DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been together for 10 years, married for five. We have an 8-year-old daughter. Yes, the math is clear -- she was a "love child." My family is religious, and although I was 22 at the time of my pregnancy, they announced that I would not be having a baby shower because I had conceived in sin and it wouldn't look right.
My sister and her husband of five years recently announced that she is pregnant and I am expected to attend showers and parties for her. Am I wrong for not wanting to go? I'll gladly send a gift and be there when the baby is born, but I'd prefer to avoid having to attend any social function where I am shamed for living differently. Her friends are so judgmental that if they suspect you smoke, drink or curse, they roll their eyes and go out of their way to avoid you. -- SHAMED IN DELAWARE
DEAR SHAMED: Baby showers are intended to welcome a new life into the world. They are not supposed to be vehicles for shaming anyone. Frankly, I'm surprised that some of your less religiously fervent friends didn't get together to see that you were given one. Because you and your sister's judgmental crowd have so little in common and you would prefer to avoid them, you have my blessing.
DEAR ABBY: Two teenage boys who live on our block frequently ride their skateboards in the street. They wear no protective padding or helmets and pay no attention to their surroundings. They stay out at all hours in the summer, come flying into the street and swerve over both lanes of traffic. I have seen cars narrowly avoid hitting them many times, and I hear cars honking at them and drivers shouting.
Their parents don't seem to care. They also let their dogs run loose around the neighborhood and into the street, and often back out of their driveway without looking. I know I'll get nowhere speaking to them.
I'm terrified that I'll hit one of the boys with my car. I have come close twice and got dirty looks from them both times. I warn my visitors to watch out for them. I'm afraid it's only a matter of time before something awful happens, and I don't want to go to jail or live with a lifetime of guilt because of their irresponsible behavior. Any ideas? -- NERVOUS IN NEW ENGLAND
DEAR NERVOUS: Regardless of whether you think it will get you anywhere, talk to the parents about how dangerous their teenagers' behavior is, and when you do, explain that there have been a couple of near misses. After that, if the boys continue to ride in the street, mention it to your local police department and perhaps the boys will be cited for their recklessness. (Some communities have ordinances requiring the use of helmets.) If the dogs create a nuisance, contact animal control. After that, que sera, sera, and your conscience should be clear.
DEAR ABBY: As a 13-year-old girl, how can I look presentable? Doesn't looking presentable attract boys? -- NEW AT IT IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR NEW AT IT: Looking presentable attracts everyone. It doesn't have to involve spending a lot of money. Bathe or shower regularly, be sure your hair is combed and tidy and the clothes you wear are clean. Looking presentable sends a message that you have pride in yourself and respect for others -- and that includes adults and other girls.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)