Dear Abby:

I was married nine months ago to a man I love dearly. It has been an adjustment for all of us, and at times it has been stressful. We have been working on some issues, but for the most part we're doing well. I have a 12-year-old daughter I'll call "Ginger."

The problem is my new father-in-law, "Grant." He lives alone a few states away from us. We see him only a few times a year. I barely know him. Grant has been asking to take Ginger alone for a weekend at his secluded home. I have a real problem with that. Grant also asked to take Ginger to visit his mother -- an even farther distance. He planned on having my daughter alone with him in a hotel for a week. I said no.

Abby, Grant plans these outings in his head and then gets upset when I say no. I'm not comfortable allowing my innocent child to spend time alone with a man in his sixties whom I don't know very well.

I have invited Grant to our home so he can get to know us both, and he always has an excuse not to come. This is causing a rift between my husband and me. Grant has made my husband feel guilty, and it has caused arguments between the two of us. I want to please my husband, but I don't want to place Ginger in a situation that I am not comfortable with. What should I do?

Worried Mother in Massachusetts

Stick to your guns and insist that your father-in-law "get to know" your daughter only in situations that you can supervise. There is a reason why your alarm bells are ringing, and frankly, after reading your letter, they went off in my head, too. Listen to your motherly instinct and do not allow yourself to be manipulated into doing otherwise.

Dear Abby:

A few days ago, there was a gun threat at my school. Although the students are checked every day with hand-held metal detectors, and sometimes the kind you walk through, my friends and I don't feel safe.

The hand-held scanners are used only on the fronts and sides of students -- not the backs -- and they are used only down to our knees. Security guards hold our purses, gym bags, etc. when we walk through the metal detector, and then give them back to us without looking through them.

I would like to have this changed and make sure that our school is truly safe, but I'm not sure how. Any ideas?

Fearful in Kentucky

Speak to the administrators at your school and tell them what you have told me. If you can't bring yourself to do it, then write an anonymous note. Were I the principal of your school, and a student had spotted a hole in my security procedures that was big enough for the football team to jog through, I would certainly want to know.

Dear Abby:

I have been dating my boyfriend, "Brad," for about six months. It's a long-distance relationship because he went off to college.

My problem is, recently Brad has stopped contacting me. He says he'll call, but he never does. He moved out of the dorm at school, so I don't know how to contact him other than e-mail. I have e-mailed him a couple of letters, but I haven't heard back from him. I don't know what to do. Should I give up on him?

Longing in Idaho

By not contacting you, Brad is sending you a strong message. He knows how to reach you. Since he has moved and left you no contact information, it's safe to assume that the romance is over -- at least for now.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate