Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at

Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at

Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
July 20 2009 2:27 PM

The Right Candidate With the Wrong Idea

Prudie counsels someone vetting a strong job applicant with repugnant personal beliefs—and other advice seekers.

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Weddingville: My fiance and I are in the midst of planning a wedding and it is becoming a huge source of stress. I'm not a bridezilla or perfectionist in any way, I just want to have a joyful celebration of this happy event with our friends and family. The actual DETAILS of bringing said event into existence have been very overwhelming for me. I am not a detail person or a planner. Our budget is extremely small ($2500), so I cannot afford to hire a wedding planner to take care of all the little things that are stressing me out. In my current state, there is nothing happy or joyful about our celebration, it is just a massive headache I have to force myself to deal with each day. I don't know what to do. Everyone keeps saying it can't be that stressful because our event is so small, but even with a small event there are a million details that are making me crazy—not to mention trying to trim expenses everywhere possible. Help!

Emily Yoffe: Try pretending you are throwing a 10th anniversary party. You probably wouldn't care if the cocktail napkins matched your anniversary colors because you wouldn't have any anniversary colors. So just off-load all the idiocy and go to the default option of either saying no, you don't need whatever is being pushed on you, or getting the cheapest option. Focus on that this event is about starting your new life together, not being an event planner. As for the party, forget it being a "perfect day"—just decide as long as everyone get a decent meal and doesn't end up with ptomaine, you'd done your duty.


New York: Dear Prudie,

I graduated college in 2008 after four years of working my butt off, including multiple unpaid internships and many extracurricular activities. Through a combination of a similar work ethic, well-built connections from college and much sheer luck, I have worked steadily in the media industry for the past 18 months. I've seen many friends of equal or greater talent and training not be as lucky considering the times. I have a dear friend who went to a different college and spent four years doing not much of anything. She has spent her time post-college mostly babysitting and writing here and there, mostly for free for websites you probably haven't heard of. Her writing isn't very good, especially compared to my aforementioned friends. Recently, she has gotten frustrated with nannying and says she wants to write and edit full-time and is insisting I help her. She seems to not understand anything about how hard it is to be a writer/editor now. I have made many suggestions, from embellishing her media skills, to maybe pursuing something else in the meantime (going abroad, joining a campaign) and she brushes them all off insisting "it's not for me."

How do I tell her to get a life? I feel like I have done all I can considering the circumstances. She cannot re-do the last 5 years, and I cannot have the same conversation and waste my time everyday.

Emily Yoffe: Since she's your dear friend, and you indicate you have this conversation with her daily, tell her that you've given her all the insights you have for launching her career, and that the guidance center is closed. Then change the subject or cut the call short when she starts whining. Of course, don't forget The Nanny Diaries became a huge best-seller for its unknown authors.


Tokyo, Japan: Dear Prudence, I am a college student currently studying abroad in Tokyo. My relationship with my parents has never been particularly good, but has worsened since I entered college primarily because my parents (my stepmother and father—my biological mother died years ago) have decided that they would not contribute any money to help pay for my college education. I worked hard in high school and was able to gain admission into several Ivy-league schools as well as other very good universities. At most Ivy-league schools, there is not much merit-based aid (rather financial aid is based on need, and in almost all cases on the income of the parents of the students). I was offered some full-ride merit based scholarships at non-Ivy-league schools, but my parents insisted that I go to an Ivy-league school, although they made it clear from the start that they would not help pay for it in any significant way.

As such, since my family is not destitute, I have had to shoulder the prescribed "parent contribution" on my own through the use of loans and part-time jobs. While I can't say that my life is horrible, it hurts me that my parents would make me shoulder this burden on my own, and the fact that although because my school financial aid program is quite generous if my parents contribution their share I would be able to graduate debt-free, it looks like instead I will have about $15,000-$20,000 of debt when I graduate. This also makes me regret listening to my parents when I was a high school senior, and I wish I had taken the full ride elsewhere.

To get to my question. Because I am paying for college by myself, I feel no need to inform my parents of anything related to my school life, such as my grades, major or future plans. In fact, although I used to keep intermittent contact with them, I've actually stopped talking to them altogether (I haven't talked to them since April), and I didn't tell them that I was moving to Tokyo, either. While I certainly don't feel much filial emotion towards my parents, it does hurt me that our relationship has come to this mainly because of money.I thought our relationship was deeper than that.


What do you think I should do?

Emily Yoffe: Don't create a complete rift through passivity. Get back in touch and tell your parents that you're in Tokyo and what you're doing there. I'm not against deciding to end contact with close relatives, but it should be for good reasons, and it should be a decision, not something you drift into. Instead of being bitter about your situation, be proud of what you've accomplished, and how independent you are—this puts you way ahead of many of your fellow Ivy grads. Send your parents periodic email updates. Then when you get back, sit down and have a serious discussion with them about what you've been feeling, and your financial situation. Maybe they will offer to help you with your debt. But if not, accept that while you will never be close to them, you have turned this painful situation into a lesson in how to make your own way in the world.


Timonium, Md.: Dear Prudie,

I just graduated from college with a B.A., but given the state of the economy, I haven't been able to find a good job. To make ends meet, I'm working as a waitress and living at home. My parents have allowed me to live there rent-free, which is great, but they do require that I go to church with them every Sunday, followed by brunch with my grandmother. The problem is that I can't stand her! She's singularly critical. She constantly berates me about my weight, my lack of "career direction", and the fact that I don't have a boyfriend. I've tried politely telling her that I don't appreciate her unkind words and I've also tried ignoring her, but she continues to do it. My parents refuse to get involved, so I'm on my own. Any advice for how to deal with her? Thanks!

Emily Yoffe: Tell your parents that you've taken to heart her criticism about your passivity, and have decided to start taking steps toward making your life better. The first one is that while you will go and see Grandma occasionally, you are not going to accompany them every week because her constant berating is wearing you down. They can't physically make you go, and if they threaten to toss you out of the house, then perhaps you can find a cheap roommate situation.


Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week!