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by Abigail Van Buren

Parent May Pay for Tuition, but Son Pays Way to Prom

DEAR ABBY: Please set me straight. Is it considered poor manners to write a letter instead of having a face-to-face confrontation?

Recently, I decided to quit my job as baby sitter for a woman I'll call Mrs. Smith. She is very strong-minded and not a person I would care to debate, so to avoid being pressured to stay on with other arrangements, then kick myself afterward, I chose to write.

I dropped the letter in Mrs. Smith's mailbox. As soon as she read it, she telephoned to say that we would still be friends, but she thought it was extremely "ignorant and ill-mannered" of me to have written to her instead of speaking to her. Abby, some people are easier to write to than talk to.

What do you think? Was a letter a poor vehicle for my message? -- IN THE DARK

DEAR IN: I think you used excellent judgment. Your reasons for writing to Mrs. Smith instead of risking a face-to-face confrontation were valid.