Consequences for Bad Grades- Etc Summer School- Vacation

Updated on March 01, 2017
R.P. asks from Studio City, CA
19 answers

My stepson (17)has bombed eveyyclass is now getting help has not had the best behavior or motivation to get things done, chores, homework had over a month to turn things around and didn't. consequences are now in place some natural some given- if he doesn't pull up grades or does not t do his chores he's losing privileges.

He also had a chance to go to China which has been paid for as long as he can pull c- or better he can go the trip is in June. He will need summer school for the whole month of July to do 2 classes and 2 online classes in order to graduate next year.

We had a family trip planned the first week in July. Me DH and our 3 kids. Now ss is stuck in summer school. Do we pull out of our trip. Dh says no he doesn't go!
Also ss made a purchase on line with dads cc. Dad pretty much has stated since he will be in summer school as well as this last stealing episode that he doesn't go on trip. He thinks The others should not have to suffer or us. He's known all along right from wrong . It seems harsh but dh thinks it will send the right message as well as he ruined his summer not us so it's also a natural consequence.

It's hard to swallow I feel bad . He's getting the help he needs now- tutor counseling etc to help get his grades up. But he repeatedly has has bad behavior doesn't listen to his mom when they've asked him to do this chore or hmework etc

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Agree with many posters- agree immediate consequences - for stealing. He already tho loses his phone, iPad, roku for a day any time he doesn't get his chores done or hand in homework assignments. Behavior not adhering he loses for additional day.

Stealing my dh felt not going on the trip would be The punishment and be told now immediate - and then on top of summer school for low grades.. this will be a significant punishment for the stealing. As much as it's delayed he will be told it now .. I was torn for similar reasons stated below - e.g that as he gets older we will have less family vacations together, due to just life , schedules, wanting to be with friends etc. we get that. It's already impacted us due to his spring break schedule being different then our kids that aren't in high school.

I even said to his dad, that family vacations are our choice , and the older they get it becomes their choices , their money ( maybe with some help) and maybe an invite from us sometimes to join us. He thinks like a child still. he does have ADHD has been given many tools to correct, to have help and he just acts very entitled. He lost his phone already because I think he felt this would not stick so he acted out when he was told u didn't do something and he went ballistic. Biomom let him rule her for quite sometime as he's been living there (during school week) for last year with basically no consequences. A little late I say , but he also is almost 17 and knows what's expected so I think he figured he'd just keep getting away with it.

As far as moving a family trip it's not always that simple. We already have to cancel one room,and moving a trip can cost money.why should we lose out? Part of me gets it, and part of me feels bad because he does need his family. But this is not new, He's been told before he might have to go to summer school ( month or so ago) because he's failing. Anytime we'd try to discuss it he'd avoid it. He's been late to class as well. He had an entire month to turn things around with expectations placed, and just basically shrugged it off.

He does have China which the others don't and that's hopefully going to happen. And actually it might be a very good lesson , trip experience on his own etc .. different culture, country..

I do agree that there could be some underlying issues - which he refused to get help. We had therapy and he just wouldn't be honest. I think coming down on him is maybe a rude awakening. But he needs it I believe since he acts entitled all the time. He also has to start looking for job just anything to help him grow up..chores are difficult for any kid and it does make us nags constantly asking, etc. . But we are talking basic stuff no clothes on floor, clean up after yourself , daily grooming he won't even do basic stuff , lazy.. unmotivated.

Again the last thing we want is to exclude him , but life lessons, disappointments are part of it, as well as growing up..

*******gamma no summer school is only option. There's no after school etc etc he's at the end and he's been told before etc etc. mom is at the end of her rope and school has advised this is his only option if he wants to graduate on time

***itsnotfun yes he's been flailing I have zero control over though on what goes on In biomom and step dads house. We do have a good copsrenting arrangement. There choice was to give him a month to turn it around. They reminded him , helped him etc and he failed. So we had an intervention meeting with an action plan he's trying to do his best now. He's hot help during school ( yes I already said maybe biomom acted to late and not the right course of action- therapy yes he should try to find the right fit ** coparenting different houses is not easy. That's the biggest issue as much as we do our best to compare to it's still hard. He has struggled all his life zero motivation drops everything. The tutor should help but he's goi g to be 17 he knows what's expected. The law is laid down here. This was a new school to help him I agree nothing works except firm direction and help. But he also fights it.

