DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have just observed the second anniversary of the death of our firstborn child, and I have finally gathered the courage to write this letter.
My child, the passenger, was killed instantly in a horrible car accident. The driver died a few hours later. Both of these teen-agers had been drinking. The driver had a fake ID, and apparently had purchased alcohol for both of them. The autopsy report on my child came back as legally intoxicated.
My husband and I did everything we could to warn our child about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs. Our words fell on deaf ears, despite all our pleas and warnings.
Even after two years, it's still difficult to allow our surviving teen-ager the freedom to go out at night. That wreck is always in the back of our minds. Though this child is dependable and responsible, we live in fear of the deadly driving of another drunken teen who thinks the only way to have fun is to illegally purchase alcohol and other drugs.
Since the world is still reeling from the shock of the senseless death of the Princess of Wales, perhaps it's a good time for those who admired her to stop and think before getting behind the wheel of a car after they've been drinking.
I realize the problems of driving while intoxicated are not limited to teen-agers and young adults. Everyone, regardless of age, needs to be made aware of this horrible problem so common in our society today.
Parents and teachers, please show this letter to the young people you care about. It may cause some kids to wake up before it's too late. -- GRIEVING MOM IN TEXAS
DEAR GRIEVING MOM: I offer my deepest sympathy on the tragic loss of your firstborn. With the holidays rapidly approaching, I hope your letter will serve as a cautionary reminder about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Although for years parents have hammered home the message, "Don't drive if you've been drinking," they should also emphasize that when passengers are intoxicated, they cannot reliably judge the sobriety of the driver.
DEAR ABBY: My two children, ages 8 and 11, each have chores to do after every meal, such as clearing the table or putting the dishes in the dishwasher.
When the children have friends over, however, they don't want to do their chores. Is it OK to make them? And if so, should they be able to ask their guests to help? -- UNSURE MOM, MARINE ON SAINT CROIX, MINN.
DEAR MOM: Every family has its own approach to children and chores. It's up to you to determine what works best for you, and then enforce it. If the children are responsible about performing their duties, an occasional night off when special friends visit could be a simple way of rewarding them. If you require that they do their chores even when they have company, their friends should not be expected to assist them, unless they volunteer to do so.
DEAR ABBY: Although I've never written to you before, I have what I think is a valuable tip for the young mother whose child threw a temper tantrum in a department store. (She was alarmed that no one tried to stop her as she carried the screaming child from the store.)
I taught both my children that if a stranger grabs them, they're to yell, "Put me down! You're not my daddy (or mommy)!" Hopefully this would arouse more attention than simply yelling would.
I hope this is helpful not only to the woman who wrote to you, but to other parents as well. -- PROTECTIVE MOM IN TEXAS
DEAR PROTECTIVE MOM: I appreciate your valuable suggestion. Thank you for submitting it.
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