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by Abigail Van Buren

Grandma's Role as Sitter Is Clouded by Her Smoke

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are expecting our first child soon and are concerned about what effect secondhand smoke will have on our baby.

My mother smokes -- a lot! I know I'm probably ultrasensitive right now since I'm pregnant, but it's very hard to be around her. She smells, her house smells, her car smells.

Apart from her cigarettes she'd be a terrific grandmother. She's wonderful with her other grandchildren. We've talked about having her come to our house to visit and care for the baby, but she doesn't want to come because she can't smoke here.

Am I being too sensitive to this issue? She's not going to quit smoking. We've tried for years to get her to quit, but we have been unsuccessful.

I can't very well keep her grandchild away from her, and we'd love to have her help, but ... What do you suggest? -- ANTI-SMOKER IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR ANTI-SMOKER: You are not being too sensitive. I am also an anti-smoker. In fact, I'm a "nut" on the subject!

Even the most hooked smoker can quit if he or she has an incentive. Everything has its price. Make the reward for not smoking sufficiently attractive -- and you will see a miracle occur before your eyes. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: I need your help to resolve an ongoing fight in our home. My husband reads during every meal. Whether it's a newspaper, magazine or cereal box, he props it up in front of him and reads. I find this rude and asked him to stop -- but he sees nothing wrong with it.

Even more bothersome is his giving me a summary of everything he reads. He doesn't make conversation -- he simply tells me what he reads.

Other than that, and the fact that he refuses to help me teach our young children table manners, our marriage is great. Perhaps I shouldn't complain. However, friends of mine also complain about this same fault, so your advice could help others as well.

Abby, please help me convince my husband that mealtime should be family time and the reading material should be put aside for another time. My husband will listen to you. -- KATHLEEN, SAN PEDRO, CALIF.

DEAR KATHLEEN: If this is the only flaw in an otherwise perfect husband, thank your lucky stars. Compromise. Offer to keep quiet about breakfast table reading if he will make dinnertime a family affair. He owes you one of the two, and dinnertime is preferable.

DEAR ABBY: At our card parties and after-church services, some of our friends come over and kiss us on the cheeks. My husband and I would much rather say "Hello," and put a hand on their arms or shoulders and talk.

How can a person gracefully get out of kissing acquaintances hello and goodbye? -- MARIE IN CHERRY HILL, N.J.

DEAR MARIE: It may require some fancy footwork. When your friends approach, say "Hello" as you step to the side and put your hand on their arm, giving it a gentle squeeze, or give them a quick sideways shoulder hug. Or, turn your face from the kiss as you softly say, "Sorry, I don't want to spread my germs."

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