Should a Grounding Last All Summer?

Updated on June 16, 2015
T.P. asks from Hayward, CA
27 answers

I am double guessing wether I am being too harsh or too leniant. My twin 15 y.o. boys carried a solid f throughout their whole sophmore year. Yes both of them. Their other classes sagged here and there but over all a decent gpa. They are always "grounded" but I sometimes give in and let them watch tv when I am relaxing and watching tv then I will find out the following week they shoulda been working on homework over the weekend but they "forgot" this is the part where I am too leniant.

They are homebodies so being grounded doesnt really bother them, they want to stay home and do nothing anyway. Lately they have asked me if they can go out to a dance, end of the year bbq or to a friends sweet 16 party I was actually excited they were being more social but at the same time I can't let them get away with never fixing their math grade. This is the part where I am doubting if I am being too harsh as these are once in a lifetime events.

It is college math but I dont think that the class is too hard for them. I think they didnt like the teacher and his teaching style and they didnt keep up on the work. The teacher called me at the begining of the year and told me they were having trouble. according the the teacher they werent getting their work done. According to them he doesnt explain the work and will not go over it with them. Their other classes they are getting As, Bs & Cs. They were then supposed to go ask for tutoring help,switch out of his class. They kept "forgetting" . they could have went and asked for help during lunch or after school. Pretty much all year this was the same story they kept forgetting to go. The last month or so of school, they were supposed to go talk to their counselor about signing up for summer school, they once again kept forgetting. They finally did talk to her aand by then it was too late for them to register at the community college. They had to take the class at community college during the summer, it was not available through the high school. They didn't take care of it. I also asked them to go to their school's career center and sign up for volunteering during the summer, they didn't do that either. My son was supposed to get his tennis shoes out of his PE locker and either didnt know who to ask, forgot or was too scared to ask. Once again yesterday I gave them the task of going down to the DMV and picking up a driving manual and the form they will need to take the permit test. I figured they can work on that during the summer. Guess what they forgot. It is so infuriating! I feel like they just want to be lazy and play dumb, wait until it's time to go to their dads house where they wont be accountable. Well one of my sons is asking to go to his friends party tomorrow and we were arguing about it. I feel guilty about not letting him go. I felt guilty not letting them go to the dance a few weeks ago but when I think about all the stuff I just listed I get so mad. They did not try to get their grade up at all this year.

It doesnt help that their dad and I are separated and he will sometimes get mad at them and blow up at them about their grades but then lets them either watch tv have their computer and phones or even go out with their friends.

I tried keeping them grounded all year, taking their cell phone away once I get home from work not letting them go hang out with friends. Trying to limit their laptop use which is the hardest bc it is school issued and they need it to complete most of their homework assignments. I have them sit in the kitchen as I am getting dinner ready and they will just open a small window and chat or play games. Its ridiculous and infuriating but I have to make dinner and cant be over their shoulder every second.

Let me add this, other than the problem with the grades here and there they are great kids. They are sweet and respectful. Mellow. Other than the grades they are not out getting into trouble. Should the grounding not count during the summer? What would you do?

Sorry this is so long, I needed to get this off my chest. I also did not want to leave out any important points THX

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answers from Asheville on

They are old enough now to both get jobs this summer. This will be a good lesson in responsibility and accountability, and will give them a little extra spending money. Letting them sit around all summer probably won't bother them at all and isn't reinforcing the punishment you trying to push forward. This kind of redirection might be just what they need.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

In my experience, grounding never helped and just made my kid angry. I'd let it go, if you can find a way to gracefully withdraw. Find some other path next fall.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Ok mom, let me enlighten you to "boys
This is going to be blunt. ".

"Most" "Boys" are not planners. They do not have a memory the way we do.

They procrastinate, they avoid, they shuck and dive from situations that THEY are not into. They will not mature until their mid 20's. They are just late bloomers.

Why are your sons in "College Math"? Better to be in regulars for a while and make good grades, than to be taking classes they are not interested in and not willing to do the work.They are wasting their time and this teachers time. They are now a complete year behind in math.

The fist time they did not take care of this, is when you should have taken over and stepped in. It was at that point you realized they were not going to do anything about this. Make an appointment with the academic counselor and stay on top of this.

