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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My husband is a great husband and father to our three children, ages 17, 10 and 4. The problem is, he leaves his loaded 9mm gun lying around our house. Last week, I found it on the kitchen table. Now here's the kicker: He's a police officer.

He leaves it in the holster, which is tricky to remove the gun from. He insists, "It can't be fired while it's in the holster." Abby, I don't care! My kids have friends in and out of our home daily.

The next time I find the gun lying around, I plan on taking it to his chief and explaining the problem to him. Am I out of line? Please don't mention my name or city. -- UPSET IN WASHINGTON

DEAR UPSET: Your husband is acting like an ostrich. ("There isn't a problem because I refuse to see it.")

I think your solution is excellent, and here's why. Just a few weeks ago, I saw a report on the evening news about an officer of the law who was driving his vehicle with his 3-year-old son along for the ride. The child somehow got ahold of his father's gun, and shot his father in the back.

The policeman somehow managed to get the vehicle stopped, and asked a witness to "look out for his child" before being taken to the hospital. The report concluded that the officer might be paralyzed for life. Enough said?

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are having a disagreement and have agreed to let you settle it for us.

My husband has two children, ages 17 and 13, who live with their mother and stepfather. They are with us about 15 percent of the year. Both kids have part-time jobs. They tell my husband what they want for Christmas and their birthdays, and he always gives them generous gifts on those occasions plus presents in between visits. We entertain them with lots of fun activities when they are with us, and take them on expensive trips.

The problem is, they never give my husband any presents at Christmas, his birthday or on Father's Day. Once in a while, they'll send him a card. Family members have spoken to them about this more than once, but there have been no changes.

My husband says he wants to continue to model generosity. I say, enough of this one-sided giving! In a healthy relationship, one person does not make all the effort. I say it's time to modify the giving and/or just give them cards. What do you think? -- HAD IT IN ARLINGTON, WASH.

DEAR HAD IT: Your husband should not suddenly punish his children by cutting off the gifts. Children behave as they have been taught -- usually by their mothers.

When they were younger, their mother should have taken them to buy special occasion gifts for their dad. She probably didn't because she was bitter about the divorce. When they are grown, they may learn to be more thoughtful -- but don't count on it, because patterns of giving are learned in childhood.

DEAR ABBY: What is the proper reply to a business acquaintance who sends a notice, with pictures, announcing that he was married two weeks earlier? -- ASKANCE IN HOUSTON

DEAR ASKANCE: Add his wife's name to your Rolodex so you can inquire about her the next time you run into the business acquaintance, and send him a congratulatory card.

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) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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