Credit card was out away he got online somehow into an account

And no he's not on drugs he doesn't even go anywhere and he's all bark with no action. He's a scaredy cat and nerdy when it comes to anything. But will it happen maybe. I'd be the first to know because I'm very observant and sensitive to these things and idk what he does at moms. But I know he doesn't go out much.

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answers from Washington DC on

One thing I would add is that, if he needs therapy or any kind of intervention, do it now. Once he is 18 all decisions are legally his to make. Be prepared.

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answers from Beaumont on

My opinion. The LAST resort would be to have him miss a family vacation. Fam time is too precious and since he's 17, you probably won't have many more all together. Does he not understand the work or is he not trying? If you must take away something, take time with his friends.

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answers from Boston on

Every action has a result and I applaud your hubby for his willingness to show his son that his action of not applying himself this year will have the result of attending summer school if he want to graduate next year. Too many parents coddle their kids way past the point of coddling. In 2 years he'll be off to college and there will be no one looking over his shoulder to make sure he stays on track. Showing that school is important now will hopefully have far reaching results.

So yes he misses the family vacation and goes to summer school under his mother's supervision. This is not ruining his summer its showing him that his education is important and since he didn't do it in the 9 months he had to accomplish the grades then he'll have to devote 1 month to catch up.

The old saying ... he made his bed and now its time to lay in it.

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answers from Boston on

I wouldn't cancel the family trip, not at all. Why should everyone be punished? He can miss it. Your husband has made the call. Assuming that your stepson will be staying with his mother, rather than needing supervision in your home, it should be easy to manage. I understand the point made below that there won't be a lot of opportunities to travel with a 17 year old, as he gets older and goes out on his own, but I also think a good solid dose of grown-up reality is what this kid needs.

I think the China trip is a tough call - it's been paid for, so there's incentive to get your money's worth. But if he isn't trustworthy, I don't see how he can go out of the country without parental supervision. So I think he should have to make the money to pay back whoever prepaid for the trip.

I think the grades are a tough call - he needs help and "now" is getting it, so on some level, he should have had help and consequences earlier. That's a parental problem, I think. If his grades are low because he's lazy, that's one thing. If he is truly struggling and perhaps has a learning issue, that's not something you punish. You get him the help, yes, and make him stick to a schedule, but you don't penalize him for it.

But stealing with a credit card? You nip that one in the bud with serious consequences. You say "this last stealing episode" - are you saying this has happened before? Then you really crack down on him. I think delayed punishments are tough - the kids don't take them seriously. I'd do something much more immediate, like take away his cell phone (put the saved money toward the China trip reimbursement) and really restrict his computer use (only use it in front of the family in a public place). He has to earn back your trust and he has to see that his decisions cost money. If he is shuttling back and forth between your home and his mother's, then some strong and equal co-parenting are essential to make the consequences a uniform thing which is the only way it will have any impact.

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answers from New York on

It's hard to parent someone else's 17 yr old (hard enough to parent your own!) and I don't see a lot of detail regarding Mom's position on this (and maybe it isn't relevant). I have raised 5 17 yr olds, soon to be 6, and I also have had to make some tough decisions on when to let one child's behavior affect the rest of the family and when not to. So, here are my two cents:

1. At the point that the behavior is purposeful, then the family does not need to suffer along with the wrong doer. Family time is extremely important - I agree. But I would never set up a situation that shows younger children that a reward is offered to a child who PURPOSEFULLY does not follow the house rules or society's rules. I'd exclude the 17 yr old from the vacation with the caveat that if he turns things around in the future, another family fun time may be scheduled (maybe not a trip, but family time nonetheless). It shouldn't be presented as a punishment, but rather an outcome of the ongoing behaviors.

2. I would consider having longer loss of privileges (again, not knowing where biomom falls, I don't know if it would work). When our son didn't turn in his homework (and then wasn't truthful about it), he lost his iPad - for a week. Late for curfew? 1 day of car loss for every 15 minutes late. Some kids have to be hit pretty hard for a period of time (more than a day) to truly "get" the consequences of their actions.

