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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is my first letter to you, although I have been reading your column for many years. I need an outside opinion.

I am a grandmother in my 70s and have just returned from visiting my daughter, her husband and their three darling children -- all under the age of 5 -- and I'm upset with some of their parenting methods. For example:

They lock the doors to their children's bedrooms at night because "the children might get out of their beds and roam around the house and we may not hear them."

If one child deserves punishment, all three are punished. And if one child says a naughty word, all three are given hot sauce in the mouth.

Abby, I know these parents love their children very much, but are these methods of disciplining them wise? Please understand, it is not my intention to interfere. -- GRAM

DEAR GRAM: Children's bedroom doors should not be locked. Should a flash fire occur, it would be a nightmare.

Punishing all the children when only one has earned the punishment is a good way to make siblings grow up to hate each other.

Children who use "naughty" words should not be punished with hot sauce in the mouth -- they should be taught the proper and acceptable word to use instead of the "naughty" word.

DEAR ABBY: I had to write in response to "A Very Disappointed Trampoline Owner" who was upset because he had to buy more insurance to cover himself if he was sued by neighbors whose kids sneaked into his yard and jumped on his trampoline.

You suggested he build a fence and put a lock on it so children couldn't use the trampoline unless they were supervised.

Abby, if "Disappointed" wanted to give his children a fun toy, he may as well have given them a chain saw, because a trampoline is no less dangerous. Supervision doesn't ensure safety.

My sister is a quadriplegic today because of a trampoline mishap she had years ago. She was a trained college gymnast who had spotters watching her when she did a back flip on the trampoline and broke her neck! She never left the trampoline, or hit the sides.

"Disappointed" is afraid an unsupervised child will get hurt and sue him. What happens if his own children get hurt? There will be no one to blame but himself. If he really loves his children, he'll get rid of the trampoline. You may use my name. -- JENIFER WOETZEL, WELCH, MINN.

DEAR JENIFER: I am genuinely sorry about your sister's tragic accident. Because you cared enough to write, millions of readers are now alerted to the potential hazard of trampolines.

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