DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister and I have a relatively large age gap between us. (I am 15 years older than she is.) For her ninth birthday, she received a dog! This particularly resonates with me because I was always aware she'd grow up the more spoiled one. During my high school years, I was a baby sitter who had no fun, and my little sister will be able to go to all of the parties. I always begged my parents for a pet but never even got a fish. I would have been content with any kind of critter, but my 9-year-old sister getting a puppy seems like a slap in the face to me. When my parents told me, I told them it seemed out of character for them to gift her with a dog when they didn't get me anything, and they told me she is more responsible than I was! How can you judge a child on how responsible they are? We were all children once, and it bothers me that my parents think so little of me.
I didn't want to start a fight over this, but I want to draw the line with my parents when it comes to talking about how much better my sister is than me. How do I tell them to stop treating her like she's so mature without seeming bitter? -- Older Older Sister, Spokane, Washington
DEAR OLDER OLDER SISTER: Parents of multiple children, especially those with big age gaps, learn from their experiences with their older children and often course-correct along the way. Unfortunately, this can look like unfairness when the older child witnesses the younger one enjoying privileges previously considered unimaginable. If possible, rather than being angry with your parents, give them credit for learning. They are different now than when you were young, thanks to what they learned from you.