K.J. asks from South Holland, IL on April 22, 2008
My 16 Year Old
I have a 16 year old daughter who is very smart, but she doesn't do her work at school. She has always just gotten by. This bothers me, because I try to excel in whatever I do, but she just accepts mediocrity and I don't believe she tries hard. I just got her progress report and she is not passing any classes. I don't think she's into drugs. She could probably be having sex because I can't monitor her every move, but she does have to be in the house by 9 week day and week end. Her father and I just put her on punishment for the bad grades (no phone, no outside and no company) But I want to motivate her to do better. She needs to do her best so she can support herself. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. We go to the library, I go to the school for parent nights. I talk to her constantly about how important it is to do well so she can succeed in life. I asked her what did she want to do after high school and she said Job Corp. I almost died. HELP!!
J.N. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I suggest no allowance or financial 'support' AT ALL unless her grades improve. Once they do improve, she should also get a 'real' JOB, so she can see how awful it is when you have to work at McDonalds. She needs to see first hand (telling her something doesn't make it 'real' to her) that schooling directly impacts whether you can find a good job, or a nasty one.
You might want to consider taking her to your pediatritian to have her tested for drugs. Every parent wants to think that their child wouldn't do that, but reality is different. Even if she is on something (check your medicine cabinets, that's what my cousin started with) it's not the end of the world. You can get her help if you know what's wrong.
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C.K. answers from Chicago on April 22, 2008
She sounds bored. If I were you I'd conduct a full scale search and seizure. 4th ammendment doesn't apply to her. It's your home your rules. I'd absolutely search her room, backpacks, and purses for any sign of drugs or paraphanalia. What kind of people does she hang out with? Where does she hang out? This is bulldog parenting, but sometimes it is necessary. People in general are not content with mediocrity unless they don't know any better, and it sounds like you have worked hard at showing her that there is more to life. I'd also get her into counseling. This may be a rebellion stemming from your separation, or tough feelings about being an older sister to a baby. She's in the full throttle throes of puberty and all of a sudden mom's busy with a baby. She may just need someone objective to talk to whether she knows it or likes it. Teens rarely agree to talk to counselors so you may have to do some pushing, though I really think it would be the best thing for her.
She sounds a lot like me at 16. I had no problem with my failing grades, or so I made it seem. I don't want to scare you, but I had some "bad girl" behaviors. Good news, my mom and I survived and I went to college. My mother and I still joke that neither of us should have survived my adolesence. OH and I had a curfew which I stuck to, a job, two very involved parents, numerous groundings and punishments, etc... and still found time for my "bad girl extracurricular activities" Teenage rebellion like this rarely has anything to do with the parents doing something wrong. Its usually about a childs disposition as well as peer influence. Just keep in mind she's a teenager, or as my mom called me a pod person. Your daughter will be back to herself by 20.
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J.R. answers from Chicago on April 22, 2008
lots of good reading at this website
I would tell her how sad it makes you that she accepts a failure future, when she has every opportunity to be so much more. build her self esteem a little... she could be suffering with low self esteem... she may have depression too - I know when I am depressed, I am less than motivated or positive about the future and I sometimes rely on hearing from others that I am deserving.
there is so much that can cause a teen to accept mediocrity... try to get inside her head, get to her level of thinking (try to recall being a teen and what you went through, and then double it). I'm not a perfect parent... I will admit that - I dont know what I'm doing... it's all trial and error... but I believe that when we humble ourselves enough to understand them, we can go far in helping them succeed.
Good luck to you... I will be in your shoes in a few years, so I have been trying to do all I can to keep up with the psychology of parenting :)
D.M. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
It is so frustrating when our kids don't see how important it is to do well in school. I did good in school, probably could have done better, but received decent grades. Now I am also a perfectionist in the things I do. Some of that comes with age (I think). So it drives me crazy when my kids don't see it the same way.
I have my own direct sales business and I'm always trying to tell my kids that if I didn't do what I needed to do, I wouldn't have a business and wouldn't be able to support them. Some day maybe they'll really get it!
Anyway, one of the things that we've done with my son is to make him give us an hour a day of school work when he comes home. It doesn't matter what he brings home, but for an hour a day he has to sit at the kitchen table or in the family room (without the TV) and do something. This way, I can check on him and see that he is actually doing something, even if it's reading an assignment. It makes him accountable so that when I check his grades online and see that he has missed something, I can say, why didn't you do that yesterday or the day before while you were giving me your hour.
Sometimes I think it's a lack of planning or just not getting when they should study. One example was a test my son took on Monday. He told me he did study, but it was on Friday. Now you and I both know he should have studied Sunday night, but in his mind, since he studied on Friday, why would he restudy on Sunday. Once we had this conversation, the light bulb went on in his mind and hopefully he won't make the same mistake again.
