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DEAR ABBY: I disagree with the advice you gave to "Afraid to Speak Up in Philly," the woman who resented her husband's mother sitting in the front seat of the car when they went on a long trip.

When we had this situation in our family, I always insisted my mother-in-law have the front seat next to her son for several reasons:

(1) It's a matter of respect.

(2) It gives her a chance to be near her child and maybe give him an affectionate pat during conversation.

(3) And don't forget that age often brings with it impaired hearing, which does not enhance communication from the front seat to the back.

These are precious times for her to be with her son. "Afraid to Speak Up" will have him all to herself when his mother is gone. -- ANN IN SANTA ANA, CALIF.

DEAR ANN: You are not the only reader who wrote to tell me my answer stank. I received hundreds. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: When my mother was alive and we were in the car with my brother, his wife always sat in the back seat while Mother sat up front. It was easier for her to get in and out. -- BUB IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR ABBY: I have never written to you before, but I had a heartfelt reaction to the woman who complained about her mother-in-law sitting next to her son during the road trip. First of all, I compliment this couple for taking the time to visit and care for the needs of this mother-in-law. Secondly, the Scriptures say, "Honor thy father and mother that it may be well with thee and that thou mayest live long upon the earth." Honor her by allowing her to sit next to her son. The kindness will return to you. Sign me ... LOVE IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER

DEAR ABBY: Your reply to the wife competing with her mother-in-law for seating in the car was wrong! Are these people rednecks with no manners?

If that husband is any kind of gentleman, he will not allow his mother to get into the car without opening and holding her door for her -- like any gentleman does. You advised the woman to tell her mother-in-law to hop in the back. Shame on you! I'm a real man, and a real man is also a gentleman. -- C.S.K., RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR C.S.K.: Mea culpa! I don't know how I missed that.

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the wife who resents sitting in the back. If the wife can drive, she should ask her husband to sit in the back and see how HE likes it. -- G.R.W., UNION CITY, N.J.

DEAR ABBY: Why is she complaining about sitting in the back? The passenger seat is known colloquially as the "death seat"! -- SMILING IN THE BACK SEAT

DEAR ABBY: I sense there are other factors at work in that woman's relationship with her mother-in-law than "sitting in the back seat." There may be insecurity or jealousy involved. What's the harm in letting her sit in front? Let her feel she still has a special place in her son's life.

I commend this couple for taking his mother to dinner, shopping, etc. They shouldn't spoil such gestures of thoughtfulness with pettiness. -- BEEN THERE IN HAWAII

DEAR BEEN THERE AND DEAR READERS: So there you have it. I would flagellate with a wet noodle, but I left it in the back seat.

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 in the price.)

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

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