Could use some teenager advice...

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Could use some teenager advice...

The school year is coming to a close, and I'm discovering some disappointing things about my teenager.... He's lying to my husband & I, as well as his teachers, and slacking off at school.

A few weeks back we received an "interim progress report" from the school (they don't do progress reports anymore unless there's reason for concern - decision they made before the start of the school year). Discovered my son's grade in World Civ was not so great, and that he had not turned in a paper that was a big chunk of his grade (30%), and the teacher also said needed to make revisions in 2 unit tests (which he did poorly on & is awfully nice of her). We didn't hear anything from any other teachers, so we assumed everything was fine with his other classes. Well, it turns out it wasn't... And no one contacted us.

Last week I contacted my son's advisor to see how he was doing in his other classes, with the semester ending soon (any homework, papers, etc. not turned in or not done?). I figured if not we could help him come up with a plan to get things done before it was too late & grades close... Well, in the last few days I've heard back from 4 of his teachers & it's not good... The common theme is homework/papers not being turned in. One of his grades, in one of his favorite classes, has dropped to a 75. And he's outright lying to some of the teachers... One of his teachers asked him to stay after school to work on things with her, and he lied & told her he couldn't as he's picked up right after school (which is not the case - my husband picks him up at the school library around 5:30 pm on his way home from work - he's supposed to be doing his homework there after school, with the exception of A/V group stuff, bell choir, and getting help from teachers).

He's also been lying to us - whenever we ask how school is going & if his homework/papers/projects are done he tells us things are fine and everything is done. He's in 10th grade & will be 16 in 1-1/2 months. I'm at a loss as what to do. When I talked to him about World Civ, after I got that interim progress report, he assured me he'd get the work done in a timely manner. He only just finished the paper last night, and that was only because his teacher wrote us this weekend to tell us he had not passed it in & he was supposed to do so by Thursday. So we didn't let him go out or do anything fun until the paper was done. Well, he led us to believe it was done, but that wasn't the case - we didn't find out until Sunday afternoon when my husband asked to see the paper. So last night we made him work on it until it was done. His response to us: "I thought you said you weren't going to 'ride me?!'"

Later today I got more bad news from another teacher - more of the same. It appears the only class he is caught up in & not having problems in is Geometry. And this week is finals, and I haven't even seen him studying...

Anyone ever had this kind of problem? What would did you do? Any ideas & suggestions for me? I'm quite frazzled right now, between this & an injury I suffered at the pool today, and could use all the help I can get...

Lizanne, I sent you a message using the contact form. Hope it helps!

Tyvm, Sharilynn Marie - will be on the lookout & will write back! smiley

I really feel for you unfortunately what works/doesn't work for one child will/won't on another. My daughter refused to study, when I'd check up on her sometimes she would have a novel hidden behind her textbook, so it looked like she was studying! It is hard to know the best route. I am in favour of withdrawing privileges and keeping them in. None of this helps of course, but just wanted to say I am thinking of you and saying a prayer.

Thanks, Angela... I'm just so stressed by this all. I keep getting more bad news by the moment. I just got another email from a teacher saying he didn't turn in a journal paper that was due 2 weeks ago, and that he hasn't turned in his "cost out" sheet either (I wrote asking what both were about). Oye... my head is spinning! And this is "finals" week, and the last day of school is May 30th. I'm beginning to wonder how this summer will be... He's not being very nice to his younger brother either...

Hi Lizanne. I have to agree with Angela. I have 2 boys, my oldest is now 20 and in college (Thank God!!) I went through all of this with him and the only thing that worked for him was to take away his games, systems, computers...anything he could use to get online with his friends. This was his Monday through Thursday night punishment. He was able to get things back for the weekends. We didn't take things away for long periods of time because he would straighten up and bring the grades back up. Everything went great for a grading period or two, then it would start over again. He did graduate with his class (not the top of the class) but he graduated.

I am now dealing with this all over again with my youngest (soon to be 13 at the end of this month). He will be very lucky if he passes on to 8th grade. He does very good for awhile, then starts to go downhill, we take things away, the grades come back up but he is more up and down than my oldest son. He has the "I don't care" attitude about us taking away his things. At this point, all we can do is keep pushing him. He had a very rough elementary school experience, a few bad teachers that seemed to single him out all the time. He is a lefty and only had right handed scissors to cut with (even though I sent some to school several times and they would disappear), he had a stutter and couldn't say certain letters properly. We put him in speech therapy and he did very well after a couple years working with the therapist. He no longer has a stutter but can't say the letter "R" very good. He may even be a little dyslexic (his dad is) so we try not to be too harsh but we still need to draw the line and try our best to keep him focused.

