Ask AF: When Contact Seems Risky

Is contact with the birth mother always better — even when she's putting herself in risky situations?

Q: Our nine- and 12-year-old daughters have the same birth mother. She’s been in and out of their lives, but now she’s back on drugs. Is it more damaging for children to have contact with a birth mother in this state or for the birth mom to be out of the picture entirely?


A: Ken Watson said, “Fantasy flourishes where facts flounder.” If they do not see her, they will be thinking about her and trying to figure it out. They may blame you, or think she doesn’t care anymore, or that she is dead. The truth is always best, and you can help your kids process it together. You might start the conversation by saying, “Your birth mom called. She isn’t doing well. I know you know something about drug abuse from school. I am afraid she is making bad choices and using drugs. Would you like to see her? Dad and I will be with you, to be sure you are safe.” They may or may not want to. If you plan a visit, you should have more talks with your kids about drug abuse, so they know that their birth mom is making choices that are not good for her. She may be OK at the time of the visit, or she may not be. It would be best to meet in a public place, so that your home remains a safe place. If you feel it is not safe for the children to see her right now, tell them that and explain why.

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