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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My parents live nearby and are extremely helpful with my young children. My mom feels the need to be the "fun" grandma, and her way of accomplishing it is to always have sweet treats available for the kids in her home. In my home, she allows them to skip vegetables at dinner and loads them up with dessert. Because she is helping me out I ignore this, but every once in a while I ask her in front of the kids to refrain from giving them sweets.

My children recently told me that the second I walk out the door she goes and gets the sweets and hands them out. They all told me they do not have to say a word -- she just does it. I feel this is disrespectful to me and sets a poor example for my children. Should I say something, or am I overreacting? -- SWEET SUE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SWEET SUE: By all means "say something" to your mother. What she's doing may be well-intentioned, but she is doing your children no favor by creating and indulging their appetite for sugar. When she's at your house, TELL her what you want the kids to have as snacks and for dessert. And when they're at her place, bring approved snacks that you prefer she serve.

By going behind your back she is undercutting your authority as a parent. You're lucky your children told you what's happening so you can put your foot down.

DEAR ABBY: I have been a security guard for more than three years, and I'm dismayed at the treatment I've received. I am a person and deserve to be treated as such.

I can't tell you how many times I have been verbally abused because I simply asked someone to show an ID. Security guards are here to protect people and property. Please remember that the next time you are asked to show identification or sign in. Thank you. -- MARY IN SUNNYVALE, CALIF.

DEAR MARY: After reading your letter, I spoke to several security officers and asked about their experiences. They all said that when asking someone to show ID, it's important to approach the person in a friendly, non-confrontational manner -- because sometimes it's not what is said but the way it is said that causes people to take offense. One female officer stated that males sometimes give her "attitude" because she is a woman. But on the other side of the coin, women liked the idea of a female officer.

DEAR ABBY: My view of feminism is very broad and is based on the belief that women are -- and should be -- politically, socially and economically equal to men.

I am dumbfounded when I hear young women proudly proclaim that they are not feminists after learning that I am. What is the appropriate response when comments such as, "I'm not a feminist -- I expect men to take care of everything for me!" are directed toward me? -- FLABBERGASTED FEMINIST IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

DEAR FLABBERGASTED: Smile and ask, "And what are you going to do when they don't?"

DEAR ABBY: I am a 27-year-old, heterosexual female in a long-term, happy relationship with a man. However, I often find myself checking out other women's bodies. It doesn't turn me on or anything -- I just look to compare, I think. Am I normal, or do I need professional help? -- STRAIGHT IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR STRAIGHT: Yes, and no.

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