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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Please advise all parents to take time RIGHT NOW to show their children how to place a collect call from a pay phone.

Our 9-year-old son attended his school basketball game and was to have been brought home by his coach. Well, the coach forgot him. So our son thought the best way to handle the situation was to start walking!

We were alarmed when he did not show up at the expected time and went looking for him, but somehow we missed him. Fortunately, he knew his way home and arrived safely, but not until 9:30 p.m. Had he known how to make a collect call, we could have been saved a lot of grief.

From now on, our children will always have money for a phone call, and they now know how to dial collect.

Also, if you have volunteered to be responsible for any child, be sure to uphold your end of the bargain and see that the child gets home safely. -- RELIEVED PARENTS, LA HABRA, CALIF.

DEAR RELIEVED PARENTS: Thank you for a valuable letter. When children are involved, it's a good idea to have an alternate "game plan" for every situation. No child should walk alone after dark. In most (but not all) cities, simply dialing "0" for operator from a pay phone will put the child in touch with assistance. Parents: Find out what's required to dial a collect local call and teach your children today.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter's husband had two children with his first wife, and then had a vasectomy. Now he and my daughter want to have a family of their own. He has tried three times to have the vasectomy reversed, without success. In vitro fertilization costs more than they can afford.

They are considering using sperm from her husband's brother to impregnate my daughter. The brother's wife has agreed. Have you ever heard of this arrangement? Has it worked successfully? -- WONDERING FAMILY

DEAR WONDERING FAMILY: I have heard of this arrangement and others similar to it. It is important for all concerned to remember that the commitments required from everyone are lifelong.

If your daughter and son-in-law have not already done so, they would be wise to consult a fertility expert about their alternatives. A counselor who is familiar with infertility and family dynamics could also be helpful, as well as an attorney with expertise in family law.

DEAR ABBY: I work at a public library, and a patron has a question about whether she should receive a thank-you note for a hostess gift she took to a young couple's house. The expensive box of candy was put out by the young couple, but most was saved for later.

The patron said she wrote a note the next day, thanking them for the evening. Should she expect a note of thanks for the candy? -- S.H. IN FLORIDA

DEAR S.H.: A hostess gift is usually a token of gratitude for the effort made to entertain the guest. I see no reason why the guest should expect a thank-you note for her thank-you.

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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