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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "John," and I are in our mid-20s. We have been married for over a year. During this time his younger sister, "Caitlin," has made numerous trips to visit us. She is charming, thoughtful and wholesome, and I look forward to her visits. Not only are Caitlin and John very close, but I consider her to be my best friend. Although I enjoy her company, there is one thing about her visits I'm not crazy about.

John and I live in a one-bedroom apartment, and she has only the den couch to sleep on. While this provides her no privacy, she still prefers sleeping in the buff. When she undresses for bed, it makes no difference if John is present or not. When she wakes up in the morning, she'll stroll into the kitchen "as is" for coffee while on her way to take a shower. If John and I are in the kitchen, too, she's not shy about standing around in her birthday suit, chit-chatting with us as she sips her coffee. I've always maintained a casual attitude about this, but actually, I would prefer not to see her walking around in the nude.

I realize that females are not required to cover themselves around males in their own family. I wasn't that modest around my brother, either. But now that I'm married to Caitlin's brother, is it still acceptable? I'm very uncomfortable. -- SENSITIVE SISTER-IN-LAW

DEAR "SIS": If you and your sister-in-law are so close that you consider her your best friend, level with her about the fact that her nudity is making you uncomfortable. On her next visit, have a nice terry-cloth bathrobe waiting for her in the den. If she forgets to use it on her way through the kitchen to her morning shower, throw her a couple of oven mitts. I'll bet she gets the hint.

DEAR ABBY: Hi. I'm writing about the relationship between my dad and me. I'm 13 and my parents are divorced. They are now married to different people.

My dad forgot all about me for the first five years of my life. I finally got in touch with him and visited him for a few weekends, but now he doesn't answer my phone calls. He won't talk to me because he lost his job and owes almost $1,000 in child support. I think he's afraid to answer my calls because he thinks we're going to cuss at him about the child support, when all I really want to do is talk to him.

I've tried writing to him, but he doesn't write back. What can I do besides calling him or writing him? Please give me your advice. -- LONESOME TEEN IN RIVERSIDE, MO.

P.S. My stepdad hates me. I'm not comfortable with him.

DEAR LONELY TEEN: Sometimes people become parents before they're completely grown up themselves. Try to be patient with your father. Having lost his job and fallen behind in his child support, he may consider himself a failure and be ashamed to face you.

Write him one more note and say: "Dad, I need you to be part of my life. Just hearing from you is more important than money. I love you." Then cross your fingers. If you don't hear from him, the fault is his -- and it's no reflection on you.

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