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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of three children, all over 40. I am 76.

Five years ago, I lost my only son; a year later my husband passed away (both of heart disease). Since their deaths, my daughters have taken a hard and bitter attitude toward me. There was never an offer of help to ease my grief, nor has there been any interest in anything except what I can do for them.

I have watched their children, paid dental bills and made mortgage payments, but there seems to be no feeling of warmth or consideration for me at any time. They scream at me for the least thing. Their visits are brief or none at all. They say they will come to visit me, and they don't show.

I took care of their ailing father for 20 years, with no offer of help from them. Are today's children a different breed from those of us who were taught to honor our parents?

Please don't suggest consulting my minister. I am ashamed to let him know the way my children treat me. I have shed many tears and lost countless hours of sleep fretting and praying about this. Please don't use my name or town for obvious reasons. -- UNWILLING OUTCAST

DEAR OUTCAST: Please stop trying to understand your children; concentrate on taking care of yourself instead. Find friends with whom you can share your pain. Talk to your minister; he will not judge you (clergy of all faiths hear many family secrets) and can help you find solace. Then look for a family who needs a grandmother and "adopt" them. They'll be glad to have you, and you'll be glad you did.

DEAR ABBY: I do volunteer work at the Humane Society to help out with the animals that people have "thrown away." It breaks my heart to see the stream of wonderful, gentle, well-mannered, loving animals that are dropped here because maybe they're not convenient anymore to their owners -- or for whatever reason a person could abandon one who loves them so much.

You frequently remind people to give stuffed animals as gifts rather than living animals, unless they are absolutely certain that the owners will properly care for them. And you also say that "Living creatures are not 'toys' to be mauled, abused or neglected." Hurray for you! People need to be reminded that pets of any sort are feeling creatures and very dependent. They require planning and a long-term commitment even before one decides to bring them home.

Abby, a million thanks for speaking out for those who cannot speak. -- JULIE SENDROWSKI, AVON, COLO.

DEAR JULIE: And a million thanks to you for your heartfelt reminder to any well-meaning reader who may be considering a living creature as a gift.

DEAR ABBY: Recently a child in my husband's family was to undergo surgery. The child's mother asked all of the family members to donate blood. This child has A positive blood, and everyone in my husband's family except him also has A positive blood. My husband's blood type is O positive.

Abby, I am convinced that the people he knows as his parents are not his biological parents. My husband will not mention this to them unless someone more knowledgeable than I tells him it's unlikely that these two people are his parents. I feel it is his right to know who his parents are.

Do you think that the people he believes are his parents actually are? Or do you feel that he should confront them and ask for a DNA test? -- NAMELESS IN ARIZONA

DEAR NAMELESS: Your husband's parents are not hiding anything from him. I checked with Jeffrey Morris, M.D., Ph.D., the director of Long Beach Genetics in Long Beach, Calif., who assured me that two parents with A positive blood can, most definitely, have a child with O positive blood. I vote with the doctor. Stop stirring the pot.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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