Some parents have to drag their kids through school. You are not finished with parenting and obviously your boys are not able to do this themselves, You are not alone. But in High school, they will not chase you down. They have hundreds or thousands of kids they are trying to educate and to move on to college. You need to set the standard for your boys and let the school know you are a partner in their education.

I recall seeing parents up at the school almost every week making sure their kids that were struggling, working with the counselors and the teachers to make sure their kids were not forgotten.

There were reluctant students, immature students, and students with issues, that did graduate. Mostly because their parents never gave up. A few have finally graduated from College! Yes, 3 and 4 years after their peers, but they did it in the end.

Instead of grounding them, they need to be attending summer classes. If it is too late to sign them up for a session, see if the community college or an online course will be accepted for a high school credit.

I assume it is too late for them to find a job, so they need to go and do volunteer work. If they are not willing to search for this, you do it. Make sure they attend each day they are signed up to help.

When they are home, they are to be doing chores, and upkeep on your home and yard.

Sure they can have a a day off, but they need to learn a work ethic. YOU set that bar for them.

Make a calendar with a list of what needs to be done. Make them stick to it. That means make the goals attainable.

Ex. Sat Morning by 11:00 am, bathroom needs to be cleaned with cleanser and rinsed down.This includes the tub, Toilet and sink, Inside and out.

All of the bathroom and bed linens need to be washed, dried and placed back on the racks and the bed, by 4:00 pm. Must meet moms approval.

No TV, No electronics until these chores have been completed.

Sunday the lawn needs to be completely mowed and trimmed. by 3:00. Must meet moms approval.

And mom, no excuses from you or them. You are not alone. I am sending you strength.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Let's see-- your kids are living in a stressful situation, with two parents who likely disagree on a good many things who are separated.

How recently did this separation occur? How are the boys taking the dissolution of their family? Reading the answers below, it seems that much of the responsibility is centered on them. Why did you let a whole year go by without directly speaking to teachers, admin, school counselors-- anyone- to help your boys? They carried straight Fs because they didn't make the effort, but what changed?

You say you know they can do the work, but then let them fail through a year without any real intervention. Without advocating to put them in a class they could manage. You let them keep 'forgetting'-- I guess at fifteen, if I was struggling and failing a subject, it would be hard for me to want to follow-up on tutoring. Some teachers are very hard to approach for help. Did you approach the teacher to formalize some sort of after-school assistance? Did you contact any peer tutoring opportunities and get the boys enrolled so they just have to show up, just to help them over that one hurdle?

It's easy to put everything on the kids when the adults are already frustrated. The thing is, Expecting them to function at a certain level isn't the same as them being 'able' to function at a certain level. Think about it: they are fifteen and have two role models who are not following through with helping them.

I can't tell you whether or not to ground your kids. I can tell you that I had parents who loved to ground me and it did nothing to address why I was struggling at school or wanted to be home or felt apathetic about my future. No one was helping, just punishing. Punishing doesn't work. Helping: attaining tutoring, receiving guidance (daily, at this age- they need daily guidance if you know they don't follow up) and some mentoring would have helped tremendously.

If it were me I'd be having both boys do (very specific) tasks around the house for money to help pay for part of their summer tutoring. The boys dropped the ball, yes, but so did you. Every time you don't follow through with a consequence, you and your husband drop the ball as well. Consider the example you are setting. Stop punishing and HELP the boys.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I think it's important to take a step back and think about what your sons are really learning from all this. (It's hard to do that when you are dealing with a situation day in and day out.) Right now, it sounds like your sons are learning that if they don't sign up for the math class like you asked, they don't have to take it, and if they don't sign up for volunteer work, they don't have to do it.

Rather than punishing them for not doing what they were supposed to do, teach them how to do the things they need to do. Drive over to the university with them, walk in to the appropriate office and get them registered. Take them to the DMV to pick up the necessary books and forms. If they struggle in a class, talk to them about it everyday. Make sure you know what they are supposed to be doing, what their assignments are, when their tests are, etc., and follow up every day. Gradually back off as they show you they can handle things.

These are skills that many of their peers already have, but they don't have them. So teach them now. I know there were skills I should have had in high school or college that I was still working on. There were other skills that I excelled at that some of my peers were still working on. That's life. But you can teach them.

