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Dear Abby: My son, a college student, was accused of fathering a child last year. He had been seeing this girl casually. She claims the baby girl is definitely his. My son says, "It's possible" - however, he has no desire to see the child or be involved in her life. (I was informed by the girl's mother after the birth of this child.)

The young mother, who has two more years of high school, has opted - with the help of her parents - to keep the child.What are my duties, rights and responsibilities - both to my son and to my grandchild? I would like to be involved in the child's life, but I do not want to alienate my son. I would like to hear how other grandparents who have been in this situation have handled it.

- On the Fence

Dear On: I admire your integrity and generosity; however, your son should first determine whether he is indeed the baby's father.

If he is the father, he should consult a lawyer to learn what his legal rights and responsibilities are. Then, you will have all the rights and responsibilities of a grandmother.

Dear Abby: You objected to that 15-year-old girl who wanted to pierce her nose, saying she would be left with an unsightly hole in her nose after the ring-in-the-nose fad passes.

You are wrong, Abby. I was 19 when I had my nose pierced. Now, many years later, the hole has grown over nicely, and nobody would ever guess that my nose was once pierced.

But I still wouldn't recommend telling a 15-year-old girl to pierce her nose. Even when I was 20, my mother wouldn't allow a nose ring in her house. Lucky for me, she never saw the one in my belly button!

- Pierced in Clearwater, Fla.

Dear Pierced: Read on for some good news for people who want nose rings as a lark but not enough to take the piercing:

Dear Abby: Please inform your readers who are interested in wearing nose rings that it isn't necessary to have their noses pierced. There are clip-on nose rings available. I discovered them a few days ago in a jewelry boutique at a local mall.

They are relatively inexpensive (around $5 or $6) and are the perfect solution to a fad that may or may not be around next week.

- Dallas Reader

Dear Reader: Thanks for the tip. My guess is that there are now many such "clip joints" where nose rings can be found!

Dear Abby: A recent column dealing with proper respect accorded the various doctoral degrees brings to mind an appropriate joke I first heard many years ago:

Two brothers, one a minister and the other a physician, each with the appropriate doctorate, strongly resembled each other. On one occasion, a young woman rushed up to the physician and said, "That was such an inspirational sermon you delivered last Sunday!"

"You have mistaken me for my brother," he replied. "He preaches; I'm the one who practices."

- Jack H. Stocker, Ph.D.,

New Orleans