DEAR ABBY: I had to respond to the letter about runaways and the comment, "... and Johnny isn't going to stop acting out no matter how much everyone wishes differently."
Johnny knows only what he has learned at home. He is repeating his parents' example. Kids don't run away from love. They run from hell.
Abby, I was a four-time runaway. The fourth time, at age 12, was the charm. I never went back to hell again, which is what my home life was. Fortune smiled on me –- I landed in a beautiful home for years. I graduated from high school and college with both B.A. and M.A. degrees.
Along the way, I went to California State Mental Hygiene Clinic for five years at $2 a session. What a bargain that was; the results made me the man I became. How sad we no longer have those clinics. Instead we have crime and prisons.
I raised my own family without corporal punishment or abuse. My four adult children grew up with an arm around their shoulders and hugs and reminders every day that they were dearly loved. It's gratifying to see them repeating that behavior in raising their own six children –- my precious grandchildren. -– "OLD RUNAWAY"
DEAR "OLD RUNAWAY": I wish everyone could find the inner stregth you did. Your experience proves that, with help, the pattern of abuse does not have to repeat itself from generation to generation. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was also a runaway. It was scary being alone in a strange town. I became involved with people I now would never associate with. After four months of trying to make it on my own, I went back home –- and back to the same old problems.
Now that I am older, I'd never recommend running away. You can get counseling, either at school or your local mental health center. If you can't afford it, you will be charged according to your income, or at a very low rate.
I am still going to therapy for the things my parents did to me. I have made some good choices now and have raised a beautiful daughter.
For you teens who are reading this, please try to get help. If your friends aren't enough, take Dear Abby's advice –- or learn from my story. There is always hope. -–BEEN THERE IN OGDEN, UTAH
DEAR ABBY: I have been taking college classes on and off for 15 years and will finally graduate in May. I will be the first college graduate in my family. I love my husband, but he has not been supportive of my goals. He's said many times that he is not interested in what goes on in my college classes.
My problem is, I need to choose an escort to walk with me during commencement. Even though my husband is the logical choice, I feel he doesn't care.
A true source of encouragement and support has been my father-in-law, "Max." Not only has Max paid for my college, he asks about it regularly and is very proud of my high grade-point average.
Abby, this may seem like an easy question for you, but I want to do the right thing. Who would you choose? –- COLLEGE GRAD IN THE GARDEN STATE
DEAR COLLEGE GRAD: Ask Max. He's given you maximum support –- emotionally as well as financially. I am sure he will be thrilled to escort you, and it's a thoughtful way for you to acknowledge all he has done for you.
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.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600