Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Vast Majority of Readers Would Have Children Again

DEAR ABBY: In response to your poll (Aug. 24), "If you had it to do over again, would you have children?" my answer is, "I sure would!" Being a parent made me a better, more tolerant, more patient person and more willing to take risks.

It wasn't always easy. My son's father left me when I was four months pregnant. With the help of my dear mother, I returned to work, completed my college degree and became a schoolteacher. I have so many wonderful memories. My son is grown now and works with special needs children, and I am proud of the man he has become. -- MOM IN SAN DIEGO

DEAR MOM: Your feelings reflect the opinions of 78 percent of my readers, who voted yes to that question. The mail I received was profoundly touching. My newspaper readers comment:

DEAR ABBY: I'm sitting in my oncologist's office, waiting to be seen. Tomorrow is one year since I finished chemotherapy.

Would I have children again? Absolutely. My husband and three amazing sons have brought so much love, joy and happiness to my life. It would have been hard living through two bouts of cancer 10 years apart, a mastectomy, chemo, radiation, surgery and hopelessness without these wonderful men in my life. They encouraged and supported me all along the way.

Childbirth was painful, but if I was told I had to go through it again every month to have my children, I'd do it. Knowing I helped to create them makes me feel incredibly blessed. -- JEANNE IN BONITA SPRINGS, FLA.

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 44-year-old black woman. I feel a deep gratitude and am privileged to be a mother to my two daughters. I get to help shape and mold them and see how they bloom.

My journey to my girls was through adoption. God gave me a wonderful gift when we were placed together. Parenting is challenging and hard. Anyone who thinks differently is mistaken. But it's something I'm proud of and love wholeheartedly.

My sister has asked me on two separate occasions if I regret my decision. Never! -- EVA IN PHOENIX

DEAR ABBY: If I could go back, I would not do it again. My children are beautiful, smart, caring and funny. I loved doting on them when they were little. However, I never realized what was coming -- that as teenagers they'd be needy, selfish, costly and ungrateful. Nothing is ever good enough. I get the brunt of the bad moods, the hateful words and the cold shoulders.

Had I known how hard this was going to be and the sacrifices I'd have to make, I would have said no. If I had any idea that I'd love them so much that their pain is my pain, I would have said no. -- ANONYMOUS IN TEXAS

DEAR ABBY: My answer is an emphatic no! I love my son and care for my stepchildren, but for the few joys that I have received it wasn't worth the heartaches.

I have spoken to many parents about this. They all seem to feel the same. These adult children have a sense of entitlement and no respect. Frankly, I should have raised dogs!!! -- NO NAME IN GEORGIA

DEAR ABBY: Would I have children again? Absolutely, every one of them from my first, who is a special needs child who may never be able to live independently, to the youngest, who was only 4 when his dad left. The only change I'd make is I would have them with someone other than their dad, who just wasn't up to the job of being a parent. -- WISER NOW IN MINNESOTA

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)