25 answers

13 Year Old Son Having Trouble with Rules

This somewhat goes along with a recent request I read but I thought I would add my own dilemma. My 13 year old son is a straight A student and he is getting Ds and Fs. This is all because he won't turn in assignments, or just plain doesn't do the work. He has lost most of his priviledges but it doesn't seem to help or motivate him. He also has a tough time following any rules. He has always been this way and maybe it's just that I have had enough of it, but anything structured he tries to rebel from. I had him in extra curricular activities and thought maybe that was too much for him so now he just does school and scouts, but he still won't turn in assignments. He has broken his arm twice in the last year doing stupid things--breaking rules, and has had countless stitches over the last two years. His judgement is just so off. I have taken him to two counselors who have both tested him and both have said he is a smart kid who knows exactly what he is doing and can clearly make good choices. We've spent over $3000 in counseling and $10,000 on medical bills on him since he was about 10 and honestly, he's not changed a bit. I really am at a point where I feel like maybe I should just give up on him as far as grades. And if he continues to have bad judgement, oh well, he can suffer the consequences. We're just broke financially and emotionally and he doesn't seem to care one way or another. No discipline has ever worked for him, ever. He just goes to his room and retreats. As I said, two different professional counselors have worked with him and they say he's fine. Do I just let it go? It's really affecting our family.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Hi everyone, I am so grateful for all the responses. When I said that I am ready to give up on my son, that probably sounded awful. I think more what I meant was I am just completely burned out and feeling hopeless after trying everything we know. He is already extremely monitored and has always been because he has always behaved this way. He has no TV or video games in his room and has limited access to both unless all chores and homework is finished. I go through his room once a week and have never found anything questionable. He also has absolutely no access to computer or internet in our home. They are password protected and I allow him to use it only when I am supervising him. When he retreats to his room what he does is play Legos or reads--and I monitor everything he reads. We have decided to make him share a room with his younger brother and hope this will help socialize him more with the family. I have taken away everything but his bed before and it didn't help. So we thought maybe having him share with his brother would be a good idea and then his room will be much closer to ours anyway. I had a very long talk with him yesterday after reading some of these responses and I do believe he may have some form of depression. Thank you so much for your remarks, I didn't realize there were others who had similar experiences.

Featured Answers

Whatever you do C., don't give up on him. He's not a throw away kid! Does he have a teacher that he really likes? Enlist the help of his teachers in getting assignments and sit with him to help him if that's what it takes.
I'm a single grandma raising two granddaughters, with the 4th grader that is what I do. Sit with her to help her if she needs it but mostly I sit and work on something. It's the fact that Grandma is interested in what she's doing.
Sometimes it's a real pain as there's always something else I would rather be doing but it's what this child needs.
Wild Rose

More Answers

Reading your post certainly brought back some memories of raising kids. My son sounds much like yours, and you sound like me, I was ready to give up and just let him suffer the consequences by the end of his freshman year. I had worked with the school who provided extra help through a support team who would go to the classroom and also had a class kids went to who needed extra help with their school work. Even with this he still did not do well with some subjects. Our dilema was him respecting the teacher, if he didn't he would not perform well in that class.

I don't have any magic answers, all I can say is use the resources your school may have to support you and your son. Use the support of other family members, church member or friends when you feel hopeless.

The rest of my story is my son is 27 and a couple of years ago he ask if I knew why he stayed in school and graduated. I said no and he replied "because I knew how important it was to you mom." Yeah I cried for all the times I had wanted to give up on him because it wasn't that he didn't want to do graduate but he also shared made the comment about how hard it had been because of how ugly kids these days can be, and I could still see the hurt in his eyes. I don't know if we as parents really know how our kids days go, the peer pressure, the grade pressure, it is all so much more intense today. Also found out in just the last couple of years that my sin battles depression. He is now taking medication and for the most part does well dealing with it. I don't advocate giving medicine or looking for excuses but when I looked back at pictures I'd taken of my son and school pictures I wonder how I could have been so blind. The gaunt look and the hollowed dark circled eyes. This may be something you want to think about if your son may have problems with depression, I know you said you've had him in counseling but so had I at one time and no one picked up on the depression. Remember depression is a sickness, it's not about someone who isn't happy although that is a symptom.

