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DEAR READERS: Today is Father's Day, and I would like to offer my good wishes to fathers everywhere -- whether they be birth fathers, stepfathers, adoptive fathers, foster fathers, or caring men who mentor children whose fathers are deceased or absent. The importance of your role cannot be overstated. Children who are fortunate enough to have loving, actively involved fathers should thank their lucky stars because not all children are so fortunate. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am writing to share an essay that was written by my son, Anthony. He had spent a couple of days taking care of his two sons, ages 5 1/2 and 3, while his wife was out of town.

One night, after putting them to bed, he began thinking about the day and their activities, and was so moved with emotion that he sat down and put on paper what he was feeling.

You might want to share his beautiful, loving essay with your readers. -- MARYANN RETTINO, HUNTINGTON, N.Y.

DEAR MARYANN: Indeed I would. Your son's essay expresses the emotions of caring fathers everywhere. Read on:

A FATHER'S WISH by Anthony Rettino

I gaze at my two sons -- and the feeling is indescribable. So much innocence and so much joy, yet I know there are challenges ahead, mountains to climb, emotions to deal with.

How can I best prepare them for life? How can I prevent them from making the same mistakes I made? How can I protect them from the evil in the world?

Considering this, I realize the best thing I can do is to let them be themselves, accept them for who they are, encourage them along the way, and wish for them the best that life can offer.

I wish that they will find happiness where there is sadness, hope where there is despair, and meaning where there is confusion.

I wish that one day they can know the love of a child, hear their footsteps as they walk through the door, and gaze upon them as they sleep.

I wish for them that they will find true love, as I have found it with their mother.

I wish that they will be happy and fulfilled in their chosen professions, that they will be able to balance work and family, and find the time to help others less fortunate than they are.

As for me, I wish that I can be every bit the man they see when they look at me with their adoring eyes.

DEAR ABBY: My three siblings and I live with my parents. My brother, who is two years younger than I am, wants to move out. I'm the middle child, and Mom says I should wait until I'm 30 before moving.

When I try to talk to my parents, they blow me off. I'm getting sick of it when she starts talking with my brother about moving out on his own. Please help me. -- MIXED UP IN MONTANA

DEAR MIXED UP: You didn't mention your age, but if you are 21 and self-supporting, you can move out on your own whenever you wish. You do not have to wait until you are 30 -- regardless of how much your mother might wish otherwise.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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