Dear Prudence: My grandmother wants me to get a DNA test to prove I’m her son’s child.

Help! My Grandma Thinks I’m Not Her Son’s Biological Child.

Help! My Grandma Thinks I’m Not Her Son’s Biological Child.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 5 2012 3:05 PM

Et Tu, Grandma?

In a live chat, Prudie advises a young man whose grandmother wants proof he’s not the product of an affair.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: DNA test: PLEASE contact your other relatives! My father estranged us from his family for over 15 years. When I was your age (19) I decided to contact my aunts and uncles. They could not have made me feel more welcome as a member of the family. It opened the door to an eventual reconciliation between them and my dad, which never would have happened otherwise. Maybe if your grandma sees you interacting with everyone else in the family and hears about how much you are like your father, she'll drop this.

A: Thanks for this. I'm glad it worked out so well for you. And chances are it will go that way for the letter writer. But he should also prepare himself psychologically for a less sanguine alternative.

Q. Old Age Second Wedding: My mother is 70 years old. My dad died two years ago. She has been very lonely ever since. My brother and I were overjoyed when she fell in love with Arthur, a man in her retirement community. Arthur proposed to her a few weeks ago, and they want to be married around Christmas. The ceremony will be simple with a lot of dancing and celebration afterward. My mom is so excited about marrying Arthur. His kids cannot stand her and oppose their dad's marriage to my mom. They think he's remarrying too soon. Their mom died last December, so I can appreciate their sensitivity. But they have rudely rebuffed my mom's attempts to get to know them and have repeatedly told their father that my mom is not right for him. My mom is hurt, and Arthur is upset his children aren't happier for him. Arthur's kids will come to the wedding, but I worry they will sulk and spoil the celebration. Is there anything appropriate I can do to ensure my mom's and Arthur's wedding is respected by his kids?


A: All you can do is to be gracious and welcoming to them. If they choose to attend as a form of boycotting the celebration, then they are sad and foolish and should be left to their own sulking. It's too bad these adults don't realize that their father did not have endless time to mourn his loss, that he is not "replacing" their mother, and that winter love can be so warming.

Q. Re: For victim of puppy love: Over 25 years ago, I asked out a guy that I liked. Back then, girls absolutely did not ask guys out—all my friends thought I was crazy. But I did it and to my great surprise, he said yes. Years later, he told me that he wanted to ask me out but was too shy and nervous. We dated through high school and college and ended up getting married and have a wonderful son. Not to say that this will be your future with this fellow, but sometimes taking a risk can lead to good things. Good luck!

A: What a great story! I do not want to scare today's letter writer by making her think this one movie date is going to end up dictating the rest of her life. But it also shows that just because a guy doesn't ask doesn't mean he's not interested. There are plenty of boys who don't know how to form the words, so good for the girls who are brave enough to make things happen.

Q. Atonement: I am struggling to come to terms with my promiscuous past, during which I slept with about 25 men. I am now on the straight and narrow and no longer sexually active (because I am single and not in a relationship) but I am still having trouble forgiving myself. Due to my behavior I am in a sexual-addiction recovery program, where I am supposed to make amends to the people I harmed as one of the steps. However, I am not sure who was hurt (my experiences were all as an adult with other consenting adults), other than my extremely conservative family, to whom I have apologized for not honoring the values I was raised with. The truth is that I feel I got away with behaving very badly and have not had to suffer any consequences—and I feel terrible for it.

A: It may be that you were having all that sex because you were engaging in a compulsive behavior you felt was destructive to you. It may be that you were young and single and having fun. If you want to lead a more sexually circumscribed life, then good that you realize that and can behave accordingly. However, it is none of your family's business who you slept with. It sounds to me as if your biggest problem may be a repressive and punitive childhood. You need to come to terms with that, and the fact that you aren't going to hell because you were intimate with two dozen consenting adults.

Q. Embarrassment About Sex: I am 20 years old. I am a virgin. It's not because I'm saving myself for marriage or have made some religious choice. I've had boyfriends, but I just never felt ready in the past. It used to not bother me, but in the last year an overwhelming number of my friends have lost their virginity in a variety of different situations. I've started to notice more often that girls my age who seem similar to me are no longer virgins and it's starting to make me wonder if there is something wrong with me. I am very open, I don't mind talking about other intimate things but I get embarrassed easily about this. I went out recently with some new female friends and the conversation turned to sex and everyone's first experience. Luckily the conversation changed before anyone got around to asking me specifically. How do I respond about my first time without lying or having to reveal the truth?

A: Just as how many people you slept with is not your family's business, how many people you haven't slept with is not your friends' business. If the "first time" conversation turns to you, you can say, "I enjoy hearing these stories, but I'm not comfortable talking about my own sex life." If you're with close friends you feel more at ease with, you can just say that no one has come along so far who has seemed to you like the right guy. Please do not act as if waiting until it seems right is something to be embarrassed about.

In a new approach, we’re publishing the chat transcript in shorter, more digestible pieces. You will still be getting all the questions and answers, and we may even publish bonus letters Prudie didn’t get to address during the chat hour. 

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.