Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend, "Sammy," and I have been living together for three years. We have an 8-month-old son. About two months ago, my sister "Angie" went to Sammy and asked to borrow money. She told me he winked at her and said they could "work something out" and she wouldn't have to pay him back.

Angie told Sammy she wouldn't have sex with him because of me and the baby. Sammy said, "No one would ever have to know." He made it sound like a business deal.

When I asked Sammy in front of my sister if he had been joking or serious, he just laughed. Now I'm wondering if he makes "deals" like this with other women.

Things haven't been the same between my sister and me since the incident -- even though I know she did nothing wrong. Angie says she regrets telling me about Sammy's offer. She says he's a good man who made a mistake, and she urged me not to walk away from him.

Now no matter what Sammy says, I don't believe him. I don't trust him anymore. Please tell me if I've got it all wrong, Abby. -- UNSURE AND UNHAPPY IN THE BRONX

DEAR UNSURE AND UNHAPPY: You haven't got it all wrong. You have the whole sordid story about what happened. It's time to move on. And if I were you, I'd consult a lawyer and work out a "business deal" of my own -- namely, child support and custody rights for the baby.

P.S. One day you'll realize how much courage it took for your sister to speak up.

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter, "Debbie," just turned 15. The problem is, an 18-year-old boy wants to hang out with her this summer and get to know her. Her father and I feel he is too old for her and have told her so. We think we are only asking for trouble if we allow it. Debbie is upset with us and is pushing the subject.

Are we doing the right thing? We trust her -- but we don't trust him. -- CARRIE IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR CARRIE: You are doing the right thing. Enforcing the rules is part of responsible parenting. Keep in mind that good parents are not always popular with their children.

Explain to Debbie that you are concerned about the balance of power in a relationship where there's such a disparity of age and experience. Tell her that in spite of her trustworthiness, it would be difficult to establish and enforce boundaries with someone that much older.

Perhaps it would be helpful for your daughter to participate in activities and sports with teens her own age. Goal-setting for college should also be a focus.

DEAR ABBY: I have a crush on a guy at church, and I'm pretty sure he likes me, too. The problem is, my parents think I'm too young to be interested in boys. I'm almost 12.

I've given this a lot of thought. Abby, would you please give me some advice on how to break it to my mom and dad that I like boys? -- JENNIFER IN ALABAMA

DEAR JENNIFER: Start out by saying, "Folks -- I've got some good news and some bad news. Your little girl is growing up ..."

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers 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