I hope things work out for the best smiley

Lizanne, although I don't have children, I have a husband who was a Drug & Alcohol counselor and a lot of teachers in my family. I think the first thing you need to do if this attitude has just come about is to find out what is happening with him. I know my nephew quit school only a couple months before he was eligible to graduate, why, because he didn't fit in because he was just too smart?!!!! He got 98% on the ASVAT exam (unheard of-this is a "placement" test for the military) and could have done whatever speciality he chose even without a diploma from HS. If this is sudden I think you really need to find out the underlying reasons for the behavior.

I am always a firm believer in withdrawal of privileges but it must be tough love with you and your husband on the same sheet of music and don't give in after setting the perimeters of what is allowed.

My brother is a teacher and has several challenged kids in his class. At least you care, one of the kids Mom wanted him to call her every day to tell her the homework and what homework her kid turned in. Well that is a lot of work and he does not have time to do this for every student. What he did say that he did was post the homework on the internet and was willing to keep up to a degree through email, but I believe that she had to initiate the email. She didn't like that and wanted my brother to literally do it all to make sure her child did what he was supposed to do. My brother does not feel obligated if the parent doesn't even care.

I would think that the teachers would work with you if they know that you are making every effort. You might want to find out if the homework is posted and you can oversee that it is done. Him turning it in is another story though and my thought would be that perhaps you need to investigate what I said in the first paragraph.

Good luck to is so hard in this day and age to be a parent and I feel for all of you!

Hi, Lizanne. I agree with others, you've got to figure out what are the things that motive him, and therefore what should be taken away temporarily. Also trying to figure out what has changed, and what is bothering him. This can be very hard to do. I know that you signed in on the Any Christians here? thread, so I'd ask if he and or you have a good repore with a youth minister? If so try to get them involved!

The hardest thing about raising children, is getting them to take ownership for things. Find out what he'd seriously like to do, and match him up with someone in that field. When they find out what type of schooling they must have to get into a field their interested in, this can begin to make a difference in their attitudes, and give them something to aim for. But unfortunately, sometimes it takes getting others, that you can count, on involved. Our kids know where we stand on things, but hearing it from others always helps them come to terms with the reality.

You also need to encourage them in what they already do well! To much negativity can send them into a downward spiral, where they just don't know what to do. With it being this late in the school year, it's going to be hard to turn stuff around for this year...Let him know that! And let him know that you have "real expectations", not things that he'll never be able to obtain. Also remember that he'll need to be happy in whatever he does. Sometimes our kids think we are pushing them in a direction that we really aren't. Talk through these things with your husband and then and with your son! Let him know that you want the best for him, and that the best for him is what's going to make him happy and successful in whatever he does! These decisions are huge, and they feel the pressure of them even if they don't show it.

I've been going around with my son's administration and teachers. He missed more than the allotted 10 days in one semester. Here in Indiana we have great homeschooling rules, we home-schooled our daughter through HS, and our son till she moved out and he opted for this HS because he needed a challenge, and classmates. The school system can't legally give him credit for courses without a Dr excuse, even though I was home with him every time he was absent, mostly running fevers, 102.5 + ....Prior to his enrollment, he had always felt like he was in his sister's shadow. She got some great scholarships, and he felt like he wasn't a good student because things didn't come as easily for him. It was a fight for him to make the transition from 2 in a school to well over 2,000! He struggled with learning with distractions of 35 in a classroom...but was able to recover from an F in Algebra a month in to pulling his grade up, not just the 1 letter grade the teacher was indicating with tutoring, but ending with an A in the course. A big boost in his confidence, knowing that if he stayed focused, he could do well. Since then he's struggled with how to balance working 18 hrs a week, and his courses, including 2 AP college courses. He's maintained a high GPA, but with the absences I still got the "well, maybe he shouldn't be taking AP courses, or shooting for an Academic Honors Diploma" from school counselors and administration. My point is that they don't know your son the way you and your husband do! Take the time to find out what's up with him, and let him know you're behind him, and want him to succeed! Unfortunately with so many students, teachers just don't have the opportunity to give him the help and encouragement that he needs. They may care, but you need to show him, and you and your husband are the most invested him.

Ask him for ways you can help him, and for what things you have been doing that he maybe taking the wrong way, maybe putting more stress on him. But remind him that it's your job as parents to help him succeed.

Id advise getting a tutor. I must admit that when my mom started sitting me down to do exercises it helped. But it was incredible FRUSTRATING because she didnt know anything about my subjects at all, and was just looking at the answers at the back. What you need is someone who could give a firm hand and knowledgeable.

And I wouldnt dwell too much about the lying. He just didnt want to disappoint you is all.

