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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am confused and don't know where to turn. I became engaged several months ago to a man I have lived with for more than a year. My fiance has known for several years that I chose to remain childless because I spent most of my youth raising my siblings. We try to take an active role in the lives of our nieces and nephews and have recently become godparents.

With the wedding date fast approaching, my fiance has become more and more vocal about his desire to adopt children. He says it would give him the focus he needs in life. It is my opinion that if my fiance feels this strongly about raising children, we should end our engagement, and he should find a woman who shares his dream. I have communicated this to him many times, but he insists he wants to marry me even if it means no children. Should or shouldn't I marry this man? -- SECOND THOUGHTS IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR SECOND THOUGHTS: You and your fiance share a different view of what your marriage should hold. If you marry, one of you is bound to feel cheated. No one who doesn't sincerely want to be a parent should adopt a child. It is unfair to the child. In my opinion, you both would be happier in the long run if you found more compatible spouses, but only you can make that decision.

DEAR ABBY: My 30-year-old sister has been sent to prison for six months. Her ex-husband was sent to a penitentiary a year ago and won't be getting out anytime soon. Their 17-year-old son is in a detention home. The only one left is my 7-year-old niece, "Patty." She is living with me and my three children. My sister asked that Patty not be told her mother is doing time.

Abby, all Patty does is draw pictures of her mother, father and brother. She won't eat and stares into space, wondering when her family will return.

My children and I try to keep Patty occupied, but the sadness in her eyes is breaking our hearts. Do you think we should tell Patty that her mother is in prison? What can we do to ease her pain? -- WORRIED AUNT IN SANDUSKY, OHIO

DEAR WORRIED AUNT: Patty should be told as much of the truth as is appropriate for a child her age. And she should be encouraged to write to her mommy, daddy and brother, and include her artwork. Her pain will be greatly eased once she understands that her family still loves her and will not be gone forever.

DEAR ABBY: When my 13-year-old daughter, Kimmie, was little, there was a lot of competition between her two grandmothers. My mother liked to buy her clothes and my husband's mom liked to buy her books.

We called them the Director of Fashion and the Director of Education! -- BONNIE IN ENCINO, CALIF.

DEAR BONNIE: I find it heartwarming that so many grandparents pass along their passions to their grandchildren by sharing those interests and enthusiasms. And because of that, in a sense, they live on long after they have passed on.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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