3. I would start drug testing your step-son. Sounds a lot like a kid who is using, to me. I'd also do a sweep of his room when he isn't home. Stealing doesn't usually start at home (where you are most likely going to get caught).

4. Start talking with your husband now about what boundaries you intend to set at a couple in advance of things getting worse. Kids can tell when parents are floundering, and back-tracking, and changing the rules and their minds. Work out now what you are going to do and stick to it. Share those with your step-son and hold him accountable for his actions.

5. Finally, step back as much as you can and let dad handle the big stuff. It's hard, but sometimes when things don't work about, a parent can blame the other non-bio parent (or the other bio-parent if they are divorced) simply because they are angry. Be supportive of your husband's decisions, but try to stay out of the decision making process where and when you can.

Good luck!

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answers from Wausau on

You do not cancel your trip.

If your stepson has to be in on-site summer school classes during the first week of July, then obviously he can't go on the vacation with you as his obligations will not allow it. He needs to stay behind with his mom and get it done. If he doesn't live with his mom, then arrange to have a responsible adult stay in your home while you're gone in July.

Not going on the July trip is one of the natural consequences of his behavior catching up with him. If he hadn't dinked around during the school year, he wouldn't need summer school. If he didn't need summer school, he'd be available to go on the trip with the rest of you.

It would not be a natural consequence to punish the whole family by canceling the trip. It would also teach the younger kids to be resentful and strain relationships.

The stealing is a separate issue that has to be addressed differently. It has nothing directly to do with the trip(s).

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answers from Portland on

The repeated bad behavior is a big red flag to me in regard to going to China. Misbehaving in one's own home, with Mom and Dad, is one thing. Misbehaving in a foreign government? That's a whole, big bad other beast. Foreign countries do not take kindly to people who think they are above the rules. Not letting him deal with his consequences, as agreed upon by your husband and his wife, only sends the message that he is *special* and the rules get bent for him. Ugh. No.

Listen, I am the LAST person who would try to punish a kid into doing better, but I think you need to back off on this. Your husband and his ex decided, together, what the consequences were. He's not a child, he's nearly adult. If he had stolen another person's credit card, he would have been spending time doing community service, working to make restitution, etc. He's LUCKY it was his dad's credit card, but I also suspect he knew this before using it and counted on the fact that it would be handled within the family.

Frankly, if my son used my credit card without permission, there would be hell to pay. I'd also not trust him in a foreign country until I saw a complete about-face in his behavior for a consistent period of time. You can look at this as a 'mean punishment' or you can look at this as one last chance to keep him out of trouble while he's young. He's not showing the maturity one needs to travel without parents.

Perhaps I come at this from a different perspective: I have seen, in my own family, the long, lifetime result of a lack of expectations. It's angering, crushing and sad, how that lack of expectations has translated into a life free of real consequences because 'they can't handle it'. No, they 'can't handle it' because they were never made to deal with their actions in the first place. The more we shield our kids from consequences when they are young, the more they fail as adults because they have been getting the message that they 'can't' deal with things the way most other people do.

The caring thing to do is let him muddle through the consequences of his actions. This is life. He's less than a year away from being a legal adult. You are not going to be able to force him to attend school, graduate, get a job or move out or go to college. Admit that HE has to be the author of his own fate. I mean, I had completely Effed Up parents, and I still had a job at 16, was working after school and saved up enough to move out by 18 or so. Your husband and his ex aren't holding him back-- he's doing it to himself. Let him learn now, or you will be stuck later wishing that you had.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with your DH. Go on your family trip with your other kids. Your 17 is nearly an adult and needs to accept the natural consequence of failing in school is that now he has to enroll in summer school. So he's not available for summer travel during summer school session. If he were in middle or elementary school, it may be different. But a high school student needs to earn credits to graduate. Why would you cancel the whole trip and not let your other kids have that opportunity? If SS can stay with his mom for that week, or a grandparent, aunt/uncle, or trusted relative, and attend summer school that's absolutely what I think he should do. That's not harsh, that is a natural consequence.

