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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am a full-time mother of two precious children -- a 3-year-old and a 6-month-old -- and I absolutely love my job. Although there is no material compensation, the rewards are very sweet.

However, it has become clear to me that there is not much respect for those of us who choose to stay home and put our careers on hold. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, "So when are you going back to work?" These people do not seem to understand that I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It's not all fun and games; there's a lot of hard work involved in raising two children.

This job is not meant for everyone, but I resent the lack of respect I am shown. I respect those who choose to work outside the home and feel that I deserve the same. Perhaps those who think this job is easy and trivial should try it for a few weeks. Spending a few days in my house would definitely change their outlook.

I have decided that we full-time mothers need a new title. I started telling people that I am an "investment broker" -- I specialize in futures. It has raised more than a few eyebrows and I no longer hear the rude comments. -- CARA BOUDREAUX, TEXAS CITY, TEXAS

DEAR CARA: I appreciate your pointing out that full-time mothers are "investment brokers." It reminds me of Roseanne's first appearance on the Johnny Carson show when she described herself as a "domestic engineer."

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 28-year-old female. I have a college education, make a good living, teach aerobics, and people tell me I'm beautiful.

I have had dates, but I just can't seem to "connect" with anyone. This is a very painful and lonely way to live.

My alcoholic mother rejected me when I was a child, but my siblings were accepted. My father was a harsh, critical man who rarely praised us kids or showed any affection. I've tried therapy and would like to go again, but can't right now because I live overseas.

When strangers learn that I'm not married, they sometimes ask me why. I am too ashamed to admit I'm single because no one wants me, and I can't think of an appropriate answer. Abby, what should I say? -- NEEDS HELP FAR FROM HOME

DEAR NEEDS HELP: It is not necessary to give a detailed explanation about why you are still unattached. Just smile and say that you haven't met the right man. (It's the truth.)

Because you feel you would benefit from more counseling, but it is not available where you are, I urge you to seek out an Al-Anon Family Group for support. These groups are fellowships for relatives and friends of alcoholics. It's an established fact that alcoholism is a family disease, and you have been affected by it. (Everyone growing up with an alcoholic parent is affected in some way.)

Trouble with relationships is common for those who lived in an alcoholic environment as a child. Al-Anon helps adult children of alcoholics heal the emotional scars that can leave lingering pain and affect personal relationships, self-esteem and a sense of family life.

Al-Anon chapters are worldwide, and literature is available in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and English. Like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), Al-Anon is as near as your telephone book. Please check it out and let me know what you think.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4900 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64112; (816) 932-6600