Please help!!...motivating a teen - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 10-17-2005, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all, a little background. My mother and father have taken rather passive parenting approaches in the past few years. I've provided financial and emotional support for my younger sibs, help with homework, made doctor's appointments, met with teachers...and two have lived with me. Our latest adventure was this summer trying to get the youngest two (15 and almost 17) admitted to a math/science magnet school - a residential high school 4 hours away. After countless HOURS of algebra practice and mountains of paperwork, they're there.

My 17 yo brother has always had motivation issues. It's understandable - the last time he conversed with mom was in May and when he chats with dad it's a one sided conversation. He's incredibly bright (he recently wrote a computer program for a chat thing like instant messanger), but has never done his homework. Most of his time is spent lying around playing computer games.

He was way excited to go here and we had a little chat about working hard - nothing too intense because he gets yelled at all the time for slacking. He said he was going to do well at this school. He's actually popular there, for the first time in his life, and is apparently having a hard time balancing work and play. Most of his time is reportedly spent in the lounge playing games. His grades have really slipped and if he doesn't bring them up before Christmas he's out

I spoke with the teachers about it, but they don't live there so there isn't much that they can do except allow him to make up his work and recommend tutors even though they say he knows all of the stuff easily. The RAs that are in the dorm make them follow rough rules. For two or three hours an evening there's 'study time' which basically means no games or running around. As long as you're quiet they don't check up on you. They also don't enforce the bed time of midnight, as long as you are in your room and not loud enough to get complaints. His advisor is from a much stricter boarding school and he's using the "you're going to fail miserably and get kicked out!!" (lecture to follow for the next 2 hours) approach which is NOT working. I haven't done much because I don't want to push him away, but I spoke with him the other day and he seemed to welcome the help of me calling to wake him up on the day he oversleeps and misses classes and he emailed me a list of work he needs to get in. But I haven 't been able to get in touch with him for the past few days.

I REALLY want to see him succeed. The local ps is not at all good. Lots of drugs/alcohol/partying...little education. I've thought of moving up there, but it's really not what's best for my family. I suppose we could make the sacrifice for a couple of years until he graduates and hopefully get him on track. It's not that he doesn't want to do the work, it's just that he never learned any self discipline or time management so now he's really struggling. I don't really have any authority with him, but I've thought of requesting that he call me collect every day at a set time so that we can touch base about what he's done and what he has to do. I can have the teachers email me to let me know his progress. But even then I have no way of sitting down and making sure that he resists the call of his friends and DDR in the lounge. I don't know if all that would be counterproductive though.

Will some of you with teens let me know what you think? What would you do? The school is a really awsome school, they're so lax though because they have so many people that want to go there that they figure if you really, really want to be there you'll work hard at it. If not you'll flunk out and someone else will take your place.

He comes home for an extended weekend this Wednesday and I'd like to have a plan by then. That's when grades are sent too
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#2 of 3 Old 10-17-2005, 06:47 PM
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This may not apply in your situation, but the one thing that made me work to get my grades up in HS was not being able to get my driver's license.

Best of luck figuring out a solution for your situation.

Mom to John (age 11), James (age 9) & Katherine (age 5)
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#3 of 3 Old 10-17-2005, 09:29 PM
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I also don't have teenagers...but I was one and your posting caught my eye. I was a good student, but didn't have to study to do well in school & had plenty of other things I preferred to spend my time on.

I had a really hard with chemisty & one other class though, so my mom bribed me - money for every "A" that I got on a test and then some kind of bonus if I ended up getting an "A" for the class. She helped me find a tutor (a college student), which really helped too.

Now as a parent I've read that this is a horrible approach, but it did work for me (not that I remember any chemistry, but I went to college (at age 21) and did really well there (without being paid for my grades)
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