The credit card purchase is a separate issue. He should pay you back the purchase price, with his own money if he has a job, or with special chores he can work off the debt

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I agree with your husband. If he can't go on vacation because he has to be in summer school, he has no one to blame but himself.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I'm not sure what sort of counseling he attempted before, where he wasn't honest. Was it group counseling? Individual? Did he like the counselor?

I just went back and looked at some of your previous posts, and this child has a lot of issues, not just bad grades. Not just this incident with the credit card. Outright disrespect and defiance to his father (your husband) and the bio-mom and her husband have washed their hands after years of whatever went on there... You are rapidly losing time. He's not really a *child* now, but legally you will be without recourse soon. Sounds like an intervention of some sort might be in order. Have you guys done anything like that? What is your relationship like with his mom/step-dad? Can the four of you get together in any meaningful way and sit down with him alone (the five of you) and have a conversation about all of this? Did he ever have counseling after what I assume was a divorce (between his bio parents)?

Almost all teens, especially boys, go through a phase of testing limits and boundaries, trying to be men and separating themselves from the wishes of their parents in one way or another. But the disrespect you spoke of in previous posts sounds like more. Maybe the rules were different at bio-mom's and he ran the house. If it started at a young age, it can create big problems.

I don't think he needs to go on the trip, no. And I don't think it needs to be cancelled, either. But something *more* and substantial needs to go on. And I don't mean summer school, or doing chores, or losing his phone for a day or two. He needs help. Sounds like he's been screaming for it for some time now. There's an underlying reason for his lack of respect for the parental figures in his life, and someone needs to be able to communicate with him openly and honestly about it, so he can grow and work through whatever it is.

I am not usually one to offer up counseling as a first option. Or even second option. But I think he needs a neutral party to help him. If he hasn't seen a counselor individually, he needs to do so. Maybe you can set it as a requirement for keeping his phone or whatever, I don't know. But he needs to have someone on *his* side (in his mind he needs to know they are for HIM, not for you, his dad or his mom/stepdad, not to report back on him, not to help you *manage* him)... to help him navigate the adult world that he is hurdling headlong into. A lot of kids don't appreciate the magnitude of their decisions at his age. Or their behavior. Or it's long lasting consequences. He's disrespectful, has no interest in his schoolwork or classes or grades, and he's actively stealing. I wouldn't be shocked to find out he was AT LEAST experimenting with drugs. Possibly to help him cope with whatever it is that has him so at odds with all of the adults in his life all the time. Unresolved issues from the divorce, or living arrangements or additional *half*siblings, or whatever...

It's so easy to be harsh (and I don't mean to suggest he doesn't need hard consequences, not at all), but it honestly sounds like he is flailing and doesn't know how to escape the ride he's boarded. So, he lives in denial. And if he continues to live in denial, he will fail, and he will remain a high school student, and not have to face the tough choices fast approaching: college, military, vocational training, a job, providing his own income/living arrangements, and other adult responsibilities... which it sounds like he is doing his level best to avoid now.

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answers from Oklahoma City on


So there is absolutely no way at all, with no tutors or teacher help that he's going to bring up his grades? And it's only February? Even our girl can do tests over and do extra credit work and find ways to bring up an F to a B before the end of the school year.

That's what I don't understand, it's only February and he's already guaranteed that he's going to flunk classes. Why? That's what I don't get. He has 3 months.

You know what? I'd do this so completely differently.

I'd have him in after school tutoring with a program in the school. NOW He'd be working on pulling his grades up NOW instead of planning on summer school.

A trip to China is something that I would not in any way take away. That was earned in the past and you can't go back on that. He earned it already.

As for the summer vacation thing I'd wonder this. What will he be doing while we're gone for that time period? Will he be doing his work? Staying at home alone? Party time? Blow off summer school time?

I'd do the vacation and get him fixed now instead of waiting until summer.

Drop all electives if possible and put him in work study hours instead. If his electives will help him get into college then you have to focus on them staying on top of his to do list.

Our girl dances, sings, acts, and plays basketball. She isn't going to win any scholarships on basketball so it's for fun. But the dancing and singing and acting are things that can get her excellent scholarships that will pay her full way through whatever she ends up doing.

