DEAR ABBY: When my children were young, I was a single parent. I always put my children first. We didn't have a lot of money, but we got by. If they asked for something we couldn't afford, we would discuss it. I'd show them the budget and the bills, and we'd find a way to get what they wanted.

They gave up snacks for six months so I could set that money aside to buy them bikes. We also decided we could go to Disney World -- if we didn't have cable for two years. If they wanted something, the answer was always yes, but I let them know we needed to figure out how to manage it. They learned to budget and save for things they wanted. I believe if you work toward a goal, you can achieve it.

My new husband disagrees with me. We attended a parenting class together and they agreed with him. This doesn't sit well with me. I feel that just saying "no" is showing them we have the control, but teaches them nothing. Am I wrong? -- ALREADY AT ODDS IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR AT ODDS: No. I disagree with your husband and the person teaching the parenting class. If your children are respectful, happy, willing and ready to work hard and sacrifice to achieve their goals, then you are a successful parent. If your household was harmonious until your husband entered it, you don't need a parenting class -- you need family therapy.

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DEAR ABBY: Eight months ago, I became involved with "Ted," who was separated from his wife, "Erica." I fell head-over-heels for him, but in the end, he decided to work things out with his wife.

When Ted told Erica about me, she said she wanted to meet me. I decided I owed it to her, so we met. Believe it or not, we hit it off. Within a couple of weeks we were friends.

The problem, of course, is that hanging out with Erica means I also see Ted. I thought I was over him, but recently old feelings have come back and I feel awful thinking about him while being good friends with his wife. I don't want to give up the friendship with her, but being around him is making me sad. What should I do? -- DISCONCERTED FRIEND

DEAR DISCONCERTED: You and I both know what you should do. Put the brakes on the relationship with Erica and Ted, and when she asks why, explain that it has nothing to do with her but you have some unresolved issues to work out. Then back off until you get your head straight, and possibly become involved with another man. To do otherwise is masochistic.

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DEAR ABBY: If someone tells a white lie about something trivial, is it because he/she is lazy and wants to avoid conflict? Should the lie be ignored or should I be concerned about trust? -- SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

DEAR SEARCHING: People tell white lies all the time. Sometimes it's done to avoid conflict, other times it's an attempt to be polite. When someone asks, "How are you?" and you respond, "Fine, thanks" instead of describing your headache or backache, that's a form of white lie. You should worry only if you catch someone in a big, bald-faced act of prevarication. Election years are filled with exaggerations and outright lies, so hang onto your hat.

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