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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Searches for Way to Warm Man's Cold Feet

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a man for two years. He's the love of my life. I'm in my late 20s and he's in his late 30s. We get along perfectly. We live together and spend most of our free time together.

I have been bringing up the topic of marriage lately because I'd love to start a family, but in order to do so I need a commitment. He says he loves me and that I am his world, but "marriage" scares him.

The other day I proposed and gave him a diamond ring. He was shocked, to say the least, and didn't answer me. The only thing he said was that he was afraid of getting hurt again. Abby, I don't know what to do. I love him, but I have made it clear I won't wait forever. He knows how I feel. What should I do? My biological clock is ticking. -- LOST IN LOVE

DEAR LOST: Ask him, "Are you more afraid of losing me, or more afraid of being hurt?" Give him a deadline, and if he's still "uncertain," face it -- he's not for you.

P.S. It's perfectly proper to ask him to please return the ring.

DEAR ABBY: This is in response to "Had It in San Diego," who complained about the unruly behavior of her nephews. You replied, "Imagine when the 6-year-old must be in a structured environment such as school."

Well, Abby, I teach first grade and can TELL you what happens. When it's time to open the reading book, point to the words and follow along, the well-behaved child will do just that and will soon be reading. The poorly behaved child may look elsewhere, spin his book or make faces. He will need more direction and will probably be learning-delayed, even though he may be quite able.

The well-behaved child will take turns, follow school rules, and interact positively with other students and adults. The poorly behaved child may hit others, throw tantrums or damage school property, which will result in many telephone calls home, detention, referrals to the principal and other negative consequences.

Students who are successful in first grade are usually the successes in fifth grade. They have developed good school habits.

If I could give parents one piece of advice, it would be: Teach your children what "no" means. Do not give in! Your child needs self-control, language and effort to achieve success. -- A TEACHER WHO CARES ABOUT THE FUTURE

DEAR TEACHER: Thank you for a compelling letter. Extremely bright children may act out because they are bored. And, of course, a child who consistently misbehaves should be evaluated to rule out attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). I hope your letter will serve as an admonition to parents who shrug off their children's misbehavior as "kids will be kids."

Children need to be prepared before they are thrust into a classroom environment, but they cannot know what they have not been taught. Among the lessons they should master are respect for other people, sharing, making good use of spare time, how to channel their aggressions and how to tolerate a degree of frustration.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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