Keeping Teen on the Right Track

Updated on January 22, 2007
A.B. asks from Milwaukee, WI
9 answers

I have a 16 year old daughter who seems to be doing very well at this moment.she attends a school that has given her great opportunities. She is set to graduate early, has an internship helping with k5 and has been working part time for 13 months now. Unfortunately i noticed that many of her friends have either dropped out of school or had babies or both. She is starting to take school less seriously,putting less effort in her homework and sometimes giving the school excuses so she can leave early..i have talked to her about it but she thinks im making a big deal out of nothing,,,any advice would be helpful.

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answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like your daughter has a lot on her plate at such a young age. While it makes us proud to be able to list off the accomplishments of our children, we need to be sure that they are not going to buckle under the pressure. It sounds like something's gotta give and it is best if it could be something positive so that it doesn't end up being a negative. She may be under a burden but is not wanting to let you down.

Traditionally, we as parents, think of it being our job to TALK to our kids. My guess is that you have talked enough. Why not LISTEN instead? She seems quite responsible - something you have obviously instilled in her. Instead of telling her she is taking school less seriously, why not ask her how she is handling everything on her plate. It may take several conversations and you may have to hold your tongue ALOT!!! If you can't say something in less than 30 seconds to your teenager, you will lose their interest/attention and it will become a "lecture" or "getting yelled at" in their mind even though it isn't your intention at all.

Another thing I know about teens is that their "currency" is their friends. You start saying, "I don't want you to turn out like so-and-so" and you will lose her fast. Leave the other kids out of it. You are only responsible for her.

Tell her you aren't going to make a big deal out of it anymore. You are concerned but believe in her. She knows your values and dreams for her. Tell her that whenever she needs a safe place to fall, she has you and then don't bring it up another time except to ask, "would you like some feedback?" She knows right from wrong but, unfortunately, at this point, she has to walk it out.

Good luck - this is why parents get paid the big money, right? :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Cloud on

I really don't have any good advice, since my kids are still little, and I am dreading the teen years.
Your daughter sounds wonderful :)
From experince, you really need to keep your eyes open when it comes to her friends, I was doing what my friends were, and I became a teen mom also.
I blame alot of it, of course on my choices, but my parents were so self absorbed in thier world, they made no time for us or efforts.
I really believe if the parents were to throw down guidlines and consquences with love and understanding, things might be diffrent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I was a wild and crazy teen. The advice I can give you that was not done with me is to be 100% honest. Let her know not only about teen pregnancy but stds as well. Let her know how special and beautiful sex is when it is shared with the right person at the right age. Keep telling her how important an education is. If you know any one who has dropped out of school or gotten pregnant as a teen have them talk to her. Also if you know any one with a baby that could let her take care of the baby for an entire weekend so she can see what really goes into having a baby. I dropped out my sophmore year in high school but went right back in the next year because the only place that would hire me was McDonalds. She sounds like a special child and I would point out to her. I would tell her she can be a role model and encourage kids who might not be going down the right path. Well good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Madison on

Hi A.,
I don't have a teen, nor did I get pregnant as a teen. However my mom had me at 17. She had to quit school (I was born in December), got married to my biological dad the June before I was born, and went back to get a GED. Then there was nursing school and holding a job with a baby, my bio dad was in the Navy and was not around much. She found herself on a very rough road! There were times my grandparents did our grocery shopping, helped with rent, other misc. things. In the end we all ended up just fine. But it is easier to graduate, (my husband and I did) I met my husband when I was 15, in the hall way at school. We married a year after I graduated. Here we are 7 1/2 years later with a house and 2 kids. I stay at home to take care of my kids. Life is stressfull enough trying to get a job with a diploma, I know my mom has been a nurse for about 20 years now but for a while every time she went to apply for a new position she wondered if she'll be passed up because she only has a GED vs the Diploma. She sometimes wonders if there is a pay difference.
Honestly the decision is yours to tell her what you need to and back it up what ever it is. I knew I didn't want to travel the same road as my mom. I saw it was hard. She wouldn't trade us for anything, and it has given her a chance to help others who are thinking of "growing up too soon" :) If I had just school for a job, or because I was pregnant, I'd only be able to stay at their home until I had enough to move out. I'd have to buy my own food and pay rent, buy my own clothes, and what ever else they could think of. I'd have been burried in debt before I even left! But they made it nearly impossible for a reason. Oh and we couldn't even get our licenses unless our grades were good enough, and we paid part of the insurance. We didn't live where busses run, so we didn't have much of a choice if we didn't want or couldn't get rides. We had and still have a great relationship. We can talk about anything. She would come into our rooms and ask what was new and we'd share stories. Ofcourse I kept some stuff to just me, but showing the interest helped.
Ok I've babbled enough on how great my mom is, and was as a teen :) I hope it helps you two.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sheboygan on

