DEAR ABBY: My father, the late Wilferd A. Peterson, wrote an essay that I feel is needed by parents who are floundering in this day of terror in the schools. I have heard on the radio and seen on television the same idea expressed in various ways, but none expressed it as well as my father did in his essay.
The ''Art of Parenthood'' was published in ''The Art of Living Treasure Chest'' (Simon and Schuster), but I would be pleased if you would print it in your column. -- LILIAN PETERSON THORPE, PINEHURST, N.C.
DEAR LILIAN: Your talented father offers valuable advice in this essay. I am pleased to share it with my readers. Read on:
THE ART OF PARENTHOOD
by Wilferd A. Peterson
''Of all the commentaries on the Scriptures,'' wrote John Donne, ''good examples are the best.''
In practicing the art of parenthood, an ounce of example is worth a ton of preachment.
Our children are watching us live, and what we ARE shouts louder than anything we can SAY.
When we set an example of honesty, our children will be honest.
When we practice tolerance, they will be tolerant.
When we demonstrate good sportsmanship, they will be good sports.
When we meet life with laughter and a twinkle in our eye, they will develop a sense of humor.
When we are thankful for life's blessings, they will be thankful.
When we express friendliness, they will be friendly.
When we speak words of praise, they will praise others.
When we confront failure, defeat and misfortune with a gallant spirit, they will learn to live bravely.
When our lives affirm our faith in the enduring values of life, they will rise above doubt and skepticism.
When we surround them with the love and goodness of God, they will discover life's meaning.
When we set an example of heroic living, they will be heroes.
Don't just stand there pointing your finger to the heights you want your children to scale. Start climbing, and they will follow!
DEAR ABBY: April 30 is a ''memorial day'' for many Vietnamese people, because we lost our loving home country, Vietnam, due to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
I would like to express my appreciation to American individuals and the families of those who supported and sacrificed for my country during the Vietnam War, and to those who opened their hearts to welcome us, the refugees, to resettle in this country.
Your sacrifice and generosity deserve blessings. - PETER TRAN, GARLAND, TEXAS
DEAR PETER: Thank you for a beautiful letter. It will be particularly meaningful to Vietnam veterans, as well as the families of soldiers who died in the conflict.
I have found Vietnamese people to be upstanding and hardworking, and we are enriched by their presence.
DEAR ABBY: I am engaged to a wonderful man whom I adore, but I have a problem I haven't seen in your column. He gave me his grandmother's ring as an engagement ring. I didn't want to ruin the moment and tell him that I preferred to wear my deceased mother's rings that my father was keeping for my marriage. The sentiment and style make them precious to me.
Would it be wrong for me to ask my fiancee to allow me to wear my mother's rings rather than his grandmother's? I realize this is an unusual request, but I am the one who will be wearing the rings daily. Your advice would be appreciated. -- TOO MANY RINGS IN ARIZONA
DEAR TOO MANY RINGS: No, it is not wrong to ask your fiancee how he would feel about your wearing your mother's rings -- if you ask tactfully. Tell him how honored you are that he wants you to have his grandmother's ring, and offer to wear it on your right hand. If the idea seems to bother him, perhaps you could have your mother's rings sized and wear them as a pinky ring, have the diamonds placed in a pendant to wear on a chain around your neck, or have the rings made into a pin.
Chances are that as long as you plan to wear his grandmother's ring, he'll agree to your wearing your mother's rings on your left hand since they mean so much to you.
DEAR ABBY: Please print this so my daughter-in-law will read it.
As the mother of the man you married, I grieve over what may happen in the future.
When my son married you, he took you and your child into his heart. He has a big heart. He expressed to me how happy he was with his family and how he hoped that someday he would also be a father to his own child.
You have been married three years, and because of your age, your biological clock is running out. There appears to be no sign of another child in the picture.
I grieve that he will never know the joy of having a child call him Daddy. Your child calls him by his first name.
I grieve that he will never know the joy of walking his daughter down the aisle or seeing his son marry.
I grieve that he will never know the greatest joy of having his own grandchildren.
Most of all, I grieve that you do not really love my son enough to make the ultimate sacrifice of bearing a child for him. -- GRIEVING IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR GRIEVING: Your desire for a child for your son is understandable, but I hope that in the future you don't grieve that, because of your intrusiveness, you no longer have a close relationship with your son, daughter-in-law and step-grandchild.
The reason your daughter-in-law is not pregnant is none of your business. There may be medical reasons that you are unaware of, including the possibility that your son's sperm count is too low and he cannot father a child.
Please make your heart as big as your son's, and remember that children are a gift, not a sacrifice!
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