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Dad, not mom, must fly kids out for visits

Dear Abby: I am an airline employee and have the privilege of giving my children (over age 25) discount airline passes. I am divorced, and their dad lives in Oregon. He is very wealthy. My children have asked for passes to visit him this summer. Abby, the cost will come out of my paycheck, amounting to $300. Also, these passes are standby, which means they may or may not get on the airplane. It seems to me that if he wants to see his children and grandchildren, he should pay for the airline tickets so that they will have assured seats on whatever flight they take.

How can I communicate this to my children without any hurt feelings or animosities? I have a good relationship with them, and I'd like to keep it that way. -- In a Bind in TexasDear in a Bind: Explain your position to your children as you explained it to me. Tell them of the very real possibility that some of their party will be "bumped" if they try to fly using your passes, and that the cost of them will put you in a financial bind. Therefore, their father should be a good grandpa and spring for the tickets, since he can well afford to.

Dear Abby: I recently read in your column about children running wild in a restaurant. This situation is familiar to me because I am a server at a five-star resort.

Abby, I'm not against children -- I have two of my own -- but I strongly object to children running freely in a busy establishment.

Children are in real danger when they run loose in a restaurant. The trays we carry can weigh upward of 20 pounds when loaded with hot entrees, and the coffee in the pots would most definitely scald a child. Also, a server could be seriously injured were he or she to stumble over a child.

Of course, the parents would never admit the child caused the accident; servers are always made out to be the bad guys. I blame the parents for not protecting their children by insisting they sit at the table out of harm's way.

In the interest of child safety (and server safety), please print my letter. -- Mike Allen, Alderson, W.Va.

Dear Mike: I'm pleased to print your letter. In the interest of everyone's safety -- including the establishment's -- I'm surprised more of them don't post a disclaimer that the restaurant refuses to accept responsibility for injuries to unaccompanied children. It might serve as a reminder to parents who bring small children and then become so engrossed in conversation that they tune their little ones out.

Wise parents make sure they are prepared in advance when taking their child to an "adult" environment. They bring along children's books, paper and crayons to keep the little ones amused, because children have short attention spans and it's unfair to expect them to sit in silence through a long meal.

Parenthood is hard work. It takes patience, diligence and sacrifice to do the job properly. Parents who allow their children to run loose in restaurants are shirking their responsibility.

(C) Universal Press Syndicate