My younger sister and I are in high school. She takes spending money from my parents all the time. I don’t because I prefer to work after school for my money. Recently, she broke an expensive phone case that I worked hard to buy. My parents don’t want to pay for it, and my sister doesn’t have any cash. Please help! —Older Sister
Let your parents know that you’ve consulted an advice columnist who happens to be an attorney. Tell them that, generally, parents are legally responsible for property damage caused by their minor children. (Your sister is under 18, right?) If they still don’t want to replace the broken phone case, ask them if you can collect a dollar from them every time they give your sister a dollar of spending money—just until you’ve recouped your losses. No matter what happens with your phone case, though, your independence and work ethic are promising signs for your future!
—Adapted from “Social Q’s” in The New York Times Magazine