Dear Amy: I have cousins who receive almost all of the attention from our grandparents.

One cousin is at an Ivy League school right now (on scholarship for football). He also has an internship with a firm on Wall Street.

The other is a highly-rated high school basketball player.

I haven’t been blessed with those talents athletically, but I am making my own path to success.

I am in college, and I will be graduating in May. Then, I will go to graduate school.

No matter what I do, though, I never seem to receive the same level of attention and respect as my cousins do.

My grandparents might talk about my successes for a few minutes, but then move on and talk about my cousins for the rest of the time.

I am happy for my cousins and want them to be successful, but it hurts me knowing it feels like my accomplishments and successes are going underappreciated.

This has happened my entire life.

How do I tell my grandparents this without causing heated arguments?

— Underappreciated

Dear Underappreciated: If you fear that expressing your sincere feelings will bring on a heated argument, then I’d say that the issue with your grandparents is deeper and more complicated than an attention imbalance.

Parents oftentimes actively promote closeness between their children and grandparents, starting very early in life. Your parents might have been more low-key than your cousins’ parents.

These cousins seem to be succeeding in ways that we in Western culture latch onto. Excelling in sports and heading to Ivy League schools will provide a shorthand for obvious “success” in the sometimes superficial and obvious ways that some parents and grandparents seem to covet and value.

If you want to let your grandparents know how this affects you, you can express your feelings — using “I statements”: “I know that my cousins are doing well, but I’m doing really well, too. I feel like I’m often in their shadow when it comes to you. It would mean a lot to me if you understood that. Your good opinion means a lot to me.”

A few statements like this should open the door. I hope that your grandparents choose to walk through it.

Remember, though, that the most important approval you will ever receive is that which you give to yourself. Keep going on your own path to success.

Dear Amy: I am a recently divorced woman. I started a new job about six months ago. I am in middle management and enjoy the work very much.

One of my (male) colleagues has asked me around three times what my marital status is.

Normally I’m pretty open about my life, but this query puts me off. I’ve dodged the question, but I’m wondering how you think I should handle it.

— Curious Colleague

Dear Curious: Don’t dodge. This is a natural instinct, but dodging just pushes this down the road.

If he brings up your marital status again, you could respond with the classic: “Why do you keep asking me this?”

Understand that when you do so, you open yourself up to his (possibly disingenuous) answer.

Regardless of how he responds, you should state: “That’s personal, and I don’t want to discuss it. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t bring this up again.”

Stating that this personal curiosity bothers you should end it.

He needs to back all the way off. If he persists after you ask him to stop, he cannot claim that these are stray remarks, and your co-worker is opening himself up to violating company policy and a possible harassment claim.

Dear Amy: My wife and I had a great laugh over “Baffled,” the man who shaved his beard off and then wondered what it meant when his wife didn’t notice.

I have had various beards and goatees over most of the 50 years of our marriage.

Every spring, I perform my annual “clean shave.” It has become a running joke how long it takes my wife and/or kids to notice.

I think the record for not noticing was about a week.

The only shave which got a nearly instantaneous reaction was when I shaved off my mustache.

My wife started laughing and told me I looked like my brother.

— Hirsute in Denver

Dear Hirsute: I’ve received many responses from men who report that they’ve shaved off beards or mustaches, but the people around them can’t quite put their finger on what’s different.

What I appreciate is that everyone who has responded says that they laugh about it.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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