My Ex Was Charged With a DUI – Ask Dr. JPL

My Ex Was Charged With a DUI – Ask Dr. JPL

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Question

Dear Dr. JPL: My son is 14 years old. His father, who is my ex-husband, was charged with a DUI.

What are things I need to talk about with my son?

Answer:

If your son is already aware of the situation, a good place to start is by listening to what he has to say. You can prompt him by gently asking what his thoughts, concerns, worries, and insights might be. It is important to validate what he is thinking and saying. You can do this by simply letting him know you hear him and empathize.

It is also important to assess the situation. If your son sees his father, you will need to determine if his safety is at risk if he gets in to a car with him. Ask your son direct questions to ensure that he is not in danger when he is with his father.
Even if this does not seem to be the case, be sure to set up a safety plan with your son, such as a code word, if you don’t have one already.

If you and his father have differences, it is important to avoid using this situation to reinforce your own negative views about his father.

You should let your son know that sometimes adults do not make the best decisions; this is clearly one of those instances.

If possible, it would also be helpful to talk to his dad and come up with a unified plan on how to approach the topic. Encourage his dad to talk with your son and accept responsibility for his mistake.

ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.

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Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is one of the tween, teen and parenting experts that participated in the focus groups that helped form the new educational campaign and website, TheAlcoholTalk.com. Her expertise and vast experience were also tapped for much of the advice and guidance included on the site. Her unique understanding of the communication techniques necessary for The Alcohol Talk to effectively take place make her an ideal spokesperson for the campaign. Dr. Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with tweens, teens, young adults, and their families. She is co-author of the book Teenage as a Second Language (Adams Media 2010) and the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of www.Talkingteenage.com, an interactive informational website for the parents of teenagers. Jennifer is a regular contributor for outlets including Psychology Today, Parenting Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, GalTime, KnowMoreTV, Examiner, and North Texas Kids. She has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo, AOL’s ParentDish, Mamapedia and many other blogs and websites. As a parenting expert on both radio and television programs including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, NBC’s TODAY in New York, Better TV and WCBS, FOX and ABC affiliates, Jennifer talks about tween, teen and parenting issues. She was profiled in Westchester Magazine’s January 2012 feature on ‘People to Watch Jennifer is a published researcher, in-demand speaker and consultant on tween, teen, and young adult issues. She spent almost a decade as a Program Director of an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit at a private psychiatric hospital in the Northeast where she now serves as Senior Clinical Liaison. She is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University. Jennifer sits on the Board of Directors for Family Ties, a non-profit family advocacy agency serving Westchester County, NY and maintains a private outpatient practice in Bedford Hills, NY.

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