My parents didn't believe in grounding kids, so I don't have any experience with that. It makes me ask the question, what are they supposed to be learning from a grounding? What lesson do you want them to learn? Is it just that grounding is a punishment for not following through? If that's all, then it's completely ineffective, and you need to change your approach. Right now being grounded is a way of life. What kind of life is that?

ETA - I wouldn't dismiss the idea that the math class they were taking was too hard for them. I teach remedial math at a university (so, I teach high school level Algebra I and Algebra II). I try very hard not to let it show, but there are days it blows my mind how much some of these students struggle with the most basic concepts. Math is just not intuitive for some students. Usually at some point the light turns on and it gets easier. Rather than assume the subject is not difficult, hire a tutor to work with them a couple of nights each week or on the weekends. That could make a huge difference!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Grounding isn't working because they like being at home.

You feel guilty and you cave in.

Ineffective combination.

Why are they playing on the computer while you are making dinner? Why aren't they learning to make dinner? They can make a salad and set the table and boil the pasta water, blah blah. Otherwise, they don't eat. They are not 4 years old.

They didn't follow up with the teacher? Walk into school with them for an appointment with the teacher. Kids hate to be seen with their parents at this age - they're always walking 6 feet ahead or behind at the mall. You are allowing them to "forget" - and they are happily "forgetting" because there are no consequences in the same category. Instead of saying, "You didn't talk to the teacher, you're grounded", say, "I will meet you in the main office after school and we have an appointment with the teacher to do some tutoring." Then YOU watch the interaction between teacher and kids to see if the teacher isn't a good match or if the kids are just blowing him off.

They sign up for summer school, or they repeat math next year. Easy. They're 15 and taking college math? They must have some ability. Nothing terrible will happen if they fail and have to repeat.

Why are you pushing them to get their learner's permits? The LAST place 2 irresponsible and forgetful teens should be is behind the wheel of a one-ton death machine which requires them to not "forget" what red lights and lane markings mean. They also might "forget" that texting and driving are illegal and dangerous, that seat belts are required, or that they have to stop for that mother and her toddler in the crosswalk.

Hold back on this. You say the kids are sweet and respectful, but do they respect you enough to do what you ask? No. Do they help out at dinner or just play games on the laptop? Are they doing their own laundry? Why not? You say they aren't getting into trouble. Really? They aren't with others or the police, which is great, but they are with you and the school. So I wouldn't give them the summer off just because you feel guilty.

I know it's so hard if they go to their father's house and have a different set of expectations - or lack of them. You can't control that. If there is any chance that you and you ex can agree on expectations for grades and homework, great. Otherwise you can only control your own house.

Your kids are taking college level math - so is the expectation that they will go to college? Do they think someone will pay for them to go sit in a dorm and forget to go to class, talk to the professors, or get their work in on time? How will they get up on time, get to the cafeteria, get their laundry done, or get good enough grades to stay for the 2nd semester? If they aren't going to college, then they will get jobs. How will they do that if they haven't had some part-time responsibilities? How will they do that if they don't pass courses? How will they get to work on time or do the assigned tasks if they "forget" things? The time to learn these skills and this discipline is NOW. If you don't, you are handicapping them for adulthood.

So I would make shorter term assignments rather than summer-long grounding. They want to go to a party? Great - the bathroom needs to be cleaned. They want their favorite shirt? Great - an entire load of their own wash can be done, wash/dry/fold/put away. They do it or they don't - but it makes missing the party their choice. Every time they do 2 chores, they get 1 privilege. It's important that chores be for the family, not just for them. They can't remember their chores? Post a list on the screens of the TV and the laptop - they haven't misplaced those so far!

Do you give them an allowance? How much? What do they have to do to earn it? Make a list. Post it.

Your home is not a democracy - they are not eligible voters yet LOL. They are adults in training. If they want adult privileges (parties, driving, unsupervised trips to the movies/mall) then they earn them by showing they are not children anymore. Put the onus back on them. If they whine that they can't go to the party, your response is "How unfortunate for you. You chose not to do the laundry." If they complain that they don't have a ride or all their friends are driving, your response is a simple "How unfortunate for you that you didn't want to go to the DMV and study for the test." And if they get on your for not reminding them, you response "How unfortunate for you that you live with someone who forgets all the time. I know how that feels."

It works.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

Being grounded all summer serves no purpose and just punishes you.

Being habitually inconsistent with enforcing grounding has stripped it of all impact and meaning. Plus you've been going about it in the wrong way.

A grounding should be specific and with qualifications, not a general edict. For example, if a kid wasn't doing homework because of too much Netflix binge watching, being grounded from Netflix specifically would make sense. Just "being grounded" as a general concept does not make sense.

Although they are 15, for whatever reason your sons are very clearly not capable of managing their own stuff right now. Even if you think they can do the work it doesn't mean that was the right class for them. I think you should have been the one to sumbit the class transfer request early on in the year. Grounding and nagging was totally useless. They needed you to be an advocate and take action. Right now that means that you are the one to sign them up for classes. You are the one to contact teachers. You are the one to follow up on issues. You know telling them to get something done is not going to work, so save time and irritation by not doing it.

Forget the summer grounding. Wash the slate clean, start over and move forward. Listen to what your kids are telling you and listen for what they are not saying. Your kids don't have the confidence they should or the organizational skills they need. Your job is to teach those things to them before they will be able to handle their own business.

Being scared to ask questions at this age isn't typical either, so there may be some anxiety issues going on. Instead of signing them up to volunteer, take them to see a counselor to help sort out what your kids really need. Not just what they might need to get off your chest, but what they need from you in terms of parenting technique. You obviously love and care about your kids, so I think you'll all be fine if you just drop what isn't working and do things that will.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This actually happened with my 15 yo daughter. At the beginning of the year I told her that if she didn't get C's or better that I was taking her phone during the breaks, meaning fall, winter, spring and part of summer.

We have access to our kids grades. Part of being a parent is keeping track of our kids because they lie (shock) and you can't always believe them. So my daughter lost her phone over winter break, which is more than 2 weeks here because she was failing math, her hardest subject. So we met with the teachers and got a game plan in place for her (she has an IEP) and we haven't had a problem since.

Yes, 'grounding' them for the whole summer is too much. If they are 'homebodies' like you say, then I assume they are on their phones, tablets and game stations? THOSE are the things you take away. And only for a week or two. If you do too long it doesn't mean as much. And keep an eye on them as you go. Good luck.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

if they're grounded all the time, it's no longer a thing, is it? it's just life.
and turns you more into a jailer than a parent who is finding ways to actually help them.
it must be very frustrating for you when they daff about and don't do what's expected of them, and i can only imagine the challenges of single parenting. but grounding them isn't working, and keeping them in a permanent state of grounded-ness is really just oppressive.
and as you say, it's not working.
i think i'd actually try the opposite and give them MORE freedom and responsibility. let them suffer the repercussions of their actions by failing the class, and not getting their volunteer credits, and not learning to drive (that right there is enough motivation for most kids!).
but stop tying their going to dances, or tv time, to it all. keeping them tied to you while you make dinner is what you do with toddlers.
sometimes you have to let young adults know what being an adult is like. it can feel counter-intuitive to give more responsibility to feckless youths, but since infantilizing them isn't working (and is making you crazy, and the Bad Guy), try enlisting their assistance. what do THEY think might work to keep them on track better?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working out for you?"

Obviously grounding is not the answer. Two words:

Summer School. Otherwise, how are they going to make up the credits? How does failing two semesters each of math impact their ability to graduate when they are 18?

I think that is the serious talk that you need to have with them. Also, they should be eligible to get their driver's permit soon. Uh, no. Maybe that's the carrot they need to be motivated to get those math grades up. No Learner's Permit and no Driver's Ed until those grades improve.

You say you only talked to the math teacher at the beginning of the year, why not all year long? Something isn't right here, looks like many adults dropped the ball.

My kids have had some bad teachers too, including bad math teachers, but they know that is no excuse for getting a poor grade. Especially when there are so many resources at the school they can use.

Good luck.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Here's my thought. Sorry T., I don't mean to be harsh.

Sometimes being a helicopter parent is needed.

