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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Wondering in Florida" (who sent only a congratulatory letter upon receiving graduation announcements from young relatives she barely knew), I only wish she were my daughter's acquaintance.

Our daughter is sensitive and caring, and she keeps in contact with friends and family. However, months before her high school graduation, she explained why she wouldn't be sending out any announcements. Her reasoning? In her mind, such pronouncements are all too often regarded by the sender and receiver as a request for a gift. Unfortunately, graduation, engagement, wedding and baby announcements tend to carry this unspoken message, although I hope that was not their original intention.

Including a note that no gift is necessary would only draw attention to the subject. Too bad there's no easy way to reverse the trend, but if more recipients did what "Wondering" did, families and friends would begin to see the real meaning behind the announcements sent to them. In our daughter's mind, "Wondering" wouldn't have been. -- NO ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ILLINOIS

DEAR NO ANNOUNCEMENT: Your letter may be a step in reversing the trend. The purpose of an announcement of any kind is to share good news. No gift is required in response. A warm letter of congratulations is the most that is necessary, and the most that should be expected.

DEAR ABBY: I regularly baby-sit some wonderful children, and I really enjoy it. My only problem is with their father. Sometimes he is verbally abusive. He yells at them and calls them names for little things, like spilling a drink when he could have spilled it himself as easily.

I know he hits them when he loses his temper, but I don't know how often. It's very painful to watch.

Is there anything I can do to help? I'm only 14 and I doubt he would listen to anything I said. The mother is afraid to say anything because she knows he has a terrible temper. -- WORRIED BABY SITTER

DEAR WORRIED: A 14-year-old baby sitter would be making a big mistake to confront a parent for verbally abusing his children.

I suggest you tell your own parents about what's happening in that household. Someone must protect those children, and possibly their mother.

DEAR ABBY: I have a problem for which I see no solution. Next month I will be going out of state to visit a friend of mine for about a week. This stay is part fun and part personal business. She and her close male friend who will be present most of the time both smoke. I do not smoke. In fact, cigarette smoke makes me rather ill. Since I am visiting her, how can I possibly tell her not to smoke in her own home? What can I do in this situation? -- LUCIE, PORTLAND, ORE.

DEAR LUCIE: You certainly should not tell her not to smoke in her own home. But do tell her that cigarette smoke makes you "rather ill," so she shouldn't be offended if you take a little fresh air break while she puffs away. And take an air freshener to use occasionally, especially in the room in which you will sleep.

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