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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Search for Right Way to Find Out What's Wrong

DEAR ABBY: Would it be OK to ask the parents of our daughter's fiance exactly what's wrong with him? We can tell he's "not quite right."

All our daughter, "Cheryl," knows is that "Kirk" is "learning-delayed" because she overheard his father discussing it with someone else. Cheryl has not asked for further details and is wondering if Kirk's condition can be passed on to their children.

Our only experience with someone who has a learning disability is our niece, who has been advised by her doctor that she can have normal children. We are wondering if this is the case with our future son-in-law.

Should we ask? If so, how does one ask a parent what is wrong with his or her child without seeming rude or nosy? Cheryl and Kirk love each other. It's apparent how happy they are. However, genetics are an issue we feel should be discussed.

Cheryl doesn't know how to bring up the subject, and neither does her father or I. We're well aware that hurt feelings could ensue without the utmost tact. We need some answers, Abby. Thanks for any you can offer. -- IN THE DARK IN THE NORTHWEST

DEAR IN THE DARK: Since your daughter is engaged to marry this young man, any question she might have that could have an impact on her marriage is a legitimate one. Your daughter should speak up and ask her fiance exactly what the problem is. If it's possible that his "learning delay" could affect their children, a talk with his family doctor -- and possibly genetic testing -- are in order.

DEAR ABBY: It is common knowledge that your readers are the most intelligent, well-informed people in the country. They are probably more informed than some of the people we have sent to Washington, D.C.

That is the reason for this letter, Abby. I am asking you to urge your readers to vote in today's election. I am not asking you to endorse any candidate -- that wouldn't be fair to his or her opponent, or to you.

I am just asking you to remind people to get off their collective rear ends, go to the polling station, do their civic duty and VOTE.

I personally don't care who a person votes for, as long as the turnout is greater this year than in 1998, when less than 40 percent of eligible Americans exercised their constitutional right. I would rather see "my candidate" lose by a whopping majority and have a record-high turnout, than win with another record-low voter turnout.

I'm fairly certain that the candidates who are running for office this year would agree with me on that point, even if they can agree on nothing else. -- A PROUD AMERICAN VOTER, BLOOMFIELD, N.J.

DEAR PROUD AMERICAN: You asked for it -- you've got it! Readers, a person who has the right to vote and doesn't do it is no better off than a person who doesn't have that privilege. This is not the time for any American citizen to say, "Let someone else do it." The direction our country takes -- domestically and internationally -- is to a great extent determined by the people who exercise their right to vote.

So cast your vote -- today's the day!

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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