DEAR ABBY: Our bright, soon-to-be 18-year-old son feels that he has reached an impasse with us regarding his future.

His mother and I feel that as long as he is living under our roof, we have an obligation to be actively involved in every aspect of his future in order to protect him from what we fear might be mistakes. He feels that we are being unfair to deprive him of acquiring the experience necessary to achieve his goals. He insists that even though he may make some mistakes, it's his future, and he will have to learn from his mistakes.We have all agreed to use your insight as a basis for compromise. - HIS PARENTS IN BROOKLYN

DEAR PARENTS: How has his judgment been so far? If he hasn't made any mistakes so serious that he needed you to rescue him, I'd be inclined to trust his judgment.

There's a delicate balance between "protecting" an 18-year-old and controlling him. I applaud your conscientious parenting, Mom and Dad, but must you be actively involved in EVERY aspect of your son's future? Please don't hamper his growth by smothering him.

DEAR ABBY: I am surprised that you had so many letters from readers who were on "your side" in the matter of whether or not a couple should marry because a baby was on the way.

I would like to go on record as being firmly opposed to your advice to marry because a child had been accidentally conceived. I should think the pitfalls and hopelessness of a forced marriage (forced in any sense of the word) would be obvious to all parties concerned.

But all of that aside, Abby, please consider this: What if the baby is miscarried, or is stillborn, or dies shortly after birth, etc. Then what? - S.S. IN PINE LAKE, GA.

DEAR S.S.: If the baby does not survive for any of the above reasons, at least the mother and father will have the satisfaction of knowing that they did the right thing in their willingness to legitimize the child, even though it had been accidentally conceived.

DEAR ABBY: Here's one for your "Honesty Is the Best Policy" file:

My husband and I received a letter from a shirttail relative who lives 2,000 miles from us. This cousin came to visit us two years ago for what we understood would be a two-week visit. Well, she stayed for three months!

Yesterday we received a letter from her advising us that she would be coming to visit us again for two weeks! We called her immediately to tell her that we had planned to be away ourselves. She said, "Oh, that's OK - just send me a set of keys to the house!"


DEAR STUCK: Immediately advise your shameless, brassy cousin not to expect your housekeys. Period. You are under no obligation to explain the reason for your decision. And in the future, try never to lie.

"O what a tangled web we weave

"When first we practice to deceive!" (Sir Walter Scott)

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)