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Ask Amy

Adults need to advocate for kids at risk

Q. I am in a serious relationship with a divorced man, and we are moving into a new home together soon.

He has two children with his ex. Both kids are wonderful and respond very well to me. Their mother is currently with a man and is building a life with him.

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Since I’ve been involved, she has made numerous threats — from threatening to kill me to calling the police if I am around the kids or involved in anything pertaining to them. She has never met me, and all threats are made via text — or verbally to my boyfriend or the children.

She has punished the children by throwing away their things if I’ve touched them. She threatens to give them further punishment if they are nice to me. She has shown up uninvited and unexpected several times and then refuses to leave.

We have filed a police report. She admits her behavior is inappropriate and extends apologies, only to resort to the same threats again a few days or weeks later.

In an attempt to provide a safe environment for them while they are with us, we think it might be best to not disclose to her where our new home is and to arrange a designated drop-off and pickup location when we have the kids to avoid her showing up and creating violent drama as she has in the past. Is this a decent solution?

A. This person is dangerous to you and to her children. Step up to protect them.

Moving to an undisclosed “safe house” does not protect the kids from her rages after they have stayed with you and return to her home. Her unstable behavior puts them in a terrible position of having to try to protect you (and your address) — while they are also trying to protect themselves.

Their father should do everything possible through the legal system to gain custody of these children, perhaps with visitation with their mother if she proves she can be a responsible part-time parent. This calls for court intervention, counseling and perhaps a diagnosis for what I suspect is a serious mental health issue.

Q. I have recently become close friends with someone I really like but who angers me with her spoiled behavior. I know she is indulged by her parents, who will buy her whatever she wants and submit to her demands and petty abuse. More and more, she is behaving this way with me, and I’m not sure how to handle it with grace and good humor.

When I go to her house, she expects me to be the perfect guest and will aggressively badger and chide me if I don’t immediately hang a towel back up after using it, wash a dish, etc. She bosses me constantly.

When she comes to my house, she is a total slob. I have sunk to her level before and tried the abusive thing on her, which didn’t work and doesn’t come naturally to me.

This feels petty, but it needs to stop. People-pleasing is my default mode, but I hate the way this feels.

How can I deal with this princess behavior?

A. You ask “how?” — but I ask “why?”

I have a feeling if you looked at this person’s other friendships, you might find a “survivors” support group.

You can give her the benefit of honesty and simply tell her that you find her bullying very upsetting; ask her to behave differently. However, you may find that she isn’t actually interested in being in a relationship unless she is the dominant party. Princesses don’t share all that well.

Amy Dickinson can be reached at askamy@tribune.com. Follow her on Twitter @asking|
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