August 17, 2008,
V.S. asks from Sheridan, WY on May 01, 2008
Teenage Son Slacking His Freshman Year.
My son is 15 years old and has always been on the honor roll until now. I am so heartbroken over this. He continues to tell me that it's harder this year. I know he's a very smart young man and can do this work. I know that his friends are not bad kids and he's definately not doing drugs. I am trying desperately to get through to him that he needs these good grades for scholarships. He isn't listening to me. How can I make him understand without him learning the hard way and not being able to have the money to go to college? I've tried to tell him to stay after for extra help. He doesn't do it. He is the only child too. Any help would be grately appriciated.
So What Happened?™
I am so overwhelmed with all of the advice given. It was much needed. I ended up being teary eyed when I finished reading them all. I will be taking bits and pieces from each of you. My son is the most important thing in my life and to fail him would leave me devistated. Thank you again. V.
M.R. answers from Missoula on May 02, 2008
Don't keep telling him that it is just to get a scholarships that will just make him not try any more and fail school. let him know that when he gets older and when he has kids they will be smart just like him. and that he is tring to hard in school to get the work done all he has to do is com down and hw will under stand what the teacher is telling him and the rest of the class if not just ask one of the kids on what he said that all ways helps.
D.T. answers from Denver on May 02, 2008
I can understand your concern. I was an advanced student and I have two children who are honors students, my 17 yr old, who is a junior, just qualified for National Merit. She also had some trouble in her freshman year and went from a 4.0 to a 3.5. In her sophomore year she was in an honors calc class that was too high a level and actually got a D - her first ever. There are a few things you have to keep in mind: your job is to raise and educate a confident fully funtional adult, high school is a big change and many kids need time to really adjust, communication is the key and bright kids think differently.
You want what is best for your child based on your understanding of that, make sure the two of you are in alignment on what he wants and what his interests are. At this age those are likely to change many times, allow him more responsiblity each year, where appropriate, discuss options and possible outcomes and let him make choices without judgement. I've found that driving is a good time to chat, no one can walk away, you are focused on driving and so you can't get too reactionary and kids seeem to relax in the car. Share some of your experiences - how did you really feel starting HS? Did you have some teachers you didn't like, some you loved who made the subject come alive? Keep it positive but realistic, he's smart enough to know when you are BSing. What it really comes down to is either you've done a good job (and it sounds like you have), or not. Increasingly, it's up to him. He needs you more than ever now but in a different way. Talk,talk,talk -communication is the key. Tell him, not that you expect straight A's, but that you expect him to do his personal best. You set the standard,take responsiblity and show him how an adult functions- no excuses - explainations, what can I do differently are ok. What happened, who is to blame, is only useful if it allows you to figure out how to solve the problem.
If he is as smart as it sounds, he will turn it around but it won't be because of nagging, punishments, or desperation on your part. He wants to please you but he is also growing up and needs some distance and the opportunity to discover who he is going to be - he will do some exploring, help with avenues to keep it positive. Stay positive, state clear expectations for personal best and them you live the example.
My daugher, who got the D in honors calc, recently got a letter from Yale saying that based on her test scores she should qualify for addmission and based on income would get a full ride. If I had freaked out and dumped on her, she might have shut down and quit. Instead we got her into another level of honors calc and I built her up - "I had a tough time with calc at first too, had to take the class twice. You can do it if you believe you can, you can handle this", but she was the one who did it! Hang in there and keep it positive, this is just a bump in the road.
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D.D. answers from Salt Lake City on August 17, 2008
My son is now 16 and going to be a Junior in High School. I have talked to a lot of parents about this issue and discovered that this is totally normal. So don't sweat it to much, however you can't ignore it. What I have found to work the best is to let him know that his cell phone, spending time with his friends and skateboarding (or whatever he is into at the time) are privileges and in order to continue to have those privileges he needs to be responsible and put his schooling first. This was the best thing I ever did because instead of constantly arguing with him and always being the bad guy for telling him that he couldn't hang out with friends, all I had to say was, "I don't know, can you hang out?" and he would hop on the internet and check his grades himself.
We did have quite the run in one time last year (when he was a freshman). He was saying that he WAS NOT going to waste all of his time doing nothing but studying and have no social life. He then began to tell me that if I thought average wasn't good enough that he would show me just how bad he could be! I immediately got right in his face and said "BRING IT!!!! Give me your cell phone and your i pod and go up to your room, you are grounded for 1 week minimum and possibly longer! Needless to say that he was apologizing later that evening and we had the best week ever.