So we never cut her out of any of those classes or activities.

There are smart ways to cut back on extra stuff and not so great ways to cut things out.

I would do the family vacation for one huge reason. Family bonding. Spending time with your family helps cohesiveness, builds long term bridges over hurt feelings and bad interactions/choices, and it brings a family closer overall.

If you can't move the vacation to June then keep the plans and go.

Hubby needs to make sure his credit cards are put up and that won't be an issue again. I do thing SS needs to rebuild that trust but that's going to take a long time.

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answers from San Francisco on

The key here is to get to the bottom of this change in grades. Once you figure that out, the consequences / next steps will become evident. Bombing below C- on all / most classes is significant, and I will assume that this has not always been the case. As a parent of a child with ADHD, we just experienced this in 6th grade. There are many things that my child could have done differently, but she did not. Instead, she let things unravel. School offered academic support, but at the end of the day, what she needed was social support, as she had been tangled in a friendship that was bringing her down quietly. Once we figured that out and worked through that challenge, academics turned around. It reads to me like your son has challenges other than academics, and they are systemic. Summer school will not resolve that, and punitive consequences might well augment that problem.

Try to help him figure out his challenges, and the grades will follow. At this age, it could be anything: drugs, worries about getting into a college -- any college, worries about leaving school, date life, bad group of friends, involvement in sports, worried about family life, especially if he does not get along with the adults -- or all of those combined.

If your family does care about academics, you need to find out what's really happening before he falls too far behind. If it is a discipline and responsibility that you worry about -- after all, 17 is almost considered adult -- then you still need to figure out what's happening and get him the skills he needs to overcome, pronto. Loss of family time and a change in supervision at a time like this does not exactly seem like a great idea. Then again, I have not parented a teenager yet, so full disclosure.

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answers from Portland on

Well it sounds like he will already be going on a trip - to China - so if his mom will be caring for him while he does summer school, I can't see why you wouldn't still go on your family summer trip. I get it sucks he can't come but he won't be available to go. Here, we've had to leave kids out of family things if they had a previous obligation - that's life. It balances out in our family though - other times, other kids will have to miss something.

I know it's a big deal - a summer trip - but honestly, I wouldn't make the others sacrifice their summer plans because he's getting help and going to school.

The only other option is to change your family trip plans to August. Is that a possibility?

As for the marks - sounds like he needed help. As for the chores, some of that is pretty typical. I would just up the types of chores he needs to do in order to still go to China. One of ours is going on a school trip also. On top of his regular chores, we've added a bunch more. But it's on myself and my husband to stay on top of him getting them done. A teenager is not naturally going to want to do chores first.

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answers from St. Louis on

All you really need to do is remind him of the natural consequence that comes with failing school - no college, no job, no freedom, etc.
I second the comment that said to treat him like the adult he is about to become. Very important to establish respect. You cant take respect out of the "box" of you didn't put any in. I highly recommend reading the five love languages of children, it was very insightful for me! I've heard great things about parenting with love and logic also.


All you really need to do is remind him of the natural consequence that comes with failing school - no college, no job, no freedom, etc.
I second the comment that said to treat him like the adult he is about to become. Very important to establish respect. You cant take respect out of the "box" of you didn't put any in. I highly recommend reading the five love languages of children, it was very insightful for me! I've heard great things about parenting with love and logic also.

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answers from Washington DC on


You need more help than I or anyone else here can give you.

Your marriage needs counseling and your step son needs serious counseling.

Your step son has not earned the trip. However, you can't just leave him home alone for your trip. You need someone you can trust to stay at your home and monitor him while you are away. No kidding. Yep. I know he's 17. However, he's behaving like an insolent 5 year old and can't be trusted home alone.

I'd let him fail. Make him do his senior year again. This is HIS responsibility. His mom and dad created this by having different rules at each home and not co-parenting together.

Good luck!



answers from Miami on

I think you need a teen psychologist to work with this young man. He is "at risk" in several ways.

