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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Recently at a family party for my daughter's second birthday, a discussion came up about who I would like to leave my children with if something happened to my husband and me.

Although we have not made definite plans, I said we had several options. We are extremely close to some friends who are raising their children as we are raising ours. After thinking it over, I said they would be our first choice.

Well, my parents became furious. They threatened that if we were to leave our children with these friends, they would contest the will and fight to get custody.

Abby, I love my parents, but in my heart, I know they would not be the best choice to raise our kids. How can I get my parents to back off? -- THINKING OF THEIR FUTURE

DEAR THINKING: You probably can't, so you and your husband must talk to a lawyer and have your wishes "carved in granite." Include in the document all of the reasons you want your friends to raise your children -- and all of the reasons why your parents should not. Then cross your fingers, pray that the document will never have to be seen by your parents or used by your friends, and, if it becomes necessary, that it will be reviewed by an understanding, sympathetic judge.

DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter about a downed pilot in World War II who was captured by the Germans when he was observed cutting his food with his knife and transferring his fork to his right hand to eat, thus identifying himself as an American. This was not an uncommon event in World War II. The Germans were trained to look for such cultural habits.

Our allies, the British, were often identified and captured by the way they crossed the road as pedestrians. Because vehicles travel on the left side of the road in Britain, pedestrians look to their right when stepping off the curb, a dangerous habit in France or Germany where traffic approaches from the left -- and even more critical if an approaching vehicle contained members of the German militia. -- HISTORY TRIVIA BUFF, ENCINITAS, CALIF.

DEAR TRIVIA BUFF: Your letter gives me renewed respect for those who risked their lives trying to gain intelligence behind enemy lines.

DEAR ABBY: I am 16 years old. I have no life. My parents won't let me out of the house because they are always afraid that something is going to happen to me. I live five miles outside of Reno, and I haven't been to town in two weeks. Every Saturday morning they both go into town, but they refuse to take me with them. My mom has blocked off all calls to my friends and from them.

What should I do? -- PRISONER IN RENO, NEV.

DEAR PRISONER: If your parents are doing this as a form of discipline, it is certainly not child abuse. However, if you are being isolated for no good reason, discuss it with a trusted teacher or a school counselor, because your parents' concern for your safety seems excessive.


Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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