Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
My wife and I divorced nearly nine years ago. After the divorce, she moved back to be with her parents in another state, taking my three children with her. I talk to them every day, but I am not there to discipline them.
Since my divorce, I’ve developed another relationship and have two additional children. My middle child, who is living with my ex wife, is now eleven and is acting up in school. Today, I was told that he exposed himself in front of his class.
I am not there to punish him. I don’t have time to find out what is wrong. I don’t understand his behavior and I don’t know what to do, but it has me concerned. Far Dad
This is a difficult situation but if you don’t have a great relationship with your ex you are at her mercy because she has primary placement. How much she will allow you to help may depend on her feelings about you. However, as you said, you don’t have much time; and if punishing him is your idea of helping, you wouldn’t really be much help.
Your son needs to be seen by a counselor in order to objectively evaluate the situation. He is too old for this sort of behavior to be simply normal experimenting. He knows this isn’t a socially acceptable thing to do. This is serious. He needs help and he needs it now. Offer to pay for it if they have no insurance.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: I’ll be honest, Far Dad- my advice to you is to stay far, far away. Punishing your son under such circumstances would have been a foolish thing to do. You don’t want to drive his impulses underground…it is important to shine a clear light on such a troubled gesture. I’m with Dr. Brilliant on this one. Your son needs to see a therapist, and he needs to do it pronto. By the time a child is eleven, if he does not understand that flashing is inappropriate behavior, he has been raised under a rock. This was a cry for help. Far better that he make such an appeal where help might be found, than to commit inappropriate acts where no one will see. Punishment won’t help at all, but your financial backing could help your son get the treatment he needs. Fork it over if need be and let your wife handle this.