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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am having a struggle with my parents. I am 25 years old and still living at home.

I started seeing a man about a year ago. My parents objected to this for many reasons. He is 12 years older than I am, and they say his limited educational background could bring me down socially, which would lead to a thousand other problems. They seemed to be very concerned about how we would be perceived as a "couple." Neither of these things has been an issue for this man or for me.

Well, my father began placing restrictions on the amount of time I spent with this man. I had to be home by 12:30, and if I wasn't, my parents would track me down via cell phone. I could not go to this man's apartment because what would people say? I finally got fed up and reminded my parents that I'm an adult, capable of making my own decisions.

Abby, I have always been there for my family, always sacrificed my time for all of them. I went to college to uphold the family name and made something of myself so the family would be proud of me. Now I don't know what to do.

I love this man and want to see if we have a future. I see no harm in testing the water. But my parents are impossibly stubborn, and once they believe they are right, it would take an act of God to change their minds. I know it's hard for parents to let go, but I feel they won't even give me the benefit of the doubt. I would welcome any advice you can offer. -- HURTING IN ILLINOIS

DEAR HURTING: Since you still live with your parents, in their eyes you are still answerable to them. Of course, children (even adults) should respect their parents, but in your case, they are trying to run your life. At 25, you do not need your parents' permission to date a man, and you must establish your independence regardless of who you eventually choose to marry. It's time to consider moving out.

DEAR ABBY: I had to write, in the hope that you can help to solve a growing national problem. I took my 11-year-old son to a ballgame recently. We had a wonderful time except for one very unpleasant thing. Four grown men (who appeared to be about 50 years old) sat in front of us. They were swearing so much I had to confront them. What I said to them, and what I would like to say to all the other adults out there is, "If we expect better behavior from our children, we should behave better ourselves."

It makes me angry to see adults behave so inappropriately. I miss the days when a man would be mortified to discover that he'd used such vulgar words in front of women and children.

I hope you'll print this, Abby. Maybe it will change at least some people's behavior. Feel free to use my name, because I'm proud to be a responsible adult who cares about all kids, not just my own, and I'm not afraid to speak on their behalf. -- MAGGIE ROSE, EDMONDS, WASH.

DEAR MAGGIE: I'm sure the vast majority of parents will applaud your effort. And for the rest, readers, if this is you -- please, for the sake of the children, sanitize your language when you are in public.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. ... This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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