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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Leon," and I have a 16-year marriage and two young children.

My problem is Leon repeatedly says bad words. He uses the "F" word all the time. I don't curse, and I am always begging him to clean up his language in front of the kids.

When he is around strangers, he hardly ever curses. I beg him to have respect for the kids and watch his mouth, but he gets mad at me and it gets worse.

Our daughter is in the fourth grade and our son is 2 years old. To my dismay, our little boy has started repeating the bad words he hears his dad use.

How can I get through to him that he has an obligation to me and the children to set a better example? -- SICK OF THE SWEARING IN LOS ANGELES

DEAR SICK OF THE SWEARING: Why a mature parent would do such a disservice to his children is beyond me. By example, he is leading them to believe that X-rated language is normal and acceptable.

Years ago, a reader named Monty Insko of Cardiff By The Sea, Calif., said that he broke his brother of the habit of swearing by sending him the following: (Please show it to your spouse.)

10 REASONS FOR SWEARING

1. It pleases Mother so much.

2. It's a fine mark of manliness.

3. It proves that I have self-control.

4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates.

5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everybody.

6. It leaves no doubt in anyone's mind as to my good breeding.

7. It impresses people that I have more than an ordinary education.

8. It's an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement.

9. It makes me desirable personally among women and children in respectable society.

10. It's my way of honoring God, who said, "Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain."

DEAR ABBY: I am a 48-year-old, divorced woman who works in an office with a sweet young woman with whom I've become friends. I'll call her Ellen. She is married with three small children.

A male co-worker recently shared a nasty rumor with me about Ellen. He claimed he had learned that she "sleeps around." When I asked him who said so, he refused to answer.

I immediately defended Ellen's honor and minced no words in telling him that the rumor wasn't true. Either someone is spreading lies about my friend, or someone has betrayed her.

Should I tell her about this rumor, or wait until she finds out about it? I'm the kind of person who is content with myself, and my only interest in Ellen is friendship.

What would you do, Abby? -- EAST COAST WRECK

DEAR EAST COAST WRECK: Tell her. Rumors and sexual innuendoes can ruin a career if they are not dealt with quickly. I see no reason to protect the guilty -- and that includes people who spread gossip.

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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