@Tina: We've done that, too (taking away electronics & what not). Unfortunately he, too, developed a "I don't care" attitude. Gets frustrating at times, figuring out what else we might do that might work... Sometimes he has us at the end of our rope. And I'm trying to keep my stress levels down (with the diabetes & all - need to keep that cortisol under control), which often gets hampered by these kinds of things. *sigh* Sometimes I say to myself "just two more years!" I have a feeling they are going to be two VERY LONG years... LOL Praying we don't have these issues with his much younger brother...

@Janet: I have spoken with his advisor at school about what's going on... Hoping she might be able to get some answers for me. In the meantime, she gave us the name of someone at the school that does "Advanced Study Skills." She thinks maybe we can put him in that next year, and that they will keep track of his assignments, etc. & help him. Hope that's true. My husband's hoping to track down that person & find out more details...

My son's smart (academic testing seems to support that), but whenever there's a writing assignment there seems to be a struggle. I don't know if it's that he hates writing, if he's lazy or if he struggles with writing in general. It's something we've discussed with the teachers the last 4 years - basically ever since we moved up here. The schools up here gave out much more homework than where we previously lived, and boy did he rebel against that. Almost to the point where we had to tell him he couldn't go on the end-of-year school trip to Canobie Lake Park with his classmates if he didn't make up all the homework he had previously refused to do. He got the work done, but just barely in time so he could go. Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate.

A couple years ago I did some research & discovered the "SOAR" learning system. I quickly bought the materials for my son & went over them with them because I thought they would help him immensely (no more lost or missing homework or materials, etc.). Got his binder organized the way they recommended, bought the planner & explained to him how to use it, etc. He started to use it, but then stopped - I think because he wanted to get out of doing homework. He'd lie to us - say the work listed in his planner was done. And when we'd ask to see it, he'd say he had already turned it in. And none of the teachers in this area were good communicators. For example, one time we didn't know there was a problem until just before April vacation... Apparently he hadn't turned in his math homework in over a month! (you'd think they would have called us, but they didn't - that was back in 7th grade) That was crushing, as we were leaving the next day for a much-needed vacation in Maui. They told us we could wait until we got back for him to do the catch-up work, but we're like how?! How would he do that & stay current with the work they would then be giving him?! I couldn't believe they even suggested that. So we had to bring the materials with us so he could do his homework. While we were away he tried to get out of doing his homework again - he somehow "lost" his calculator & then his pencil. And despite having 17 hours to work on it while we were flying, he refused to do so. We didn't push it as we didn't want to create a scene on the plane. Kids really do hold us over the barrel sometimes, don't they?!

We've asked in the past about homework being posted, but we find a lot of the teachers don't do it. And they expect the kids to be responsible enough to write down their homework, that they may write on the board, do it & turn it in. They don't like to make any exceptions. And, honestly, if I watch over everything from here through the end of high school, what will happen to him when he goes to college? The counselor he saw a few years ago recommended we don't do it - we don't rescue him or oversee it - that we let the natural consequences fall. He said he saw too many kids drop out when they had parents that oversaw everything. So we've tried to be good about doing that for the last 3 years, but at times we've had to step in. And we've noticed that the last few months of school he starts slacking & lets everything slide......and then his grades suffer. Which is a problem if he wants to get into the college of his choice - he's contemplating MIT, Worcester PolyTech, CalTech, etc. Good luck at getting in if he keeps getting mediocre grades, not to mention getting scholarships which he'll need. I've tried to stress that with him, but I think it falls on deaf ears.

@Laura: I know what you're saying. We've tried all that. He will care the first day & then not at all. I've even turned off the access to our router, as he found ways around our system that was working (by changing his IP address - sneaky little bugger).

It's funny how you mention matching him up with someone in his field of interest. We've been talking for a few months now about seeing if this person we knew back when we lived in Maine (from our church there) would take him on for the summer as an intern at his company (his company does stuff in the A/V field - everything from concerts to sporting events to important interviews - they were even filming at the Boston marathon this past spring & some of their footage was used to find the culprits responsible for the bombing), as well as take him on as a "mission" project. Their kids are all grown (his youngest daughter used to be our babysitter), so they have an empty nest right now. Maybe a change of scenery would help. Not sure if he'll do it, but we certainly plan on asking him. If that doesn't work out, the IT dept at his school has asked him about working there during the summer. He already has a paid position at his school via the A/V group (audio-visual). Had to get a gov't background check & all this past winter to officially work there.

We've tried to be supportive & help him, but he always views our involvement negatively - as if we're interfering. He'll get downright rude with us, raise his voice at us, and even talk to us in a very sarcastic tone. It really hurts & angers us when he does that, too - I'm struggling with that part, and sometimes my husband just wants to wash his hands of him (I know he wouldn't do that, but I can't blame him for feeling that way).

