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DEAR ABBY: I have a question that you've probably never been asked before. Is there a dress code regarding "proper attire" for a funeral?

Most everyone has worn black at most of the funerals I have attended. I don't particularly like black, however. I prefer bright colors, so that's what I have chosen to wear.

Why is it that this so-called tradition is so entrenched that no one wants to break it? -- WONDERING IN EAU CLAIRE, WIS.

DEAR WONDERING: In the United States, black is generally considered the color of mourning. When someone attends a funeral, it is either to pay respect to the deceased or to show support for the grieving family. At a time like this, it is considered improper to draw attention to yourself. That is the reason most people forgo bright colors and instead wear colors that are muted or subdued unless instructed otherwise.

DEAR ABBY: I need your help. For many years, my parents have not been able to care for their children. They are barely able to take care of themselves. I am the oldest child and have helped to raise my younger brother and sisters.

My youngest sister is 16, and in a couple of weeks will be marrying her boyfriend so that she'll have a place to live. (They will live with his parents after the ceremony.) I don't think this is right, but the family thinks it will be a good learning experience for her and will make her grow up faster.

I am torn because I don't feel that marriage should be used as a "lesson" to a teenager. I know with some people the marriage can last for years, but I'm afraid she will become a divorce statistic and that she's ruining any chance for living as a regular, normal teenager. What are your thoughts on this? -- JENNIFER IN UTICA, N.Y.

DEAR JENNIFER: Your concerns are valid. Your sister is marrying for the wrong reason, and most young women who do it find they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. If there is a chance she might listen to you, please discourage her from taking this path. It is important that she complete her education and experience independence before marrying. If your parents can no longer shelter your sister, foster care or staying with a relative might be a better option than the "marriage" she's planning.

P.S. Are YOU able to take her in?

DEAR ABBY: My grandchild's mother -- she and my son were never married -- is being married soon. My wife and I have been invited to the wedding.

Must we attend? Our son will not be in attendance. All we would really want is to see our granddaughter, but we know we would have very little time with her at the wedding. We would prefer to send a nice gift, and use the time and money to visit at a different time so we can spend time with our granddaughter and visit our son.

What do you think we should do? -- MISSING OUR GRANDDAUGHTER IN MINNESOTA

DEAR MISSING: Because your finances are limited, and your grandchild will understandably be distracted at the time of the wedding, I agree that you should send a nice gift with your good wishes to the mother and visit your grandchild at a later date.

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 $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby -- Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

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