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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 31-year-old son, "Joey," who needs a heart transplant, almost died a few weeks ago. The doctors told us he wouldn't make it through the weekend. I was beside myself. On what we thought was his deathbed, I told Joey I would give him anything he wanted if he pulled through. He wanted a very expensive sports car.

Well, my son pulled through, but has other physical challenges. My husband and I are sending him $500 a month until he starts receiving money from Social Security. It's the best we can do right now. The problem is, Joey keeps hounding me about the sports car. I cannot afford this gift. We have offered to have his current vehicle reconditioned or give him my year-old car with its very low mileage.

I do not want this to become an issue with my son. I have told him his heart condition is the priority and to let everything else fall into place. It's eating me alive that I can't give my son what I promised. On the other hand, his request is unreasonable. Please help. -- JOEY'S MOM IN LAS CRUCES

DEAR MOM: Unless you put a stop to it now, this WILL become an issue with your son. Surely he is in touch enough with reality that he knows your financial situation -- and if he doesn't, please inform him. While you're at it, explain that when you thought he was on his deathbed, you were out of your mind with grief -- and you can't be held to a promise made under such duress. At $500 a month, you can hardly be accused of being a withholding parent, so stop beating yourself up.

DEAR ABBY: My 21-year-old daughter, "Crystal," has been engaged to her boyfriend, "Aaron," for several months. When she was here recently I asked her to clean out some of the stuff from under her bed and in her closet. She proceeded to throw out her yearbooks, photos from high school dances -- even old journals!

It seems she had an unpleasant experience with Aaron when a roommate mentioned an old friend of hers -- a boy, but not a boyfriend. Aaron became very "hurt" by the conversation. So now Crystal wants no reminders of her past -- especially regarding other boys.

Is this normal? I don't know what to do. I wonder whether they need counseling before they marry, but I don't want to interfere. My daughter becomes angry with me over little things. She even ignored us when we asked her to come celebrate her brother's birthday. She just wants to be with her true love; nobody else seems to matter. -- A WORRIED MOM

DEAR MOM: Your idea of premarital counseling is an excellent one. Aaron appears to be extremely insecure, and your daughter is so in love she can't see the handwriting on the wall. When you invited her to celebrate her brother's birthday, did you also include her fiance? If so, and she still didn't want to come, Aaron may be trying to distance her from the family.

Assuming that Crystal intends to be married in your church, have a talk with your clergyperson about this. If there is a problem looming on the horizon, premarital counseling may bring it out -- and help them to deal with it before it gets out of hand.

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