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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am writing because I am very disturbed by the lack of morals in our young people today.

Our daughter just became engaged after more than two years of living with her male friend. They didn't have the respect to care what we thought, and they knew how we felt because they were told that we will not visit them where they live. (We do see them at our home.)

They expected us to be delighted over their engagement. I felt it was time they were married, not engaged to live together for yet another year.

I was also surprised that her live-in boyfriend came to us to ask for permission to marry our daughter. (When they are breaking all the old traditions, why believe in this one?)

Needless to say, we were not very receptive, and said neither "yes" nor "no." After all, a few years of living together will not prove that their marriage will last.

I am also upset because our fine "strict" Catholic church doesn't address this subject from the pulpit.

I'd like to add that because of the live-in situation, I will neither have nor will I attend any bridal showers. Nor will I pay for the wedding. I would like to hear your opinion. I'm upset that things are this way and can't really enjoy my only daughter's wedding. -- DISAPPROVING MOTHER

DEAR MOTHER: Since you asked for my opinion, here it is: Obviously, you are hurting or you wouldn't have written to unburden yourself. Taking this rigid, insensitive, punitive stand will only increase your pain and reinforce your isolation from your daughter and future son-in-law.

You have nothing to gain and everything to lose, including contact with any future grandchildren, if you refuse to accept the young couple's decisions.

If it's not too late, please reverse your harsh decision, apologize to your daughter and her fiance, and enjoy the wedding.

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing about the letter from "Cannot Believe It in Florida," whose family spent more than $500 to entertain 12 wedding guests who collectively gave one inexpensive gift.

The next time she hosts a wedding, instead of seating guests in sections for "bride" and "groom," she should ask if they have given "expensive" or "inexpensive" gifts so she can seat them accordingly. Guests who brought a gift of value equal to the cost of their "admission" can enjoy the sumptuous meal and unlimited beverages, while those whose gifts do not measure up can line up for warm water and stale bread.

"Cannot Believe It" tried to show she has class and taste by describing the lovely wedding at an exclusive club, sparing no expense. But by writing and complaining to you about the unacceptable gift, she showed quite the opposite. -- CANNOT BELIEVE HER IN VIRGINIA

DEAR CANNOT BELIEVE HER: I cautioned "Cannot Believe It" against approaching the guests about their gift. I hope she heeded my advice.

DEAR ABBY: I know that this is going to sound like a silly question, but I really need to know: Is the word "harassment" pronounced "huh-RASS-ment" or "HAIR-us-ment"? Even on the news they pronounce it differently. -- BAKERSFIELD, CALIF.

DEAR BAKERSFIELD: Although Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Tenth Edition) lists two pronunciations for the verb "harass," the first (and preferred) pronunciation is with the emphasis on the RASS. Presumably the same holds true for the noun "harassment."

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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