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Dear Harlan: My selfish a-hole brother forgot my birthday. This is a first for him. He texted me two days later and told me he was sorry he forgot. He didn’t even call. He texted. How is that OK? I know we’re not kids anymore, but how can an adult think this is OK to do? I’m 25, and he’s 22. He has always been selfish and self-centered. I don’t even know how to respond to this. This is not the first time he has done something so rude and insensitive. I should expect this. But it still bothers me. What is the best way to respond without letting him off the hook?

— Forgotten Sister

Dear Forgotten:  Happy birthday! Appreciate that your a-hole brother might never be the brother you want him to be. It’s OK. Give him permission to love and care about you however he can do it. Surrender all expectations in the future. This doesn’t mean you have to keep quiet when he’s rude. It just means that you can tell him how you feel without expecting him to change. It’s safer. Then he won’t disappoint you. Give him a call. Tell him you appreciate the text message. Explain that it hurt your feelings to not get a call from him on your birthday. Let him know what you want without shaming him. Then move on. Love him for his best qualities and forgive him for his worst. That’s what families who stick together do.

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