I hope this helps. My son is only in 7th grade, but things seem to be picking up. He is extremely intelligent, tests off the chart on standardized testing, but his school grades still aren't reflecting his intelligence. This is helping him and it is also keeping our yelling and screaming to a minimum. He knows what he has to do and when grades don't come back as they should, this has allowed us to talk about it productively and keep a game plan going.
J.C. answers from Rockford on April 23, 2008
It might be a phase. There is some good advice here to check for drugs and have her checked medically for any imbalances or depression. Is she having trouble with her boyfriend or is he possibly abusive or influencing her in some way? Maybe she is sort of lost in school and does not know how to help herself. She might just be in some sort of angst about not knowing what she wants to do. Is there a lot of pressure in her school? There's probably lots of ideas like this to check out, and on the other hand she may truly not see anything wrong with where she is. You did say you constantly talk about success, so maybe it has been too much for her and she feels she can't attain what you see as success. Not that what you say to her is bad, but maybe relax it a little so she does not feel too much pressure. Also, she may just be being a 16 year old and will come out of it with time.
L.H. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I have the same issue with my son. How does she test on Isat test and other test? My son tested very high and was told he was ver intellagentbut. That he was lazy and just didn't care, and didn't hand in finished home work. With alot of quuestions and concerns from teachers and health professionals he was diagnoised with ADHD which can be tricky to diagnois and that all kids are diffrent. He is on a low dose of meds and the school work and attitude has been much better.
Funny thing is 62% of adults are diagnoised with ADHD through there own childs diagnosis. So now we are going thru this together. I see him in a diffrent light and he see's me in a diffrent light.
By far I know you will get other responses and ideas but you can check this out just with her own medical Doctor and go from there.
T.S. answers from Chicago on April 22, 2008
I do not have a teenager (my boys are 2.5 and 8 months) but I have a 16 year old sister. Both my husband and I have been a very active part of her life as my mom is a single mom. She's asked to come live with us more than once while fighting with my mom. Anyway, I work in a small office and have 3 parents with teenagers.
#1 - 16 yr old boy who has a 3.8 GPA (out of 4) and in some honor classes. Unfortunately, he has no social skills. No friends (I'm not exaggerating) and is very rude and arrogant. He doesn't have the desire to be social because he "doesn't like the quality of the kids at school."
#2 - my sister, 16 yr old girl. Maybe a 3.0 GPA and makes little or no effort to do any better. BUT, she's very social and involved in church, sports and friends. She's very strong willed and battles with my mom on a daily basis. But, she's a very polite and respectful young lady with everyone else.
#3 - 18 yr old boy. Straight A student who received a scholarship to college. He played varsity sports and was very social. I've spent time with him and he is very polite and respectful. All around a good kid.
There are all sorts of kids out there and they all excel in different ways. Obviously, non-passing grades are not acceptable but I would take a "C" student with good manners, an active social life and a good sense of self over high grades.
Personally, I don't think you can force your daughter to be a "good student" so to speak. We are all motivated in different ways. I was a high B student but easily could have done much better. It just wasn't that important to me. I don't even know what my mom could have done to motivate me to do better. Once, she said she would give me $100 if I got straight A's. Didn't matter.
All that being said, I think you need to find what gets to her. I know my sister responds to having things taken away from her. Kids have SO much more than I did growing up. Internet, cell phones, video games, etc. Which I'm fine with, but with privilege comes responsibility and maybe it's time to take away some privileges until she shows more responsibility. Not just for a couple of weeks, but until the grades are better.
Just an idea.
M.E. answers from Chicago on April 23, 2008
I have a 16 year old boy. He has to have his teachers sign his assignment book at the end of the week and give me a weekly progress report. If he has missing assignments then he can't do anything for the weekend. And, also if assignments are missing he still has to do them even if the teacher won't accept them for a grade. He has to turn them in and I have to hear from the teacher that he turned in the missing work. This is only done when missing assignments get out of hand. And, he can't do anything with friends until everything is made up. I don't know what school your daughter goes to but at VHS I can email the teachers to find out what is going on. I only check in once every few weeks. Also, it's driving time. If my son wants to get his license he has to maintain a B average, which he is more than capable of doing. Having them do the assignment book helps them to keep track of their grades weekly. For awhile we had my son have his teachers sign his book everyday to make sure he had the assignments written down and that things were turned in.
He isn't very motivated either right now. I'm hoping that next year when they start doing SATs in 11th grade and other friends start talking about college that he'll become alittle more interested.
My sons teachers tell me that he knows the stuff. His test grades prove that, it's just that he doesn't turn in his work or complete it. But things have gotten better. The 3rd grading period he received all B's except Speech he got a C-. I'm happy with that.