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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Rick," and I have a 4-year-old daughter, "Carmelle." When I brought Carmelle home from the hospital, she slept in a crib in our bedroom and I'd bring her to bed with me for midnight breast feedings so I could sleep.

Since then, Carmelle has refused to sleep in her own bed. I placed a child bed next to ours in our bedroom, and each night I'd tuck her in. But she would cry, so Rick would let her climb into ours. For the past year, she has slept between us. The situation is now bordering on the ridiculous. I often wonder why I bothered to have my tubes tied.

Carmelle has a room of her own that I recently furnished, but she refuses to use it. I now sleep alone in our king-sized bed. That's because I told Rick I didn't want her wetting in my bed any longer. I thought a brand-new bedroom set with a twin-sized bed would encourage Carmelle to sleep in her room and Rick to sleep with me. Well, it backfired, and I continue to sleep alone, while my husband sleeps with our daughter in her bed. Have you any advice for me? -- ABANDONED IN PALM BAY, FLA.

DEAR ABANDONED: Take your daughter to her pediatrician for an examination to determine why she's still wetting the bed. There are medications and devices that can help her -- but first you must determine what's causing the problem.

Once that's done, it's time for you and your husband to have a heart-to-heart about why he's sleeping with his daughter instead of his wife. If necessary, have it in a marriage counselor's office. In some cultures, a "family bed" is a tradition (in our culture it is much less so), but even then, the husband and wife find time to be alone with each other. For the sake of your marriage, you must resolve this important issue, so don't put it off any longer.

P.S. Some sessions with a child psychologist might also be helpful. Your little girl isn't going to like it when her routine is disrupted, so be prepared.

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Sheila" is going through a rough divorce. She called one night and told me she was going to kill herself. When I tried to calm her and talk her out of it, she hung up on me. I tried calling her back for about 10 minutes. Then, fearing she had injured herself, I called the police.

When they went to Sheila's home and couldn't find her, they called me, and I suggested some other places she might be. They managed to locate her and took her to the hospital. She was released, and now she's mad at me. Sheila says I overreacted -- she wasn't really going to do it -- and that it's my fault she got bruised from the encounter. (It was storming and muddy, and they fell in the mud.)

I asked her for forgiveness. She said she wants nothing more to do with me. I love Sheila like family. I did what I was always taught to do in a situation like that. Did I do something wrong? -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN INDIANA

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: No, you did exactly the right thing. You did not owe Sheila an apology; she owes you one. By now, you must have realized that your friend is self-centered, overly dramatic and brought this episode upon herself. Divorces can make people hyperemotional and irrational. Once Sheila gets her feet back on the ground, I hope she realizes what a good friend you are. If she doesn't, the loss is hers.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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