What are you going to do next year when they do the same thing again. YOU need to drag their butts to the car and take them to school in the morning and then walk in with them and take them to the office to get the paper work. YOU need to take them to the counselors office to talk about changing classes. YOU need to take them to the jr. college and walk in with them and get them enrolled. YOU need to be the parent and do this.

Why? They're old enough to do this themselves so why?

Because they are lazy and want to stay home and do nothing. So they just don't do what they need to do and they can do nothing. Do you see?

Because you are a type B personality you are teaching the kids to be type B too. If you were a type A personality you'd have taken care of this long ago. Being right there and on top of the situation and making them conform to what you need them to do is important. They have learned they can do this because you allow it.

So stop, go to the school and do it for them. Make them sit there and fill out the paper work, plan on staying 3 hours for them to put their signature on the paper if needed. They obviously aren't adults yet and are incapable of managing even passing a grade in school so you have to step up and take control. Reteach them, take some parenting classes such as Love and Logic. They will teach you how to make consequences they will not like and they'll conform BUT you will still have to actively manage things so they can fail and learn. Then they won't fail as much.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Obviously grounding them isn't working. And some people aren't good at math. Maybe a tutor during the year?

It's pretty typical for 15 year old boys to forget a lot of things. They are really pretty squirrely at that age. That's why moms usually have to micromanage them.

They are great kids, they are sweet and respectful. They have a broken home with an incompetent father. A math grade isn't everything. No, you absolutely should not ground them all summer and you should let them go to their social events. Becoming happy, successful adults is not dependent upon one math grade.

Actually, it doesn't sound like you should ground them at all. They don't mind it, and it doesn't work. Figure out a way for them to pass math in the fall. And as others said, a job would be great.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Grounding for the summer isn't really the issue. I grounded my oldest son (then 16) for 6 months last year, which covered the entire summer, but it was because he did something incredibly stupid, reckless, sneaky and dangerous so therefore, he lost the privilege of doing anything besides work, school and hockey.

The problem is that what you are doing is 100% ineffective. If you keep doing the same thing and are getting the same lack of desired results, doing more of the same isn't going to help.

I would really recommend some counseling sessions for you and your boys, and their dad if they will attend. Attack this as a problem that needs to be solved, together. It's not a discipline issue per se, there seems to be more to it. Get a 3rd party involved who can assess the situation and some up with a practical solution that would actually work.

Also...your kids would probably benefit tremendously from paid work. They are old enough to work this summer - make them get jobs so that they are out of the house and productive.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

summer school and/or tutoring. Grounding will NOT teach them math.

I don't know what kind of math it is, but there is a website that I was using to help me re-learn some chemitry. FREE website -

They're not little kids anymore. They need to start interacting with you like young men, so if they weren't your kids, wat would you do? Approach them as young men who need to deal with something and involve them in problem solving.

Some kids suck at planning. But there are apps for that. Have them research apps to help them NOT "forget". But natural consequences if they do forget. They can't drive if they don't study and pass the driving test. They can't graduate if they don't pass.

Re. the school issue computer, if there's an info line, call them and ask them how to disable/password protect the chat stuff

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Grounding is not the correct fix for low grades in math. Extra math tutoring or math homework will help improve math grades, not an entire summer of being socially isolated and watching tv at home. Get them in some sort of program so they can work on math skill for an hour a day and then let them enjoy the rest of their summer.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Well, from your post it doesn't sound just like grades are the only problem.

What would disturb me more is they say they will do things (talk to counsellor, look into this/that, get shoes from school, etc.) and don't do them. No follow through.

To me - that is the larger problem. Because they also are not telling you about it. So at 15, you are having to go check up on them all the time, reminding them, and fixing things for them when they don't care of it.

So they are not being responsible. How do you teach that? That's a hard one. Not all teens are - and you're not the only one for sure :)

However, instead of grounding them, then they go to Dad's where that doesn't apply, and sometimes you give in ... I would say "if you want to go to party tomorrow, here's what you have to do first"...

Can you have them make lists? and then they have to check off stuff (stick on fridge even) so you all know that what you are asking them is getting done? Go over it daily to begin with. I

As for the math grade - that's sometimes quite common. I had a sister who could not get math. Great grades in everything else but math was always a problem, so she did summer school. Even then .. it was hard.

