DEAR AMY: My brother (we share a bedroom) stays up until 4 a.m. talking on Skype and using the computer when he is not supposed to. This happens every night.

In the morning I always wake up exhausted and wanting a nap. My grades are tanking; I don’t have any energy during the day; and I get yelled at a lot because of this.

The worst part is, when I tell my parents that he’s up all night, they just say, “We’ve told him he can’t do that” and insist that he is not up all night.

They disregard his misbehavior all the time, and then take away my computer for slipping grades.

How can I get my parents to believe me about my brother? I’d like my life back. -- Sleepless in Seattle

DEAR SLEEPLESS: First things first — your grades, your sleep, etc., are your responsibility.

I’m on your side here, but if your sleep is disrupted night after night, then you should try whatever remedies are available to deal with it. I’m talking about earplugs, night shades or sleeping on the couch.

Skype (the Internet calling service) keeps a tally of when calls were placed and the duration of the calls. Your parents should verify this usage by checking the Skype program on your brother’s computer.

As the mother of teens (and former teens) I know that the 24-hour lure of constant contact is simply too much for some people to handle responsibly (I include myself in this category).

People should unplug at night. For people who can’t manage this, laptops and smartphones should be brought down to the kitchen at bedtime and they should stay there (in the freezer, if necessary) until morning.

DEAR AMY: My mother-in-law is a fantastic baker. The best.

However, her idea of breakfast when we visit is muffins and juice.

My idea of breakfast is a pretty substantial cereal with muffins (or cinnamon rolls or scones or her other specialty of the day) as a side. There’s no way I can eat just a pastry for breakfast and make it through the morning.

And not to put too fine a point on it, but I kind of rely on a high-fiber cereal every morning.

Is it rude for me to bring milk and cereal into their house for breakfast when we are visiting for a few days?

I feel as if I can get away with it now because I’m pregnant, but in the future I don’t know how to handle this. -- Expectant Daughter-in-law

DEAR EXPECTANT: You should give your mother-in-law the opportunity to beef up her breakfast offerings before bringing groceries into her home.

In advance of your next visit, say to her, “I’m on a breakfast routine and usually eat (name the brand) cereal. I absolutely love your baked goods, but would it be okay if we also had some cereal in the morning? I’d be happy to bring it along with us when we come.”

Good hosts (and she is definitely one) enjoy making their guests feel at home. Give her a chance to do this for you.

DEAR AMY: I’m responding to the letter from “Wondering,” expressing frustration over the lack of thanks for a memorial donation. You said that charities normally notify both parties of a memorial donation.

My son, a Marine helicopter pilot, died in February. We received an acknowledgment letter from one of the organizations (but not the other) that we asked for donations for in lieu of flowers; there are more than 80 names on the list.

We do not recognize at least half of the names on that list. My son knew so many people and they have reached out to us in the kindest of ways.

The only way we have to thank them is a note on our Web site with thanks from an overflowing heart.

Our notes of thanks will eventually be written; until then we hope that our friends understand. -- Grieving Mother

DEAR GRIEVING: Please accept my sympathy for your loss. People are capable of astounding and beautiful acts of generosity when their hearts are touched.

Other readers have also commented that not all charities notify people when a gift has been received.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

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