Dear Prudence answers readers' questions live at Washingtonpost.com.

Real-time discussions with Slate writers.
Jan. 11 2010 2:35 PM

Grandma's Prison Pen Pal

Prudie offers advice on what to do when an elderly relative is looking for love in all the wrong places—and other dilemmas.

Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat with readers about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems. A transcript of this week's chat is below. (Read Prudie's Slate columns here.)

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Wichita, Kan.: I am a 28-year-old woman. I have a master's degree, a good job, and am self-sufficient, intelligent, and attractive. I also have three children, one of which was born when I was 17.

My problem is with dating. I would like to date, and I have time to date some when the noncustodial parent has the children. But I find that the sorts of men I would date will not even consider dating me. I take care of myself and my children. I have a job, a home, and a car. Why won't men who have the same going for them date me? Am I doomed to be alone forever? Should I lower my standards?

Emily Yoffe: You obviously have many sterling qualities, but to a man in his 20s, the matter of three young children is not just an asterisk but a flashing neon sign. Most young single men are going to have second thoughts about getting involved with a woman with so many little ones underfoot. You might do better looking for dates with men who have children of their own. Yes, that complicates one's dating life, but they at least will understand what it means to come as a package deal.

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Raleigh: I purchased an adorable baby outfit for my friend, who is expecting, and she yelled at me for not buying off the registry. I guess I have two questions: 1) Are baby registries acceptable now? I have never liked them, and 2) I am justified in saying it's not appropriate to yell at someone for not purchasing off the baby registry?

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Emily Yoffe: The generous thing to do would be to write off your friend's behavior to hormones, nerves, and stress. However, I fear she's just a jerk who will find motherhood most instructive as far as getting other people to do exactly what she wants. Baby registries are fine. Also equally fine is choosing a lovely, unexpected gift. Not fine is yelling at someone who wishes to celebrate your good fortune. Apologies are in order; let's hope she delivers one.

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Emily Yoffe: Thank you, everyone. Talk to you next week.