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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please tell me the letter from "A Loving Mom" was an old one, dredged up from the 1950s. This woman needs a reality check if she's concerned with her daughter, at age 19, marrying a man who can keep her in the lifestyle to which her parents have accustomed her. She should be more concerned with her daughter's choice of a career path as a schoolteacher if she's worried about her daughter's ability to maintain her extravagant lifestyle. This is 1999, for crying out loud.

I had hoped that we had evolved beyond women expecting men to support them in this day and age when women are just as capable of generating their own wealth. Are we still applying this obsolete double standard where men are still expected to be the primary provider for the family, while we are competing with women for jobs? -- CHRISTOPHER, AN EQUAL PARTNER IN MY MARRIAGE, GLEN ALLEN, VA.

DEAR CHRISTOPHER: The mother's thinking may have been from the '50s, but the letter was current. I received an armload of letters criticizing me for failing to come down hard on the mother, who may be perceived as being a "U.S. Grade A snob." My thinking was that having raised her, the mother had a pretty good insight into the daughter's adaptability -- and the time to discuss her feelings about the boy's "prospects" was before a serious commitment was made. Now, let's hear it from the readers:

DEAR ABBY: My advice to "Arnie," the boyfriend, is to run like the wind away from that family, especially the mother. The values the girl was raised with will surely surface to make his life miserable. -- LINDA IN WASHINGTON

DEAR ABBY: "Loving Mom" described how successful her husband is, and listed the material things they have enjoyed over the years. But, Abby, she never once mentioned any terms of endearment about her marriage. Life and happiness are not about storing up material things; they're about mutual caring and having a soul mate to share your life with. We as a society need to care about people, not "things." -- A LOVING HUSBAND, HULMEVILLE, PA.

DEAR ABBY: In an age where infidelity and sexual violence rule the headlines, it angers me that this mother feels that "'Arnie,' a fine young man who loves my daughter," who admirably attends college part-time while working, is not making the grade.

So Mom is concerned that her daughter might have to forgo the new cars and nice vacations she has grown up with, and live with a more average income? Please! Yet the letter is signed "A Loving Mom." How about "A Materialistic Mom"? If daughter was as concerned as mother about living on Easy Street, my guess is that she would have dumped Arnie long ago.

I vehemently disagree with your advice to the mother to have a talk with her daughter. Abby, it's the MOM who needs a talking-to. Well-meaning she may be, but I wish she'd wake up to the idea that love and wealth do not go hand-in-hand. -- RANKLED IN ROCHESTER, N.Y. (A MALE READER)

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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