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DEAR ABBY: I am an atheist. My parents, although raised Presbyterian, never to my knowledge participated in organized religion, so it was not part of my upbringing.

Last year my mom started going to church again, and my kids have been going with her. I've always said they can make their own choices and I'd support them.

Mom is about to go south for the rest of the winter and there's no obvious church member the kids can go with, but they'd like to keep attending. Would it be wrong for me to go with them on Sundays, even though I don't believe in the church doctrine and won't be otherwise involved in the organization?

I'm sure I could be unobtrusive, but I'm not sure what to say if someone asks why I'm there -- especially since I'll stop going once my mother returns to town. The kids are tweens and not old enough to go alone. What do you think? -- WHAT'S APPROPRIATE?

DEAR WHAT'S: When people see one another in a house of worship, they usually assume that they are equally religious and that's why they're there. However, if you are asked why you're there, all you have to say is that your children enjoy being there and your mother is away, so you brought them. I don't think it's necessary to announce to anyone that you're an atheist.

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Cost of Groceries Is a Surprise to Husband

DEAR ABBY: My husband is constantly complaining about the cost of groceries. He recently graduated from college and now works in the corporate world making substantially more than he did before. I'm 16 weeks pregnant, but before I quit my job I was working full time and would buy all the groceries. Now that my husband shares an account with me, he constantly makes me feel bad for buying food.

Abby, I'm not talking about $300 a week; it's more like $70 a week for food. Yet he spends twice that amount on beer, video games and lunches for himself. I have told him numerous times how horrible he makes me feel, and have even cried about it, but today he brought up the topic again. He is making me depressed and afraid of buying food for fear of being mocked and "guilted." What am I to do? -- THE COST OF GROCERIES

DEAR COST: Your husband should be ashamed of himself. The next time he complains, stand your ground and tell him in no uncertain terms it's time to grow up and cut it out. He's no longer a kid; he's a married man with responsibilities. Those groceries are feeding his wife and child, and you both need all the nourishment you can get right now.

Also, stress for a woman in your expectant condition isn't good for you or the baby. I think it's time the guilt trip worked both ways, don't you?


DEAR ABBY: Is it appropriate to stay in contact with my former mother-in-law? Her son and I divorced after three years. She was the best thing to come out of the whole fiasco. I don't want to cause friction, but I would like to continue to send birthday and holiday cards. -- DIVORCED WITH NO REGRETS

DEAR DIVORCED WITH NO REGRETS: I can't see how a holiday card relationship with your former mother-in-law would cause friction. However, because you are concerned, the person to ask would be the lady herself. If she would welcome the attention from you, then send them.

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