DEAR ABBY: I am a 14-year-old girl and I'm very worried. My mother is having a baby this summer. I'm happy for her and my stepfather (this is their first baby together), but I think they are expecting me to take on a lot more responsibility than I had anticipated.
My mother and my aunts make comments like, "Get used to changing diapers now, and you'll be a natural once your new brother is born." Or, "Just think, you have a baby sitter in the house so you won't have to worry about getting one."
Well, I don't want to be a mother to this baby. I just want to be a sister, one who loves and holds, and occasionally changes diapers or feeds the baby.
I don't know how to talk to my mother about this. I am afraid that I will upset her and she'll think I don't want this newcomer in our family. She has included me in a lot of the preparations, like shopping and decorating the baby's room.
My mother works full time and my stepfather works six days a week. I already take care of my younger sister after school and when my parents go out occasionally.
I want to enjoy my teen years, free to make my own plans that won't be overruled when my parents want me to baby-sit. Can you give me any suggestions? -- THE OLDEST SISTER
DEAR OLDEST SISTER: It is not unreasonable for your parents to expect you to watch the baby for short periods when they are absent, but they should not depend upon you for all of the baby's care. You will be in school for a good part of the time while your mother works, so she will need another caretaker for your brother in any event.
Show this letter to your parents. The important thing to remember is "compromise": They should not expect you to be an unpaid baby sitter for your new brother; you should expect to pitch in some of the time. You might discover, after the baby arrives, that you want to spend more time with him. Good luck, and congratulations on the new arrival.