@A.D.: I wish I could say the lying was about not disappointing us. Unfortunately it's more about (1) getting out of doing the work and (2) not getting in trouble. He lied to us over & over when we confronted him last night until we said "hey, this is what your teachers told us - don't lie," and then listed off the different things they told us he had not turned in. After that the offensive tone dropped & he became passive - wouldn't speak with us. That's the point we're at now. I'm hoping his advisor can get through to him, but I got an email from her this morning saying she & my son have agreed to talk Friday morning... That's the last day of finals... I hope it's not too late...

I don't have any kids yet, but I taught his age group (sophomore English) for several years. I'm now working with entry level vocational/tech students, but in some ways the maturity/responsibility levels are the same.

I will try to give you some hope by saying that I had more than one teacher friend tell me that they would never teach sophomores for this very reason. By and large, freshmen are somewhat impressionable, juniors often have jobs and begin to learn what responsibility is AND they are thinking about college, and seniors are very motivated to do what they need to to get out. Sophomores get into this kind of weird slump where college is a little too far away to be a real threat to them ("keep your grades up, or...") but they are beyond that 1st scary year of HS, so they think they've got it all down. I have a friend who teaches juniors who would swear that there was a magical event that took place over the summer between sophomore & junior years. Kids who would frustrate her in the hallway as sophomores would walk into her class as juniors and be wonderful students. So...I would say that age does indeed have a lot to do with it. Just like the toddler tantrums stage, this too will pass!!

Honestly, one of my first thoughts might be what Janet mentioned. Often when a kid is a good student and he takes a sudden nosedive, there is something in the personal life like drugs, bullying, or depression. I will never forget a boy I had my first year who was so smart and so quiet but he would blatantly break the rules or not turn in homework. He broke my heart because I just couldn't get him on track. Fortunately, we caught some of the issues in time (the final straw was catching him cutting in the bathroom at school), and he ended up seeing a counselor and managed to get back on track. It did take sending him to another school by living with another family member (his stepsister was in one of my other classes, and she would give me reports on him). As hard as that must have been for his parents, I think he needed a change from his current school, where he was feeling like an outsider who couldn't break through, and moving in with the other relative gave him a lot more one-on-one time with a guardian. I'm not saying that your son might need to move away or even have a drug problem, but that often these deep personal issues in teens manifest themselves in their grades. Personally, I would try to get to the bottom of it and investigate if something has changed in his personal life or mental health -- easier said than done, I know. Teens aren't exactly known for their openness.

My other thought is that if it's not one of the personal issues, that I kind of agree with your counselor, as difficult as that may be...but you may need to let him fail. Some kids that I had honestly just didn't figure out that decisions had REAL consequences until they lived them. They had to take the summer school courses or repeat a class to realize "Oh, so my not doing work gets me here again." I know that would be hard for a parent, especially when you know your kid is bright & capable.

And as others have said, what works for one kid may not work for another. You have to find out what motivates him. Positive reinforcement works better than punishments, so can you find ways to reward the behavior you want him to do -- bring back graded homework for a monetary reward, time with friends, points towards a trip, or purchasing an item he wants (guitar/guitar lessons/xbox,etc.). But you gotta know what is important to him to be able to pinpoint which rewards he'll care about and want to follow up with.

On a sidenote, have you thought about doing something with him one-on-one just you and him or just dad/him or just you guys and him? Let him plan something you guys can do to just have FUN together and not mention anything about grades? He might be seeing you guys as broken records (which is fair -- you know this important and he's not getting it!!), and he's pushing against that. It might help open up the communication lines to just get a chance to get to know him again, as a young man. You may do things like that already; you wouldn't necessarily have room to mention it here, but I thought I'd mention it anyway smiley

I'm sorry this is so hard!! I'm glad you're involved. I had WAY too many parents who I never heard a peep from. As much as he thinks you're just being mean right now, you love him and are caring for him by making sure he succeeds. And he'll see that one day. It will get better!!

I hate to say it but tough love sounds like its the best and a tough reality check. He gets held back and has to attend summer school then its his own doing. My parents did that with me. Freshman and Sophomore year I wound doing summer school but never got held back. I finally wised up. And the punishment for lying to my parents was not pleasant either. Sometimes a reality check is the best thing to do if other stuff does not work.

Lizanne....I forgot about your diabetes....maybe that is what has triggered this. Maybe he is concerned about you and your health and the possibilities of losing you? Perhaps that is a starting point to see if this is the underlying problem..I don't know much about diabetes but I am sure it affects your whole family! Not only that, it could be that he has looked for answers on the net and unfortunately the net is not always a good place to find answers to health issues....I know I always find the worst possible scenario. I do know how a serious disease affects the family as I am a breast cancer survivor. Even my plastic surgeon (for reconstructive surgery) said that most marriages don't survive (that was back in 1995 and maybe things have changed???).

