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by Abigail Van Buren

Part-Time Dad Tries Hard to Give Full-Time Support

DEAR ABBY: I'm responding to the letter you printed from the apparently "disgruntled" mother about fathers who do nothing more than send in their required child support payments. While I agree that they are fulfilling their legal obligations and nothing more, I'm concerned that other fathers (including myself) are getting a bad rap.

I currently take my children to weekly counseling sessions, due in part to an ex-wife who constantly tells them what a "jerk" their father is.

Not only do I send the required child support payments on time, I send an amount OVER the required legal minimum. I also help their mother with religious school tuition, summer camp expenses and assorted other child-care expenses -- gifts, sports and extracurricular activities.

In addition to paying off the tremendous debts that my ex helped accumulate during our marriage (the debts and the clothes on my back were all I got in the divorce agreement), I attend my kids' school and extracurricular activities with enthusiasm (when I'm notified about them) and call the kids regularly. Regrettably, I have only the legally minimum visitation opportunities, which their mother tried to deny me.

I now must contend with the ongoing slander that my ex-wife feeds our children and spreads around town in her attempt to make everyone feel sorry for her. (No matter that her boyfriend moved in with her and my kids before the ink was dry on the divorce agreement!)

I hope your readers realize that many fathers like myself have tremendous love and concern for our children's welfare. We share the pain and emotional turmoil they experience as a result of a divorce.

Yes, like the song says, "She got the gold mine -- I got the shaft!" -- HAD IT IN DALLAS

DEAR HAD IT: Your point is well-taken. In a divorce, one rarely comes out unscathed. Everyone pays -- one way or another. However, the damage can be kept to a minimum if the parents refrain from using children as pawns to vent their frustration and anger at ex-spouses, and fulfill their financial responsibilities instead of trying to sabotage each other.

DEAR ABBY: I am a freshman in college. My roommate does not wear a bra. I envy her, since I consider bras a nuisance -- but I've never had the guts to go out in public without one.

Now that winter has come and I can wear sweaters and sweatshirts that are very concealing, I have stopped wearing a bra -- and love every minute of it. I have overcome the fear of going out in public without a bra, and my roommate has been helping me choose clothes that conceal bralessness. I hope to never wear one again.

However, I'm worried that not wearing a bra will cause my breasts to sag as I get older. My roommate claims there is no proof that bras prevent sagging, and that her 50-year-old mom hasn't worn a bra for 25 years and still has firm breasts.

What do you think, Abby? -- BRALESS AND LOVING IT

DEAR BRALESS: It all depends on how "bosomy" you are. If you are a 32-A, OK; but a 36-DD requires maximum support.

DEAR ABBY: I read your column about the bandleader who played songs in honor of wedding anniversaries. You asked for suggestions for anniversaries over 50 years. How about, "Never in a Million Years"? -- ROGER MCGUIRE, REPUBLIC, PA.

DEAR ROGER: Thank you. Since I have been married for 56 years to a loving husband I'll call Saint Morton, I beg to disagree with you.

Among the other suggestions I received for 50-plus anniversaries were, "We Did It Before and We Can Do It Again," "It Had Better Be Tonight," "Now and Then," "Thanks for the Memories" and "I've Got Plenty of Nothin'."

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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