Dear Carolyn: I have two kids and my parents were very involved and supportive throughout both pregnancies. Now my sister is pregnant and she keeps asking me things like, “Did Mom seem excited when you told her you were pregnant?” I’m struggling with how to answer.

I’m pretty sure I know what’s going on, which is that my sister is planning to move overseas three months after the baby is born, and with this pandemic who knows when Mom and Dad will get to see their grandbaby. So my sense is they are preemptively distancing themselves … which of course is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because my sister will distance herself.

So what is my role in all this? Should I talk with my mom about what my sister has told me? Should I tell my sister my theory about our parents, which might be totally baseless? Do I butt out entirely?

— Sister

Sister: You can, when complained to by one party or the other, encourage each party to talk to the other directly. I hope you do.

You also can float your theory to your sister: “I wonder if they are distancing themselves preemptively, or just upset about your move and trying not to let that splash out onto you.”

Re: Sister: I was in your position, and sharing in a kind way that I also saw the disparity (and suffered from it) helped her heal the hurt. You can do that and then say, talk to each other.

— Anonymous

Carolyn: Mom hasn’t talked to me about this directly, so there’s been no opportunity to suggest she talk to Sis. I haven’t noticed unequal treatment between us siblings before, but maybe I should ask Sis if she has. After thinking about it more, I decided that if Sis asks again, I should be honest that, yes, our parents were more outwardly excited about my kids, and offer my theory that they are concerned about being cut out of the baby’s life so soon. Sis might be able to address that by talking to them.

— Sister

Sister: Sounds good. But yes to putting the other question on the agenda, too: “Have you ever felt before that we weren’t treated equally?” And really give her room to respond. Kids in favoritism situations have said, almost unanimously, the most healing thing has been the acknowledgment and support of the favored child toward the unfavored. I hope for both your sakes it’s just situational and not systemic.

Hi Carolyn: I just wanted to share this positive development from spending several weeks in quarantine last year. I went from being disgusted by my face sans makeup, to tolerant after a few weeks, to the new realization that I look perfectly fine in my bare facial state. After four decades of trying to adjust my face with shades and blushes and powders and concealers, this feels lovely.

— Bare

Bare: This is lovely, thank you.