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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I disagree with your harsh condemnation of "Disapproving Mother," who refused to celebrate her daughter's engagement because the daughter is living with her fiance.

I realize that it is difficult to address all considerations in the space of your column, but I wonder if you feel, as it appears, that the mother owes the daughter an elaborate wedding? If this girl is able to live on her own with her fiance, why should the mother be expected to pay for a wedding? The young couple is clearly able to attend to their needs, so why is it they can't take care of their own wedding?

I don't condemn this couple. If I knew them I would be happy to wish them well. However, I also wish the mother well, as she has been willing to stand up for her values in a world where there are few people willing to do so. -- THERESE D. BARRY, BEECH MOUNTAIN, N.C.

DEAR THERESE: Nowhere in her letter did the mother indicate that she had been asked to pay for the wedding or shower, nor did I tell her to do so. Paying the expenses of a wedding should be considered a gift, and not an obligation by the bride's parents.

I told the woman that her angry, punitive stance would isolate her from her daughter, her future son-in-law and grandchildren -- and she had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Disapproving Mother" was that she should apologize to her daughter and her fiance. Baloney! The daughter, knowing how her parents would feel about her setup, should not expect them to pay for anything. The mother does not have to approve of their lifestyle. They have lived together for two years and plan to shack up for another year while calling this an engagement.

As for future grandchildren, I don't think "Disapproving Mother" has anything to worry about. They'll be dropping off their offspring for grandmother to baby-sit free of charge. "Disapproving Mother" should attend the wedding if invited, like any other guest. -- ARLENE JOHNSON, AVON LAKE, OHIO

DEAR ARLENE: I agree, the mother does not have to approve of their lifestyle. However, by refusing to give the young man permission to marry their daughter, they have reduced their chances of being asked to the wedding, and should the young man carry a grudge, they could well be cut off from any grandchildren.

DEAR ABBY: Maybe this daughter's plans will turn out well. But I would never call her mother insensitive or rigid, either. The daughter has shown her lack of respect for all the parents hold dear, so why should she want or need their help with her long overdue wedding? She has already set up housekeeping, so why have a shower? Since she and her friend have already consummated a marriage, who needs a fancy wedding? The money might be more helpful later.

The votes won't be in until the daughter's own children are old enough to do likewise. As the old-timers say, "What goes around comes around."

I suggest that what is now "modern practice" is not necessarily a right one. I cannot come down on this mother for what might prove to be the greater wisdom, in God's sight. -- VIVIAN B. BROWNING, DAMASCUS, MD.

DEAR VIVIAN AND READERS: Thank you for letting me know your strong feelings on this matter. Tomorrow, we'll hear from some of those who supported my thinking.

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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