DEAR ABBY: I am 21 and have been going out with an older man (17 years older) I'll call "Sherman" for about a year. He and I are having a baby together in three months.

I don't know if I want to be with Sherman anymore. He keeps telling me that if I want to be with someone more my age -- which I do -- I should break off before things get worse. He says he'd rather be heartbroken now than have me tell him later that I have found someone else.

My friends tell me that if I don't want to be with Sherman, I should just tell him and go on my way. What do you think I should do? Should I try to work things out with him, or tell him that it's over and move on with my life? -- CONFUSED IN MAINE

DEAR CONFUSED: Your friends' advice would be good -- if you weren't expecting a baby with Sherman. However, because there is a child involved who will need support, and preferably the love and care of both parents, you must consider what is best for your baby. Because nowhere in your letter did you indicate that Sherman has said he wants to marry you or provide for his child's support, your next move should be to talk to an attorney about a legal arrangement for the benefit of the baby.

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DEAR ABBY: My mother loves to knit, and she's superb at it. When our children were born, Mama was delighted to have new family members to knit for -- and she has done so throughout their lives.

Last summer, Mama announced that she will no longer knit for our oldest, "Heather," who is 12, because Heather loses everything. Mama said she will no longer pour so much effort into a sweater, hat or scarf only to see it disappear because it was left on a playground.

Last Christmas, all the children received scarves, but only those of the younger two were hand-knit. Heather's came from a store. It was nice -- but it was store-bought.

Now Heather is very hurt, and I don't know what to do. We love our daughter, but she hasn't learned to care for her things, and Mama is adamant about her knitting. What should we do? -- LOST IN OREGON

DEAR LOST: Explain to your daughter that, as hurt as she may feel about the scarf, it's a drop in the bucket compared to how her grandmother felt having spent hours creating a one-of-a-kind item only to have it left somewhere. Heather is not the offended party -- Grandma is. A step in the right direction would be a handwritten letter from Heather to her grandmother apologizing for her carelessness.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Ron," and I are at odds over parenting our 7-year-old son, "Brett." My husband is very domestic. He cooks like a world-class chef and does more housework than any man I know of.

I have read Dr. James Dobson's books on family. He clearly states that a father should be the manly role model for the son, to prevent the son from being homosexual. I'm concerned that Brett will learn feminine ways from my husband and turn out to be gay. How can I convince Ron that he needs to teach Brett the more manly things in life? -- WORRIED MOM IN FLORIDA

DEAR WORRIED MOM: From my perspective, you don't need to change a thing. With all due respect to Dr. Dobson, your husband is already a manly role model to your son. He is teaching the boy important survival skills that will be invaluable when he is older. With luck, your son will turn out to be every bit the man -- and father -- that your husband is.

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