DEAR ABBY: I have been reading your column most of my adult life, but I don't ever remember seeing any letters from people who are just afraid of life.

The world today is such a scary place. I have a small child who will have to grow up in this world, and sometimes the thought terrifies me. I hear about school shootings, dangerous gangs, religious leaders who are sex offenders, and I recently watched a report of six teenage girls beating another and videotaping it to post online.

How can parents feel safe raising our kids in a world this crazy and scary? I am trying to look for the positive in life, but, honestly, it gets harder and harder.

"" MISSING THE OLD DAYS IN ARIZONA CITY

DEAR MISSING THE OLD DAYS: I agree, bad things do sometimes happen to good people. However, you can't live your life as though the Hammer of Thor is about to strike you down, and if you maintain your fearful attitude, you could pass it along to your child.

While I can't guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen to you or anyone else, please allow me to remind you that the news media earn their income from magnifying the tragic, the scary and anything that deviates from the norm &

whether it be a murder, a car wreck or a five-legged cow.

The time has come for you to turn off your television set, tune out talk radio, and take your child to a park, a playground, a zoo or any family outing. It's a sure way to detoxify yourself from the negativity that has poisoned your outlook. Do it for two weeks, and I can almost guarantee you'll feel better than you do today.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I eat at a self-serve restaurant several times a week. We have gotten to know the owners, the employees and several other regulars we enjoy visiting with. We also enjoy having time alone to sit and chat by ourselves.

A cousin of my husband's has discovered that we frequent this restaurant every Saturday night. He shows up and sits right down at our table, even if we are with other people. We want to let him know this can't continue, but we don't want to be rude &

although we feel he is being rude to us. How can we put an end to this?

"" INVADED IN GRAND RAPIDS

DEAR INVADED: I have two suggestions. The first is to summon the courage to tell this cousin that you go to that restaurant to relax, be alone together, and sometimes visit privately with people you have met there &

and that his sitting down without being invited is making you uncomfortable.

The second is to choose some other restaurants to visit on alternate Saturday nights, so you won't be sitting ducks whenever your husband's cousin is in the mood for company.

DEAR ABBY: Two friends of mine are being married. Their wedding will be a potluck. I have never heard of such a thing, and I'm wondering if this means I shouldn't bring a gift.

On top of bringing food, they have also assigned people to various tasks, such as setting up the hall, doing dishes, serving the cake and such. What does a wedding guest do in a situation like this?

"" NOT SURE IF I DO

DEAR NOT SURE: It appears this affair is one in which an unusual amount of effort is expected of the "guests." Unless you are prepared to participate fully &

and that includes giving them a small wedding gift &

stay home and watch a rerun of "Father of the Bride."

Dear Abby is written by , also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.