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DEAR ABBY: I have a son who is 33. He has four children and lives in another state. About a year ago, he asked me to co-sign on a house loan. I refused. Now he won't speak to me. He didn't even attend his grandmother's funeral.

I don't know how to bridge this gap between us except by signing the note. I really can't afford it, but I miss my son and grandchildren. -- HURTING IN OHIO

DEAR HURTING: Under no circumstances should you give in to your son's emotional blackmail, particularly since you cannot afford it. If you do, it will be only the beginning of what he will demand from you. And if you try to refuse, the scenario will repeat itself.

Continue to send your grandchildren birthday and holiday greetings, and let's hope your son grows up before they do.

DEAR ABBY: There is a subject in my house that's causing conflict: school sports. Neither of my children is interested in playing. They do well academically. They take advanced classes and music, as well as dance and gymnastics outside of school.

My husband insists they participate in a school sport. He says they'll never be accepted into college without a school sport, and if they are, they won't be eligible for a scholarship. Is this true? -- WONDERING ABOUT SCHOOL SPORTS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR WONDERING: No, it's not. I posed your question to Hanan Eisenman, media coordinator of admissions at the University of California. He says the University of California does not require high school athletics for eligibility. Eligibility for admission is based on grades from college preparatory courses and on scores on the appropriate admissions tests.

Like most selective colleges, the university also looks for talent and leadership in a broad range of areas, only one of which is sports. The vast majority of scholarships are based on qualifications such as academics and financial need, not high school sports. By far the most important criterion for admission for virtually all colleges and universities is academic achievement.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating my boyfriend, "David," for a year. He moved in with me four months ago. We generally get along great, even though he hasn't given me his share of the rent since his hours were cut at work. Frankly, it feels like we are more like roommates or friends than lovers, but I was sure I would never meet anyone who could compare.

Last weekend I was out of town, a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding. David was unable to attend, so she matched me up with a groomsman I'll call Chad. Well, the chemistry between us was so thick you could have cut it with a knife.

Chad and I can't ignore the connection we made. He has invited me to visit him. I don't know what to do. I am having serious doubts about my relationship with David. Should I give Chad a chance? -- BRIDESMAID IN WAITING IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR BRIDESMAID: Absolutely! But before your relationship with Chad goes any further, you must level with David. Remember, honesty is the best policy -- and in the long run it is better for all concerned.

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.)

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