“My husband is immunocompromised—how do I talk to my kids and ex about this without starting a fight?”

So, what do you do when your spouse is immunocompromised during the whole coronavirus thing,
but your ex keeps taking your kids out on social events during quarantine? That is today's question
on Tips on Teens. Every Wednesday at noon, I come to you live on Facebook Live to answer your parenting
questions that you can email us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com. My name is Kent Toussaint.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist. I'm the founder of the group Private Practice
Teen Therapy Center, and also the executive director of the non -profit organization Child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Let's jump into today's very
poignant question. My husband is immunocompromised, so we've been very careful about interacting
with others during this time. Here's the issue. My ex -husband has taken our kids out to social
events at friends' houses pretty much each week Since the quarantine has started. It's his
time with them and I want to respect that but

I'm worried that The kids might bring something home from these outings. We really can't risk
my husband getting coronavirus But I also don't want to start a fight with my ex about this How
do I bring up my concerns to my kids and my ex? I gotta admit. This is a really hard question I don't
think there's an easy solution for any of this But I'm thinking a lot about this and there's a
lot of variables to consider first I assume you know your ex pretty well. You were married to
this guy for a period of time. You kind of know how he works. Is he doing this because he's kind
of oblivious to the risks and the concerns? Or is he doing it maliciously? Is he, you know, engaging
in a type of parental alienation that is kind of beyond what we're used to? And for those of you
who don't know what parental alienation is, it's when two parents are divorced and one parent
is trying to pit the other kids against the other parent and it's pretty much a horrible situation
for the kids, ultimately. So if

you think that your husband is being malicious in this, he's doing it to get the upper hand on
you, there's not anything you're going to say to him that's going to change his mind. He's just
going to do it and that's just the way it is. Many of you have dealt with spouses or ex -spouses
who are narcissistic and vindictive and trying to adhere or not adhere to, try to reach out to
their better angels is kind of a pointless gesture. So I don't think that's really going to work.
If you think that your husband is really just kind of oblivious to the risks, it may be worth a
phone call where very respectfully and with as much humility as you can explain the risks explain
the concerns explain how it could affect the kids not being able to see their mom and if he has
any kind of empathy and understanding hopefully he will try to shift this and not take his kids
out your kids out on social gatherings during when we should be kind of quarantining as much
as we can now it doesn't mean he's gonna

be stuck in the house you can go on bike rides you can go on walks. There's a lot of things you can
do outside as long as you have that six foot bubble, you know, that we're all told to have. And,
you know, make sure you're washing hands and cleaning doorknobs and light switches and all
those fun things. So that's with the parent side. With the kids side, it gets even more complicated.
Because are these kids 7 or are they 17? Because there's different conversations to have. I
don't know, maybe not sometimes. If your children are young school age kids or even middle school
or even some high school kids they don't have the strength and the ability to stand up to the other
parents say hey this is wrong I can't do this and you can't blame your kids for that even if they're
17 you can't blame them for that so you may just need you have to determine is it safe for them to
come to your house if it is not safe to come to their at your house and that means for the next couple
months they won't be

able to come to your house that's a horrible situation to be in and I get it But your husband's
life may be at stake. And so you have to really determine how to handle that. And if you determine
that if they keep going on these outings, they can't come to your house, you need to talk to them
in a very loving, compassionate, frank way, depending on the age. So if they're seven, say,
hey, you know, I know that, you know, you know, your, your stepdad, he's very sick and we have
to protect him right now. And I love you and I miss you. And as soon as this is all over, you guys
can come over. We're going to FaceTime every day. I would write them letters, actually write
a handwritten letter, more or less the same you got a handwritten letter. How exciting is it
to get a handwritten letter? It's not the same as an email or a text. Taking the time to write a
handwritten letter, drop it in the mail, and maybe that's what you do every day. You do those
handwritten letters and you do the FaceTime,

you play games online with your kids, but you can't blame the kids. You can't put pressure on
them. You can't say, it's okay honey, I understand, then start crying on FaceTime because that's
just put a bunch of guilt on them. They can't handle this. Now if they're older teens, maybe they
can handle some of this. Maybe you have to say, listen, you're gonna have to make a choice. You
know, you can go out with your dad and socialize, and if you do, I understand. Just let you know,
if you do that, you can't come home until the quarantine is over, and I'm sorry. I miss you. I understand
if you need to do that, and I love you if you need to do that. I get it. Don't blame them. Don't hurt
them. Don't put the guilt on them. Say, well, okay, if you go there, then you can't see me and then
I'll just be really sad you can't you can't put the guilt trip on them because it's not fair to
them a lot of kids cannot stand up to their parents that way and it's not their fault they're kids
a lot of adults

can't still cannot stand up to their parents so you know you can't blame a 14 year old or a 16 year
old for not being able to set that boundary with her dad or their mom but again same thing with
kids keep reaching out you know play uno online with them you know play chess you know have a virtual
dinner like a lot of we're doing, you know, go on a walk with your dog and while they walk their
dog you guys can walk dogs together and virtually do that together. But again, if dad is doing
this out of malicious intent, there's nothing gonna do to stop that. If he's just oblivious,
maybe appealing to his higher angels will help them kind of see, you know, have more boundaries
around their socializing. Again, they can still go out. If the kids aren't coming to your house,
keep reaching out to them through online, through writing letters, doing things to make the
connection with you guys seem as strong as it can be because we don't know how long this is gonna
last. This is a really crazy time.

It's everyone's first pandemic. We're just getting through this and I wish I had an easier answer
for you but this is a tough situation and a tough answer and a new level of parental alienation
that most of us have not dealt with. Anyways, if you have questions you'd like to ask me for me
to answer next week on Tips on Teens just right here on Facebook. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint,
and I look forward to answering your questions next week on Tips on Teens. Bye -bye.

For families with loved ones at higher risk for COVID-19, social distancing is of the utmost importance. But what can you do if the whole family isn’t on board with staying in? This week’s Tips On Teens question tackles how to effectively communicate one’s needs in a blended family dynamic:

“My husband is immunocompromised, so we’ve been very careful about interacting with others during this time. Here’s the issue: my ex-husband has taken our kids out to social events at friends’ houses pretty much each week since the quarantine has started. It’s his time with them, and I want to respect that, but I’m worried that the kids might bring something home from these outings. We really can’t risk my husband getting Coronavirus but I also don’t want to start a fight with my ex about this. How do I bring up my concerns to my kids and ex?”

Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live.  He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com.  Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.