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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: A year ago my son, "Jeff," married "Sue," a woman with three young children. They were living in a small apartment in an undesirable neighborhood, so I agreed to co-sign on a loan so they could buy a house in which to rear the children. The one they chose is 70 miles from me.

Abby, I have gone to see them only four times in the last 12 months. I make it a point to let them know the day before I am coming. The last time I went, Jeff refused to let me in. I heard Sue in the background yelling for him to tell me they had to go somewhere. Once he made the excuse that the house was untidy. Abby, I wasn't there to inspect the house. I just wanted to see them.

Sue doesn't appear to want any of our family to visit. Two of his uncles traveled 900 miles to see us and other relatives, but when they went to see Jeff, Sue took off with the kids. His uncles didn't even have the chance to meet her or the children.

They have visited me several times this year, without letting me know in advance that they were coming. That's OK with me; they're welcome any time.

I always treat Sue with respect and prepare dinner for them, although Sue never prepares anything for me when I'm there -- not even a cup of coffee.

Abby, Jeff is my only child, and we've always been close. Should I not go to visit my son because Sue is inconvenienced by my visits? Please advise me. -- UNWELCOME MOM IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR UNWELCOME MOM: It's time for you to have a private chat with your son, and when you do, ask him to please lay his cards on the table.

In the future, when you're planning to visit, make the arrangements with your daughter-in-law. That way, there should be no last-minute surprises.

DEAR ABBY: I have good news for the waitress who told you she had to give up on a college degree because "working full time and attending school was very hard. The hours were killing me."

In 1972, the state of New Jersey created a college for busy adults just like her: Thomas Edison State College. No matter where she lives, this woman can earn credit for what she already knows and take courses at home. The college is fully accredited, high quality and very affordable. There is no other college exclusively for adults throughout the United States and for military personnel around the world.

Abby, please let your readers know that there is no reason to give up on a college degree. No matter what the obstacles, we can help.

Please have your readers write to me for information about this unique, nonprofit college created just for them. The address is Thomas Edison State College, Admissions Office, 101 W. State St., Trenton, N.J. 08608-1176. I will personally send them a free booklet that explains how they can complete a degree at their own pace, in their own space, at a cost they can afford. The e-mail address is: -- LINDA HOLT, ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT, COLLEGE RELATIONS

DEAR MS. HOLT: Thank you for the information on what Thomas Edison State College has to offer. I am impressed that you have been helping students better themselves for a quarter century, and pleased to spread the word about your programs. Be prepared for lots of mail -- e-mail and otherwise!

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600