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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Can't Grin and Bear Daughter's Third Marriage

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Libby," is about to be married. It's her third trip to the altar, and her stepfather and I are not in favor of the marriage. After her first marriage -- to a wonderful man -- she had an affair with a married man who became husband No. 2. Within five years, she began another affair with a married neighbor. They are both now divorced and plan to be married later this year in a big church wedding.

My husband and I do not want to attend, but Libby has threatened to prevent us from seeing the grandkids if we don't accept husband No. 3 into our family.

How should we handle this? Should we go to the wedding even though we're adamantly opposed to it? It's obvious to us that our daughter needs professional help, which she seeks only when she begins a new affair. But we can't seem to impress upon her the importance of taking some time off before remarrying for the wrong reasons. -- MOTHER OF THE BRIDE -- AGAIN

DEAR M.O.B.: If only for the sake of your grandchildren, you should attend the wedding and make No. 3 as welcome as you can for as long as he lasts -- which, with your daughter's track record, isn't likely to be long.

She appears to be emotionally unstable. The children need a constant in their lives, so put aside your disapproval and provide them with as much emotional support as you can. You can't "fix" your daughter -- only she can do that -- but you can be there for the grandkids, and that's what I recommend you do.

DEAR ABBY: I am 15, and I have been helping my older sister watch her two kids since her boyfriend left her five months ago. She has been paying me $20 a week to watch them six hours a day while she works. I was fine with this arrangement until recently, when she began relying on me completely for baby-sitting. Now she expects me to watch them every time she goes shopping or out with her current boyfriend.

She has begun spending the night at his house and not calling to let me know I need to take care of the kids when they wake up. I know something needs to change. Am I being selfish, or should I confront her? Please help me. -- TEEN SITTER IN ABILENE

DEAR TEEN SITTER: By all means talk to her. It will be a good experience in learning to stand up for yourself -- a lesson you had better learn quickly, because from where I sit it appears your sister is taking advantage of you.

Responsible child supervision costs a lot more than $20 a week, and you should not have to wonder when your sister leaves for work whether you'll see her again before the next day. What she is doing is palming off her responsibility as a parent onto you.

You were sweet to help her in the first place, but it's time to draw the line. To do that isn't being selfish; it's being smart.

DEAR ABBY: I have two granddaughters. The older one is 11, and the younger one is 18 months. I know that when the time comes for sweet 16, graduations and, most of all, weddings, I won't be here to celebrate with them. I would give anything to be able to leave them something that would let them know they were always in my heart and mind. Have you anything special to recommend? -- ALWAYS IN MY HEART

DEAR ALWAYS: Being able to see you and hear your voice would be a wonderful gift. How about having videos made to be given to your granddaughters when they are 16, about to graduate and planning to be married? I'm sure you would have different thoughts to convey to them as they reach each of these significant milestones in their lives.

If that would be too costly, then write letters to be given to them on those occasions. And if you have the means, include a keepsake gift -- perhaps a piece of jewelry that belonged to you.

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 $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)