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Q. My brother found out his wife was cheating and got a divorce. Their three kids live with his ex, who tells them it was their dad who was unfaithful and leaves the 15-year-old in charge at home to go out with her boyfriend. How do I get the lies and neglect to stop?
A. You obviously have the best intentions, but getting directly involved isn't a good idea. It could increase conflict between your brother and his ex while worsening the children's overall anxiety. Don't underestimate the kids. They know their parents. If their dad is loving, supportive and present in their lives, his relationship with them will be strong. If the mother talks badly about their father and is neglectful, the kids will see through her attempts to manipulate them. If you want to help your brother and his kids, spend positive time with them on a consistent basis. It's in those little moments that relationships of trust are built and comfort is found.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.