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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please help! My husband and I are having a relationship-threatening argument over child-rearing practices. As a child development specialist, I choose to err on the side of caution with my young son. I insist on seat belts, don't allow him to watch violent or scary movies, and never leave him unsupervised. I keep my doors locked, and teach him about stranger-danger and other safety issues.

My husband and his family feel that I'm raising him to be a wimp because I don't allow him to swim off a boat in areas known to have a lot of sharks. They don't worry about things like that. I am well aware of the unlikelihood of a shark attack on a human, but feel that it is an unnecessary risk. The beach is just fine for us.

What bothers me most, Abby, is that my husband sides with his family, putting down my beliefs and criticizing my son. Please comment. -- CAUTIOUS IN DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.

DEAR CAUTIOUS: If your husband is siding with his family against you to the extent you feel it's threatening to your marriage, your differences extend further than the area of child-rearing. I urge you to consider marriage counseling before those differences erode your marriage beyond repair.

You don't say how old your son is, but a mother's first priority should always be the safety of her child. Compromise with your husband on other issues, but don't back down when it concerns the safety of your son.

DEAR ABBY: I had dinner with a prospective girlfriend at her invitation at her house. We had just finished dinner when her phone rang. It was a male friend, wanting to tell her about some meeting he went to. When she answered the phone, she said she had company and asked if they could talk later. However, the conversation went on and on. I was in the other room and put on my coat to leave. At that point, she told her friend she had company who was leaving, and had to hang up. She said her friend apologized and said he hadn't heard her say that she had company.

I asked her why, when he kept on talking and talking, she couldn't have said again that she had company and would talk later. She replied, "I didn't want to be rude to him." I told her that she was rude to me, and the extended conversation was a big turn-off. It soured our budding relationship.

Who was out of line, Abby? -- BOB IN LONG BEACH

DEAR BOB: The caller. It was rude to keep your friend on the line when he knew she had company. The fact that the woman allowed the conversation to drag on could indicate a lack of concern for your feelings -- or simply a lack of assertiveness on her part.

They were both rude, and it's regrettable that a budding relationship died from the frostbite that followed.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "FREEZES UP IN PUBLIC": There are two kinds of people in the world. There are those who come into a room and their attitude says, "Here I am!" And there are those who come into a room and their attitude says, "There you are!" Which are you?

The "there-you-are" type is the winner. If you want to receive a warm welcome, remember: The happier you are to see others, the happier they'll be to see you.

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