I would hire a tutor separately from the school - have your kids go to their house so they have to pay attention and set that up over the summer. Get them some help yourself. If you leave it to them, obviously they are not going to do it. Perhaps they are now so sick of math and all this grounding that it's become a real 'thing' for them to avoid.

I would get them working this summer too - that way they are not just being homebodies, or volunteering as you say. I wouldn't leave it all up to them to do through the school.

I too have to chase my teens - so you're definitely not the only one. But I would tie rewards (going to party, etc.) to having stuff checked off they need to do. Mine don't leave the house until their rooms are tidy and stuff taken care of (homework, etc.). Just a rule that applies to everyone.

Good luck :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

The trouble with being grounded all the time is that it loses its effectiveness.
This is hard because it's one class they are blowing off and not all of them.
If you don't apply yourself at school you end up doing menial hard labor jobs (a whole lot of sweating for very little money) so maybe a taste of their possible future might go a long way to motivate them.
Have them get jobs at landscaping companies, asphalt/paving company (they lay down driveways), farm laborer, bussing tables, washing dishes, etc over the summer.
They'll make a little money but maybe they'll see they don't want to spend their whole lives doing this sort of work and in order to make that happen they NEED to put more effort into school.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I would drop the grounding immediately. It clearly didn't accomplish what you wanted it to and continuing to do something ineffective over the summer seems pointless. You can't punish kids into learning. You need to figure out why they can't or won't and fix it. Have you asked them what they see as the issues and let them brainstorm solutions?

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

I had a professor in college explain that punishment is only punishment if it brings about the desired change in behavior, otherwise it is the application of unpleasant stimulus for no reason.

I try to keep this in mind when designing punishments for my kids. It sounds to me like what you are doing isn't working so doing more of it make no sense at all. I think you need some different tools with these kids, inconsistent grounding isn't getting the job done--in general, any punishment you are willing to hand out you need to be willing to complete 100%. If you can't or won't, pick something else or don't bother. I think doing nothing is probably better than doing something that is inconsistent.

Your boys appear to need more guidance and help learning to be responsible for themselves. Can you work out some systems (maybe help them make charts or lists) to help them remember and be accountable?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

A punishment that does absolutely no good is pointless. You said yourself they want to stay home anyway. And they don't socialize enough.

So no, keeping them in from the little bit of socializing they want to do is not the answer since they are always grounded but they still don't improve.

They sound pretty comfortable for 15!! When I was 15, I would get grounded for bad grades, but I also had to work several jobs. I babysat, I bagged groceries at a grocery store, and I washed dishes at a restaurant. And if I was wandering around aimlessly at home? Oh the chores that could always be found.

TV was NEVER an option. We didn't even have American TV in Germany and the military station had nothing. How could I avoid the drudgery of so much work??!!! With school work. Then I could stop the chores and work on my school work. All done with homework? Then I could work on my portfolio drawings to apply for art school one day. Or I could sew since I always wanted weird clothes and no one would buy them for me. If I wanted to see my friends I could go out to socialize if I wasn't grounded. But none of this flunking and then hanging out at home all comfortable and stuff. Not enough incentive to change!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Gamma nailed it. Please rev up your helicopter engines for a while. Please shift your focus away from the details of their grounding -- which seems to have zero effect on them anyway, so it's not really a consequence for them -- and focus now on changing how you, yourself, handle their academics.

Time for you to stop trying to make them more responsible for themselves, for a while. Your intentions really were good when you told them that they needed to sort out first tutoring, then summer school because they didn't get tutoring, then community college because they blew getting the summer school information. But why would two kids who can't manage to get tutoring that's readily available right at their school then be left to handle registering themselves for summer school and community college? The red flag was waving way back when the teacher said they were struggling but they were still told to handle everything themselves. Sometimes we do have to step in and help kids manage things as crucial as dealing with a course that's being failed. We're always told to let kids deal with natural consequences, but the boys seem to feel no pain from failing this class, which was the consequence.

