Parenting Q & A- Discussing divorce as a family, Sending children to kindergarten, Troubled teens

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: June 29, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers

Question

I have three children, the youngest of whom will be graduating from high school in two years.

My husband and I have been planning for some time to get a divorce after our son graduates. My husband is a great dad and we have a cordial relationship, but we know we don't want to spend the rest of our lives together.

I feel deceitful going through the motions of having a family life with my son. I've been thinking about discussing this situation with him and getting his feelings as to whether I should get a divorce now, or wait until graduation.

Answer

It would be a mistake to have such a discussion with your son, as it would place a tremendous burden on him regarding your marriage.

At your son's age, I suspect he is well aware that things are not going well between you and your husband. Divorce can be very disruptive for children. Your teen will be most concerned if this affects his having to change schools and make new friends. If you can minimize such changes it may be best to go ahead with the divorce now, rather than living a life you feel is deceitful.

Question

My son was born in late August. He qualifies for kindergarten this fall, but he seems somewhat immature for his age. The school has evaluated him for kindergarten readiness. They describe the results as "borderline" and suggest that he wait a year before beginning school.

I think my son is academically gifted, and I wonder about his self-concept if he doesn't attend school this fall with most of his friends. Any suggestions?

Answer

Follow the advice of the school and do not begin kindergarten for another year. The research is quite clear regarding such youngsters. It is much better for them to start school a little later if there are any questions about their academic or emotional readiness.

While there may be some disappointment regarding not attending school with his friends, the advantages of delaying school are greatly outweighed by those minor disadvantages.

Question

My 16-year-old son has had problems since he entered adolescence. Please don't tell me to go seek therapy, as I have been to three therapists and nothing has worked. While I will never give up on him, I do find myself counting the days when he will leave home, if he ever does graduate from high school. Is there anything I can do?

Answer

Therapy is not the answer for all problems, as not all youngsters and families can profit from taking therapy aimed at insight, problem solving and learning new skills.

There are other approaches that you might want to consider. I have had many parents tell me about how their teenagers have changed dramatically once they started a part time job. Employment brings your son out into the real world, with life expectations and consequences and a boss other than a parent or a teacher.

A second approach would be to talk with a guidance counselor, and see if your son may qualify for any alternative schools. Such school programs typically have an element of academics but also a strong work and job training component.

Throughout these tough times with your son, continue to look for things that connect you with him. Try to spend some time that is not focused on discipline or things he has done wrong, even if it is simply going to a movie or restaurant.


Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/drgregramey

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


 

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