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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My mother calls me every day to complain about my sister, with whom she has always fought. She goes on and on about her financial problems and lashes out at me when she's upset with other people.

I am only 20. I'm a full-time college student, have a full-time job, and I am deeply involved in a relationship.

I am trying to understand my mother's problems, but lately every time I hang up the phone after talking with her, I cry.

I am young and trying to learn how to handle my own problems. I don't think I can handle hers, too. I have tried explaining to her how I feel, but she refuses to listen.

My sister says I should hang up on Mother when she calls to complain, but I don't want to do that.

I've asked Mom to talk to Dad about her problems. They have been married 30 years. She says she doesn't want to stress him out. She doesn't realize the stress she puts on me.

I know my problem is small compared to most people, but in a few more years I'll be facing the harsh realities of life: mortgage, kids and bills. How can I ask Mom not to call me with her many complaints? -- STRESSED OUT BY MOM

DEAR STRESSED OUT: Your mother is using you like the valve on a pressure cooker. When her frustrations build up, she calls you to vent. I agree it would be better if she talked to your father about her problems, but you appear to be her dumping ground of choice.

Since you can't change her, you're going to have to change the way you react to her. Tell your father that you've reached your limit and it's time for him to intercede -- or tune her out when she starts dumping.

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Mark," and I had dinner at our friends "Brian" and "Stephanie's" a few weeks ago. Several other couples joined us. Stephanie served the most delicious meal and everyone begged her for the recipes. She said every single one had come from your cookbooklet set. Stephanie said she'd had it for ages and wasn't sure if the ordering information was correct. Would you please tell me how I can get a set, because she also said the recipes were easy to follow and simple to make. I own a lot of cookbooks, Abby, but I can never get enough like that. -- LESLIE IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR LESLIE: I'm pleased your friends' party was a success. Over the years, many of those recipes were family favorites of ours. To order the set, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $10 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

The booklets are full of delectable recipes from appetizers through desserts. All the ingredients are simple, and the directions are a cinch to follow. Bon appetit!

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