I agree that he cannot go to China. Letting him go after all of this will show him that there are no real consequences to making very poor choices. Real life doesn't work that way. If you bail on your responsibility to him as parents to teach him that he doesn't get what he wants when he doesn't deserve it, you are going the "easy way out". That being said, if his dad is too "authoritarian" with him by being on his case all the time, your son could go the opposite way out of spite. That's one of the reasons a psychologist would be helpful.

It also may be a good idea for him to get a job. If he can't get through school, he may end up needing his GED and seeing how hard it is to do things on his own. It won't be long before he will need to make his own way in the world. Requiring him to move out (maybe as a roommate to someone who will make him pay rent) will help him grow up faster. Not going to college should mean moving out and taking care of oneself...

A psychologist can help him see what is down the road. You don't have any time to lose - you should start this process now. If he starts to put this in his head, perhaps summer school will be successful.

The tutor is good and all, but he's not learning to shoulder the responsibility of studying on his own by having a tutor. That's another reason that a psychologist can help. And your husband has to deal with this issue too. Some sessions with you and your husband together with the psychologist would help.



answers from Chattanooga on

If your boy is in summer school to help improve his grades then no, you dont pull him out to have a family vacation, IMO. Have a stay-cation instead. He'll no doubt see how his poor school behavior has now affected the entire family. I believe its important to show our kids that bad behavior has consequences. Its a hard lesson to learn but an essential one.



answers from San Francisco on

I teach troubled teens, and I'm pretty successful with them. One of the reasons I think I'm successful, is that I'm not particularly punitive. I extend a lot of trust to them, I praise them any time they are doing something positive, and I try as much as possible to make them the masters of their own destinies -- doing their work because they are motivated to do so, not because they are going to be punished if they don't.

At 17 he's really too old to punish with losing privileges anyway, at this point in his life he's going to succeed because he's motivated to do so. Start treating him more as an adult.

Since your son is trying to pull up his grades, how about choosing your battles. Why don't you tell him he is exempt from household chores while he is trying to pull up his grades? It's really more important that he do well in school than that he washes dishes, unless he plans to be a dishwasher for a career. For reasons I won't go into here, I did not make my kids do almost any household chores, and they were honors students who are doing just fine in their adult lives. Chores are not a necessity for development, especially if you haven't been successful in implementing them up until now. And once he's on his own, he can live in any slovenly fashion he chooses, and it won't affect you.

There is almost NOTHING so maturing as travel, so I think you should allow and encourage him to go on this China trip, no matter what. I do not think the trip to China should be based on his grades. He will learn more on a trip abroad than any number of classes he could be taking, and isn't the whole point of all of this to educate them anyway?

I don't understand about the family trip -- is this a different trip than the China trip? If stepson is stuck doing schoolwork and can't go, then go without him. I don't think everyone needs to miss out on a vacation just because of one person. Are you comfortable leaving him alone at home during your travel? Is there a grandparent or someone who could stay at the house with him?

Overall, my response is, at his age, stop all the punishments. Try to treat him like the adult he almost is, and approach him with the attitude that you believe in him, and that his success, or lack thereof, in his for the making. I think you will find this approach to be much more effective than constantly punishing him and taking away privileges.

As far as the stealing goes, if this is the first time, I would tell him very sternly that what he did was stealing, that you expect it never to happen again, and I would let it go for now. Sometimes a calm statement of disappointment goes a lot further towards making them feel shame and regret than bringing the hammer down. You HAVE to start treating him like an adult. Treat him with trust and respect and belief that he can do this. Kids tend to live up to the bar you set for them. If you constantly punish him, the message you are sending is negative, and he will react as such.



answers from Columbus on

Is he motivated to change his behavior? If he's not, then counseling really isn't going to help much. What will work is allowing him to experience the consequences of his actions.

Honestly, your hands are tied because you legally have no control over him. (I was the step mother of a very troubled teenager, so I understand what a difficult position that is to be in.) What you can do, however, is be a sounding board for your husband and offer a more objective opinion.

You might want to look at Outward Bound's Intercept programs. They are designed specifically for kids who are struggling. They aren't boot camp programs -- a child isn't forced to be there if they don't want to be. But sometimes that experience of being in nature and accomplishing something difficult can be really powerful. One of my co-workers sent her son last summer, and it was life-altering for their entire family.

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