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by Abigail Van Buren

Single Dad Has Big Plans to Improve His Son's Life

DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old single father of a beautiful 13-month-old little boy. His mother took off with my best friend when our son was only 2 months old. I have a good job, my own place and don't depend on anyone, but I wish I could go back to school so I could provide my son with an even greater future.

I would like to get my high school diploma, go on to college, and become a police officer and mentor young fathers like myself. I don't have any support from my parents as far as my education goes. My mom says to be happy with what I have and stop being selfish.

Is it selfish to want more out of life? Right now I am just living paycheck to paycheck. -- SINGLE FATHER IN HOUSTON

DEAR SINGLE FATHER: Selfish? Quite the opposite! While I agree with your mother that a person should be happy with what he or she can't change, I don't think that philosophy applies when it comes to furthering one's education.

Pick up the phone, call the high schools in your area, and ask about adult education programs so you can get your GED -- the equivalent of a high school diploma. With that in hand, you will qualify for entry into a community college. There is no reason why, in time, you cannot fulfill your dream. Others have done it; go for it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

DEAR ABBY: I am a wife and mother of two boys. Last year I left my job of six years to start my own business. Unfortunately, my business has not generated the income my family and I need. I am now looking for work, along with thousands of other people.

My problem is, I have a criminal record that stems from two small but painful incidents when I was 18. My husband knows about my record, but no one else does.

When going on job interviews, I have been honest and up-front about my past, but it seems I'm put on the "ignore list" once the interviewer hears about my record. They can't see the years that have passed without so much as a traffic ticket; how I solved my problem through therapy; the stable environment my husband and I provide for our boys; nor the years of hard work I devoted to my previous job and current business.

How can I find someone who will hire me while my growing business takes off? Should I lie about my record? I know it's hard to trust a stranger, but I'm a hard worker, an honest and faithful employee -- and I am desperate. -- LOST IN TEXAS

DEAR LOST: You should not lie. However, it would be helpful if you can provide letters of recommendation from previous employers, your clergyperson, and respected people in your community who will vouch for your honesty and the success of your rehabilitation.

DEAR ABBY: For my birthday, I was given a gift certificate for a day of beauty services at a high-priced spa.

Am I supposed to tip each person who works on me that day, or has that been included in the price of the gift certificate? -- NEEDS TO KNOW IN MINNESOTA

DEAR NEEDS TO KNOW: What a generous gift! Tips are not included in the cost of a gift certificate. Therefore, each person who renders service should be tipped 15 percent -- or more if the service is exceptional. (Ask to see a price schedule when you go in, so you know the value of each service.)

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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