Dear Abby:

My daughter, "Cindy," is 20. She's very attractive, with a great sense of humor. Because of those attributes alone, she could have any terrific young man she wants. However, Cindy has instead made up her mind to "wait for her man" -- who will be spending the next five years in federal prison for selling drugs. They became engaged just before he went in.

Cindy went into the Navy and graduated. She is being deployed to Iraq next month. Before she leaves, she will visit her fiance in prison.

I love my daughter, but this has come between us. Our relationship isn't the same as it used to be, and I am afraid that I have lost her. I have exhausted every means to stop Cindy from continuing this relationship. Have you any suggestions I might have overlooked?

Fighting for My Daughter in Nebraska

Yes. Stop fighting. It will only drive your daughter further away. She is going into a war zone, and that kind of experience makes people grow up very quickly. When your daughter returns, she will not be the same little girl who went away -- and her priorities and judgments may be very different than they are now. My advice is, Don't blow your cool and say something now you'll regret later. Right now, your daughter needs all the support she can get.

Dear Abby:

I have been dating "Ronald" for three years. He says he loves me. Ron is still married, but swears it's only so he can keep his wife on his health insurance as he'd promised her. However, they talk every day "as friends" and have a daughter and grandchildren in common.

Ron comes here (to another state) to visit me often, but I have never met his daughter or grandchildren, and he feels no urgency to introduce us. Ron has met my entire family.

I feel that he is leading two lives and is happy in both worlds. I, on the other hand, feel rejected and that he's ashamed of me and our relationship. I feel left out, on the outside looking in. Any suggestions?

Needs Validation in Oregon

You have analyzed your situation very well. You ARE on the outside looking in. Whether or not your boyfriend and his wife still dwell under the same roof, they are legally married, and he is providing for her nicely. By staying married to his wife, he has assured that if anything happens to him she will be provided for. Since you have asked for a suggestion, I suggest you take your cues from what Ronald does rather than what he says, and find yourself a boyfriend who is eligible.

Dear Abby:

Four months ago, my husband sent his 22-year-old daughter a check for a special occasion. She still hasn't cashed it. She insists if she cashes it, the money will be spent on groceries and rent instead of something special.

My mother always told me it was rude not to cash a check from someone immediately, because otherwise the sender had to deal with it every month when trying to balance his or her checkbook. My husband says I am picking on her. Am I old-fashioned?

"Wicked" Stepmom in Colorado

Here in California, if a check isn't cashed within a certain time, it's considered invalid. However, since your husband has accused you of sniping at his daughter, and he doesn't seem to mind the inconvenience caused by his daughter's outstanding check, it's time to halt the helpful criticism and examine your motives.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate