Dear Abby:

I am a concerned parent. My children attend a school that has a very tight budget. The school system here cannot afford to hire teacher's aides, so I help out as much as I can.

Abby, it's crucial for parents to volunteer as much of their time as they can to help teachers. Even one hour a month would be helpful.

I know several mothers who trade baby-sitting so they have free time to go to the gym or shop, but they never give a thought to volunteering at the school. I swap baby-sitting duties with a friend so I can do those things, too, but we also make the time to help our children's teachers.

Our children and their education should be our No. 1 priority. Would you please help me encourage parents everywhere to volunteer their time at schools? Thank you.

Volunteer Mom in Princeton, Minn.

Many schools are in crisis because of budget constraints and could use a helping hand from parents. Volunteering in schools not only allows the teachers to dedicate more time to teaching, but it also sets a good example for the children. Children of parents who are concerned about, and immediately involved in, their education earn better grades. Everyone benefits.

I know from personal experience how rewarding volunteering can be. Every time I have volunteered, I got more than I gave.

Dear Abby:

My husband talks constantly. He can't sit through a movie or watch a television show without piping up. He has "loads of information" on every subject.

If we are out in public and someone speaks, my husband goes into high gear. When we go to his office -- he is a truck driver -- the office personnel scatter. They dread to see him coming.

I can't speak to him in confidence about personal things, or finances, and trust that he won't repeat everything he knows. I don't know how to stop him. He seems oblivious. It has become an embarrassment to be out with him. I find myself trying to avoid him at home. Please help me. I love my husband.

Really Down in T-Town

Your husband may be a compulsive talker. He could be trying to compensate for insecurity or have an emotional problem. Since you can't get through, your next step is to get him professional help.

It's sad that someone who probably only wants to be liked and accepted is driving those around him away, and it may take counseling for your husband to recognize what he's doing.

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, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate