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struggling with 16 yr old son

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I need some advice, some guidance, some something! My 16 yr old son is stressing me out to the max! We have 2 main problems:

 

1) grades--His grades are terrible!! His last report card he had 3 D's and 1 F. When I saw detailed grade reports in these classes, it reassured me of what I already knew. He is smart but lazy. His test grades were 80-100. His homework grades were mostly 0-50. I have tried everything I can think of. We have taken away all privileges, including driving, thinking that would get his grades up with no luck. He just doesn't seem to care. He'll do better for a couple of weeks and then slack off to nothing again. When discussing this with someone else, they suggested he may be on drugs. I take him to school and pick him up. He is always at home with us. I'm pretty sure he's not on drugs.....And I'm not obsessed with straight A's, but he's just a few points from failing several required classes!

 

2) chores/family participation--he cannot seem to do a few basic chores each week and this drives me crazy! Each week he is to clean his own bathroom, clean his own room and do his laundry, and unload the dishwasher each night. I don't find this to be unreasonable. I've even offered to pay him for a doing a good timely job. He still can't seem to get it done. He just meanders around the house aggravating his siblings, watching whatever we are watching on TV, etc.

 

Add to this his constant crappy attitude and disrespect and I just don't very much enjoy being around him anymore. I'm open to any and all suggestions as to how to make this situation better.

 

 

post #2 of 15

I don't have ANY suggestions.  But I am open to any and all responses to help with my 15 yo ds.\, who sounds exactly like yours.

post #3 of 15

A certain amount of this is just normal teenage behavior, but I have to agree that it sounds like your son is going a bit beyond usual lazy teenage sullenness. Losing the car keys or spending a weekend grounded usually woke my godson up pretty quickly at that age. Does your son have a decent group of friends? Is he involved in and keeping up with some healthy activities outside school? I'm assuming you've driven home the point of how much failing school could affect his future.

 

Is your son enthused about spending time with his friends and doing other things he enjoys? If not, I would consider having him evaluated for depression.

 

Sorry that I don't have more advice. Heart-to-heart talks and taking away privileges always worked with my godson.

 

ETA: If he's doing well on the tests, maybe your son is highly intelligent and just extremely bored with school. Talk to him and see if you can find out if that's why he's not trying. If it is, perhaps he could be moved into some accelerated classes to challenge him more.

post #4 of 15

if he is always at home what is he doing while he is there?

post #5 of 15

What are his plans for after HS? Does he understand how his grades will affect those plans, if they include college? I found taht most effective with a bright kid who was bored. Explaining to him that I understand how pointless the homework seems, but life is often full of tings we see no point to. Sometimes we just have to buckle down and do it so that we can do something better later.

post #6 of 15

Not sure I can give advice but I am struggling with my own 16  year old ds, some of the same issues. I sure do sympathize though....Wish we both could get some answers!

post #7 of 15

Around here with D's and F's he would need to re-take the classes and would not receive credit for them until he earned a "c" or higher.  That is school and state policy.  He wouldn't be eligible for any school sports and minimal clubs until his grades improved.

 

I would start with the school and see if you can schedule a meeting with the counselor's office.  Grades matter, GPA matters.  If your DS does not pass the classes he will most likely be in summer school or taking a double load next year.

post #8 of 15

Does he have friends and interests?  Have you talked to him about depression?  I'd maybe start with a trip to the family doctor for a discussion about that. If he's loosing interest, can't focus, isn't connecting with anyone outside your family and doesn't have any real interests, this may be signs that he needs some help.

good luck!

 


Edited by Callimom - 2/11/12 at 6:23pm
post #9 of 15

I second the meeting with the counselor. My 16 year old took years to realize that he was going to ask for help (wether he was on good terms with the teacher or not) if he fell behind or wasn't getting something. OR he was going to face actually retaking the course. God bless him he somehow always managed to pull it all together and pass, but he had to flirt with failure a few times before he took school seriously.

