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A MAJOR FAMILY HEADACHE

Dear Abby: My mother-in-law, "Sharon," and I had a wonderful relationship until I gave birth. Almost overnight, Sharon became extremely overbearing about how I should raise her grandson, "Charlie." (He is now 8.)

Recently, Charlie contracted a common childhood illness. Although I had been taking him to the pediatrician regularly, Sharon kept insisting that I wasn't caring for him properly. One afternoon when she was baby-sitting, she went so far as to take Charlie to his pediatrician and tell the doctor that I wasn't treating his illness. When the pediatrician didn't tell Sharon what she wanted to hear, she took Charlie home with her and gave him some medicine she had at her house. When I found out, I was horrified. (What if he'd had an allergic reaction?)

When I called Sharon to discuss the matter, she hung up on me.

Two days later our doorbell rang. It was a visit from Child Protective Services. Charlie's pediatrician had to be contacted as well as his school counselor. It was very embarrassing. After an investigation, the matter was dismissed.

Sharon has never denied that she called CPS, nor has she made any effort to apologize. My husband and I have no wish to speak to her until she does. Are we right to avoid her, and should we wait for her to come to us? We hate to be in a feud, but we worry that she may try something like this again if she doesn't see there are consequences for her actions.

-- Embarrassed in New York
Dear Embarrassed: Grandma may have thought she knew best, but she should have quit after consulting Charlie's pediatrician. For her to have given her grandson leftover meds without authorization from you or his doctor was child endangerment. If you wait for Sharon to come to you, Charlie may not see his grandmother before he reaches adulthood. And in your case, unless there are strict ground rules, that may be the safest thing for your son. Hang tough.

A young girl's dilemma

Dear Abby: I'm 15, and recently broke up with my boyfriend, "Mike." I believe in waiting for marriage to have sex, and he doesn't. That's why I ended it.

My mother adores Mike and made me keep all his gifts and pictures in the hope that we'll get back together. She doesn't know that we were 1 inch from losing our virginity. Should I tell her what happened? And what should I do with the gifts?

-- Ashamed in Decatur, Ga.
Dear Ashamed: By all means tell your mother why you broke things off -- especially the pressure to which you were subjected and the fact that Mike wouldn't take no for an answer. She needs to wake up, stop idealizing him, and recognize that you were nearly raped.

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