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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl Fears Parents' Reaction to News of Her Pregnancy

DEAR ABBY: My 7-year-old, "Richie," attended a birthday party today. Pizza and cake were served, and goodie bags were handed out at the door as the kids left. In the car, on the way home, Richie opened his and found inside a thank-you note from the birthday boy which read, "Thanks for coming to my party and thanks for the great present!"

Abby, I was shocked. My son repeated the words, "Great present? Mommy, he didn't open his presents during the party. How could he know what I gave him was great?"

After my kids' parties, we sit down together and write an individual thank-you card for each gift, and in it my son mentions the particular present. Sometimes we even enclose a photo of the child taken at the party.

In the past, we have received e-mail thank-yous, but never one in a goodie bag sent home the day of the party. Is this tacky or a sign of the times? No name or location, please. We live in a small town. -- OFFENDED IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR OFFENDED: The parent who came up with the idea of a generic thank-you did her son no favor. Writing a gracious thank-you note is an acquired skill -- one with which every child should become familiar as soon as he or she can hold a pen or pencil.

It doesn't have to be long or fancy, but it must be personal and sincere.