Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have been in a relationship for almost four years with a great man. He has three children from a previous marriage, whom I love dearly. I have a problem with their biological mother. Basically, she is no mother -- I am serving that role and have been for a long time. The last time she spent any considerable amount of time with the kids was in August. Since then, she has only seen them once, for less than an hour. The father has full custody. She has not paid a penny in child support, even though she has a court order. She has had her driver's license pulled because of her refusal to pay, yet she still drives. The children ask when they will see her. She has not called, emailed, sent a text or tried in any way to see her kids. I don't know what to do. Should we tell her that she should just leave everyone alone? I am about ready to flip my lid. I love these children as my own and have cared about them for four years.Their Other MotherDEAR OTHER MOTHER: Your role in the lives of these children is to offer them a secure emotional attachment and a consistently mature reaction to the chronic disappointment of their mother.
You should treat her absence as a loss for the children and help them handle it appropriately. You don't say anything about their father.
He should take the lead in helping them with this. You should be circumspect and kind.
Do not detail their mother's deficits. Do not talk about child support. When they ask when they'll see her, you say, "I haven't heard from her for a while. Have you?" They may worry about her; you should encourage them to talk and help them to grieve. And if they want to see her, you and their father should do everything possible to try to make this happen.
You don't have to point out what a loser their mother is. On many levels they are
already figuring this out.