Parenting Q & A

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

Edition: March 4, 2007 | Topic: Archive


A few days ago, my 12-year-old son exposed himself to me and asked if I would show him how to have sex! Fumbling for words, I tried to explain that it's not something a mother shows her son. It will come naturally when he is older and finds someone that he loves. Should I approach this incident again and talk with my son? Is this typical behavior? I was sexually abused when I was younger, so sex is not an easy topic for me to discuss objectively.


Your son's behavior is extremely unusual, and gives me grave concerns. It may be due to his exposure to pornographic material, a history of sexual abuse, or other factors. It is important that he be seen and evaluated by a mental health professional. The concern is that he may approach others as he approached you. This makes him vulnerable as a potential victim, as well as a potential offender if he sexually acts out with younger children. I realize this is a very difficult situation for you. However, speak with your family doctor immediately and obtain a referral to a mental health professional who has an expertise in working with similar problems. If money is a concern, many community mental health agencies do charge based upon your income level.


My 9-year-old son has petit mal seizures, which are generally under control. However, he occasionally has them in school, or at other times when he is with friends.
I feel my son is becoming somewhat of an outcast at school, because they are so nervous that he may have a seizure. I want him to be treated like any other student. Any suggestions on what I can say to his teacher?


Talk with the neurologist who is caring for your child. Frequently, there are programs available where a nurse or health educator will speak with the teachers and/or students to help them better understand what seizures are all about, and how best to respond to them. These programs have been very successful in aiding youngster's adjustment in the school environment.


My 14-year-old daughter has been in therapy for two months, but little progress has been made. She was sexually abused when she was younger, and is now acting out in a variety of inappropriate ways. Her therapist says that my daughter won't talk to her, and that nothing can be done. I have younger children in my home, and I am very concerned what my daughter may do with them. Any suggestions?


Speak directly with your daughter's therapist regarding your concerns. Sexuality is a sensitive topic, and it may take your teen a while to establish trust and rapport with her therapist. However, sometimes a connection between a counselor and a teenager simply doesn't occur. If your counselor feels as if she is not making adequate progress, then request a referral to another therapist who may try a different approach. In the meantime, continue to closely supervise the other children in your home. Your younger children should never be left unsupervised with your teenager.

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 and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at

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


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