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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My son got into serious trouble and is in jail right now. He is 19 and began getting into trouble with the law three years ago. He's close to his grandparents, who live out of state, and when he first got into trouble at age 16, I kept them in the dark about it as long as I could. They eventually found out, and I know they worried a lot.

My son stayed out of trouble for more than a year. He went to counseling for alcohol abuse and other problems. I realized he still had problems. But three days ago, he and a friend of his broke into someone's garage to steal and were caught. My heart broke once again. My son is now in county jail. I visited him there and managed to hold back my tears in front of him, but I cried all the way home.

Here's my problem: Should I tell my parents, who are 1,000 miles away, and cause them all this grief? My mother telephones every weekend to "check in." I didn't have the heart to tell her this Sunday. Do you think she has the right to know? She always asks about her grandsons and is especially close to this one. I just don't want her to worry. -- BROKENHEARTED MOTHER

DEAR BROKENHEARTED: Since your mother always asks, and feels especially close to this grandchild, I think you should tell her the truth now. Eventually she will have to be told, unless you intend to deceive your parents about the boy's whereabouts until he's served his time. If so, your chances for pulling it off are slim.

DEAR ABBY: Please discuss fathers tickling their young children. They seem to get some sadistic pleasure out of expressing their love (?) by tickling the little girls and boys until they scream with laughter, then pain -- then end up in tears!

This needs discussion, Abby. I think it's sadistic! Do you? -- MRS. B. IN JOPLIN, MO.

DEAR MRS. B: Yes. Children who "end up in tears" are experiencing pain -- not pleasure -- and no father should be permitted to play such games. Excessive tickling is said to stimulate children inappropriately. To subject a child to this kind of "play" is child abuse. It's the business of adults to protect children from ANY kind of child abuse -- and while it may appear innocent and "all in fun," it should not be tolerated.

DEAR ABBY: The woman who was upset because her husband's friend held his fork incorrectly just about sent me through the roof. I wish all I had to worry about was how my friends held their dinner forks.

I'd like to tell that woman that if more people would hold their forks in their fists like a 3-year-old child, but were smart, college-educated, well-mannered and had great personalities, our country would be much better off.

I suppose a man could be a rapist, murderer or drug dealer, but as long as he held his dinner fork properly, he'd be OK? That woman should come down from her pedestal and start dealing with issues like world peace, abused children, caring for the elderly, and feeding the homeless -- who would be happy just to eat, let alone hold a fork properly! -- S.B., ROSEBURG, ORE.

Abby's family recipes are included in her cookbooklet. Send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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