Dear Ann:

I am a 42-year-old man, married with two children. Things are just fine within my immediate family. The problem is my mother. She wants me to buy her an automobile. Not just any automobile. She wants one exactly like mine.

Mother has a comfortable lifestyle, and can certainly afford to buy any car she wants on her own. However, for some reason, she thinks I should give her one. And, of course, she doesn't want anything as moderately priced as the neighbor's car. She feels entitled to a car just like mine--the expensive variety. No other car will do.

Ann, I have worked hard for everything I have, including my car. I paid my own way through college, and am reasonably successful in business. I do not feel that I should deprive my children of the money we are saving for their college education in order to satisfy my mother's expensive taste in automobiles. I have told her that money is tight at the moment, but this hasn't stopped her from nagging.

My relationship with my mother has never been terribly close, and now, her pressuring me to buy a car is straining it to the breaking point. I don't want to destroy the good will that I have slowly and carefully built up over the years. I need some advice.

No Name, No City Please

Does your mother have a hearing problem? Tell her, in a voice slightly louder than normal, that you cannot afford to buy her a car, and you would appreciate it if she would quit asking. Let her know it pains you that you cannot give her everything her heart desires, but that your children's education comes first. Repeat as often as necessary.

Dear Ann:

My husband and I have a trivial problem, but have yet to get a definite answer, even though we have asked family and friends, and even a butcher. Here's the question: Does a chicken have one breast, or two?

My husband and I are on a calorie-counting diet, and were tallying up supper last night. We could not agree on how much to count for the whole roasted chicken we had eaten. I had the breast meat from one side, and he had the portion from the other side. I counted mine as a half-breast, and he said it should be counted as a whole breast, because chickens have two breasts, one on each side. This sounds to me like a "man" thing. All the guys we have asked say chickens have two breasts. All the women say they have just one.

We have been married for seven years, and have never had a dispute that we could not resolve, so we decided to ask Ann Landers. We both read your column every morning, and can't wait to see your answer.

Miss M in Shreveport, La.

You need wait no longer. Chickens have one breast. Breast meat is between 30-45 calories per ounce. Most diets consider "a breast" to be a SPLIT breast, which is one-half of the whole breast. Bon appetit!

Dear Ann:

I was flattered to see an excerpt from my book, "Really Important Stuff My Kids Have Taught Me" (Workman Publishing, 1994) quoted in a recent column. I am glad so many people have read and enjoyed the book.

Wouldn't we all be a little wiser if we spent more time listening to what our kids are telling us? Thanks, Ann.

Cynthia Copeland Lewis, Keene, N.H.

I am happy to give you credit for your delightful list of lessons learned through a child's eyes. The one I liked best was "If you're going to draw on the wall, do it behind the couch." It took me back to my childhood, because my sister and I used to do a lot of that sort of thing.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.1999, Creators Syndicate Inc.