Dear Abby: I am a 38-year-old woman who has been dating a 41-year-old man for 7 months. He's wonderful and treats me magnificently. We have similar values and interests and are very much in love. Sadly, although I have always wanted children, he does not.
At my age, I have dated enough men to know that I have found someone special. I realize my choice is either to stay in a relationship with a fabulous partner, knowing we won't have children, or end it, hoping I'll find someone just as wonderful who wants kids.
Your advice in making the hardest decision of my life would be greatly appreciated. – Maternal in New York
Dear Maternal: I'll try. Many women in their late 30s find that conceiving a child is complicated, and it can also take longer than they thought. It has taken you 38 years to find this exceptional man, and it could take quite a bit of time to find another one who is so compatible.
Look at it this way: If you married "Mr. Wonderful" and learned afterward that he couldn't father a child, would you leave him? Insist on adopting? Or would you count the many blessings you do have with him and stay?
Many women are happily childless. However, if you're not one of them, you should take your chances and move on – remembering that there are no guarantees.
Dear Abby: I work on a busy street in San Francisco where smokers walk around puffing all day while ignoring those around them. Don't you think they should be considerate enough to smoke at designated areas only and not while walking with their secondhand smoke billowing around other pedestrians?
I have seen pregnant women and children inundated by the smoke as these puffers stroll by with no regard. We nonsmokers would appreciate their courtesy for others because we don't want to inhale what they're smoking. Can you comment? – Hates That Habit
Dear Hates That Habi: I hate it, too, but unless there is an ordinance in your city that prohibits smoking on certain sidewalks, I think it's unrealistic to expect smokers who inhale not to exhale.
Dear Readers: Years ago, a young mother in Arlington, Va., wrote my mother about a book she had received that promised to help parents prepare their children for school by expanding their vocabulary. The "secret"? Reading to them while they are small.
Children learn words by hearing them spoken in context – the more they hear, the more they absorb. Like everything else, reading is something people will do more of if they enjoy it. When a parent reads to a child, the child associates reading with pleasure.
"The Read-Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease became a huge best-seller when it was published. Penguin Books called it one of the 75 most important books it has published in its history. The book is now in its seventh – and LAST – edition and has been completely revised and updated. If you're a parent who wants your child to succeed, a grandparent, or someone contemplating becoming a parent in the future, pick up a copy.
The first half is filled with the latest research on the importance of literacy for children's success; the rest lists book titles and ages of the youngsters for which they're intended. To learn more about the author, visit www.trelease-on-reading.com. To order the book, go to www.penguin.com. – Love, Abby
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.