There is someone that I love very much who is a bad parent. She is not abusive or anything. It's just that she is not engaged at all. She has 2 kids and both of the fathers have custody. She doesn't see either of them much, if at all. This is someone who is very dear to me. She had a less than ideal childhood and she always said she would never make the same mistakes her parents did. And, I guess she hasn't in that she doesn't abuse her children. But she is absolutely clueless when it comes to parenting. In spite of everything, her children adore her. I've helped to take care of them over the years. But it rips my heart out to see how distant she is with them. About 10 years ago, with the younger child, I tried to help her by taking him while she "got her stuff together." I worked from home to care for the child who was a toddler at the time. I didn't ask for money, but did ask her to put what she would have paid in childcare costs into a savings account. She always had a good reason why she couldn't. A few months into it, she came over and showed me a very expensive formal gown that she bought to go out with her then boyfriend. Her rationale was that she never got to treat herself and she deserved it. While I didn't disagree with her, I was POed because I had taken on the responsibility for her child with NO financial assistance. I fed the baby and her too most days too because she would come over to my house for dinner. Anywho, I insisted that she write me a check for $100. The check bounced and I told her I couldn't watch the baby anymore. It's not that I minded watching her child. I just was so angry that she saw nothing wrong with someone else taking care of her responsibility while she "treated" herself. Long story short, she lost custody soon thereafter. Fast forward 10 years. She has another child after losing custody of the first one. I kept her youngest for a while last summer. She did contribute a small amount but nowhere near the actual cost of taking care of a child for the summer. I put the kid in camp and everything went well. We all enjoyed the summer. This summer, I again offered to take the child with the caveat that we enroll the kid in camp. Well, she called at the last minute to say she couldn't afford it but she still expected me to take the child. Meanwhile, the little girl was sooo excited to go to camp again and spend the summer at my house. I explained that it would be better for me to come to her house and babysit during the day rather than keep the little child all summer. That way, we would be in the city and could do activities during the day, and she would be able to see her mom in the evening. Mind you, this would mean 2 hours commute for me every day, but I didn't mind. She acted as though I was making a horrible imposotion upon her. She told me her daughter hated staying over there at her house because it was so gross and dirty. She hadn't had time to clean up so it wouldn't be fair to the little girl to force her to stay there. Furthermore, I would really disappoint the child because she had been so looking forward to staying at my house. I said OK, bring her over for tonight and we'll come to your house in the morning. I assumed this would give her time to clean and prepare for her daughter. Well... she showed up at almost 11pm with the little girl. The child was dirty and had not had dinner. She had $60 and a bag full of stinky, dirty clothes. She didn't even come upstairs, sent the girl up alone and my SO went down to get her bags. So, here I am with an 8 year old and no plan. I live in the suburbs and all the kids are in camp or some other structured summer program. We go to the community pool and the only children around are the toddlers who are too young for camp. So I am pulling my hair out trying to come up with activities for her. I have no choice but to pay for camp myself because I am assuming since she came with all her stuff, her mom expects me to keep her for the summer. I am a full time law student. For those of you who are not familiar, law school runs about 50k per year including all expenses. So, yeah, it is a big deal for me to pull $600 out of thin air. And on top of it all, when the little girl cries for her mom, I have to make up inane stories about how busy mommy is with work. I guess I'm just venting. But I need some help with what to say to my friend. How can she be this clueless!!!??? My heart is breaking for this kid. She sees her mom maybe, MAYBE 14 days a year. WTF is wrong with her!!!!???? The last time I said anything when I was keeping her older child, she stopped talking to me for years. Also, I don't want the child to suffer because of all this. I don't know what else to do.