The last post mentioned depression, and I think for all of us, it is important to understand that there are periods our teens go through, where they feel misunderstood and neglected by our friends and families. All there relationships (to everyone) are changing.  It's normal, but some people are not easily able to let down their protective facade and talk about the problems eating away at them. It's more socially acceptable to just act out, or close down. Maybe escape the now, in front of a screen, or worse. Let them know it's okay to vent to someone, if it is not you or someone close they can trust, find someone. There is no shame in acknowledging that mom doesn't happen to be that person. I'm divorced, both my kids have gone to therapy at one time or another, and it has been so great for all of us.  We needed a neutral party, otherwise everyone feels under attack. It is one of the best parenting decisions I ever made! Why is he letting everything slide? What will help? Try to listen, without defending your point of view.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhawkins View Post

1) grades--His grades are terrible!! His last report card he had 3 D's and 1 F. When I saw detailed grade reports in these classes, it reassured me of what I already knew. He is smart but lazy. His test grades were 80-100. His homework grades were mostly 0-50. I have tried everything I can think of. We have taken away all privileges, including driving, thinking that would get his grades up with no luck. He just doesn't seem to care. He'll do better for a couple of weeks and then slack off to nothing again. When discussing this with someone else, they suggested he may be on drugs. I take him to school and pick him up. He is always at home with us. I'm pretty sure he's not on drugs.....And I'm not obsessed with straight A's, but he's just a few points from failing several required classes!

 

So, is he doing any of the work?  If he is getting 80-100 percent on tests without even looking at a book, that suggests to me he is in the wrong classes?  Can he be reassessed and put in classes where he would be learning something?  Do you have a community college nearby he could go to instead?  What does he *say* about school?

 

Does he have any idea what he wants to do with his life?  DP did very poorly in school (not that poorly, but would generally get As on tests and not do the homework).  I'm surprised more of his grade is not based on testing: DD is only in 8th grade but her math grade is already 90% test based.  Her science class is, I think 65% on tests and quizzes.  It can be VERY frustrating to kids to be forced to do homework on something they have already mastered.  DP didn't have a problem getting into college because of activities and SAT scores, but that's not true for everyone.  Do you have someone who could mentor DS towards his eventual goals--- maybe some encouragement coming from a mentor would mean more than a parent (DP has met with a couple teens of friends of ours to give them career/school encouragement and advice).

 

Quote:

2) chores/family participation--he cannot seem to do a few basic chores each week and this drives me crazy! Each week he is to clean his own bathroom, clean his own room and do his laundry, and unload the dishwasher each night. I don't find this to be unreasonable. I've even offered to pay him for a doing a good timely job. He still can't seem to get it done. He just meanders around the house aggravating his siblings, watching whatever we are watching on TV, etc.

 

So, what happens when he doesn't finish the stuff?  For example, one of his chores is his own personal laundry.  I would assume he would run out of clothes eventually?  Or are you harassing him until he gets it done?  I would consider a sit down and discussing what needs to be done and how to accomplish this.  Have his chores been ongoing and this not doing them is sudden?  Do you have issues with your other children not doing their chores?

 

hug2.gif  You sound really frustrated, but you also sound like you have a pretty normal 16 year old on your hands.  Good luck.

 

post #11 of 15

This was my 16 year old last year.   We talked on several occasions with the guidance counselors and even opted for some optional counseling for an "at risk" for dropping out program through the school.  However, my son was resistant and just didn't want to do the work on time/hand in his homework.

 

So I made the gut-wrenching decision, after trying to help him through multiple avenues, of letting natural consequences take hold.  He flunked 11th grade.  Our school does not offer summer courses, so DS would have had to pay for them from his own pocket and ride a few miles each way via bicycle, so he decided no summer classes for him.  So back to 11th grade he went this fall.  It truly did not hit him until the 1st day of school that he could be starting his senior year but instead was a junior once again.

 

This year, with a minimum of supervision from me, his grades are all B's and C's.  Still some assignments undone here and there, but nothing close to the level of last year. 

post #12 of 15

I agree with pp that you may be at the point of having to just let natural consequences happen.

post #13 of 15

Sounds like he's not doing the homework but getting great test scores.  That's pretty good, if you ask me.  And what's the point of the homework if he already understands the material?  It is quite honestly, a waste of his time (omg, do I remember school being a waste of my time! so many things I wanted to do an explore, but stuck in a classroom...ugh! And I was an honor student in honors classes).   I assume there are other things he'd rather be doing.  What does he love?  What does he want out of life?  We tend to forget that teens are nearly adults- they don't act like adults because they don't have the experience.  And often, we as parents prevent them from getting experience- by sheltering them from real consequences. And we also often take the tack that we know better than they do what is best for them.  For teens, it's often not the case.  And at times when we truly know what path may be easier or create more "success" (though that's highly subjective)  they still need to make their own mistakes.  Or create their own successes on their own terms.  Partnering with teens to help them meet THEIR goals is usually more effective than fighting them so they meet the goals others have created for them (whether you or the school or society at large).  