This may be a place to might want to check with your hospital as they might have counselors there for the whole family to go to and speak and learn more about the disease and personal feelings of everyone.

Just a and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Pretty much everything I wanted to say has been said in some way but I just wanted to tell you that y'all are in my thoughts an prayers... though I would like to repeat the bit about underlying issues... I was an A student till 7th grade then I failed almost all of my classes for three quarters... there were underlying issues and once they were discovered and dealt with my grades went back up... my issues were mental health related so I don't know if that relates to your situation with your son but just by what you've said it sounds like something is going on especially if he's not caring about things he's previously cared about which from what you said it sounds like that might be happening... the not caring about previously considered important things could be an indication of depression too or some other mental thing... I also wanted to give you my views on tough love as I was given tough love... I hated it... really really hated it as it was happening but eventually it worked... discovering for himself that there are consequences attached to each action and decision he makes might help... that was a huge revelation for me when my folks stopped bailing me out of my problems... I can't imagine how difficult it was for my parents to raise me given all the problems I had or how difficult it was for them to do the tough love thing. I was lucky my parents cared and it sounds like you do too and even if he thinks poorly of you now for the things you make him do eventually he'll see the wisdom of it all and love you all the more for it... I had a horrible relationship with both of my parents growing up but now we're really close but through it all I knew they loved me and only wanted what was best for me... as I said I'll keep y'all in my thoughts and prayers.

I want to thank you all for your advice, warm thoughts & prayers... smiley After going to my chiropractor's practice for an adjustment today (yeah, that fall in the pool area the other day did mess up my alignment after all) I spent most of the day icing, heating and doing research. Research on learning disabilities (he doesn't have any of the symptoms, thankfully), research on difficulty with written communication skills, research on effective writing tips & strategies, etc. Found some good articles, and a slew of books that may be a good fit to purchase.

Tonight I had a one-one-one with my son and asked him, point blank, what was going on. I was very direct & asked him if he had a problem with writing. And I told him he needed to let me know if he did so I could get him help (be it a summer writing program, tutor, help at school, books or what not). I told him that the last 4 years the common thread of his problems at school seem to stem from writing - his not doing or passing in writing assignments (be it journaling, essays, papers, reports or what not). I told him that needs to change. I also told him my observations when he's at home attempting to write (that it seems to take him hours to write anything; and the only time he makes any good progress is when he verbalizes what he's thinking & his dad types it up); and reminded him of things he's told me (about struggling with the essay parts of tests, and teachers often giving him extra time to work on it - they'll let him come back during conference period, study hall or what not).

I stressed to him how important writing skills are, and how he'll be needing those skills to get into college (with essays being a part of the SAT's these days & colleges requesting essays when you apply), within college, when he's out in the workforce, etc. His attitude toward me softened as I went into all that. But, at the same time, I sensed resistance. He made a comment like "if you don't want me mad, you won't be having me do MORE writing," when I brought up getting him help. And he admits that while it does take him time to write, it's more about being a "perfectionist," and that he gets good grades in writing when he takes his time. I told him I wasn't totally buying that, given that I've seen him struggling with writing assignments, and how he puts off things until the last minute (if he does them at all). I've told him he's only sabotaging himself when he doesn't do the work (risking his grade) &/or waits until the last minute. I still think there's an element of laziness & rebellion toward writing in general, though he's not admitting it. I reminded him that not every teacher was going to give him extra time to do writing assignments, especially in college. He then admitted that he does have problems, at times, putting concepts down on paper.

Other than that, he claims he's nearly caught up in World Civ. Hasn't said a word about the Culinary assignments though (the journaling, the one week summary in report format, and the cost-outs for that cake). He somehow changed the topic on me & it slipped my mind until now. He's very good at that... LOL So that's where we're at now. At least things are a bit calmer in the household...

Glad to hear things are a little better for you Lizanne. I do have to tell you I can sympathize with your son a bit. I am a real perfectionist too! One of the best and worst traits a person can have! Writing can be very threatening as once you put something in writing (especially feelings) you cannot take it back. I believe that if you continue to sit down and talk to him you will get answers as to what is really going on and I am sure this will help him to open up and might just find resolve.

Well, I spoke too soon about things calming down. His World Civ teacher did not give us all his overdue assignments & he has a Math project, too. So much for having a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Since he's so behind I called a family conference. We sat down and discussed each assignment & I mapped out a schedule for him for the entire weekend, hour by hour, of what he's going to do & when. Oh boy...

