For those of you who follow our blog, you already know that local child psychologist Dr. Greg Ramey is a frequent contributor. Dr. Ramey is the vice president for outpatient services at Dayton Children’s and writes FamilyWise, a weekly parenting column in the Dayton Daily News that is distributed through the New York Times wire service. He is also a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. From time to time, Dr. Ramey publishes in his Sunday column in the Dayton Daily News letters or emails that he has received from parents and his response to those questions in a Q & A format.
Here are a few dilemmas that I thought parents might find interesting. The first is from a mother who doesn’t approve of gifts that her children receive from their father, while the second letter discusses visitation issues for a teen who is resisting going to his father’s as it is getting in the way with his social life.
Parenting Tip: In Her House, Mom Can Veto Video Games
Q. I dread this time of the year because of the constant conflicts with my ex-spouse regarding Christmas gifts for our two boys, who are 7 and 12 years of age. He buys them presents that are inappropriate, and then I’m stuck with allowing them to have things that I feel are wrong. My kids want some video games that are rated “mature,” which my ex thinks are fine for the boys. How can I stop him from buying such stuff?
A. You can’t control the boys’ dad, but you can and should prevent your children from using the games in your house. Stop arguing with your ex-husband and carefully explain your concerns about purchasing toys you feel are inappropriate. If he disagrees, then explain you will not allow the children to bring the games into your house. The first time those video games come home, send them back. If they somehow find their way into your home again, throw them away.
Explain to your boys exactly why you feel playing such games is not acceptable at their ages. Acknowledge the reality that you and their dad have differing points of view, but you are going to enforce your rules in your house.
(Above was reprinted with permission from the December 10, 2011, Dayton Daily News.)
Parenting Tip: Dealing With Teens That Don’t Want to Visit
Q. My 15-year-old son doesn’t like to visit his dad every other weekend. His father tells me that things are great during the visits, but that’s not the story I hear when my son comes home. He complains about missing his friends and not being able to go to school events since his dad lives an hour away. Should I try to work something out with my ex?
A. Visitation becomes more difficult during the high school years, requiring lots of compromise and communication among divorced parents and kids. However, this is not your problem to solve. Your son needs to learn how to work this out with his dad.
Encourage your son to speak directly with his father. If he refuses, offer to participate in the discussion, but let your son express his own point of view. If your son refuses both options, consider a few sessions of counseling with all family members to work out a better visitation arrangement.
Your son may be reluctant to be involved in any of those options, in which case he’ll have to just adjust to the current situation.
(Above was reprinted with permission from the January 8, 2012, Dayton Daily News.)
After reading his answer, I emailed Dr. Ramey for clarification about what age he felt that children should begin direct negotiations with their parents regarding parenting issues. Here was his response:
Your question about the age at which kids should begin direct negotiation with their parents is a really tough issue. I generally try to coach kids who are in high school (around age 14) to take some responsibility with issues like this.
As you know, it’s really hard to force visitation with a teen, and they typically respond much better if they can participate in these discussions. This is a great example of where flexibility on the part of the parents (and kids) should take a priority over an inflexible court document (no insult intended!!).
Thanks for that clarification Dr. Ramey!
Gregory Ramey, Ph.D., is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his parenting column, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at www.facebook.com/drgregramey Dr Ramey has been a guest contributor to the Ohio Family Law Blog since 2007.
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.