This summer, I'd suggest you get them a math tutor so they are readier to retake this class next year, and you require them both to work to pay for the math tutor. They don't get to keep their cash except what's left after the tutor gets paid. No exceptions. I'd make them save that leftover cash too, for any tutoring they might need in the fall -- maybe make it contingent on grades for the first quarter of the year: You release their cash to them at Christmas if they maintain a certain average in this class.

It might be hard to find "real" jobs for them this summer (in our area teens their age can't get a lot of summer or part-time jobs; too many adults are willing to take them, or people don't want kids under about 16 to 18 at many jobs). So you might have to boot their backsides to find other work wherever they can--yard work with neighbors, etc.

They have royally messed up their junior and senior year math progression, especially if they were on some fast track for math (I figure they were if they were placed in a college-level class to start with?). Sadly, they should have dropped down into another math class as soon as the teacher said way back when that they were struggling. Now they and you have a price to pay, literally.

I would also take away all screen time except some on weekends that they EARN from you by doing household things. Not the same as their paid work, either. They should be too busy with work and tutoring and homework from tutoring to have much time for screens and outings. I don't think the grounding affects them, so maybe after a few weeks of real work on their parts on both math and earning money, you can permit social time. But it sounds as if they are so used to being asked to do things, and getting away with not doing them, and feeling no pain at all when they don't do them, that they really need a wake-up call. You're worried about being too harsh, but when you let them take responsibility they ended up with an F, a repeated class, and no responsibility learned.

If there is any online component to tutoring: You do know already that they chat and play games while online IN the same room as you. Disable their access to everything but what they need for the summer math work. When you see anything else on the screen, shut it down and give another consequence, such as taking away an expected outing.

As for their dad, unfortunately you have zero control over what they do at his house. Prepare for them to raise a real stink with dad over how mean mom is this summer. Be ready for that, and be strong enough to deal if their dad reports back to you that you're being too tough. If dad blows up at them about grades he ought to have your back and do the same with them as you are.

Most important: Next school year, from the very start, be all over them when it comes to math. Don't trust them, yet, to do anything they say they will regarding school.

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answers from Portland on

Added for clarification. T. said they are failing but she also said they are getting As, Bs and Cs.

Geez, NO. if they have a GPA of C or more and the class is not required for graduation, there is no reason to ground them at all. If the class is required for graduation, they need to take summer school. That is consequence enough. Are they going to take it at the junior college?

I've found, parenting teens, that if they haven't been able to take responsibility by then, they need more hands on parenting. Sounds like you're expecting them to do something they aren't able to do. So, you follow through by taking a different approach. I take my granddaughter to register for events that are important or remind her as she goes out the door. When she had a phone, I texted her midway through the day. With your sons, you know they don't follow thru. I suggest you also don't follow through. What happened between the first of the year and the end? Did you not know that first month after knowing they were having difficulty? If you knew, why didn't you do something?

My granddaughter has ADD. she has difficulty focusing. Her mother talks with her teacher and her school counselor. Your sons can have great support from staff. So can you. But if your son's don't ask for help it is your responsibilty to ask.

I suggest that the school is unaware or believes that your son's have academic difficulty because they get As, Bs,and Cs. That is not failing. Why do you insist that they do better than that without giving and getting support for them?. Grounding doesn't teach them anything. Neither does allowing them to continue avoiding responsibility until the end of the year. They needed your support, your teaching your help all year long. It is not fair to ground them now for what they've not done all year long. If you say you've grounded them thru the year, obviously that is not working. Have you also praised them, helped them get those tasks done, or do you treat them as failures because they don't get straight As? Find out why they didn't follow through and do something about that.

I suggest you're overdoing the punishment which has caused your teens to not care because what ever they do is wrong. Your are punishing (grounding) them instead of disciplining them. Discipline helps them make improvements. Punishing creates anger and a devil may care attitude.

Read Parenting With Love and Logic. It will teach you how to teach, how to discipline in a way that helps kids learn.

You are so lucky to have teens who earn passing grades. I don't understand why top grades are so important to you. Teens only do what is important to them. Do you know what is important to them?. Have you helped them find ways to achieve?

Perhaps I misunderstand your post. You said they were failing but then you said they have passing grades, get As, B's, and Cs. Which is it. You say they are in an advanced math class. They wouldn't be in an advanced math class uness they were getting at least a B and more likely an A in a regular math class. Why didn't you help them change classes? You said they could do the work. I suspect that you wanted them to stay in the advanced class.

