Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Denial of Paternity Leaves Wife Dumbfounded

DEAR ABBY: I have recently found out that I'm pregnant. My problem is my husband doesn't believe the baby is his. He says he and his ex tried for 13 years to have a baby and couldn't.

I don't know what to say to him. I can't explain his past with that other woman. My doctor has ordered rest and no stress, but this is taking a toll on me. When the subject comes up, I just walk away and my husband explodes. What do I do? -- EXPECTING IN GUAM

DEAR EXPECTING: Your husband is "exploding" because you are walking away and won't discuss this with him. Tell him that you are scheduling an appointment for both of you with your OB/GYN. Let the doctor offer to refer him to a urologist who can test his sperm count, which may be low. It would explain why he and his ex were unable to conceive. The problem could also have been hers.

DEAR ABBY: My 78-year-old mother opens her mouth for only three reasons -- to tell me what to do, complain about other people and to remind me that when my older sister died, it left a void in her life no one can fill, including me and my other sister.

Several months ago, I visited Mom and she wasn't feeling well. She has a heart condition and osteoporosis, which makes her unsteady on her feet. A few weeks later, I called to check on her but couldn't reach her by phone. Because I live 150 miles away, I asked my uncle to check on her. He went to her house several times and rang her bell, but got no answer at the door. I called other family members and friends, fearful that she had fallen -- or worse.

Finally, that night at 10 p.m. I called the local police department. When the officers knocked on the door, Mom finally answered and told them that where she was or what she was doing was no one else's business! She later told my uncle the same thing.

This is a cautionary tale to the elderly or infirm who tell us to leave them alone. We will do so. But do not complain when you don't hear from us, because you can't have it both ways. -- FED UP IN TEXAS

DEAR FED UP: OK, you have now vented. Your mother is a difficult woman and you have my sympathy. And now that the dear lady has made clear how she feels, follow your mother's wishes with a clear conscience.

P.S. If you know any of her neighbors, consider asking them to let you know if her newspapers start piling up.

DEAR ABBY: My dear friend "Katie" doesn't share the same religious or political beliefs I do. She enjoys discussing these topics and assumes that everyone agrees with her. If someone tries to disagree, she becomes highly offended and angry.

Whenever she brings these issues up, I just stop talking. I have found that no matter how much one argues with someone over controversial issues, no one changes their opinions and only hurt feelings remain. How would you go about tactfully changing the subject? -- DIFFERING FRIEND IN LARAMIE, WYO.

DEAR DIFFERING FRIEND: I wouldn't do it once someone has started proselytizing. I'd do it before. At a time when you and your friend are involved in some mutually enjoyable activity, mention that certain topics, such as politics and religion, make you uncomfortable and that you'd appreciate it if they weren't brought up with you. And if she "forgets," smile sweetly and say, "Who do you think will be playing in the Super Bowl?"

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.)