Dear Annie: Our oldest son married a beautiful woman from another culture, who then became pregnant with our only grandson, “Seth.” We were warned that “Zelda” was a gold digger who would leave our son after having the baby and live on the child support. Apparently Zelda’s older sister had done this a few years earlier.
True to form, Zelda left when Seth was a toddler, and they eventually divorced. Zelda’s plans were upset, however, because our son managed to get joint custody. Now Zelda has become increasingly hateful and manipulative. She rarely attends counseling sessions and has initiated numerous legal procedures, always losing her demands for more money and full custody. I worry that Zelda’s behavior is harmful to Seth, now 7. She tells him to keep secrets from his dad and refuses to let Dad talk to him on the phone.
My husband and I do not live in the same state, but we visit often and take Seth on trips whenever we can arrange it. But we find ourselves questioning Zelda’s sanity when we read some of the vicious e-mails she sends him (she copies us along with our son’s lawyer), threatening legal repercussions if he phones her.
We never speak to Zelda. She lost her last job and does not work. She openly sleeps with a man who refuses to tell our son his name. When she stays at her boyfriend’s house, Seth sleeps in the bed with them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. – Trying Not To Judge
Dear Judge: If Seth is sleeping in the same bed as his mother and a boyfriend, your son may have grounds to ask for full custody, and he should discuss it with his lawyer immediately. Then be a source of support for your son, give your grandson as much love and stability as you can, and encourage his father to promote the strength of character Seth will need to grow up emotionally healthy.