I can't believe this teacher didn't contact us about any of this - I am SO disappointed. We only found out because we asked his advisor how he was doing in his classes 3 weeks before school got out. She asked the teachers to email us their replies & copy her. I hate to think what his grades would have been like if we had not done that... I only hope & pray this doesn't occur over & over again the next 2 years of high school...

I sure hope you get a little time to relax during this extended weekend. There is a huge gap in the communication aspect between schools, teachers and parents. I don't know why some schools seem to have their act together (for the most part) and others just don't seem to care or are too busy to stop and contact the parents.

A good friend of mine told me last week that her son (also in the 10th grade) has not been in school since May 3rd!! She just found this out at the beginning of last week!! Why??? A quick phone call to alert a parent that their child is not in school should be mandatory. She lives in a different county and their school system could use a lot of improvement. The county we live in has an automated alert system when a child is not in class. It will alert us if the child has missed the entire day or just certain classes. We also get a weekly call from the principal of the school (a recorded call) that gives us upcoming info like testing dates or when progress/report cards will be sent we know to ask for it when he gets home. Sometimes it can be annoying to get that automated call but at least our county schools realize the importance of communication.

We also have an online parent portal which shows our child's daily schedule, each teacher/class with their email info, what his grade is at that point in time, any outstanding assignments due, and any work that was incomplete or not turned in. Granted, it's not updated as often as it should be so when I ask him about it, he has already completed the assignment. It's a great tool to have but it only works if it's up to date. Maybe having something like this could save your sanity for the next couple of years and beyond. It's worth checking into.

I just got two letters from my oldest 2 in school. They both have to go too summer school. My husband and I told them time after time and last night we talked to them. We got the you guys are mean and so on. We told them point blank again whats going to happen. Sucks to be them because the TV is coming out of their room and no video games until we get a progress report next school year about their status.

We have the on-line scoring as well, don't know why though because if and assignment is missing the kids are out of luck. No making it up, without a fight on your hands, even with the student out sick, and even then the only assignment they took as half credit was the one that he attempted to send in the day before he missed, it was lost in cyber space. Apparently they don't trust the student, the parent on the fact that he had attempted to send the items twice while he was out. Finally took their tech person to look at my son's e-mail account on-line and see that he truly HAD sent it twice.

The scores are nice, so that he can see how he's doing point by point, and try harder to make up to items he doesn't get credit for when out ill.

Sounds like communication from the school (both public & private) is becoming a big issue all over the place... The sad thing is if the teachers or school administrators contacted us, when these things first started, we parents could help get things back in control & nip the behavior in the bud (be it skipping from school, not doing/passing in homework, etc.). It's so frustrating, isn't it? ((hugs)) ladies!

@Tina: I wish I could say I'm getting in a little time to relax, but nope... I feel bad for my younger guy - he's not getting a whole lot of attention this weekend because of his big brother.

Janet, I think your advice is spot on. It seems that something big has changed in his life and he might need a little help with it. xoxox Beth

The "something big" happened 8 years ago when my husband was "down-sized" at his company. It took him 6 months to find another job (there were no opportunities in his field where we lived) and, when he did find something, it took him 4 hours away... Because it was now a buyers market & we had not finished all the projects we had started on our house (we had an 1850's Greek Revival Cape that we were slowly restoring - we bought during a seller's market) we couldn't relocate right away. So my husband would come home on weekends to work on the house & I had to play single mommy. My kids were 1 & 7 when my husband lost his job... Once the work on our house was done (it took 3 years!) we put it on the market & relocated. It sold pretty quick - before we had even signed a contract with a realtor... Finally we were all together again... Despite this my oldest (Seth) wasn't happy about the move... And we went from living in a house in the country with a big yard to a small apartment in the city with no yard. Three years ago that changed - we bought another home on the outskirts of town (in the country), the kids have their own rooms, and we have a yard again.

Anyhow, due to circumstances beyond our control, Seth changed schools every year between 6th & 9th grade. 6th grade was the new school in the new state. Three quarters into the school year, the school announced they were closing (they had been open 35 years). We enrolled him at a private Catholic school for the following year (7th grade). Even though we are not Catholic, it was the only other private school in the area, and my son had only attended private schools. That proved to be a bad idea on so many levels - this school put my sons & family through hell. Their lies almost caused me to lose my children (thankfully the social worker saw through that); and because of their actions I ended up having to homeschool my youngest 3 months into the school year & my eldest son ended up in counseling... I had heard about a group that deals with troubled teens in my area (it's a live-in facility & they also do academics) - I called them, hoping they could give me a referral to a good counselor for my son. Thankfully the person we spoke with offered to take my son on for counseling after work hours. Seth saw him once a week for maybe 1-1/2 years. The school administration, teachers & environment at the Catholic school were so bad that Seth's counselor told us not to re-enroll him there for the next school year & to change schools, despite my son having already changed schools twice since we moved here... So in 8th grade he entered the public school system (this was his first time there - he had always attended private school). I was leery, given a lot of things I've heard about public schools, but especially because this school was rated one of the top 10 worst schools in our state. The counselor told me to do it anyhow - he told us if there were any year to put my son in that school it would be that year because they were under high scrutiny by the state. Thankfully that year went smoothly. And the following year he changed schools yet again because he was entering high school. This year was his 2nd year at that school. He'll be staying there until he graduates in the spring of 2015.

