Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Won't Welcome Son's Widow's New Man

DEAR ABBY: Last year, my brother "Devon" died after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, "Clarisse," and my two nephews. Devon and I were as close as a brother and sister could be. My husband was close to him, too.

Seven months after Devon's passing, Clarisse began dating "Tim." No one was overjoyed by this, but we knew that Clarisse had loved my brother and mourned deeply. We understood it was time for her to move on. We put our feelings aside.

The problem is, my daughter's birthday party is coming up soon. We are hosting a family party and inviting everyone, including Clarisse, Tim and the boys. My parents have expressed disappointment that Clarisse's boyfriend is being included and have informed us that they will not attend if Tim is there.

What should I do? Should I invite everyone, as my husband suggests, and let the chips fall where they may? Or should I respect the wishes of my parents and ask Clarisse not to bring Tim? -- IN THE MIDDLE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: If your parents object to Tim's presence only because they have difficulty accepting that Clarisse has moved on, then I see no reason to exclude him. While they have my deepest sympathy for the loss of their son, they have no right to dictate who should or should not be on your guest list or part of Clarisse's life.

DEAR ABBY: I am a high school senior. My boyfriend, "Corey," and I have been dating since ninth grade. I love him more than anything on Earth. Corey is like another son to my parents, and I feel close to his mother and eight brothers. I can't see myself with any other person.

Our school has a policy that allows seniors to use the loudspeaker system to dedicate birthday greetings to other students. My birthday was last week, and Corey got on the microphone. Instead of saying, "Happy birthday, sweetheart," he said: "To my girlfriend, my best friend, my skateboard buddy. I love you. You're 18, so no more waiting. What I really want to say, honey, is -- will you marry me?" I told him I needed a week to think about it.

The week is up. After asking opinions of my family and friends -- who all have given me a "thumbs up" -- I am still undecided. I know that I love Corey and we are a perfect couple, but I need just one more push in either direction so I can give him a definite answer. Help! -- HOPEFUL AND HELPLESS IN MISSISSIPPI

P.S. Corey said that if I say no, we'll still go out and everything will go back to normal.

DEAR HOPEFUL: A woman who is contemplating a decision as serious as marriage should not need a "push" in either direction. Tell Corey that you will consider his offer of marriage once you both have college behind you. Regardless of how much you and Corey may love each other, you shouldn't marry until you're both self-supporting.

CONFIDENTIAL TO "VIOLENT AND ASHAMED IN RICHMOND, IND.": You have already taken the first step by recognizing that your anger is out of control and asking for help. Please contact your county department of mental health. Tell them it is urgent that you see a counselor immediately and recount the incidents you described to me. You have begun the journey, and I wish you much success with treatment. It will change the lives of every member of your family for the better.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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 $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600