Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a 3-year-old child. During the pregnancy it became very clear I would be a single parent. My ex is not able to provide a stable environment for our daughter. He drinks heavily and involves himself with people (and some family members) who do illegal activities. He often claims he loves our daughter but says he feels undeserving because he can't support her, and he says this is the reason he doesn't see her. However, he has done nothing to better himself or disconnect from bad influences. He rarely sees her and isn't physically, emotionally or financially supportive. His family seems to believe I have ousted him from our lives and that this is why he is not taking on the full role of a loving father. How do I correct this idea with his family without crossing any lines or being disrespectful? I want our daughter to know both families, but I don't want to take the blame for someone else's immature actions.
-- Single Mom
DEAR MOM: You should tell these family members the truth as you see it. You say, "I'm doing the best I can. I'm sorry my ex is having such a hard time, and I hope he'll get it together someday. He knows I want the best for him."
Mainly, this is for your own satisfaction, because these family members will believe what they want to believe. You should never criticize your ex to your child or to his family, because there is simply no point. Let his actions speak for him, and continue to advocate for your daughter to have loving relationships with people who will be positive role models.
DEAR AMY: I don't understand why you would criticize "Worried Wife" for looking in her husband's cellphone. Married people should not have secrets.
-- Happily Married
DEAR MARRIED: Married people should not have secrets, but even married people have a right to privacy. Many of us have professional or family communication that we do not want to share, even with a loving spouse.