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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I cannot believe your advice to "A Mom Who Tried in Florida." That woman should absolutely NOT apologize to her mother- and sister-in-law for not wanting her daughter to spend the night with her sister-in-law, whose drunk boyfriend was coming home later with other men friends who had been drinking. That was putting her daughter into a dangerous situation.

Men do all kinds of unpleasant and violent things when they've been drinking. I don't have to tell you that! This mother said she had gotten "ugly" in front of the child and her husband, but that's probably because they were arguing with her decision. I'd put up a fight, too, for my daughter in such a situation.

You'll probably get a lot of mail on this one, Abby. You BLEW it. -- DEBBIE BROWN, ALOHA, ORE.

DEAR DEBBIE: I certainly did -- in spades! And I've received a hail of mail concerning that error in judgment. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: No way does any mother owe an apology to anyone when it comes to the safety of her child. From her own past experience, Mom knew the situation her 6-year-old daughter could find herself in. I am amazed that the child's father agreed to his daughter's staying in a house with a total stranger who had been drinking.

Had I been in her shoes, there would have been no argument. My answer to the child would have been a resounding "NO WAY!" and that would have been the end of it.

In my view, the mother was the only rational adult in the family. -- MARTY ROGERS, SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Obviously you have never been subjected to drunks. They ruin every family gathering. No child should be subjected to such a situation.

The mother owes no one an apology, and her sister-in-law should find another boyfriend. Her choice in men is lousy, and the family should think carefully about their attitude. The family owes the young mother and daughter an apology -- not the other way around.

Abby, I should know because I grew up in a family of alcoholics. Both my parents died young as a result of alcoholism. -- LEVOTA M. MISNER, MADERA, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: You were way off base in advising "Mom in Florida" to apologize to her sister-in-law, mother-in-law and husband for "overreacting" when she objected to her 6-year-old daughter spending the night in the house with her sister-in-law's obviously intoxicated boyfriend.

Since when is it "overreacting" to make sure your child is safe? The young mother should have taken her child home without making excuses and arguing with her moronic husband and sister-in-law.

Apologize? ABSOLUTELY not. -- JOAN LASZCZAK, PINSON, ALA.

DEAR JOAN -- AND THE HUNDREDS OF OTHER READERS WHO WROTE TO TELL ME THAT MY ANSWER WAS WAY OFF BASE: You are right. I was wrong. And to "A Mom Who Tried in Florida": A thousand apologies for my naive answer.

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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