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by Abigail Van Buren

Simple Safeguards Can Protect Your Home While You're Away

DEAR ABBY: There has been a new arrival in our family and I have an important question. Is it true that two brown-eyed, dark-haired people cannot be the parents of a blue-eyed, fair-haired child? If so, this is completely contrary to what I was taught in school.

It has always been my understanding that a child carries not only the genes of his or her parents, but also the genes of grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.

Please check with your experts and let me know as soon as possible. This debate has caused a huge rift in our family. -- RICHMOND, VA., READER

DEAR READER: I hope this short biology lesson will silence the nay-sayers:

In the 19th century, an Austrian monk and botanist named Gregor Mendel discovered the existence of "dominant" and "recessive" genes.

In a nutshell, his research proved that a child can inherit a recessive gene from an ancestor and have eye color, hair color, skin color and other features that are different from both its mother and father. This is called Mendelian law.

You can prove it to your disbelieving relatives by going to the library and checking out some books on Mendel's law of genetic inheritance and recessive genes. Please don't wait. They need educating before their ignorance causes the rift to be permanent.