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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have cried and practically worried myself sick and would appreciate some advice.

My 25-year-old son told us that he and his girlfriend, "Nancy," are getting married this summer. I have met her and she's very nice. Nancy says she wants to finish college and get her degree in business before they marry. (My son hasn't finished college either.)

Nancy is divorced and has a 2 1/2-year-old daughter. I worry that the little girl's father may give my son trouble. I wanted him to have his own child first. My husband says it's our son's decision, not ours.

Abby, I want to feel close to Nancy, but I'm having trouble doing so. My son has always been very good to me, and I am afraid he'll get hurt. The rest of the family approves of this marriage, but I don't. Your advice would be very much appreciated. -- DEPRESSED IN DIXIE

DEAR DIXIE: Our children's choices are not always what we would wish for them, but as adults, they have the right to make their own decisions. If Nancy's ex causes problems, they will be your son's problems, not yours. Sometimes parents must step aside and allow the children to live their own lives.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Hair-Splitting" caused me a smile and some concern. The reader wanted to know how to tell a friend that his hairpiece is the "worst imaginable." I have no suggestions for how she might break the news, but I do have a message for the man wearing the hairpiece.

I began wearing a hairpiece when I was only 14, and just like "John," I was afraid -- afraid of being seen without it, getting it wet, getting it dirty, affording a new one, etc. In short, I was afraid of living.

At 39, I finally found the courage to discard it. I had the complete support of my family, co-workers and members of my church. Getting rid of my hairpiece has given me freedom for the first time in my life. I have been told that I look much better, even by casual acquaintances. That was almost 15 years ago.

I would never recommend that a man who is losing his hair start wearing a hairpiece. He will become a slave to it, just as I was.

I have more fun, feel better and am more relaxed than I ever was when I had that hairpiece stuck on my head. I am upset with the media for implying that one is less of a man without hair. You missed a chance to educate, Abby. -- HAPPILY HAIRPIECE-LESS IN WASHINGTON STATE

DEAR HAPPILY: Perhaps I did, but the man with the "worst imaginable" hairpiece was not the person writing for advice. He may someday come to the realization that you did -- that the key to being accepted is to accept ourselves as we are, even if we do not conform to Hollywood's or Madison Avenue's ideal of beauty. True freedom comes from being comfortable with who we are and being able to live without pretense. But until that day arrives, I still think his friends would be doing him a favor if they leveled with him.

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