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by Abigail Van Buren

Sisters, Mom Hold Winning Hands for Weekend Getaway

DEAR ABBY: Once a year, my mom, my two sisters and I go away for an "all-girl" weekend without husbands and children. We love this tradition and get along great.

My problem is the past few years we have gone to a casino. My sisters and mom love to gamble, but I don't enjoy it as much as they do. I get headaches when I'm in the casino for any length of time, and find myself spending money just to be around them. I've told them how I feel about the casino atmosphere, but it hasn't made a difference.

This year I suggested we go somewhere that doesn't have gambling, but one of my sisters insists that this is her only chance to gamble, so she wants to go somewhere that has a casino. For some of us, this getaway weekend is our only chance to see each other. If I say I don't want to go, I'll miss out on our reunion. If I go, I'll be miserable. Any suggestions? -- MIFFED SIS IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIF.

DEAR MIFFED: An official vote is in order. State your case clearly, as you have for me. If you're outnumbered and the gang wants to plan next year's trip to another casino, ask them to at least make some compromise on the amount of time spent gambling and mixing in some other entertainment during the weekend.

Keep in mind you needn't spend every minute with them. Find other things to do that will be of more interest to you -- and then join them for meals away from the casino.

Alternatively, consider making the next vacation a short cruise. Some of the larger ships offer gambling -- and many other enjoyable activities.

If it's any comfort, I'm with you all the way. Gambling has never appealed much to me. I prefer a sure thing!

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I recently discovered that my son and his girlfriend, "Lois," are sexually active. They have been seeing each other about nine months and both of them will be 18 in a few months. When her parents found out, they called us and the six of us had a discussion at our home.

Lois' father suggested -- and I agreed -- that they should stay apart for a time and think about their relationship and the consequences of sexual activity. At the time, I presumed that they would be allowed to see each other again at some point.

Abby, these are basically good kids. Neither experiments with drugs. Both get good grades and are involved in school activities. They are good people who made an error in judgment. I feel we must make sure they understand that sex is special and not for just anyone, and that they need to know the importance of safe sex.

My son told me today that Lois' father is considering not letting her leave for college in the fall, and her mother may quit her job to stay home to keep an eye on her during the day. What do you think? -- SAN FRANCISCO DAD

DEAR DAD: I think the young woman's parents have overreacted. They can't keep her under lock and key forever. They have failed to consider that their daughter will be 18 in only a few months and can legally move out of the house.

Your attitude is a far healthier one for all concerned. As much as they might wish to, they cannot protect their daughter from the realities of life -- and by age 18, sex is very much a reality to many people.

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