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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My daughter and son-in-law have a 2-year-old and a 3-month-old. They live in a home with steep front stairs and two garages underneath. It's on a corner lot with an unfenced yard in a neighborhood with moderate traffic.

My husband and I are very worried. They allow their 2-year-old to be alone outside. When we express our concern, they laugh it off and say they only permit it for about five minutes, and if he wants to come back in the house, he can climb the steps and ring the doorbell.

We have warned them that in the blink of an eye, some pervert could pick the child up and they would never see him again -- that he could run into the intersection or get seriously hurt on the steps. Other than this lack of judgment, they are good, loving parents. Are Grandma and Grandpa overly protective? -- SCARED AND CONCERNED IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR SCARED AND CONCERNED: Not at all. Now, let me get this straight. Your daughter and son-in-law leave their 2-year-old unsupervised in an unfenced yard, and if he wants them, he should climb the stairs and ring the doorbell? What you describe is child endangerment, and if they don't come to their senses immediately, they should be reported.

Your daughter and son-in-law could benefit from parenting classes so they can understand the various stages of child development. Their expectations of their 2-year-old are unrealistic, and the result could be something they'll regret for a lifetime. Please act now.

DEAR ABBY: I am 17. My boyfriend of 2 1/2 years recently broke up with me. He said he loved me, but was no longer IN love with me and wanted to date others. He wants us to be just friends.

I am devastated. I can't eat, sleep or concentrate, and the thought of seeing him with another girl makes me physically sick. I don't think I will ever be able to set foot in his home, much less be his friend. He broke my heart, and everything reminds me of him -- a song, his favorite foods, places we've been, movies we've seen -- everything.

Abby, we had talked about marriage and having a family someday. I simply cannot accept that it's over. I'm in such denial I haven't even shared this terrible blow with my parents.

Help me, please. -- BROKENHEARTED TEEN IN MAINE

DEAR TEEN: I'm sorry for your pain, but trust me, it hurts only for a while. Let me share with you what I've written about breaking up in my booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know":

"Keep busy. Avoid 'old reminders,' which tend to make you moody and broody. Get rid of the pictures, photos and gifts ... unless you enjoy punishing yourself.

"Attend parties and school affairs, and develop new interests.

"Speak only well of each other -- or not at all -- after the break.

"Turn a deaf ear to those who want to pry or question you.

"Once it is over, all of the note-writing, phoning or conniving will not help your cause. Don't ask a mutual friend to help you 'get him back.' It will only make you appear foolish.

"Chalk it up to experience and a part of growing up. There is no growth without a little pain."

This booklet may be ordered by sending a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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