Dear Abby: Those who can’t have children can still help them

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DEAR ABBY: I have some suggestions for “Longing to Be a Mom” (Feb. 27), whose husband doesn’t want a child.

If you talk your husband into it, are you prepared to do all the parenting while he sits staring at the TV or starts working longer hours or worse? Are you prepared for the lack of connection that child might have with his/her father?

Grieve your loss. Losing the possibility for motherhood is a great loss. Find a support group or counselor who deals with loss.

Believe me, I understand. My boyfriend told me he wanted children. Motherhood was my dream, and I lost my only child to an early miscarriage. Then my husband revealed he’d never really wanted children; he only said he did because he wanted to marry me.

So I made a conscious decision to live a different life than I had planned, but a full and satisfying one. Thousands of children need someone to care. Explore opportunities to love a child who doesn’t have your blood, but who could have your heart.

Help at a church’s children’s department or a Girl Scout troop, tutor children at a local school, offer to take a single mom’s children to a park for an hour. The possibilities are endless.

No, it’s not the same as bearing your own children. But even if one dream was dashed, take heart: You can still fulfill new ones. — HELEN IN WASHINGTON

DEAR HELEN: Thank you for offering sensible advice to help “Longing” as well as other women in her situation.

Readers suggested other ways to mother children who are already in the world: joining the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, volunteering at a day care facility or after-school program, contacting Boys and Girls Clubs of America, cuddling newborns at a hospital and becoming involved in a homeless shelter’s Adopt-a-Family program.

DEAR ABBY: I love my husband very much. He’s a very sweet and thoughtful man, but he’s horrible at picking out gifts — not just for me but for everybody.

Occasionally he has given me something I liked, but usually his gifts are way off the mark, and I must pretend to like them to spare his feelings.

The last few years I’ve put together Christmas and birthday lists for him, hoping it would solve the problem, but he says he hates lists. He says it’s better for someone to put “thought” behind a gift, which I agree with, but it’s just not one of his talents.

Can you suggest a way to speak to him about this without hurting his feelings? — TIRED OF UGLY SWEATERS IN VIRGINIA

DEAR TIRED: Choose a time between gift-giving occasions to point out that while it may be the thought that counts, he could be getting better value for his money if he asked the recipients what their color preferences or needs are.

Because you have assembled lists of suggestions and he chooses to ignore them, understand that your husband may have his own agenda in gift selection. And if you have your eye on something for a special occasion — buy it for yourself.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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