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by Abigail Van Buren

Unfaithful Young Husband Is Likely to Cheat Again

DEAR ABBY: My 24-year-old daughter married her high school sweetheart whom she has been with for nine years. He was unfaithful to her while they were dating. They have been married a year now, and he has been unfaithful several more times during their married life.

She has left him twice. The second time she filed for divorce, but he talked her into taking him back. He promises to be faithful to her now.

They are so young, and I hate to see her live a life with a man who is a cheater. There are no children, and my daughter has a college education. Abby, my question is: After repeated cheating, do men ever become faithful husbands? -- SICK WITH WORRY IN MONTANA

DEAR SICK WITH WORRY: Because your son-in-law continued being unfaithful to your daughter more than once, I seriously doubt that he's going to quit. When a man -- or woman -- forms a pattern of cheating, it rarely stops. I hope your daughter understands that before having children.

DEAR ABBY: My 6-year-old daughter "Kaylee" recently spent a weekend with her grandparents. While she was there, they bought her several gifts.

Today her grandmother called and asked to have one of the gifts back. A friend of hers would like to have the decorative musical instruments she gave to Kaylee. Grandma's idea is to offer to buy something else for my daughter and "trade."

I don't know how to handle this. I can't imagine asking someone to return a present I had given him or her. Kaylee loves the instruments and has been playing with them every day since she received them. However, I think her grandma (my stepmother) will be upset if I don't go along with her plan. Abby, help! -- AGHAST IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR AGHAST: Once a gift is given, it belongs to the person who received it. Of course, your stepmother can offer your daughter the idea of a "trade." However, if Kaylee isn't keen on the idea, then you must tell Grandma her idea went over like a lead balloon and her friend is out of luck.

DEAR ABBY: It will soon be that time of year when adult children will wrack their brains to find Christmas gifts for their elderly parents. Two years ago, my daughter gave me the gift of a lifetime -- my pets' lives.

Knowing how much my dog and cats mean to me since I live alone, she and my son-in-law called to say that instead of giving me another knickknack for Christmas, my birthday or Mother's Day, they would pay all my veterinary bills for the life of each pet. It was a welcome surprise and a special, thoughtful gift.

Pets bring companionship and comfort to those of us who live alone on fixed incomes. Knowing they will have the proper veterinary care is, indeed, the gift of a lifetime. Even if you can't assume all the costs of your parents' pets, chipping in on holidays would help a lot. -- APPRECIATIVE MOM IN ILLINOIS

DEAR APPRECIATIVE MOM: I agree, and that's why I'm printing your letter. With so many people feeling stressed economically, your letter may provide the "purr-fect" solution to what to get for an older relative.

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.)