DEAR ABBY: I have always known that making a will is important, especially if one has children. But for years I procrastinated and never seemed to find the time to do it.
I have finally made out my will -- and in the process, I have discovered something significant.
I didn't want to leave my children with "just a will," because the legal wording didn't tell them anything about what I feel is really important -- how much I love them. So, I have written my kids a letter that's kept with my will. In it, I explain what I had hoped to teach them over the years, the kind of adults I want them to become, the moral code by which I would like them to conduct themselves, how I pray they value their mother and each other.
Such a letter was not an easy one to write, but now that it's done, I have found it has helped me to be a much better parent. Because I have written down what is important to me, I am now able to focus on those issues with my children, and do a better job of rising above the "noise level" of daily living.
Abby, please suggest that your readers try this. They may find it helps them in ways a will never could in defining their goals and guiding their children. It doesn't have to be a long letter (in fact, it's probably better kept brief) as long as it comes from the heart. -- PLEASED PARENT IN WISCONSIN
DEAR PLEASED PARENT: I have long been an advocate of organizing one's thoughts on paper, and many readers have confided to me that just the process of writing their problems on paper has made them feel better. I think your suggestion is valuable. A "personalized parent's guide" could be a valuable tool for both the parent and child.