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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Becomes Too Amicable Following Daughter's Divorce

DEAR ABBY: My problem is my mother and my ex-husband. When "Steve" and I divorced two years ago, there were a lot of hard feelings. My mother is aware of this because I was living with her at the time.

Abby, my mother constantly takes Steve's side over mine. She repeatedly "reminds" me how lucky I am that Steve pays child support and has regular visits with our daughter. I agree that I am luckier than most divorced mothers. But when I discuss any problem I might be having with Steve, Mom takes his side and says, "He pulls his own weight."

What I would like Steve to do is to take more responsibility for our daughter. She stays with him two days a week, but you can bet that on one of those days he will have something else to do -- like work, a date or a ballgame. Then he asks Mom to baby-sit our daughter and Mom readily agrees. When I ask her to baby-sit for me, she immediately wants to know why. When Steve drops our daughter off at Mom's house, family members tell me that he usually spends up to an hour visiting with her. I think this is strange behavior.

What is this "thing" between my ex-husband and my mom? She didn't think he was so great when we were married. Why the sudden change? Is this my ex's way of staying involved in my life? When I ask Mom about this she gets defensive, or ignores me, or hangs up on me. -- CONFUSED DAUGHTER, METAIRIE, LA.

DEAR CONFUSED: Your mother is walking a tightrope between remaining cordial with your "ex," being loyal to you and being a good grandmother. She may go a little overboard defending Steve, but she may also be playing the "devil's advocate," pointing out his good features so that you will eventually have a civil relationship.

Although Steve is no longer your husband, that doesn't mean he can't be a friend of your mother's. Because you share custody of your child, Steve will always be in your life to some degree. Try to accept it and go on with your life.

DEAR ABBY: I am a male in my mid-30s and have been divorced for nearly two years. For the past year, I have been casually dating. During this period, a friend of mine passed away suddenly. His widow is everything I would ever want in a wife. Our families have participated in many activities together -- baseball games, zoo, picnics, movies, etc. Our children get along great. I never intended to fall in love, but I have.

I know I am ready to move on with my life. But I don't know when my friend will be -- if ever. How will I know when the time is right? She is truly a diamond, and I don't want to lose her -- or our friendship. Please help me. -- IN LOVE

DEAR IN LOVE: I wish all the questions I am asked were as easy to answer. Invite her to dinner without the children and tell her how you feel.

DEAR ABBY: I was pleased that you printed the letter about the infant who nearly strangled in her parents' bed. Her mother had taken her into the bed after an exhausting night of crying, and the baby's head slipped into a space between the mattress and the headboard, where she became stuck. That was an important cautionary tale, but I want to correct the impression that this sort of thing is a "freak accident."

In a recent one-year period, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission received reports of almost 100 infants and young children who suffocated on adult beds. Abby, please tell your readers that parents should never put a young child, especially an infant, in their bed to sleep. It is a sweet gesture, but it could have tragic consequences.

Thank you so much for all the good work you do, and for helping keep children safe in their homes. -- ANN BROWN, CHAIRMAN, U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION, WASHINGTON, D.C.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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