Dear Annie: I am a 13-year-old girl in Montreal. I go to a private high-tech school with nice friends and teachers. I have divorced parents and an elder brother, "Edward."

My mom and I spend quality time together pretty often. We go out and have fun, and she buys me things. The thing is that she does these nice things -- such as taking me for ice cream or shopping -- and then uses them against me later. She also says I'm rude when I'm just doing my thing. I am sick and tired of having my mom use the fun times and activities we do as leverage to make me feel bad. Why does she do these things? Is it my fault? Is it hers? Should I talk about it again with her?

Also, my mom tells me not to bully Edward, when he lies more than I do and often starts the problems. She doesn't believe me when I tell her the truth, though.

Does she like him more than me? I must admit that I get along better with my father and Edward gets along better with our mother. But Mom always tells me we're equal in her eyes. I don't believe her.

Please help me; I have no one else to turn to. I do believe this could help others with the same problem who are afraid to speak up. -- Lost and Unloved

Dear Lost and Unloved: Though we do our best as parents, we're not perfect, and sometimes we don't realize the impact of our words. The next time you and Mom are out together, tell her how much you enjoy the quality time. Then explain that you're feeling anxious about doing these outings together because you're afraid she'll bring the memories up in a negative context. Rest assured your mom loves you and your brother equally, my dear. You both will always be No. 1 in her heart, no matter what.

Regarding your issues with your brother, here's the bad news: Elder siblings have been blaming younger siblings for things since the dawn of time. The good news: They eventually grow out of it. In the meantime, when Edward starts to bug you, just ignore him.

Heart patient support

Dear Annie: This is in response to "First-Time Heart Patient." I'm not a physician, but I'm a retired open-heart surgery nurse who specialized in critical care. I want to assure "First-Time Heart Patient" that it sounds as if he received excellent care. Apparently, the doctors thought his situation was so critical that rather than discharge him from the hospital, they sent him for cardiac intervention as soon as it could be coordinated. This would be considered an urgent heart catheterization and intervention.

Perhaps he was too overwhelmed or too ill at the time to remember the nurses explaining the medication to him, or perhaps the meds had to be given very quickly to prevent further problems. That happens. However, it should all have been in the printed copy of his discharge instructions, which should have been given to him and reviewed with him before he went home.

I understand his anxiety and concern about this life-threatening condition. Mended Hearts is a great support group for heart patients after heart attacks and beyond. He can check with his hospital to see whether this is available in his area. Good luck! -- J.P.

Dear J.P.: I so appreciate your taking the time to write in and share your expertise and experience. Thank you.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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