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Dear Ann Landers: I lived with "Craig" for two years before we parted. During that time, Craig had some financial problems, and my mother loaned him a few thousand dollars. He is planning to repay her as soon as he lands on his feet.

I still consider Craig a friend, although we don't see each other often. My mother, however, has decided to do a background check on him. She says he must be hiding some deep, dark secret, and she's determined to find out what it is. I have no interest in such an exploration and have told her so. Craig was always decent to me, and there is no reason to believe he is untrustworthy or dangerous.

I told my mother if she wants to investigate Craig, fine, but leave me out of it. She insists I be a party to her search and says when she has "the full picture," I have an obligation to sit down with her and discuss her findings. Ann, I resent my mother's pushy attitude. She says I am being unreasonable and that she is only trying to "protect me."

This is creating serious problems between us, and I don't know how to make her understand that Craig's life is no longer my business. Yesterday, Mom screamed at me that I have a duty to find out the truth. How can I get her to leave me alone?

-- Badgered and Beleaguered in Washington, D.C.
Dear B and B: You have no obligation to sit down with your mother and listen to her "findings." Tell her you don't want to hear another word about Craig, and be firm about it. If she mentions his name after your declaration of independence, say, "The subject is off-limits," and talk about something else or leave the room.

Wedding bill blues

Dear Ann Landers: My 36-year-old son is getting married to a woman with whom he has been living for seven years. They have three children together. I was so pleased they finally decided to tie the knot that I offered to pay for half the cost of the food, assuming the wedding would be a small affair.

Imagine my surprise when the bride told me they are inviting 300 people and she expects me to pay for half of them. She also sent me a page from an etiquette book that says the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner, marriage license and the minister. I don't mind helping out, but this seems ridiculous. What do you say, Ann?

-- Groom's Mother in Texas
Dear Mother of the Groom: One page from an etiquette book does not tell the whole story. Your son and his fiancee are no longer being supported by their parents and should pay for their own wedding. If the families wish to help out, etiquette books say the groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner, minister and marriage license. The bride's family pays for the wedding, which also includes the dinner and the flowers. Got it? I hope so.

I say, if you want to help finance the wedding, offer the couple a specific amount, and let them do what they like with it.

Time to hang up

Dear Ann Landers: This is for "Drained in Virginia," whose ex-boyfriend, "Bill," calls her constantly to complain about his life. You suggested she change her phone number. That's fine, but modern technology provides better options.

Please tell "Drained" to get an answering machine and set it to pick up after one or two rings so the phone won't ring endlessly. She can delete his calls as soon as she hears his voice and won't have to listen to his litany of complaints. If Caller ID is available in her area, she should try that, too. Please pass these suggestions along. The woman needs help.

-- Ohio Do-gooder

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