Dear Prudence

Help! I Want to Model My Life After The Golden Girls. My Kids Have Other Plans.

They took it as a personal offense.

The Golden Girls cast smiling in a photo hung in a picture frame.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Theo Westenberger/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images and Getty Images Plus.THE GOLDEN GIRLS – Season 5 – Pictured: (clockwise from left) Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo, Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo Zbornak, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux (Photo by Theo Westenberger/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Dear Prudence is Slate’s advice column. Submit questions here. (It’s anonymous!)

Dear Prudence,

My husband unexpectedly died last year. We were only in our 50s. We had plans to retire to be near our children, but they live in a very expensive, snowy part of the country.

My sisters and oldest friend are planning on buying a house together in the South. They asked me to join them and I badly want to. My daughter doesn’t want children and is busy running her own business. My son married a nice if a standoffish woman with children of her own. I do love them, but I am very much not grandma.

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If my husband were alive, we would have each other, our children, and our future adventures. Now I just want warmth and women who have known me all my life. I have tried explaining this to my children and they got very upset and took it as a personal rejection. They hate the thought of me so far away after their father died. They don’t want me to sell the house or the business, only to “move in with roommates.” How do I make this better?

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—Want to Be a Golden Girl

Dear Golden Girl,

Do it. Do it. Do it. Be a Golden Girl. You’re being so smart by taking an honest assessment of what your children have to offer you in terms of time and attention, and recognizing the gap between this and the life you’d like to have. I’m sure your son and daughter love you very much, but they’re being selfish here. They’re not going to be the ones who wake up every day to an empty house, wanting someone to have a cup of coffee with, and waiting for their kids to call. You are. Let them know that you’ve made your choice, and explain why. You want company every day. And you totally respect that it’s a little more than they can give you right now. Remind them that they’re very important to you, and show them by making some plans to see and enjoy each other over the holidays.

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Dear Prudence,

I work with children in my profession. I recently was moving to another state and went to visit one of my kid clients to say goodbye. While I was waiting alone in the foyer the dad was wrangling the kids and left me unattended with the dog who was barking at me. The dad put the dog away twice, but she escaped and came back to me directly. I talked to her sweetly, let her smell my hand (I was so nervous!), and it appeared as though she wanted me to pet her, so I did. As I pet her and spoke to her she seemed to calm down. However, when I stopped petting her she bit my hand. I kicked at her and she ran off. I called up to the dad, “Uh, the dog just bit me. I’m going to wait outside.” I don’t know if he heard me and we never discussed it.

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My question is, do I share this info with the mom of the house? She was out of town when this happened. My husband says it’s not our business and to let it go since it’s been a month. My concern is that they have a new baby. I would want to know if my dog was creating a history of biting. If the dog bites the baby or someone else they might think it’s just the first time, but really it’s at least the second time. By the way, they all adore this dog they rescued.

—Bitten Not Smitten

Dear Bitten,

Normally, I would say let it go, not so much because it’s none of your business, but because it reminds me of when people ask whether they should tell a woman her husband has been caught being flirty. I’m almost positive she already knows and is appropriately worried about the situation, or already knows and has decided to turn a blind eye to a reality that is hard to deal with. But, like you said, there’s a new baby involved. And you don’t want to be going “Oh yeah, I’ve been there” a month from now when you read on Facebook that the dog has taken a bite out of the infant’s nose. So, I think you should just send the mom a quick message: “Hi, I’m so sorry to bother you but I just wanted to make sure you knew that Baxter bit me when I was at the house saying goodbye last month. I’m totally fine and I’m sure you have things under control but wouldn’t feel right about not telling you since I know he’s around your baby. She is so cute by the way. I hope everyone is doing well!”

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Dear Prudence,

I am a middle-aged divorced woman with young teenage children. For almost a year I have been dating a man who is also divorced with older teenage children.

My boyfriend’s ex-wife is pressuring me to have dinner with her and her boyfriend. It’s not exactly clear to me what she sees as the point of this exercise. My boyfriend says she said something about feeling she should know me as I spend time with her children. To suggest that I spend time with her kids is something of an exaggeration (they’re away at college most of the year and busy with their own lives when they’re home—I have had dinner with them twice) but even if it wasn’t, I’m still not sure why I would want to have dinner with her.

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My boyfriend and my ex-husband have met a few times in passing (the boyfriend was at the house when my ex came to get my kids) and I have sat with my ex’s girlfriend at a few soccer games and school plays. At all of these events, everyone was cordial and fine. I could even see if there was an occasion (a kids’ graduation, maybe even a holiday) that we might all be together but just the four of us having dinner… I can’t really see any reason to do this. Feels awkward and unnecessary and, maybe this is unfair, but to me feels sort of nosey and somewhat proprietary on his ex’s part.

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My boyfriend seems amenable but isn’t pushing. Should we agree to this? Is it bad to say no? Not sure if this is relevant but the ex-wife has a somewhat strained relationship with her kids, they live with my boyfriend when they are home from school and see her fairly infrequently as best as I can tell.

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—Double Dating With His Ex

Dear Double Dating,

“Nosey and somewhat proprietary” is exactly it. You have this woman figured out, and you’re absolutely right to hold off on meeting until there’s a situation like a holiday or graduation that calls for it. Feel free to pass on this—or better yet, have your boyfriend pass because the weird request shouldn’t even be your problem.

Catch up on this week’s Prudie.

More Advice From Slate

My husband and I have been struggling to find a house to buy. Despite having a down payment saved, we still pay rent, and the market is insane where we live. My in-laws have several homes and decided to turn their vacation home into their retirement one. After their last renter moved, they offered their old suburban house to my husband and myself for free. It is very generous—unpromptedly so!—but I hate the idea.

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