DEAR ABBY: I just read the letter in your column from a minister who is "flat broke" and doesn't think it's fair that he has to pay college tuition for his two children who live with his ex-wife.

Abby, you should have checked with the Missouri Bar Association before you told him that "nowhere is it written that a parent who is flat broke must pay to put his children through college." No doubt my ex-husband, on reading your reply, will be on the phone with his attorney, quoting you.Please be assured that it IS written somewhere. My ex would do anything he thought he could get away with to avoid supporting his children. He presently works in a job paying one-third of his former annual income so that he could "poor-mouth" to the judge when it came time for the court to order him to pay support. The judge can't force him to get a job at the salary he is capable of earning as long as he's employed somewhere full time. Guess who loses in this situation?

In Missouri, the non-custodial parent who pays child support must pay the equivalent of half the total cost of state university for four years - tuition, room and board, books - no matter where the student matriculates. - ST. LOUIS WOMAN

DEAR WOMAN: I'll take your word for it. Who said it's a man's world? It's not - if he's the non-custodial parent and lives in Missouri.

DEAR ABBY: One of my best friends, "Julia," has moved far away, and we keep in touch by telephone. My problem: Julia has a 3-year-old son, and every time we talk, she puts "Kenny" on the phone to say hello and chat a while. She does this so the rest of the time he will be quiet and hopefully we can talk without his whining.

Kenny is a very bright boy, but once he's on the phone he doesn't want to get off, and I find this very irritating. This has annoyed me for over a year now, so I finally wrote to Julia asking her not to put Kenny on the phone every time we talk. She was highly offended and said I didn't understand her life or I wouldn't have made such an insensitive request.

Abby, my children are grown now, but when they were young, I never put them on the phone to talk to any of my friends unless they requested it.

I'd like to add that all during Julia's conversations with me, Kenny keeps interrupting to get his mother's attention - and when she sends him away and asks him to please be quiet, he makes all kinds of disruptive noises just to bug her.

Abby, was I out of line to request this courtesy? - JULIA'S FRIEND

DEAR FRIEND: No, but some proud parents have tunnel vision where their children are concerned. A quick "hi" and then "goodbye" would not be considered an imposition by any responsible adult, but in your case, I think I smell a very spoiled child. And his name is Kenny.

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