Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
May 6 2004 9:20 AM

Better Off Dead

My mother's trying to continue a feud from beyond the grave.


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Dear Prudie,

My mother, who is estranged from my sister, told me that she (my sister) is neither to be told about nor invited to her funeral when the time comes. However, while relations are less than model between my sister and my brother and me, it will be impossible to keep that news from her. My mother has not yet brought up that my brother—also in a strained relationship with her—shall not be told about her death either, but that pronouncement is probably forthcoming. Question: What's my role here? To inform the entire family that she's passed away, but not my sister? Hope word spreads, raising the ire of my sibling (who would hear the news secondarily)? Do I ride in the limo alone? P.S.: The only tie I have to my mother is love, as there is no monetary incentive for me to honor her wishes, but this situation violates a personal code I have about forgiving.

—J in SA

Dear J,

Try to understand that your personal code about forgiving is just that: personal. Your credo can guide you, but you cannot magically make it your mother's guiding principle as well. It seems that she is intent upon punishing her out-of-favor child from the grave. This puts you in a difficult spot, certainly, because you will no doubt take the heat while your mother will be ... gone. Perhaps this would be a workable solution: Abide by your mother's wish that you not inform one or both of your siblings, depending on how that particular detail plays out. You are most likely correct that another family member will convey the information. If one or both sibs call you, simply explain that you are the messenger: "Mother requested that you not be there. This has nothing to do with me." Then add that, having delivered said message, the recipient is free to do whatever is most comfortable and that you would be happy to have company in the limousine. This is really splitting the difference, and Prudie hopes she has not wimped out by trying for a middle ground in what is a tough moral decision.


—Prudie, differentiatingly

Dear Prudence,

I am a single gal who does not go to bars or clubs and is considered the hard-working, goody-two shoes type. I decided to subscribe to a few local singles sites on the Internet. What has been happening is that four out of 10 guys that I converse with, and then meet, end up being married with kids. It really is getting to be a problem when deception is in full swing in the dating scene. I started noticing a lot of the men asked to meet during the week or at odd hours (early in the morning or late at night). These guys are persistent and want to rush things, and once the meeting takes place, either they want to go to my place or a motel. I refuse, and that's when they break down and inform me they're married but have not had relations with the wife in months. For those wives with computer-savvy husbands, it's just like your children: Either spend more time with them, or create some activities so Hubby does not seek outside entertainment from the Internet.


Dear Wan,

Men want to initially meet early in the morning?! Astounding. What woman would do that, anyway? But back to business. Prudie is not sure what your question is, but the information in your letter may be useful to some women. It has, in fact, been reported that a significant percentage of married men both advertise and respond to singles ads. The no-sex-with-the-Mrs. routine is one of the oldest in the book, by the way. Prudie has a hunch that the way one occupies little kids would not work for husbands, but your underlying theory might be useful in certain cases. As for your own situation, perhaps it's time to cut your losses and set about meeting some live, single candidates, as opposed to cyber-suitors. Volunteer, join affinity groups or clubs, let friends know you're up for a relationship. You definitely need a new modus operandi. Good luck.


—Prudie, embarkingly

Dear Prudence,

Our son is a source of great concern (unhappiness?) for my husband and me. Perhaps you're guessing he's a teenager. If you are, you'd only be 20-some years off. "Jeff" is 40. He is whip-smart, financially successful, and a magnet for women. Where's the problem, you ask? The women for whom he is a magnet. The type he favors is big-busted, good-looking, and extra light on the brain power, please. He could do so much better and of course shows no signs of wanting to get married. He is too old, obviously, for his father and me to weigh in on this state of affairs, but it's a source of great pain for us. We are both accomplished and well-educated—as is he. Have you any advice for two people who see so much promise going to waste?

—Beside Myself

Dear Be,

"This state of affairs" is certainly the apt phrase. Oftentimes parents see choices their children make that just make them want to weep. A 40-year-old man is, alas, not going to take the kind of advice you have in mind. And Prudie is guessing you and Romeo's dad have made your views known. For whatever reasons, your son's taste in women inclines toward the bimboid. You cannot change this, just as you could not change, say, a cocaine habit or a preference for golf. What Prudie hopes you develop, for your own peace of mind, is the gift of acceptance, the recognition that this is the way things are. As you may have read in this space before, everyone gets one life (Shirley MacLaine excepted) to do with as he or she pleases. This situation is beyond your control.


—Prudie, compassionately

Dear Pru,

I've always loved your column but never thought I would have a reason to write. However, I'm at the end of my tether and not sure what to do. Basically, my question is, what exactly is it that women in my generation are looking for? I'm a 23-year-old law student and political activist who also loves ballroom dancing and classical music. Everyone tells me I'm a great listener and that I put other people first. After all of this, not only have I not had a date in years, but women don't even give me a second look. When I ask my women friends, they tell me that any woman would be lucky to have me ... but no one is interested. Any idea on what I might be missing to make my generation swoon?

—Lovesick Legal Eagle

Dear Love,

Different women look for different things, my friend. Among them: kindness, humor, looks, money, smarts, status, knowledge, big sex drive, no sex drive, large family, no family, lovely friends, good taste, a yacht, ability to listen, the gift of gab, multiple degrees, ambition ... and Prudie will spare you the laundry list. What women find appealing is determined by needs, neurosis, and background. Not knowing you, it's impossible to know what, if anything, is missing. Don't give up, however. It is likely that between your professional activities, cultural interests, and personal qualities, you will connect with a woman who will wonder why you're still on the loose. Hang in there, counselor.

—Prudie, intuitively