DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of a beautiful baby girl. Naturally I want to do the best job possible of raising her to be a fine girl and woman. There is one question in my mind.

At some time in her life, I will have to sit down and talk to her about the importance of staying away from drugs. Should I ever use myself and my own experiences as an example. Abby, I have experimented with a variety of drugs and have learned firsthand how devastating they can be.What influence do you think it would have on my daughter if she knew? Do you think she would be more determined never to use drugs? I have been "clean" for a number of years now, but I was heavily into drugs as a teenager. How much should I tell her? - SERIOUS IN SARATOGA

DEAR SERIOUS: Yours is a very intelligent question. I would not recommend using yourself as an "example." Your daughter might believe that because you have experimented with drugs and were able to rehabilitate yourself, it might justify her going that route.

If she asks you if you have ever experimented with drugs, don't lie; but don't volunteer your own experiences as a deterrent. It could backfire.

DEAR ABBY: Will you please tell me how long a married couple can correctly take to thank their friends and family for a wedding gift? A friend of mine who is supposed to be very knowledgable on matters of etiquette said that a couple can take one year to send their thank-you notes for wedding gifts and still be considered within the range of good manners.

If you confirm that a year is acceptable, then I will not complain. - STILL WAITING IN WHITTIER, CALIF.

DEAR STILL WAITING: A year? Outrageous - unless the lucky honeymooners were able to take six months off to go around the world.

Well-mannered newlyweds will have their wedding gifts acknowledged anywhere from one to three months after they return from their honeymoon, depending on the number of gifts there were to acknowledge.

DEAR ABBY: Some dear friends of ours are being divorced after 13 years of marriage. They have two wonderful children, a cozy home, and he runs his own business. Sounds like the perfect American dream.

Well, it's coming to an end soon. They filed for divorce over a year ago and are still trying to settle in court. Everyone is wondering what happened to this perfect marriage. I think I know. They didn't believe in that old tradition that it was bad luck for the groom to see his bride's wedding dress before the ceremony. Well, he had to see it, because he made it for her! He's a professional designer.

Abby, what can be done to break a bad-luck spell? - HER FRIEND IN IOWA

DEAR FRIEND: The old "tradition" you refer to is merely a superstition, an old wives' tale, and has no basis in fact.

To believe that a marriage failed - after 13 years - because the groom saw the bride's gown before the wedding is sheer nonsense.