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by Abigail Van Buren

Father Discovers His Will Is Way to Guide His Children

DEAR ABBY: I have always known that making a will is important, especially if one has children. But for years I procrastinated and never seemed to find the time to do it.

I have finally made out my will -- and in the process, I have discovered something significant.

I didn't want to leave my children with "just a will," because the legal wording didn't tell them anything about what I feel is really important -- how much I love them. So, I have written my kids a letter that's kept with my will. In it, I explain what I had hoped to teach them over the years, the kind of adults I want them to become, the moral code by which I would like them to conduct themselves, how I pray they value their mother and each other.

Such a letter was not an easy one to write, but now that it's done, I have found it has helped me to be a much better parent. Because I have written down what is important to me, I am now able to focus on those issues with my children, and do a better job of rising above the "noise level" of daily living.

Abby, please suggest that your readers try this. They may find it helps them in ways a will never could in defining their goals and guiding their children. It doesn't have to be a long letter (in fact, it's probably better kept brief) as long as it comes from the heart. -- PLEASED PARENT IN WISCONSIN

DEAR PLEASED PARENT: I have long been an advocate of organizing one's thoughts on paper, and many readers have confided to me that just the process of writing their problems on paper has made them feel better. I think your suggestion is valuable. A "personalized parent's guide" could be a valuable tool for both the parent and child.

DEAR ABBY: Our father passed away earlier this year. All his adult life he wore a St. Christopher medal and his college ring, which he treasured and never removed.

After the funeral viewing, I wanted to keep these items (one for me and one for my brother) to remember Dad by. My brother felt that Dad should be buried with these items because they were so special to him.

After some trouble, we decided to keep the jewelry, knowing how much Dad cherished them. Do you think we did the right thing? -- LOVING DAUGHTER IN LAKELAND, FLA.

DEAR LOVING DAUGHTER: Yes -- without a doubt.

DEAR ABBY: My brother used to brag that he had slept with you and your sister. You see, he was born July 11, 1918, in the same hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, as you were. Since mothers and babies remained in the hospital for 10 days at that time, he is positive that you did sleep with him in the same nursery. -- LOIS BILES, LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR LOIS: According to my birth certificate, my twin sister and I were delivered at home by Dr. Frank Murphy. We never saw the inside of a hospital until we had our tonsils removed when we were 4 years old.

Now, please remind your brother that a gentleman never discusses with whom he has slept.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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