DEAR ABBY: I am a single father raising my 6-year-old son, Jimmy. He's the light of my life.
As a result of my messy divorce, Jimmy is having a lot of problems dealing with his mother. (I'll call her Elaine.) Elaine calls only when it's convenient for her and refuses to give me her address or phone number, making it impossible for Jimmy to contact her. The judge ordered her to take parenting classes and suspended her visitation until she complies.
My stepdaughter has been in touch with Elaine, and I have allowed her to pick up Jimmy and take him to visit his mother, because I want him to know her. Until last year Elaine was addicted to drugs, but claims she's clean now due to her probation.
My dilemma: Elaine owes me $5,000 in child support. I've been paid a total of $214.15. Now the judge has ordered her to pay me a certain amount or she will be sent to jail for six months. Elaine has blamed me in front of Jimmy for her situation. He is hurt by this and blames me for the possibility of "putting Mommy in jail," even though she's the one responsible for her own actions. Jimmy has been in counseling, but it's not helping. I need your advice, Abby. Please help me. -- SINGLE DAD IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SINGLE DAD: Your mistake was allowing your stepdaughter to take Jimmy to see his mother against the judge's orders. In a sense, it has allowed your little boy to be victimized again because of Elaine's brainwashing.
My advice is to keep your son in counseling -- and follow the judge's rules from now on. Be sure the counselor is aware of everything that's happening, as well as your son's teachers. Spend as much time with your son as you can. He needs you now more than ever.