DEAR ABBY: My long-term boyfriend, “Clayton,” and I recently found out that we’re pregnant. Although it wasn’t planned, we’re both thrilled to be new parents. We’re doing everything within our power to have the healthiest baby possible.

Because we’re on a tight budget, Clayton’s mother has volunteered to provide day-care services once our child is born and I return to work. She and I have never gotten along well, and we haven’t spoken to each other in more than 18 months. She was also recently diagnosed with a terminal disease that makes it impossible for her to drive long distances, lift heavy objects, or return to her job as a legal secretary. On top of that, she’s a heavy smoker, an alcoholic, and is on a whole cocktail of medications for her disease, depression, blood pressure, etc.

I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of leaving my baby with her eight hours a day, five days a week, but every time I try to tell Clayton I would prefer to pay for day-care services, he tells me I’m “stupid” for wanting to pay money when his mother is offering to baby-sit for free. How can I explain my feelings to him without being ridiculed for being an overly cautious first-time mother? – WORRIED MOM-TO-BE IN VIRGINIA

DEAR WORRIED: From where I sit, your concerns seem very much rooted in reality. What I’m having trouble understanding is why your boyfriend, whom you say is committed to doing everything in his power to assure that you have a healthy baby, would drop the ball when it comes to ensuring that he or she is well-cared-for after birth.

Leaving the baby with a woman who “hasn’t spoken to you in 18 months,” who is so ill she cannot work, who smokes, abuses alcohol, and is on a “whole cocktail” of medications that could be harmful if mixed with alcohol seems more like a recipe for disaster than a “freebie” to me. In fact, leaving the baby with her could be considered child endangerment. Please, for the sake of your baby, stand your ground.

DEAR ABBY: My friend “George” was widowed for a long time. He remarried a couple of years ago to “Renee,” an incessant talker. Renee turns every conversation back either to herself or her daughter. It has gotten so bad that my wife and I really don’t want to see them anymore.

Other people, including George, are aware of the problem. I asked him once if Renee realized how much she talked, and he replied that she’s totally unaware of it. He doesn’t know what to do about it, either.

Is there a way to get a message across to her that she’s driving people crazy, and for the sake of the friendship, she needs to stop talking so much? Please advise. We like them and would like to remain friends. – CLUELESS IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR CLUELESS: Renee may be insecure and need to feel in control. She may need to be the center of attention, or be a compulsive talker. Her problem could also be that she feels she’s competing with the ghost of George’s first wife, and rather than work to preserve his old friendships, she’d prefer they cultivate new ones together, with couples who never knew wife No. 1.

Of course, the person who needs to address this problem with Renee is her husband. If that doesn’t improve the situation, my advice is to see George only for “man-to-man” visits over lunch.

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.

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