For more than a decade, I have been involved in my city’s pagan community (Wicca to be precise). My husband is also Wiccan. I’m not some 20-year-old flake rebelling against her parents. I am educated, intelligent, and articulate, and I came to Wicca in my 30s, spending these past years soul-searching and learning. After advice and support from my husband, my teachers, and members within the community, I have decided to leave behind my 15 years in the corporate rat race to begin spiritual mentoring and teaching, full time. My dilemma is this: Virtually everyone—except my business contacts, my parents, and sister—knows that I am a devoted pagan. Believe me, coming out of the “broom closet” is a one-way trip. I have never hidden the fact that I’m Wiccan, but I have also never advertised it. I’m worried about my parents’ and sister’s ability to cope with what they will see as a very sudden and “weird” change in my life. How do I tell them about my religious practices and my choice to go “public” without them trying to have me committed and deprogrammed? Seriously, can you help me?
Perhaps you shouldn’t have “saved up” your religious conversion news for a decade, but since you did, your best bet is a sit-down with your folks and your sister. If Prudie were in your broom closet, er, shoes, she would explain that believing your selection of religions would strike them as weird, you spared them the information. Being a practicing Wiccan for all these years, however, you can tell them that you wanted them to know at a time when they would no longer think it a hasty decision. Be prepared, however, for some resistance to what is still a misunderstood and minority religious practice. Chances are that people who know nothing of Wiccan culture imagine it’s about pointy hats and cauldrons. Good luck.
I have a dilemma. My aunt (my mother’s sister) has been a source of conflict in my family for many years. Over the past few years, I have noticed that my aunt has been very close with my father (his sister-in-law). She will call when my mother is not home and talk to him and cry on his shoulder. My mother seems to ignore this behavior. The other night, when my mother is usually bowling, my aunt called, and when my mom answered the phone, her sister proceeded to say, “What are you doing there?” My mother’s response was, “I live here.” I do not believe that my father would cheat on my mother, but he is very defensive about my aunt’s behavior, and it is very suspicious to me. I have thought about spying on Tuesday nights and seeing if they are together. What should I do?
For a start, skip the James Bond Tuesday nights. You are not a P.I. What you are is a kid who’s perhaps witnessing something most uncomfortable for a kid. While you could very well be right about your aunt’s intentions—or even that something might be going on—you have no standing in this situation. What you might do is go to your dad and tell him you think your aunt is trying to get something going with him and it’s making you nervous. He may tell you to M.Y.O.B., but he will get the message that perhaps what he thinks is hidden is actually quite visible. Prudie would be interested in the nature of the “conflict” this aunt has caused in the family for years. And your mother, by the way, has Prudie’s admiration for her wonderful answer to “What are you doing there?”
—Prudie, cautiously Dear Prudie,
I am a 17-year-old senior in high school. I’m told I’m attractive, and I get much attention from boys my own age, but I’m usually not interested in them. Here is where my problem comes in: I think I’m falling for my music teacher. He is 23, straight out of college. He’s not the best-looking guy around, but his personality is what captivated me. I know you’re probably thinking this is a normal school-girl crush where I daydream about him taking me into his arms in the middle of class, but it’s nothing like that. I honestly feel we could have a functional relationship. Even my friends say they notice him treating me specially or even (dare I say) flirting with me, which gives me hope. I’m thinking of opening the subject with him on my graduation day. Am I being crazy and hopeful where there is obviously nothing to be hopeful about?
—Young and Restless
You sound quite solid to Prudie, who did not deem the attraction you describe as being of the school-girl-crush variety. For you, 23 is a whole lot better, and more appropriate, than 43. It’s also a sign of maturity that you say you’re more interested in his personality than his looks. By all means, explore the possibility of a functional relationship once you graduate (assuming you will be 18 by that date). Prudie thinks you do, indeed, have something to be hopeful about.
A dear friend of mine (closest friend, actually) has been seeing a man on and off for about three years. The man is twice her age and has problems with alcoholism, drugs, and has serious maturity issues. She has admitted he is no good for her, but she keeps going back to him, saying, “I told him we don’t have a future together; it’s just for right now.” I have told her in the past I was glad they broke up, so she knows how I feel about him, but since they last broke up, they have been “hanging out.” She says she is over him but still tries to be a good friend because of “all he’s going through right now.” How do I go about gently and nonjudgmentally telling her I am not comfortable going out with them when I am invited? I don’t trust the guy and definitely don’t feel safe around him. I want her to be able to lean on me for support, but as her closest friend, I feel I need to be honest with her, too. Please advise.
A woman who breaks up with a walking catastrophe and then “hangs out” with him has a bolt loose, ergo, you might as well save your breath for blowing on your soup. Anyone who renounces, then returns to a relationship with an immature, drug-addicted alcoholic is far down the path of self-destructiveness. Prudie gives you her permission to forget about trying to be gentle and nonjudgmental. If you actually fear for your safety, simply tell your good friend that you don’t feel safe around “Mr. Right, for now” and therefore you will only be able to offer support and friendship when it’s just the two of you. You can’t get much more honest than that.