Stay-at-home dads deserve trust

Your article "Beyond Mr. Mom" helps to mainstream those of us who have a vocation of at-home fatherhood (Dec. 22). A father who plays with his children during the day is still often viewed with suspicion. I recently went on a hiking tour with my children. While the experience was a joyful adventure, each day we were often stopped by the police. They all said the same thing: "We got a call from a concerned citizen...." One officer threatened me with arrest, and separated me from the children before he ascertained that I was a good father. I would urge those who see fathers with their children not to assume we are kidnappers. My wife and I are in this together, and I stay home for the same reasons that women have been doing the same for centuries - I love my children.

Frank Cipriani South Toms River, N.J.

Not afraid of hard work

Your article "Cities place time limits on public housing aid" quoted a critic who seemed shocked that ambitious poor folk might have to work 75.5 hours per week to get along, or that there might be a penalty for having more children (Dec. 13). The glory of this nation of ours lies in what it did for our poorest, mostly new immigrants, and what they did for it.

For generations, immigrants came to the United States because no matter how bad things were for them here, they were better off here than at "home." How many generations of them labored (without any government help) 70 to 80 hours per week just to make it until their kids acquired an education and could then help the family. Sure, there was a punitive cost to bearing children when they could hardly feed themselves. But the reward for such efforts and forbearing were great. These new "impatient generations" have no idea how their parents, and their country, became great!

Hal Wilder Camarillo, Calif.

Response to a moral dilemma

In the Moral Dilemmas column "Unwanted lump sum" (Dec. 20) I admired the moral standing of Tina Dybvik regarding her compensation for the accidental death of her father. She was entirely right in wanting to put these principles into practice by her desire to refuse the sum. However, she should realize that her standard is far above the average person's standards. Her desire to send a message would thus be lost. We can't educate morals, ethics by just one act. It must be a gradual thing.

Henry Rutledge Davis, Calif.

A question to Elian's peers

Regarding "Elian's future, through the eyes of his peers" (Dec. 17): You never asked the question I was looking forward to having answered by these 11-year-olds who think Elian should stay in the US. That is, "If you only had one parent left because one died, would you rather be with that parent or live in a foreign country with relatives you have never seen before?" Their sentiments might have been different.

Jacquelyn Reid Lakeview Terrace, Calif.

Bioengineered tomatoes? No thanks!

In response to the letter "Eating a bioengineered tomato" (Dec. 12), regarding the article "New genes meet a wary market" (Dec. 8), I say no, thank you! Recently I purchased five beautiful-looking tomatoes from a roadside vendor. But once I had them in my hand at home, they felt rock-hard. I put them into a brown paper bag on top of the refrigerator to ripen. After five days I took one down to slice for a sandwich. It was still as hard.

I'd be most happy to send letter writer Daniel John Sobieski the remaining bioengineered tomatoes, since a postal journey to Chicago is not likely to bother their genes.

Inge Hanson Brevard, N.C.

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