Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I need help with a family problem. My 14-year-old son and his friends enjoy sleeping over at one another's homes. Recently he spent the night at a new friend's apartment. I just discovered that the other boy's mother works all night. She left about 10 p.m., and the two boys were left on their own.

I was horrified when I found out and informed my son that he may have his friend over at our home, or he can sleep at his friend's home on the condition that I speak first to a parent to be certain that an adult will be present.

My son says I'm being unreasonable, and my husband sees nothing wrong with two 14-year-old boys being left alone for the night. I seem to be alone in my opinion that this is potentially dangerous. What do you think? Should I back down? -- WORRIED MOM IN MINNEAPOLIS

DEAR WORRIED: Do not back down. It's difficult to be Mom the Enforcer when your husband doesn't support you; however, I agree there should always be an adult on the premises to make responsible decisions should an emergency occur. Dad seems to have forgotten how immature 14-year-old boys can be. Remind him.

DEAR ABBY: With reference to "Dad, the Morning Rooster," who has to haul his 18-year-old son out of bed to go to work: There's another side to the question of slow-to-rise adults. Some body clocks cannot be adjusted.

My husband has this problem. When he was single, he paid the janitor of his building to see that he was up and sitting on the side of the bed each morning before leaving him.

After we were married and both working and sharing transportation, his problem caused me a lot of stress. After I quit working, I thought he could and should change, get a loud alarm clock, suffer the consequences of oversleeping, etc. Nothing worked. I continued to get angry, and he continued to apologize and tell me how much he appreciated my getting him up.

I finally accepted the fact that he is a night person and a very sound sleeper. (He could respond to an emergency in the middle of the night and have no recollection of it the next morning.) I, on the other hand, am a morning person, waking up early and hungry.

My husband worked long, hard hours at a job where he was not in danger of being fired, but certainly didn't get the day off to a good start when he overslept. I finally solved the problem by sending the children, as soon as they were old enough, to wake Daddy. They loved it, and not even he could continue to sleep with a couple of preschoolers climbing all over him.

If possible, night people would do well to follow a career that calls for working afternoons and evenings (such as operating a movie theater). A true night person and a true morning person living together will have to understand and compromise. To people like us, I offer this consolation: It gets better as you grow older. Sound sleepers sleep less soundly, and early risers don't leap quite as eagerly out of bed in the morning. Eventually you meet on middle ground. -- RETIRED MORNING PERSON

DEAR RETIRED: It's true that people have different biological rhythms. However, it's not always possible for an 18-year-old to work nights and sleep in -- particularly if he or she must balance a work schedule with school.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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