Wants to Remain in Ex's Kids' Lives

Q: I walked away from a gambling/alcohol-addicted boyfriend and his two kids who love me to death. After the break-up he hooked up with a married friend of ours for a "friends with benefits" relationship. I kept visiting the kids, and he always denied the hook-up. Then one day he tried to get back to "us," but had the friend and me at the same BBQ. She got drunk and confessed all. I walked away and let it all go.

I contacted the kids' mom and she allowed me to see the kids, which was awesome, but I was hurt to learn that the little girl was aware of all the drama. He told her all and said to her that the hook-up was a drunken mistake. I am so hurt for the little girl to the point that I want it all gone! But I want her not to hurt anymore. What's your take!? I am lost now! — Maria, 46

Dr. Susan: Your empathy for your ex-boyfriend's little girl is a good thing, although right now all it's causing you is pain. You have to be realistic about how much influence you can have on her as her unofficial ex-stepmom. If you can stand it, I recommend that you continue to see her sometimes, if her parents allow you to, so you can provide a dependable role model. Be her friend. Do your best not to add more drama and hurt to her life by simply disappearing. Kids are resilient. It helps them to have one or more adults in their lives who care about what's best for them. Beyond that, take care of yourself by not getting mixed up with the girl's father again. He's bad news.

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