Please learn to support your son's where they are at instead of being upset and making outrageous punishments when they don't reach your goals. They have to want straight As to earn straight As. I suggest if you praised them for Bs, they are more likely to improve that grade. Talk with them about their interests and goals. Accept that this year happened in this way because you also didn't follow through.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

It seems like a lot of your efforts have not worked. They've been grounded, reminded, had privileges and electronics removed - so, it's time to re-think your methods.

That old silly expression "he'd forget his head if it wasn't attached to his neck" was pretty much invented for teen boys. A pretty girl walks by, or they see a new baseball glove in a store, or they see an ad for a new video game or movie, and the rest of the world is a blur. Or they're dealing with hormones and growth, and they're hungry even though they ate 5 minutes ago...

So, get a white board ( a big one) Put it up where everyone can see it. Give each boy one half, and make a list. "Make an appointment with my guidance counselor." "Put the appointment on the family calendar". "Get my shoes from your PE locker". "Find my permission slip and ask Mom to sign it." "Turn in my permission slip." "Get Joey a gift for his birthday party." "Ask Mom if I can attend the party and put it on the family calendar if the answer's yes." And then write down consequences next to the assignment. No guidance counselor appointment? Well, then they'll have to repeat math, and perhaps not graduate with their peers, or take a summer school class. No shoes? If they get left so long in the gym that they get thrown into the lost and found, or the trash, you're not spending one penny on new ones. No gift purchased? You're not running to the mall 20 minutes before the party. No party on the calendar? You're not available to drive them. This list is for essential responsibilities.

And don't bother with the extras. Don't remind them to go to the DMV. If they don't go, they don't drive. If they want their permits, let them figure out how to get a manual, how to study, and how to get the money together. Tell them ONCE that you'll help them get their manual if asked politely, and leave it at that. Don't remind them about parties or social events. Keep your reminders about training them to be responsible young adults (jobs, belongings, schedules, grades, etc).

Also, get a big calendar and put it up. If they wish to go to a friend's house on a particular day, they must ask, get permission and clear it with your calendar and then write it on the family calendar. If they don't follow through with the plans, then you're not available for transportation. You won't run like crazy trying to help them get a last minute gift, or change your plans. But if it's on the calendar with plenty of notice, you'll do what you can. Teach them that in the real world, when they have jobs, a boss will require planning, preparation and notice. Set up a situation where they can see their requirements (the white board) and plan for events big and small (the calendar). Tell them you'll work with them and accommodate them when they have developed the ability to plan and prepare, and when they've developed personal responsibility.

This way, you've established the ground rules in advance, and you've sat them down and explained things clearly, and the "punishment fits the crime" so to speak, and they know what to expect.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I never punished for bad grades.
She knew that if she failed a class, she would have to take it over. If she failed too many classes, she might have to repeat an entire grade.
Natural consequences.
And I would never punish myself by setting a consequence that required me to be hovering over my kid all day every day for three mionths.


answers from Washington DC on

Grounding is obviously not working, and a whole summer? Really? I mean if it's not working why continue it?

I also don't mean to be harsh - but you have to take some responsibility here. If my kids come home with something less than what they are capable of, I am communicating with them and the teacher if needed. We don't give them an opportunity to fail - we show them how to help themselves succeed and give them the little nudges of support when they need it. They need help, and both you and the teachers should have been helping them through the year. Sorry, but I wouldn't be grounding them at all.

I WOULD let them do the work to help pay for whatever help they need at this point, because at 15 some of the burden falls on them to ask YOU for help. Some teachers are scary and not so friendly to the kids who struggle. But they can absolutely do the chores to equal what the pay would be for a tutor.



answers from San Francisco on

Sounds like being forbidden to do things doesn't bother them too much and also doesn't address their problem of not getting things done. Volunteering is an excellent way to get them to DO something and get out of their comfort zone. Since they were not proactive about choosing thier own volunteer organization, they could be given the choice of volunteering at your organization of choice if they don't find one themselves by a certain date.



answers from Boston on

Do they play sports or have another adult to be accountable to? Are they smoking pot??

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