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DEAR ABBY: My son-in-law is one of those sports jocks who think the measure of a man is determined by how much he knows about sports and how much pain he can take. (However, he is scared to death of needles at the doctor's.)

He makes fun of me when I gasp as he holds one or the other of my little grandsons upside down, swinging his head very close to the ground. He likes to "roughhouse" with the boys until they're in tears. When I tell him to stop, he says, "You just don't understand how it is with boys because you raised four daughters."Meanwhile, my daughter (the boys' mother) says nothing. I think the boys laugh when he begins to roughhouse with them because they love the attention, which they rarely get - but they don't enjoy the pain.

My daughter works in an office where they often discuss your letters, so I would appreciate your comments on whether or not I am being unduly concerned.

The roughhousing usually ends when one of the boys is finally hurt enough to cry - then their daddy's only comment is, "Aw, poor little baby." -- SCREAMING INSIDE

DEAR SCREAMING: Enough of the "screaming inside" - scream outside, and loudly enough to be heard by your daughter and her misguided macho husband. Let him know that the kind of roughhousing he's into with his sons is not only cruel, its dangerous, and he should cut it out because it's child abuse.

DEAR ABBY: Is shoplifting hereditary? It must be. At least it is in my family. My father did it - he called it "five fingers and a grab." Both my brothers used to boast about how much they got away with.

My sister and I did a little shoplifting for many years, although we weren't poor and always had enough money to buy the things we shoplifted.

I was caught recently, but because I was over 80, they warned me not to do it again and let me go. It's like a disease. Even today, I'm wealthy, but there are times when I cannot control the urge to take small things without paying for them. I enjoy the feeling of getting away with it.

Why is that, Abby? And what's the harm? - LIGHT-FINGERED LILY

DEAR LILY: You could be a kleptomaniac, and the harm is that you may be charged with theft and ordered never to enter that store again.

Millions of dollars worth of merchandise mysteriously disappear from our stores daily. Regardless of whether the "taker" is a kleptomaniac or a common thief, the merchant is the loser.

I doubt that shoplifting is "hereditary" - but boasting about it to family members may make the act seem OK or no big deal. Pity. Stealing is never OK; it's a crime. However, those who cannot control the urge to steal (bona fide kleptomaniacs) can be helped through psychiatric or psychological counseling.

DEAR ABBY: Speaking of people who "mean well" but say the wrong thing in an effort to comfort someone who has suffered a terrible tragedy: Eight years ago, after three miscarriages, I finally became pregnant again. In my 13th week, I miscarried. This was a tubal pregnancy. I ruptured and lost my good tube.

Ten months later, I was widowed. Do you know what one of my well-meaning friends told me? "Maybe it's a good thing you lost that baby after all"!

My advice to anyone who has never lost a baby - or a spouse - is if you don't know what to say, just don't say anything. - CAROLYN IN AURORA, COLO.

-Don't put off writing thank-you notes, letters of sympathy, etc. because you don't know what to say. Get Abby's booklet, "How to Write Letters for All Occasions." Send a check or money order for $2.89 ($3.39 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)