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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Our daughter recently turned 14. When she was asked what she wanted for her birthday, she said, "A promise ring." My husband and I sat quietly as our hearts raced with fear of what was coming next. She slowly explained that promise rings are given to daughters by their fathers and a promise is made that the daughter will refrain from having sex until she is married. Years ago, the significance of a promise ring was different.

Needless to say, she got the promise ring for her birthday and has not taken it off since. Abby, I'm asking you to print this letter because when my daughter wore her ring to school the next day, she was ridiculed, degraded and insulted by her teacher for wearing it.

If the teacher had taken a moment to allow my daughter to share the experience with her, she would have thought the ring was a terrific idea. However, my daughter was not given the opportunity. All the students know the significance of promise rings. The teacher was the only one in the dark. Sometimes things aren't as they seem. -- PROUD MOTHER IN ILLINOIS

DEAR PROUD MOTHER: I agree the concept is terrific, because it allows parents and their daughters to discuss and reinforce their family values. If the teacher was guilty of making disparaging remarks about your daughter's ring, you should certainly make your feelings known to the teacher. The significance of the promise ring needs to be explained to this educator.

DEAR ABBY: I'm 27 and engaged to be married next year. "Hal" is honest, loving and compatible, and has all the qualities I've looked for in a man. He has helped me develop into a better and happier person. We've been together five years.

Abby, I'm having second thoughts about our upcoming wedding. I had very little previous dating experience, and I find myself attracted to other men, curious about being with other men sexually and wanting to date others. Yet I don't want to cheat on Hal, and I don't want to get married and then be overwhelmed with these feelings.

My friends and family love Hal and would think I'm a total idiot for the way I feel, so I can't confide in them. I'm also afraid that if I tell Hal my feelings, and postpone or call off the wedding, I could be making the gravest mistake of my life. Help! -- BEWILDERED IN BOSTON

DEAR BEWILDERED: Hal sounds like a wonderful man. However, if you want to date others, you are not ready to be married. I don't have a crystal ball to tell you whether he's the right man for you; only you can decide that. I urge you to have a frank discussion with your fiance about your doubts. You should marry no one until you are sure you want to spend the rest of your life with that individual.

CONFIDENTIAL TO MY MUSLIM READERS: Happy Eid Al-Addah.

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600