So basically there have not really been any significant changes in the last 2-3 years. My son is settled, he has friends, he's involved in extracurricular activities at school & outside of school. What has changed is he went from pre-teen to full-fledged teen. He's been rebelling a lot, has been very disrespectful toward us at home not to mention disobedient & outright defiant at times (we call those the "3 D's"), is lazy, tries to get out of doing his homework (esp. any assignments that involve writing), tries to get out of the few chores we give him (trash, the litter box & dinner dishes - big whoop), and he picks on his younger brother a lot.

Wow Lizanne, that is a lot but you know what you all will get through it! I believe you need to stay firm in your decisions. You and your husband need to stay together and support all decisions you make regarding Seth. My husband last year (remember his was a counselor) he tried to help my friends family....their situation is much worse because their freeloading son is in his 50's and still living at home...but that is another story. Anyway, he tried to counsel the parents on what to do and one of their biggest problems is that the husband wanted to kick the "kid" out and the mother kept "protecting."

Again, his first "rule" was to have both parents steadfast in how and what to do...and follow through! Next once the parameters are determined you need to lay down the law to your son....and keep it. Provide him with the consequences if he doesn't follow...and then do it. I believe these were the most important things he counseled the parents with. This would be what you might call the foundation of your plan. Down the road (but not right away) you might consider rewards but be careful so that the rewards do not become the reason.

I think if you keep communication things will get better....even though Seth probably does not believe it. At least you guys care!

I sympathize with Seth to a degree because my father was in the Marine Corps and trust me we moved a LOT! Not only that, Dad was transferred at the start of my senior year in high school-I had gone to school in the same town for four years and had to start over for my senior year. Add to that most juniors graduated after their junior year because the school only required 18 credits to graduate as long as they took their "senior" subjects in their junior year. At least I had two brothers that were my best friends! Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, my Dad had to fly to Mt. Fuji the morning I was to graduate-the Marine Corps would not let him wait one day, so he missed my graduation! Being a "Marine Corps brat" was not easy but I would not have traded it for the world.

I think if you continue to communicate and make sure that Seth understands although this is hard for all of you it is because you love him and want the best for him under the circumstances. Praise him when you can even for little things. Kids are pretty resilient, at some point I am sure he will "see the light." Also, what kind of peer pressure does he have? You might want to delve into that too, maybe it is something outside the house that is affecting him and you don't even know about it. You know kids can be so cruel. You might also want to include in it all that he is a "big" brother and is an example for his sibling-and include the positives regarding.

Again, I am not a counselor or mother but I had great parents and have been somewhat involved in my nieces and nephews upbringings through the years.

Prayers are still with you and your whole family!

Getting some great advice here. I'm sorry that communication at your school has been so bad. I hate to hear that, especially nowadays when technology makes it so quick and accessible. At the school I taught HS, we were required to have a website, but I was one of the few teachers who used it to post weekly assignments, powerpoint presentations, etc. Honestly, I did it because in my opinion it was MUCH easier when a student was absent. All I had to do was say "check the website." Copies of handouts, notes, etc. were all up there, as it took 5 minutes at the end of the day to upload them. I also posted important due dates for projects/papers, report cards, etc. for parents. Again, it was mostly to make my life easier because I had about 150 students, and keeping track of who was absent when, if they needed extra copies, etc. was just too crazy. I also had special inboxes for late/absentee work. I figured I did my part to make the tools available for students to take responsibility for their grades, but it was up to the students themselves to use those tools. I was frustrated that not all teachers used the website (most would just create a little class profile and never touch it again. It was only required that we have one, not that we update it a certain amount) because a little consistency would go a long way for helping these students take control of their learning.

It is frustrating that not all teachers communicate well. Having been on the inside, I would guess that the reason a school doesn't have communication systems in place like Tina described comes down to resources, either not having enough personnel or tools to make the calls. The sad fact is that most schools are stretched well beyond their means. This often extends to the teachers as well, who are trying their best to keep up with not only their students but also the various red tape and bureaucracy that has nothing to do with making lesson plans or grading. I'm not trying to say it's never the teacher's fault; sometimes it is. I guess my point is that our entire education system is deeply flawed and will continue to be until we do some major overhauling and stop letting politicians with NO PEDAGOGICAL BACKGROUND make decisions legislating our schools. *ahem* Off soapbox now.

