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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl with wonderful parents and a great little sister who is 13. My mom just had a third child. My brother's name is "Nathan." He is 6 months old now and I don't think any baby could be more loved.

Because my mother works part time, I take care of my brother for a few hours each day.

The problem is that when I take him for a walk or to the mall, I am faced with disapproving looks and rude comments from adults who obviously think he is my baby. I see people shake their heads when I walk by, and I hear them mutter about irresponsible teen-agers.

I don't know how to respond to people like that, but I do know that adults should stop seeing something wrong with every situation they encounter. They seem to think my entire generation is hopeless. This is far from the truth.

Abby, how should I deal with this situation when I next encounter it? -- SWEET 16, SEATTLE

DEAR SWEET 16: I know it's far from the truth, and you shouldn't be put in the position where you feel you "must respond" to disapproving looks and rude remarks from strangers. Have a T-shirt made for your little brother bearing the message: "She's My Sister!"

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letters in your column about children's behavior in restaurants, I had to write.

When my current husband and I began dating, we had three toddlers between us. Two were his, one was mine. The youngest, his 1-year-old, ran wild. I was ashamed and embarrassed. The two girls were fine. (His daughter was 3 and mine was 2.) But oh, that son! He threw temper tantrums, insisted on a particular cup or plate or he wouldn't eat, stood on chairs and benches, etc. He was spoiled rotten, and I told my husband so. I also told him it was wrong to allow such behavior. It didn't faze him.

One day we were in a restaurant, and a stranger came to our table and said, "You two have three beautiful children. What a shame that your son's behavior is all I'll remember when we leave."

What an impact that made! My husband began right then and there teaching his son acceptable behavior.

Three years ago, on an airplane flight, a flight attendant approached my husband and said, "Your three kids are so polite. They say please and thank you. Half the adults on this flight could learn from them!" The kids were 12, 13 and 14 at that time. We were, and still are, so proud. And the son, who is now 15, is a very well-mannered gentleman.

So obviously, children will do what the parent allows. -- STEPMOM IN TAMPA

DEAR STEPMOM: Absolutely! And that's why it's important for parents to set limits for their children. How else are they going to learn what is acceptable and what is not?

YOUR CHUCKLE FOR THE DAY: A woman came home from work and found a note from her husband. It said: "Your doctor's office called. Your Pabst beer is normal!" -- ANNE B. WARZYN, KANSAS CITY, MO.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, 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, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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