D.W. answers from Colorado Springs on May 02, 2008
Good Luck on this.... I have a 17 yr old daughter that has slack off so much in school it's on real. she did fairly well the first two years in high school and this year has gone down hill. It doesn't matter what I try to tell her she just blows me off like I don't know what I'm talking about. Up to this year we(her and I)had decided for her to go into nursing until she took couple of classes at the high school this year to go towards her degree for nursing and that all went down hill now because it's not what she wanted. As of now she doesn't know what she want to do. this is the latest... going to a community college part time and working part time but that depends on her dads insurance what will cover her. So, AGAIN GOOD LUCK!!!
N.H. answers from Missoula on May 02, 2008
high school is tricky and it is so much about appearance and where you fit socially. i think in hs it is not really always "cool" to be smart. and even if he didn't before he probably now cares, maybe even just a little, about being cool. i think some kids back off of academics alittle just so they don't seem nerdy. tell him why you think his grades are important and tell him what you expect from him grade wise. then tell him what will happen if this expectation is not met. don't freak out don't make it a huge deal or keep bugging him about it. he sounds bright so he will find his way. he just needs some space to do it on his terms in this new landscape. if you make it a huge deal(talking with his teachers or bugging him constantly) you may make the battle worse than it needs to be. if you start to see other significant changes in behavior then a talk with his home room teacher may be warranted. for now just let him do what he needs to do his freshmen year t make it through. his life will not be ruined if his grades drop a little. best of luck to ya, N.
J.S. answers from Denver on May 02, 2008
Hey V.........you might want to ask him what he's feeling about himself, or life or Dad or you. He needs to be included in a conversation that is NOT judgemental so that he can get a sense, in himself of what's up for him.
And, you need to see him (in your thoughts & feelings) as an empowered young man. Anything else IS judgement based on your fear, which doesn't help either one of you. Keep breathing, Mom. J. Sexton www.tag-youre-it.com
S.B. answers from Salt Lake City on May 02, 2008
This advice just comes from my own personal experience. My parents always told me that if I didn't get good grades I wouldn't go to college. I had some psychological issues in high school and that made my grades go down. I therefore stopped planning on college as early as my sophomore year. I'd been told all my life that I wouldn't be able to go to college without good grades. That is simply NOT TRUE. It is possible to work your way through college, or take student loans. It is perfectly acceptable to start at the community college. Most 15 year olds do not comprehend the impact their current actions have on their future life, but PLEASE don't tell him he can't go to college. It's a lie. I will regret for the rest of my life that I was convinced that I couldn't go to college without a scholarship. Scholarships are nice, not necessary. He does need to try his best, that is something you should expect from him. But if he is honestly trying his best, DON'T PRESSURE HIM FURTHER! High school is definitely harder than middle school. If he's being an overall good kid, trying his best, any further pressure from you will just make him rebel. This is my own personal experience of course, but I remember vividly my best not being good enough and therefore I just completely gave up. If I couldn't be good enough trying my best, why bother trying? Please be patient, he's learning.
C.N. answers from Salt Lake City on May 02, 2008
I remember my freshmen year. It was a huge challenge for me to adjust to High School. I had been the top of my class in Junior high and then all of a sudden the other Junior High children that had learned so much more than mine. I convinced myself that was what it was all about. Looking back I realize that I was very depressed.
Near the end of the school year just before coming to High School, a classmate had died while in surgery. We weren't that close so I never connected how I was feeling with his death until years later. Is depression a possibility?
Your son is just at the age when his body's hormones are starting to really kick in and any biological imbalance will start manifesting itself.
Perhaps it time to stop pushing and get some help for your son. Whether that looks like a social worker, youth program, medical doctor or even a life coach, perhaps you need some assistance with this one.
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J.C. answers from Denver on May 02, 2008
You have a lot of good responses so i will make mine short and sweet. I too had issues with my son when he was 15 however we got pass this period. We had to go through some hurdles but yet we survived. He is now graduting from CSU in two weeks and on to DU law in the fall of 2009 should he get accepted. Hang in there he will not derived too much from what you have taught him. He is testing the waters and will soon get his priorities back in order. Be patient.