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How do we protect the children?

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I am soon to become the step-mother of two children I care very much about. Dealing with their mother who has custody, is difficult as she suffers from a mental disorder(s). We live over 200 miles apart. She is on medication, we believe for a bipolar disorder. She believes she is a victim regardless the situation (even when there isn’t one). She is 30, lives at home and is unemployed (has never worked) and doesn’t drive. She often complains about being able to handle life, she must be in control of everything regardless of how small.. She has frequent outbursts, rage, threatens everyone then will call back and act as if nothing happened. Her mother shows the same behavioral issues, they often fight with each other. Inside of home is infested with pests, but clean. Her father is a pack-rat and the outside yard and garage harbor these pest as well as creating an unhealthy and dangerous play area for the children.

The youngest age four has epilepsy, is blind, doesn’t speak and disabled. She takes great pride in her sons disability as it gives her attention. His head is extremely flat from laying on his back. She leaves him in his chair strapped down, he cannot straiten his legs anymore, because she doesn’t work with him. He is on a bottle and only recently started eating baby food. The mother has purposely denied him food and liquids for a week when he was ill. Only went to the hospital after his father said he was calling the police. He was hospitalized for several days. Her concern was how tired she was and need sympathy and wouldn’t give information on child to father. Child Protective Services were contacted but did nothing because she finally took him to the hospital.

The daughter age 5, is a loving, healthy child, but came to visit us with ringworm. Mother was only applying hand lotion. As we had her for visitation, she didn’t want to talk to mommy very much, sometimes running and hiding, saying “mommy is bad character”. Mother told me she often wet he bed or had accidents when she was mad. That she was a difficult child. I didn’t experience either of these. She loved visiting me and even asked to have an overnight stay. Mother has become very threatened about her daughters attachment to me. Mother actually stated that I was keeping her busy with activities that she didn’t want to talk to her. I think she really wanted her daughter to beg for her. Mother would call about 30 times a day (no exaggeration) yelling at us, threatening to come and get her, calling for welfare checks, accusing us of corrupting her. Often trying to give the impression that we were inadequate in caring for her.

We ended up putting the mother in timeout when she acted up (by putting the phone on silence) because it was upsetting everyone including the child. It was extremely disruptive, however, she was allowed to talk to her daughter several times a day. Daughter would often pass off the phone after a minute or less. Mother thought we were making her do it. She didn’t want to go home, when we mentioned it was in two days, she said “no home is too far”, “I said bye to home” or “No, I want to go to Missy’s house” (that’s me)

The daughter came home doing what children do. Talked and talked about me. She named her barbie after me and mother told her she is never to hear that name again. She has also stated that I am perfect, that she wants two mommies. This made the mother more angry and is telling her lies about us. She coheres her to say unfavorable things to us on the phone.

Due to the instability of the mother and grandmother, and the apparent issues with the son, we feel they are being abused. A report to Child Protective Services has been made again (she has 5 now, some from hospital) however, these childrens continue to be exposed to the same conditions. We are very concerned over their welfare and feel helpless. Can’t afford an attorney.

How do we deal with the mother? We have tried talking to her calmly about the issues, but she feels threatened by it. How do we protect the children?

Btw – She never allows visitations of son.

How do we protect the children?

Answered by on -


These children are being seriously neglected and traumatized. I feel very sorry for the mom but the children are the most vulnerable people in this story and they need protection. You already know the answer to your question. You need an attorney. You say you two can’t afford to hire one? You can’t afford not to! With every passing day, these kids are suffering and losing out on important developmental growth.

Your fiance needs to go back to court and sue for custody of his kids. Call Protective Services, your doctor, or your clergyperson to see if any of them can refer you to a lawyer who serves low-income clients. If you can’t find one or if you don’t qualify for low income rates, sell a car or take second jobs. Do whatever it takes. You will both feel terrible if these kids are irreparably damaged because you didn’t swing into action when they needed you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How do we protect the children?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How do we protect the children?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 25, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.