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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: This is the time of year we think not only about our mothers, but all the women who have helped to shape our lives. But as they focus on work, family and home, many of them tend to neglect themselves and their health.

That's why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of Women's Health and the Federal Citizen Information Center would like to help women to take time to care for themselves by offering them our free Health Information Kit.

With topics like managing medicines, avoiding health scams, practicing food safety and, of course, taking care of the entire family, the advice and tips in this kit are a source of wisdom for women to use and share with one another.

Abby, thank you for letting your readers know about our free Health Information Kits and for reminding women that as they're caring for others, they need to take care of themselves. -- MARSHA HENDERSON, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH (ACTING), FDA

DEAR MARSHA: I'm pleased to spread the word. The fact sheet on food safety you're offering is particularly important, given that many people have gotten food poisoning and mistaken it for the flu. Your fact sheet on antibiotic resistance is also useful because overuse of antibiotics in this country has made it increasingly difficult to treat some serious medical problems.

And readers, did you know that we all can play an important public health role by reporting any adverse reactions and unexpected side effects after using a medical product? A guide to reporting problems to the FDA is included in this packet of information for women -- and more. So place your orders today. Quantities are limited, so do it now by going online to or send your name and address to Health Information Kit, Pueblo, CO 81009. By phone, call (888) 8-PUEBLO (that's (888) 878-3256), weekdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, and ask for the Health Information Kit. And remember, it will be sent at no cost to you.

DEAR ABBY: I recently took my daughter to an "open house" at our local college. My daughter refuses to ask questions, so I started asking about credit hours, finances, scholarships, etc.

A few people were not happy that I was there. I was told that I was what they referred to as a "hovering" parent and I needed to let her attend the open house on her own. I told them -- very politely -- that because I was paying for her education, I wanted to know what I was getting for my money. I told them if I was going to buy her a car, I feel I'd have the right to test drive it first to make sure it was worth the money.

Should I have left her there on her own and hoped everything turned out OK? I know kids need to grow up and make their own mistakes, but if they do it with my money, they won't learn because it would cost them nothing. Do you think I was out of line? -- QUESTIONING DAD IN ARIZONA

DEAR DAD: I don't think so. It's not unusual for parents to take their sons and daughters to look at prospective colleges -- and the questions adults would ask might not be the same ones their teen might think of. However, if the individuals who suggested that you were "hovering" were employees of the college, it's possible you did go overboard, and it's time to begin encouraging your daughter to be less of a shrinking violet. Being so shy that she's unable to ask questions is a handicap in a competitive academic setting.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)