Parenting Q & A- Divorce, Child support, Understanding an Illness

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

Edition: September 30, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers


I have been divorced for about three years and generally get along well with my ex-husband. He recently asked if it was ok to share his Playboy magazines with our 12-year-old son. I am not sure if it's a good idea and needed another opinion.


Your ex-husband's idea about sharing sexually explicit material with a minor sounds pretty stupid to me. It raises serious questions about his judgment and supervision of your son.

When I get questions like these, I sometimes wonder if they are really from parents, or perhaps from high school or college students. If this indeed is a serious question asked by a concerned mother, then I suggest that you have a conversation with your ex-husband as well as with your son. Try to figure out what other things your ex-husband feels might be appropriate to do with or in the presence of a child. Also, be sure to have an explicit talk with your son regarding sexuality, privacy, and age appropriate behavior. Your ex-husband's question suggests he cannot be trusted to act in a responsible manner.


I have a 3-year-old son whose dad visits him every other weekend. They seem to have a very good relationship, and I am glad that his father has been so involved in his life.

My son's dad recently stopped paying child support. I know he has the money, but is just trying to push my buttons to see how far he can go. I have not allowed him to see his son since the support stopped. My position is very simple. If you don't care enough to support your son financially, then you have no right to see him. Am I correct?


You are making a terrible mistake, holding your son hostage for the sake of money.

You indicated that your son has a good relationship with his dad, and you need to do everything you can to support that relationship. Children do best if they have regular contact with both biological parents. In interfering with this relationship, you are really hurting your son, not just his dad.

The dad has a legal responsibility to financially support his son. The proper way to deal with this issue is to contact an attorney and take whatever legal actions are appropriate in order to make certain that such support is forthcoming. While you should be as aggressive as you need to be in obtaining that support, that shouldn't include using you son's relationship with his dad as a way to obtain child support.


My 28-year-old brother is very sick, and we expect him to pass away within the next few months due to complications from AIDS. The problem is that my 9-year-old son has always been very close to his uncle, and I am not sure what to say to my son. He knows his uncle is sick, but he doesn't understand why. While I have always had an honest relationship with my son, I think this is one instance where telling him the truth may hurt his relationship with someone that he admires.


You shouldn't ever lie to your children, but that doesn't mean that you must always tell them everything. Your brother has a right to his privacy including the real reasons behind his illness. Your brother should be involved in this discussion.

I suspect your son can handle a lot more than what you think he can. You need not go into a great deal of detail, but this is a great opportunity for you to dispel many of the myths surrounding AIDS and to educate your son about this serious illness.

There is a risk that your son my ask you some explicit questions regarding homosexuality, or other issues that may be uncomfortable for you to discuss. However, wouldn't you rather he ask you those questions rather than be left with uncertainty regarding what was really going on with someone he loved?

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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