As far as my sons life today - he is a productive, responsible young man working for a good company where his job duties requires a certain amount of self motivation and decision making. Of course it is dealing with technology which he thrives on. His self esteem for the most part is very confident but at time his self image is still low but my prayer is that one day he will come into the full realization of how precious and valuable he is.

My words of encouragement to you is remember no one ever said raising kids was going to be easy, you may be the only one who your son feels like believes in him. The punishment thing never worked with my son either because he felt like life was a punishment I believe and the flip side of that coin was he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loved him and

1 mom found this helpful

C. Dear, Holly writes WISDOM !!!

Age 13 is the start of the teenager's time:
you have no less than 6 years of hardship ahead:
it may turn into a great time of friendship and co-creating,
or a rough time of tears, fears, rebellion and struggle...
My advise: take Holly's words literally, and start from there.
Iwish You Good Luck! Take Care, dear Ones!!!

Sorry to say, but my opinion is that it comes with the territory of him just being 13. I have a 17 year who did the same thing and we did the whole counseling bit and taking away privileges. He finally outgrew it and is graduating with honors this year. I now see my other son who just turned 13 starting to repeat history. You just have to take it all in stride, always keep the lines of communication open, and my number one bit of advice is to CHOOSE your battles and know that there is a time and place for everything. You'll get better results if you wait for the right time to talk to him. As far as the assignments are concerned, one thing that helped out tremendously was meeting with him and his counselor and implementing a tracking system for his work. The counselor said that most jr. high students just have a difficult time adjusting to a new way of thinking. They had a standard form in the counselors office which my son would fill in his assignments for the day for each class. Then I would know what is due and after he showed it to me completed, I would sign in a box and the next day, his teacher would sign the other box that he received it. After a few months we no longer needed the tracker sheets. Another thing that helped was peer counseling at school and after school tutoring. There are a number resources available at most schools. Maybe you can call and find out what your son's school offers to help alleviate the stress at home. Hope this information has been helpful to you.

It must be very tough for you and your husband but please try not to give up. You have 5 years to try to achieve something with him and then his gone. Are you sure he is not using drugs, maybe smoking pot? It's odd that he used to get such good grades before and now he's lost interest Maybe he needs to see a psychiatrist not a counselor so that he can have a chemical and hormonal analysis of his blood.
Please dont give up, remember the child who gives you the most trouble is the one who in the end needs you the most. I've been there. My daughter finally asked for help at age 17 and she's been seeing a therapist now regularily and getting better. In the end I think what she had was a real depression that although I could see, I could never get her to go and see a professional. Good luck to you...

If your son is as smart as it appears, he'll understand if you talk to him. I think parents forget how smart out kids are, and if we have a good relationship and can be open with them, they get more than we give them credit for. Besides, a good converstaion is cheap :) Good luck.

Whatever you do C., don't give up on him. He's not a throw away kid! Does he have a teacher that he really likes? Enlist the help of his teachers in getting assignments and sit with him to help him if that's what it takes.
I'm a single grandma raising two granddaughters, with the 4th grader that is what I do. Sit with her to help her if she needs it but mostly I sit and work on something. It's the fact that Grandma is interested in what she's doing.
Sometimes it's a real pain as there's always something else I would rather be doing but it's what this child needs.
Wild Rose

Dear C.,
I have a son (adopted since birth) who has the same issues. We found out early 5 years old that he had adhd. He is now 12. He has been seeing a psychiatrist for 7 years now - every week. He is diagnosed with bipolar, adhd and few other things.
My son is extremely intelligent. The school labeled him " twice-exceptionally gifted". He has all F's. We can not get him to write. We have had a real struggle with this. The doctor told me to not be surprised if he drops out of school, later gets a GED and much later a college degree. He also told me to leave it up to him. He is a great doctor here in Denver. He has been working with kids with mood-disorders for 27 years. I am finally taking his advice this year. It has been great for me because I am not screaming at him to get his homework done. He still gets "F's", though. The doctor told me he is learning by just sitting there. We are leaving it up to him now. Good Luck!
My son is also a boy scout. Troop 315.

If his name is Jacob, minus the accidents and doctors, he lives here. I'm curious to see what answers you get. Quite frustrating, isn't it? Want to contact me and talk?

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