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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old daughter, "Bethany," just confided that she has been sexually active for the past month. This is her first experience, and she says they are practicing safe sex. I have not yet told her father, although he suspects she might be.

Should I tell him or keep my mouth shut?

I'm afraid of what his reaction will be. There has been a lot of tension between my husband and Bethany for the past couple of years, and I don't want to add to it.

I have considered telling him when she is not at home so he'll have time to cool down before he confronts her, but I keep losing my nerve. The fact that he doesn't like her boyfriend doesn't help. If I keep quiet, perhaps he will not find out.

I will wait for your answer. Please advise. -- MOM IN THE MIDDLE

DEAR MOM: Better your husband hears the news from you now than possibly in a crisis. Bethany should be told that you plan to discuss this with her father because she's still a minor, and as a parent, he has the right to know. Tell your husband you expect his cooperation in discussing this with Bethany without confrontation or retaliation.

Your daughter deserves an honest relationship with both of you as she progresses through her teens.

DEAR ABBY: My best friend got married two years ago. I was her maid of honor. As a wedding gift, I decided to give them two of the very expensive wineglasses for which they were registered. When I went to buy them, I was told the glasses were back-ordered, and it would be 14 weeks before my friends would receive their gift.

The clerk gave me a gift card on which was written the pattern and quantity of the wineglasses. Due to the festivities that preceded the wedding, I kept forgetting to call the store to place my order. However, I did put the card in a box and wrapped it, so my friends would know they were getting the wineglasses.

Abby, I still haven't placed the order. A few months after the wedding, my friend asked me about them, and I told her it would take several more weeks. Since then, neither of us has mentioned it.

Abby, at the time of the wedding, my husband and I could afford the glasses, but now the price has gone up. I'm a full-time homemaker raising our son, and money is tight.

This is very embarrassing. What should I do to save face? Come forward and confess my negligence, or forget about it? -- WEDDING GIFT WOES

DEAR WOES: Confess. Since you haven't forgotten about the gift you promised, your friend probably hasn't either. If she's a good friend, she will understand. When she celebrates her fifth wedding anniversary, present her with the glasses. I suggest you start saving now.

DEAR ABBY: You have printed various suggestions about how to handle nosy questions. Tell people they can use my brother's line. If anyone asks him a presumptuous question, he replies, "Why? Are you writing a book?"

If the person is rash enough to answer "yes," he adds, "Well, make it a mystery!" -- FRANK WAGNER, CINCINNATI

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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