Dear Abby: I just finished reading the letter from "Sick of the Bad Rep," who is depressed at the thought of having three daughters-in-law when her three sons marry. Well, I have eight daughters-in-law, and I, too, was scared. Yes, mothers-in-law do get a bad rep — and often it is well-deserved.

When my eldest son married, I knew it was time to cut the cord. So, I cut the strings off a thoroughly worn apron — a visible sign of my intentions — and washed, starched, ironed and placed them in a gift box, and gave it to my new daughter-in-law. She was thrilled and let me know it.

I now have seven more daughters-in-law, and they are all precious to me. One after another, they have told me how much they appreciated the manner in which they were welcomed into the family, and my ability to let go.

I agree with you, Abby, that "Bad Rep's" attitude is self-fulfilling. If she has done a good job rearing her sons, she has nothing to fear. Love is not divided; it is multiplied. Her sons' wives will bless her, and she'll have three precious daughters.—One Who Knows

Dear One Who Knows:I have received a bushel of letters echoing your sentiments — but yours was by far the most original way of demonstrating to your daughters-in-law there would be no competition.

Dear Abby:My mother is 102. She lives in a nursing home where everyone loves her. She is an inspiration to all. She is unable to walk but her memory is fine. In the three years she's been there, I've visited her every day except two.

Mother has more than a dozen great-grandchildren, all adults now. There wasn't a single happy event in their lives that she didn't commemorate with a gift or card. How sad, Abby, that since she's been confined, they've shut her out. They don't visit or send greeting cards for special occasions — not even Christmas.

When I visit her, it hurts to see the tears in her eyes as she asks about each one. They are all living well, and distance is not a problem. They just don't take the time.

Please, print this in your column. They all read it. If they heed your advice, maybe smiles will replace the tears on Mother's sad and forgotten face.—Disappointed In Chicago

Dear Disappointed:You're complaining to the wrong person. Pick up the phone and direct your dismay at "the great-grandchildren." Remind them that your mother is of sound mind and that isolation can be a killer. One nice thing about nursing homes is the fact that many patients can be taken out of them for a meal or an outing. If your grandchildren are not aware of it, be sure to let them know.

Dear Abby: I am in the process of trying to quit smoking, and I have a pet peeve.

Sometimes when I'm home relaxing and watching television, a commercial for a product to help people stop smoking will come on. Abby, the sight of a cigarette gives me the urge to smoke!

Since the surgeon general was wise enough to ban cigarette ads on TV, why are they allowed to advertise smoking cessation products and show lighted cigarettes? The sight of that burning cigarette in the ad starts me craving.

It's torture to those who are trying to quit. Please help me encourage stop-smoking advertisers NOT to use cigarettes in their ads! Thank you.—Trying To Quit Smoking In Michigan

Dear Trying To Quit: I'm printing your letter because you have a valid point. There have been times when 15 minutes after watching a food commercial, I have found myself in the kitchen with my nose in the refrigerator. Since marketing is such a large part of our culture, the lesson here may be that people can never let down their guard.

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, CA 90069 © Universal Press Syndicate