DEAR ABBY: I've read your column for years and you are usually "right on," but in a recent column you goofed royally.
A teen-aged girl was invited to a baby shower by the mother of one of her young friends. The girl's grandmother advised her not to attend the shower because the pregnant friend was unmarried. The girl asked for your advice, and you advised her to go to the shower because the baby needed gifts whether the mother was married or not.
Abby, I think there's a bigger picture to consider here than whether or not the baby needed things. A baby shower is a party celebrating the future arrival of a baby. In attending such a party, the guests are honoring the mother and celebrating the coming event. In my opinion, an unwed teen-aged mother hasn't anything to celebrate.
How does one earn the privilege to be a parent?
1. Complete your education.
2. Work for several years to save some money.
3. Get married at a reasonable time -- not in your teens.
4. Wait at least a year before getting pregnant to be sure the marriage will last.
Our society has supported unwed mothers for two or three decades. Now look at the epidemic we have. I don't suggest shunning these girls, but my attitude is: "This is a problem you created; now you and your family will have to handle it."
As a schoolteacher, I see babies born to girls who are neither emotionally nor financially able to handle motherhood.
Through the years, when I've been invited to baby showers for unwed mothers, I politely decline. I've never felt guilt and the people about whom I really care have respected me for declining.
If one of my grandchildren ever became an unwed parent, I would never put my friends on the spot by inviting them to a baby shower. And if their friends gave one, I would send a gift but would not attend. -- MICHIGAN MOM
DEAR MICHIGAN MOM: Judging from the feedback, more readers agreed with your point of view than with mine:
DEAR ABBY: Your reply to the girl about whether it's improper to hold a baby shower for an unwed mother is way off base.
A baby shower is a celebration first and a financial event second.
When someone they know is involved in a tragic car accident, friends typically give extensive contributions of food, services and other assistance to the family. But they don't do it in the form of a celebratory party.
A baby whose mother is an unwed high school girl, and whose father doesn't want to accept any responsibility, is a tragedy -- not a cause for celebration.
If friends of the girl want to help out financially, fine. But don't do so in the "isn't it wonderful" atmosphere that accompanies a baby shower. -- CAROL SANDERS, SAN DIEGO
DEAR CAROL: Perhaps an unwed mother doesn't "deserve" a baby shower in the form of a celebration -- but she needs it more than the married mother who has everything going for her.
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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