That said, changing schools is so hard and especially when you're a teenager! I hope that having a little stability for your son in being in the same school until he graduates will help him feel more in control and calm down. And as far as the writing perfectionism goes remind him that it's a lot easier to EDIT and REVISE writing once it's on the page. It doesn't have to be perfect the first time around. In fact, I don't WANT it perfect the first time around because you don't learn anything that way smiley Hemingway rewrote the ending of _A Farewell to Arms_ 39 times before he was satisfied! And as far as things like timed writings, like AP or SAT: evaluators realize it's timed writing first-draft material. It's possible to have typos/mistakes and still get a 6 on the SAT writing.

Another sidenote: maybe have him practice freewriting a little everyday? It's where you sit down and set a timer (10 minutes is sufficient; you can even start with 5 and work your way up to 10) and just write ANYTHING that comes into your head. The key is literally to NOT. STOP. WRITING. Even if all you're writing is "I can't think of anything. doodledoodledoodle.This is boring. I wish the timer would hurry up...." It might help him work past that initial intimidation of seeing a blank page and feeling pressure to put something "Good" or "Perfect" on it. And have him use that technique for brainstorming a major assignment. You might be surprised at what good ideas you end up finding in freewriting. You might end up throwing out a majority of what you wrote, but all you need is ONE sentence or ONE idea.

Wow Lady Phillippa what a wonderful exercise in writing (freewriting). I would think that it could be so beneficial to anyone!

Thanks Janet & Phillippa... ((squeeze))

We already do much of what you mentioned, Janet - they were things Seth's counselor suggested to us a few years ago. And we learned the hard way that rewards were bad because then he wouldn't do anything unless a reward was part of the package (this includes help out around the house or yard). My parents weren't good role models, so often times I'm digging into books to come up with new ideas because the old ones don't work anymore...

I think the writing exercises are a great idea, however not for Seth. It would just add too much stress to the house (he would definitely lash out). His problem is he doesn't like any form of writing - not journaling, not essays, not poems, not papers. And when he finally showed me the course syllabus this weekend, she gave her students a lot of writing assignments for homework & within her exams over the course of this semester - more than some of my college professors even gave! In fact, he's still trying to finish up 2 more of her assignments tonight (he had 8-10 to catch up on, if you can believe it!). Needless to say I am going to be very thankful when school ends later this week...

I am not a mother, but certainly feel for you in what you are going through. Like someone said earlier, each child is different and what works with one may not with another. While I don't have any advice for you, as I have not experienced this, I want you to know that I believe you will do the right things for your children. Why? Because you love them as only a mother can. No mother is perfect, but it's obvious that you are trying to do what is best for your children. Whether they respond is up to them (they do have that darned thing called free will!) smiley Wanted to share this picture I found on Summer Drigg's blog the other day. I find it inspiring. Good luck!

Having 2 boys myself I sympathise with you. It seems that boys can be lazy in general and their attitude to work is often that it doesn't matter. It is like a phase they go through, rebelling against being told to do something. We are fortunate here in France that we get termly reports (3 a year up to university level and then 2 a year) so problems are nipped in the bud by caring parents. They also collect names of every child at the start of each class and put them into a log, so if your child isn't at school you get contacted within an hour or two asking why! It is taken very seriously here to miss school.

My youngest went through a bad patch at age 14 and I was preoccupied with my partner who had been bed ridden with a neurological condition. I got called to the school in the end to see the principal and we had a good discussion as to what was best for him as he wasn't working. He ended up repeating the year - not a major stigma here as many children do - and a year after that he ended up passing his exam and moving up to lycee (ages 15 through to 18). He now realises at 17 that suddenly university is only a year away.

I hope you find a way to encourage your son, but in the end you can only do so much, maybe he has to fail to learn for himself, much as we all want to protect our kids. Good luck with him.

Aww... thanks, Cheryl! smiley

Thank you very much, Katey... Sometimes it's just good to know I'm not the only parent going through these things... smiley I try to take each day, one day at a time (if I can), and keep reminding myself "this too shall pass...."

@ Lizanne Killian: How are things at home? Don't have kids and I can't even say that I was a teen that struggled when it came to school. But I can say this: It's not you. You sound like a good mom willing to be involved in your kids lives. That means alot. I've seen kids with good parents go either way and also kids with uninterested parents go either way. I'm thankful because I have/had good parents that supported me. But don't blame yourself. I know it must be hard not to do that (especially on bad days) but I can see from your posts that you really do want the best for your son. Hold on and keep moving forward.