My son is exposing himself:

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

Dear 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.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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2 Responses to My son is exposing himself:

  1. Dear Far Dad,
    I think the key is how much involvement you will be allowed to have with him. If you’ve been calling him everyday, how have you been communicating with him? If you’ve just been using the telephone, try Skype. Maybe seeing you as well as hearing you would add to his image of you in his life. If you have contact with him everyday, there’s something positive between you two. I would be careful about approaching the subject. You may start out with how he feels about school. You might do those “man to man” scenarios to see if he’ll open up about any social problems going on in school. He’s missing somebody in life. Maybe it is you dad! Maybe he needs to see its not his fault you and your ex have divorced.

    • Dear Ken,

      Doing to much is as bad as doing to little. This kid needs immediate and local help. Having dad try to get the information out of him from another state on Skype would most likely just end up creating contention between Dad and Mom. This would be a silly thing to do. Mom is the primary caretaker through either active or passive agreement therefore for any intervention to be effective needs dad to be behind mom and supporting her role as primary caretaker. This Skype intervention you suggest would encourage dad to try to take control of everything from afar and diminish moms role as the primary. Dad needs to fork up the money to help mom get this kid the treatment he needs.

      Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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