 

I'm assuming, being here at Mothering, that you value connected, loving, attached relationships with your children.... which is why I'm asking the following questions.  When was the last time you connected with your son as a person, not as a student or contributing member of the family?  When was the last time you saw him as a joy in your life instead of as an opponent?  Can you look at these things through the glasses of someone who adores him and is on his side?  Or someone who wants to find mutually agreeable solutions?  This can help take the pressure off of you as well.  

 

I could go down the road of "why?" but I'm afraid it wouldn't come off as a gentle, loving exploration of thoughts, but as a confrontation- which is not at all my intent. However if you'd like to explore that, let me know.    

 

 

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenEMT View Post

This was my 16 year old last year.   We talked on several occasions with the guidance counselors and even opted for some optional counseling for an "at risk" for dropping out program through the school.  However, my son was resistant and just didn't want to do the work on time/hand in his homework.

 

So I made the gut-wrenching decision, after trying to help him through multiple avenues, of letting natural consequences take hold.  He flunked 11th grade.  Our school does not offer summer courses, so DS would have had to pay for them from his own pocket and ride a few miles each way via bicycle, so he decided no summer classes for him.  So back to 11th grade he went this fall.  It truly did not hit him until the 1st day of school that he could be starting his senior year but instead was a junior once again.

 

This year, with a minimum of supervision from me, his grades are all B's and C's.  Still some assignments undone here and there, but nothing close to the level of last year. 



Another vote from me for natural consequences... Sometimes it's much easier and more effective to let the punishment come from outside.  Out in the working world or in college if you slack off and don't do what's required you're fired or kicked out...better he learn that now...

 

post #15 of 15

HI! I'm sorry you're going through this. I don't have any counsel regarding his attitude or what may be going on at a deeper level, but as someone who struggles to stay on top of housework and who rarely did homework in high school, I have a few practical ideas....

 

I agree with natural consequences for laundry....he doesn't do his laundry, he wears dirty pants. But maybe it would help if you gave him a specific day and time for doing his chores. If he knew that Tuesday was his laundry day, he might be more able to remember to wash his clothes. Or if he knew he had to clean his room and bathroom every Saturday morning. My mom shared a tip with me and I recently started trying it...it has made getting the kids to help cleaning up so much easier. I made up a few cards for each room of the house, each with an easy 5-minute job printed on it. For example, for the living room, I have one card for dusting the piano, one for dusting the other furniture, one for picking up toys, one for straightening sheet music, one for putting all instruments away, and one for vacuuming. We all get together and everybody gets to pick one or two cards, and we get the whole  room cleaned in about 10 minutes. You could make up cards for him for his room: All dirty clothes in hamper. Strip bed and wash sheets. All dishes to sink. Old papers in trash. Trash out. Vacuum.   I am messy and unorganized by nature and i need this kind of thing to help me keep the house this side of a disaster. 

 

It's harder to let natural consequences kick in when it's a 16 year old and grades. You don't want them limiting their future options by getting bad grades. But I am not sure punishments help much. I had a friend in high school who was pretty much grounded all of Sophomore, Junior, and Senior years for her grades. All it did was prevent her from deepening her friendships, b/c she never got to see us outside of school.  Perhaps it's a little too "helicopter parent" to ask the teachers to email you his assignments so that you know what he has due, but at the very least you could set aside a time of the afternoon/evening that is time to do homework. It should be the same time every day. After dinner is a good time: if the expectation is that everyone goes straight from the dinner table to the homework desk, then there's no chance to get caught up in anything else. And if he's working on his homework, try to leave the TV off for a period of time so as not to distract him.

 

There is a GREAT book that I always recommend called Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld. It might have something in it for your situation. Good luck! I'm interested to hear how things go with the school counselor if you go. 

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