I really messed up today - Mothering Forums
Preteens and Teens > I really messed up today
noinstructions's Avatar noinstructions 03:52 PM 05-14-2010
I really messed up today. To summarize a long story - my stepdaughter is 17, and she has struggled in school since she was a little girl.

After she moved in with us nearly 2 years ago, we had her tested and her reading was at a 4th grade level. She is at 6th grade level now. This year I got the school to put her in a special reading program, but it's online, and she kept putting off doing the work until this week - well, they had computer issues, and with a whole backlog of studying for her to do, she didn't get it done, so is now going to fail the course.

I'm upset because - bigger than failing the course, she doesn't seem to care about improving her reading ability. I told her she needed to try it again later today and she threw a fit and said she was "done" with it.

I made the mistake of trying to shame her into caring about it - which is stupid, that never works. I said that she reads at a 6th grade level and (truthfully) her 7 year old brother reads better than she does.

She was (rightfully) offended by this - and I know it was wrong to say. I did it out of pure frustration and inability to comprehend that she does not care about improving her reading ability.

I immediately apologized, but I feel like such a jerk.

Now that I have confessed this terrible misdeed - what can I do to get through to her, or is this a case of having to just let her fail?

MCatLvrMom2A&X's Avatar MCatLvrMom2A&X 04:01 PM 05-14-2010
I would just let it go. Making sure to tell her that if she ever wants more help to just ask you and you will be more than happy to help. Pushing her isnt going to accomplish anything she has to want it or it wont work.
noinstructions's Avatar noinstructions 04:03 PM 05-14-2010
Thanks - I think that is the realization that I have come to. It's so hard to let go, though.
nextcommercial's Avatar nextcommercial 02:05 AM 05-17-2010
Yes. Just let it go. It's not the worst thing in the world.

The best reading practice is fun anyway. There are many books that are short, good and fairly easy to read, but would keep her interest at age 17. There's always interesting internet stuff to read. Even if she never improves the way she'd like, she can learn almost anything by listening to it on tape.

My daughter couldn't write or spell until she discovered the internet. She fell in love with fanfiction stories. (that part wasn't great) but, she actually learned to write and spell coherently from reading and writing fanfiction. She had a story published by a teen internet site when she was 14 years old.

http://www.teenink.com/ Look at this site, and maybe she'll enjoy some of the short stories. She might even take a shot at writing one herself. Kids her own age will critique it (not always gently) and that's how she will learn.

Chicken Soup for the teen soul has good short stories too. She can still be a very successful adult and a lousy reader.
karne's Avatar karne 09:10 AM 05-17-2010
A few things:

Has she been tested for a learning disability? If not, you may want to talk to her about this. I can't imagine that her school hasn't done this, given what you say her reading level is, but maybe it's been overlooked if she's passing in other areas. Sometimes finding out that there is an LD at work can offer relief. It's not the FAULT of the person struggling to read that the process is so difficult.

The behavioral stuff such as not caring, being resistant, (frustrated parent) are extremely common when a child has unmet learning needs. It's a really difficult cycle. It's pretty normal for kids to feel this way, and at your stepdaughter's age there's a lot of history of reading "failure" to contend with.

If she eventually feels that she wants to work on her reading, you may want to find either a center or tutor familiar with LD's, and one that works with adult learners, given her age and experience.

Also, much of what's written that we contend during day to day life is written at about a 5th-6th grade level, so from a functional standpoint your dsd should be able to be ok with directions, instructions, general reading material, etc. I know this doesn't help with school, but a 6th grade reading level is certainly something to work with.
noinstructions's Avatar noinstructions 05:44 PM 05-17-2010
Thanks for the additional input.

No, she hasn't been tested for a LD. I discussed doing this with her counselor last year and was met with lots of resistance from the school. She is also very resistant and just doesn't want to do it - doesn't want to be lumped in with what she calls the "dumb kids." (I don't believe she actually thinks those with LD are dumb, just that's the label others put on them kwim?)

She is actually reading more for pleasure, and of course, uses the internet and text messages frequently.

I am just going to let her know that, if she wants help,I'm here to help and that she has to ask, because I'm not going to push it any longer.