For Older Sister

DEAR ABBY: My 13-year-old sister has epilepsy and it's driving me mad! She has three seizures a month, and I'm usually the one who detects them beforehand.

Ever since she was diagnosed, my family has been giving her everything she wants. She gets D's and F's on her report card and they don't say a word. If I get a mere B, I get yelled at and punished.

I'm 17 and I realize I may seem petty, but I know my parents are spoiling her to the point where it'll come back to haunt them. The other day my sister wanted a new smartphone. When Mom said no, my sister purposely triggered a seizure.

My parents won't admit they're wrong, and we can't afford counseling with all my sister's bills. Please help me. -- MAD IN MIAMI

DEAR MAD: You have my sympathy. I don't think you are being petty. Being the sibling of a sick child can be extremely difficult, and your situation is no exception. Parents often devote so much attention to the child who is unwell that the healthy one is starved for attention and positive reinforcement. The result is resentment that can last a lifetime.

Because what's happening is causing you stress, talk about it with a counselor at school. There may be counseling available for you at no cost to your parents.

Read more in: Teens | Family & Parenting | Mental Health | Money