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DEAR ABBY: I gave birth a month ago to a wonderful baby boy. My husband and I originally planned to put him in day care when I go back to work. I carefully researched and eventually found one I was comfortable with. When my mom found out, she said she had assumed she would be watching him, so I eventually told her she could.

My parents watch my sister's young children seven days a week. The children are very ill-behaved due to an absent, immature mother and absent father. I do not want my son subjected to their tantrums and violent behavior, nor do I want him to think that their behavior is acceptable. I love my mom very much, and I feel she deserves time away from children, but more than that, I don't want my baby in that environment. How do I kindly tell her that I've changed my mind? I'm afraid it will hurt her feelings. -- AT A LOSS FOR WORDS

DEAR AT A LOSS: Your mother has been watching those children seven days a week for how long? If she hasn't been able to get them to behave, you are right in thinking things would not be any different with your child. Tell your mother -- firmly -- that you do not want your son to be around his cousins on a daily basis because these are his formative years, and you don't want him to think their behavior is normal. Your thinking is correct, so hold your ground and don't let her talk you out of it.

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DEAR ABBY: A friend of mine, "Gladys," was looking for a home for an old dog. "Breezy" was 12, and his owner had died. Gladys was fostering Breezy until a new home could be found. I told her I'd take him if she couldn't find another good home. She ended up finding one.

Breezy was living with his new owners for about a month when they called to tell Gladys the dog "wasn't feeling well." When she went to check on it, she decided the placement wasn't working out and asked if I would take him. I agreed and told her I would give him a good home.

A couple days later, Gladys called saying the previous owners had taken Breezy to a veterinarian and expected her to pay the vet bill because she had taken the dog back. Now she's expecting me to reimburse her for the $319 vet bill because I have him! I don't think I should be responsible for the bill but offered to pay half. Gladys doesn't agree, and it has turned into a huge fight between friends. Am I responsible for that bill? Please help. -- DOG LOVER

DEAR DOG LOVER: No, you are not responsible. You did your friend a favor by agreeing to take the dog off her hands. The folks who adopted Breezy should be paying the vet bill because they are the ones who incurred it. Further, it was very generous of you to offer to pay half so your "friend" wouldn't be stuck paying the whole thing.

You adopted an old dog. It's likely that there will be more veterinary expenses in the future. I hope you have pet insurance because you may need it.

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