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Dear Abby: I work as a teacher's aide at a private religious elementary school.

Rarely do I ever hear a "please" or "thank you." The children tell us their parents don't require such things at home. We have talked to these parents, and they side with their children. What else can we do?

-- Stunned in Sacramento
Dear Stunned: What else can you do? Talk to the children in terms of their own self-interest. Tell them that words like "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" are magic words with great power. People who hear them are far more inclined to accommodate the person who uses these words than someone who doesn't.

Parents who fail to teach their children basic good manners do their children a grave disservice, because good manners and respect are essential for success.

Too old for gifts

Dear Abby: My sister and her family live in the Southwest. Ever since their children were born, I have sent them money for birthdays and for the holidays. We have decided that when the nieces and nephews reach the age of 18, we would like to stop sending them money. We are not terribly close, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

-- Aunt Molly
Dear Aunt Molly: It is not uncommon to stop sending gifts when younger relatives reach adulthood. Look at it this way: Gift-giving puts a burden on young people, too, because they often can't afford to reciprocate, or they aren't particularly close to the sender.

Send your nephew a nice card for his birthday. And at holiday time, send one gift -- such as fruit or flowers -- for the entire family to enjoy.

Something's missing

Dear Abby: I am a 29-year-old woman who wants very much to get married. I have been dating a wonderful man who wants to marry me. I'll call him "Byron." Byron is intelligent, kind, generous, comes from the same background I do, and shares my values.

The only problem is I feel very little physical attraction to him.

Part of me reasons that physical passion tends to fade over the years anyway. Another part of me feels that I'm not really in love with Byron, so it would be a mistake to marry him.

-- Confused in Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Confused: Before you discard a man who has all of the attributes you describe, I suggest you ask him to wait just a little longer. You could benefit greatly by talking this out with a counselor who, in a nonjudgmental and unbiased way, can help you to organize your priorities.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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