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DEAR ABBY: I was a single mother throughout my only child's early years. I had no financial or moral support from the child's father. Luckily, I had a good job that enabled me to take good care of my daughter. I did not believe in giving my child a stepfather, so I remained single. My daughter had a good religious education, loving home, a dedicated and adoring mother, vacations, the best schools, health care, etc. We enjoyed a wonderful and loving relationship.

However, as soon as my daughter became a teen-ager, she decided to stop calling me "Mother." She insisted on addressing me by my first name because I was her "friend." For years, we have had numerous discussions on that subject -- me explaining my unhappiness, she insisting on using my first name and ignoring my hurt feelings. I never wanted to be referred to as one of her many friends. I wanted to be called "Mother."

At 49 years old and married (no children), she has lived out-of-town for many years and her attitude is cold and distant. Her friends are the center of her life. How do you explain such treatment?

I now have the opportunity to become a foster mother to a child. I would insist that this child call me "Mother." Unfortunately, I fear that my desire to be called "Mother" is based only on the longing to be called that by my own child. Under such circumstances, should I go ahead and bring this young child into my home, maybe making her unhappy and leaving myself vulnerable for another disappointment in life? -- DISAPPOINTED MOTHER IN FLORIDA

DEAR DISAPPOINTED MOTHER: I don't know what happened between you and your daughter, but it seems you and she have very different perspectives on her childhood and the nature of your relationship. Perhaps it's time for you to suggest to her that you both sit down and have a heart-to-heart conversation about those perspectives.

Under no circumstances should you take a child into your home for the reasons you have stated. It would be grossly unfair to the child.

DEAR ABBY: I recently overheard a conversation between two young women in their 20s. They were lamenting the fact that they smile too much because of cultural and social conditioning. They seemed to feel they must be "tougher" to succeed in the business world.

Abby, I have had a varied career as a museum manager, an office coordinator for a law firm and a property manager for a 33-story building. I was a competent, intelligent student in school, but by no means at the top of my class. I have a fine arts degree and reasonable computer skills.

A short time ago, I walked out of a new job because I didn't like the way my employer screamed at people. Within three days, I had three job offers. (I hadn't even begun to look for new employment.) The reason? I smile.

When someone walks into my office, I smile and greet the person pleasantly. Whether that someone is my boss, a client, co-worker, vendor or cleaning lady, I smile and am pleasant. I say please, thank you, and apologize for my mistakes. One employer said, "It's easier to train a smiler to use Excel than to teach a computer-literate sourpuss to smile. In the final analysis, it comes down to choosing whom I want to spend my day with." -- SONYA IN SEATTLE

DEAR SONYA: I agree. A smile is definitely an asset not only in the business world, but in social situations as well. The young ladies you overheard have a lot to learn about interpersonal relationships if they think smiles are to be used sparingly. Smiles make people feel good and open many doors.

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