DEAR ABBY: "Crushed in California" whined about her new stepdaughter's "rude, tacky, inappropriate and cruel" reaction after Stepmom and Dad dumped notice on his 24-year-old daughter -- in a public place, no less -- that they had eloped.

Abby, the ADULTS were the rude, insensitive, inappropriate, self-centered and inconsiderate parties in this matter -- not the daughter. They are the ones who should be seeking to mend fences.

When I decided to remarry, we invited my daughters (all in their 20s) over for a private dinner at home where we made the announcement, invited the girls to participate in the planning and answered questions. And yes, the question about a pre-nup was raised. So what! My daughters wanted assurance that I had thought things through. They wanted to know how the marriage would change our family's dynamics, home arrangements, college plans, etc. They were surprised. They got emotional. But they clearly cared about me and my happiness. Their questions weren't out of line; they were the same questions I got from close friends.

It seems to me that these self-centered "adults" cared diddly-squat about what Dad's daughter felt or worried about: Keep the young woman in the dark. Don't let her contribute toward planning the event. Don't let her attend this milestone. Then dump the news on her in a public place to keep her emotional response contained. That ought to show her how important she is in her dad's new life!

Get over it, Stepmom. You married a man with a daughter. She needs to be part of your life right now. You and Dad blew it by shutting her out. Maybe in time the daughter will forgive you. -- A DAD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR DAD IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: You appear to be at the helm of a close and functional family. It's sad that more families aren't like your own.

What bothered me about the letter from "Crushed in California" was that the first words out of the daughter's mouth had to do with money. I believe that people who earn and save money should be able to spend it as they wish. I also believe that it is unwise to count other people's money as your own. If the father wants his daughter to have any of his assets, then he should have a will that says so. (It's called estate planning.) If he already has a will leaving his property to his daughter, now that he is married he will need a new one, because here in California, his wife would have a claim on half his estate in the event of his death.

Read on for other readers' comments:

DEAR ABBY: I, too, have a stepdaughter who "freaked out" when her father and I married. Her father and I were shocked at her reaction. We offered her the option of family counseling, but she refused to go. My husband and I decided to go by ourselves. It worked miracles!

Once his daughter came to grips with the fact that we were going to stay together, and she would always still have her father, things gradually got better. Now, a few years later, we're a close and loving family. It seems she was afraid she would no longer be No. 1 to Daddy, but she is -- she's just No. 1 Daughter. I am No. 1 Wife. There is plenty of love to go around for the both of us. -- NO. 1 WIFE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR ABBY: If you look beyond the daughter's initial reaction, I think you'll see someone who was scared to death of losing her father. Eloping was probably interpreted as the first step to abandonment. Bottom line: She was scared. Instead of pulling away from her and resenting her, they should embrace her and reassure her that she'll always be part of their lives. -- ANOTHER DADDY'S GIRL IN PORTLAND

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What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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