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by Abigail Van Buren

Couple Enjoying Good Life Is Getting Bad Reception

DEAR ABBY: For 10 years my husband and I worked hard in our careers, but didn't have much to show for it. Our house is shabby and old, we carpool to save money and have been extremely frugal.

Last year we got lucky. We changed jobs and our salaries increased greatly. We paid off our student loans and are now debt-free. We have now decided to move to a nicer neighborhood with better schools for our children and because we can afford a larger home.

When I told our friends about the houses we have been considering, they accused me of "showing off" and not being "myself." They say my news about trips we've taken and how happy we are with our new jobs is "boasting."

I am embarrassed that I came off this way to friends, but it's a relief to finally be free of financial stress and able to afford a lifestyle we have only dreamed about. I intend to watch what I say now, so as not to annoy them.

Abby, is it more about jealousy on their part, or is it me being a bore? -- MOVING UP IN NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA

DEAR MOVING UP: Frankly, it's a little of both. But it's more about the lack of sensitivity you displayed when you started crowing. In the future, talk about things other than your good fortune or keep your beak shut.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I desperately need help concerning our 25-year-old daughter, "Grace." She was always a bit "awkward," but we became more concerned about her as she neared adulthood. Grace misused her college money and dropped out of school. She has been evicted twice, and we have paid off several outstanding liens against her that amounted to thousands of dollars.

Grace has now decided she wants a baby, and she's six months pregnant. This month, at my urging, she married her fiance so she could be put on his medical insurance.

Grace was laid off her job, and they are trying to live on his income as a waiter. They struggle to pay the rent, there is little food in the apartment and she can't find a job. The maternity insurance coverage is only $3,000. I have urged her to seek county help, but she complained that it "takes too long" to hang on the phone or stand in line.

I am 62 and my husband is 73. We have one income and a son who's in college still living at home. We don't have the resources to give our daughter more money. I have always tried to please her and make things perfect. I don't see how we can "fix" this, but now there is an innocent life involved. What should we do? -- ANXIOUS IN ALBUQUERQUE

DEAR ANXIOUS: You have already done more than enough "fixing" for your daughter. Continue to encourage Grace to get help from the county or the state. She will need adequate nutrition to produce a healthy baby.

Also, what about your son-in-law's family? Are they capable of providing assistance, financial or otherwise, to the parents-to-be? If not, and you have reason to believe your grandchild won't be properly cared for, you must ensure that a social worker knows what's going on. There should be one on staff at the hospital where the child is delivered.

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.)