DEAR ABBY: Our oldest son, "John," is going to his first prom. He is 16 1/2 years old and a junior in high school.

John and three other couples planned to rent a hotel room for a post-prom party, and, of course, drink beer. I suggested to my husband that we should have the kids back to our house for a post-prom party. No. 1: I won't have to worry all night about John and his friends being out and drinking. No. 2: We live five miles from the school where the prom will be held. No. 3: It won't cost us a cent because the kids will pay for their own beer and snacks.I could keep all of the car keys so no one would have to drive. Also, I could give them all coffee in the morning before they leave.

Well, my husband went nuts! He says I am encouraging the kids to drink.

I tried to explain that this was a special occasion, and they are going to drink anyway. He thinks I am 100 percent wrong in suggesting they come here, and I think I am 100 percent right. Also, I would feel a lot better knowing the kids will be in our house after the prom. - CONCERNED MOTHER

DEAR CONCERNED MOTHER: I vote with your husband. To condone teenagers drinking beer or any kind of alcoholic beverage in one's home because "they are going to drink anyway" is, in my view, a feeble excuse. Furthermore, providing minors with alcohol is in violation of the law.

If the children were mine, I would insist on hosting the party in my home and providing the snacks, the soft drinks - and the supervision.

DEAR ABBY: For me, the war in the Persian Gulf and its end have brought to mind that fine film "To Kill a Mockingbird." The story was about Atticus Finch, a Southern gentleman, a competent attorney, a good father and husband, a peaceful man. Some might even call him a boring man.

One summer afternoon, a rabid dog came down the street and sent the residents into a panic. Finch came out of his house with a rifle and calmly and expertly killed the beast with one well-placed bullet.

Finch did not smile, strut, raise the rifle, exchange high fives, or in any other way celebrate his accomplishment. An unpleasant task had been thrust upon him, he did what had to be done, he solved the problem, and then went back to the business of being Atticus Finch.

To those who so expertly performed the unpleasant tasks thrust upon you in the Persian Gulf, thank you and God bless you. Accept the appreciation of a grateful nation. We are glad to have you home, and are pained by the memory of those who will not return.

Take a full measure of quiet pride in a job well done. And then, let's all get back to the business of peace. - CHUCK EVANS, ERIE, PA.

DEAR CHUCK: Thank you for a thoughtful letter. And to all the men and women who will NOT return home for many months (or years) due to their commitment to the military, we owe a special debt of gratitude.

CONFIDENTIAL TO WONDERING IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.: No man GETS mean when he drinks. He was mean to begin with - but he managed to cover it up in his more sober moments.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)