First off, it sounds as if your daughter is a very responsible and mature girl. From what you listed she seems to have quite a bit of responsibilities, maybe she is just starting to feel the stress of them. I would sit her down and ask her if there is anything she's feeling stressed out about or if she has too much to handle right now (too many extra curricular activities, too many hours at work, etc.). Let her know that it's ok to prioritize and if she's dealing with too much she should drop something to focus on the more important things, but if she wishes to keep all these commitments then she needs to really commit to them and not cut corners. Also try to keep in mind that just because other girls at school are getting in trouble doesn't mean she will. If you are really comcerned ask her how she feels about those girls and their situations. Don't lecture, chances are she's smart enough to realize that having a baby or dropping out at this age isn't advantageous. Just listening to her discuss these issues will help her remind herself why she works hard, stays in school, doesn't sleep around, etc., and will help you remember that you've raised an intelligent, responsible daughter who's just trying to balance the adult world she's entering and the fun world of being a kid/teen.

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answers from Milwaukee on

First; what a great mom you are being pro-active -- the last couple of years of high school can be so tumultous as you face making "adult" decisions. If she's going to college; etc., I'd talk to her about her future and how to achieve those goals; how you can help her.

Like other posts; I think communication is the key. My mom used to ask tough questions in the car -- there's an end to the discussion in sight (when we got where we were going). I've since read that as a suggestion for talking to teens. (Talking when it's not all focused on them; where there's a timeline to the discussion, etc.)

Sudden changes in personality are a sign for concern for drugs, depression, etc. When the son of a family friend went through a similar shift; the parents (in frustration) said "we don't know if we should have you tested for drugs because we've seen such a change." He began to cry and admitted that he'd been experimenting with increasing frequency. They found a residential program for a month; and gave him lots of support -- he wasn't a bad kid; active in sports; working; etc., and with rehab and family love; he got control of his issues and turned things back around. Your daughter's issues are likely much less problematic; but I thought I'd write this as support to ask those tough questions.

Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I think I may be able to help you a bit. I started working with the teens at my apts so they had someone they could relate to.( I look like a teen so they tend to talk to me).Instead of talking to her about it in the aspect of you doing most of the talking, let her. I mean, sit down with her and ask her if there is any thing that has been going on that would lead her to want to do less. Or just ask her easy things like what has she been up to. They tend to open up a lot if they do most of the talking, after all they are teenagers. you may be surprised to find out the great things that your daughter knows and the ideas they have. You may even what to try a dinner date with her I think she would really like that and it keeps you two close. After talking to them I found a great new side to them that I didn't know before. Good luck and I hope all goes well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I do not have a teenager, my baby is 7 months old. The only advice I could give you is that you can talk to her and let her know that what she does not will affect her for the rest of her life. School is a big part of her future. Most girls don't see this now, they are having babies and thinking that it is cool. My sister had a baby when she was 16 and again when she was 17 and did not finish school and she is not kicking her self in the butt all of the time. She does not have the education that she needs to better herself and she does not have the money to get the education to better herself. But I would stress the fact that what she does now will affect her for the rest of her life..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

hello i was a teen that fell off track at 15 and had very hard life for a while and 10 yrs later its finally back an track. counceling helped me it was somebody not my mom. the other thing is that if my mom wanted me to do it and said so i did the opposite. i hoped she gets on track before its to late and good luck. i'm not a professional but like i said i went through it and she could email if she wants if she needs to talk

1 mom found this helpful
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