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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am being married in a couple of months. My biggest worry is that my sister, "Virginia," will do something to ruin my wedding day. She has never been able to handle not being the center of attention, and has caused more scenes and dropped more "bombshells" than I can count.

Some examples: Virginia announced her engagement to a man she had met two weeks earlier on Thanksgiving. She eloped with him on New Year's Eve -- then divorced him in a hurry so she could marry husband No. 2 in time for Valentine's Day. She has started screaming matches in the middle of Christmas dinners, and she and one of her boyfriends had a knock-down-drag-out fight at a relative's wedding reception that embarrassed our entire family.

I know Virginia's behavior stems from deep self-esteem issues and emotional problems, and I feel sorry for her. But honestly, I'd like to have just one drama-free family event where everyone enjoys themselves instead of waiting for the next bomb to drop.

Our parents are no help. Mother excuses everything Virginia does by saying, "We need to be more supportive of her and keep our mouths shut." My father copes by steering clear of the whole thing.

I am seriously considering eloping because I don't see any other way to avoid having Virginia attend my wedding. The sad part is, I will regret not having my parents, family and friends around me on my happy day. My fiance knows my sister is big trouble and says he'll support whatever decision I make. Any advice on how I can have my wedding cake and eat it, too? -- BRIDE-TO-BE IN GEORGIA

DEAR BRIDE-TO-BE: Have a private sisterly chat with Virginia and tell her your concerns, because it appears they are valid. Your sister may not be conscious of what she's been doing. That said, take the precaution of asking some of your relatives to escort her out if she starts a scene.

You and your fiance appear to be mutually supportive. I wish you every happiness on your wedding day.

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of five sons, and I'm concerned about kids not getting the facts of life from their parents.

My husband thought that warning the boys "not to do it" was enough. So, while their dad was away, I sat each son down privately and gave him "the facts." I also spelled out exactly what his responsibilities would be.

I made it clear that if my son was having a sexual encounter, he was to ALWAYS use a condom -- even if the girl said she was on the pill or "safe." I told him that if he was too embarrassed to buy them himself, I would provide them.

I emphasized that by being careful and prepared, he and the girl could avoid a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy.

Abby, my five sons are now 21 to 31. None of them became a teenage parent.

Mothers, please don't leave "the talk" to your husband. Some fathers do an excellent job, but if you have one like mine, you owe it to your children (and their future mates and your future grandchildren) to keep these young people tuned in, safe and healthy. -- PROUD OF MY FIVE SONS

DEAR PROUD: You are a woman after my own heart -- an activist. You wisely opened an important dialogue with your sons, rather than risking that they'd get misinformation about this important subject from their peers. Other parents can learn from you.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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