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DEAR ABBY: I need your help. I am 28 years old and have two great parents. Their marriage has not always been the best.

My mom confided to me the other night that she has been seeing a man who works with her. I couldn't believe it. Mom is a recovering alcoholic, sober for 12 years -- and since she met this man, she goes out with him several times a week for drinks and dinner.

I am ready to fall apart. My teenage sister is in drug rehab, and now my mother starts drinking again, cheats on my father and asks me not to tell. On top of that, I have a child with disabilities. What am I to do?

I love my parents dearly. Should I tell my dad about the other man? I have asked my mom to stop, but she says this man "treats her like a queen." -- STRESSED TO THE MAX IN THE SOUTH

DEAR STRESSED: For your sanity, take yourself out of the middle. As much as you love them, you are not responsible for saving your parents' marriage. Your father must be aware on some level that your mother is drinking again.

"Queens" have been known to lose their heads, and it appears your mother has lost hers. The next time she confides in you about her Prince Charming, tell her you refuse to be her confidante. Silence makes you an accomplice. Give your mother a deadline to come clean with your father, and tell her if she doesn't tell him what's going on by then, you will. Between your mother and your sister, your father has enough problems. He doesn't need a sexually transmitted disease on top of everything else.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 20-year-old college student living at home. I recently met a guy I'll call "Sandy" over the Internet. I found his e-mail address on an e-pals site and wrote to him. We have been chatting online almost every night and have fallen in love.

Sandy and I are serious about each other, and he is who he says he is, because I have done some background checks on him. I am planning on traveling to see him as soon as I earn the money. (He lives in Australia.)

My problem is my parents. They are very protective and refuse to accept how I feel about Sandy. They worry because I met him on the Internet.

How should Sandy and I approach my parents? We thought about Sandy writing them a letter, but I don't know if that would work. Please help. -- IN LOVE IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR IN LOVE: I understand your parents' concern, because people are not always what they represent themselves to be on the Internet. However, many people have found true love via the information superhighway, so the fact that you met Sandy online should not automatically rule him out. Ask him to visit you and your family, rather than you making that first move. It would prove his sincerity and give your parents a chance to ease their concerns by giving him the traditional "once-over." I wish you the best of luck.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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

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