Teenage Step-daughter and Homework

Updated on May 18, 2011
P.F. asks from Laurel, MD
11 answers

I have a 17 yo stepdaughter (however she has lived with us for the past 9 years and I consider her my daughter). Anyway, she is not turning in her homework assignements (espeically English). She is on medication for ADD and has some accomadations at school. I don't know what to do. She is getting A's and B's in all of her classes, except English in which she has an "E". I check her grades at least once a week to see what she has or has not turned in. We have taken away phone, TV, going out, video games, concerts. My husband says let her fail. I hate that!! We ask her if she needs help or if she has done her homework and believe her when she says she doesn't need help or did do her homework. I work full-time and I also have a 4yo daughter. I am completely at a loss. Most recently she had an assignement due and she didn't turn it in. When I asked her why she said it was due when I (not her) was in pain with a kidney stone. Wow! Any ideas would be helpful. I understand she needs to take responsibility.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, then let her take responsibility!
Getting an E in O. class is not going to doom her for life. It certainly isn't motivating her right now is it? Let her BE responsible!
Have you talked to her teachers? Is there more support needed in some aspect at school?

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

My niece won a literary award the year she flunked English. For the same "didn't turn in work" reason. Her mom made her take English over the summer AND she had to pay for it AND she lost dance lessons because her time was taken up with summer school.

If she does fail, then maybe you and DH do something similar and make it not worth her while to fail any more.

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answers from Dallas on

I haven't ready any responses, but I agree 100% with your husband, let her fail. I would sit down with her and let her know how much you love her and want her to be a success in life, but she's 17 and needs to start taking responsibility. Remind her how you have reminded her to turn in homework, and she hasn't done it, and you are done doing that. She's on her own, she makes her own choices in life and has to deal with the outcome. tell her not to expect you to bail her out either...
You are a great mom and sometimes being the parent is harder than our kids think, we have to give them the right tools to succeed even if that means they fail on their own, in the long run it will help them.

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answers from Dallas on

Sounds like you have done everything you can, it is her turn to take resposibility. She is old enough to know what to do. If she fails then that is on her, you tried. I know this might seem harsh but I think she might need a wake up call.

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answers from Austin on

This is one of the hardest things about being a parent.. Allowing your child to fail. SHE needs to understand SHE is responsible for her own grades.

If she has to retake the class, so be it, it is her problem. There is summer school, sometimes online classes.. Or she can retake it next school year.. Quit trying to save her. Soon she will be in college or working and you will not be there to save her.

Does she do the homework, but just not turn it in?
My husband had this problem in high school.. he is ADHD.. IF he did the homework, then he would forget to turn it in.. Or just would not turn it in.. Drove his parents CRAZY!

SHE needs to figure out a way to keep up with homework, do the work and turn it in.. She needs to find that solution.. otherwise this is going to continue..

If she turns it in late, sometimes, teacher will give a late grade, but it is really not fair for teachers to have to go back and grade old papers.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

I agree with your husband... let her fail.

But, if you really are dead-set against it... get her a planner that she has to write all assignments in. Have the teachers sign it every day. When she gets home, you SEE the completed homework before she gets to do anything fun. She turns it in, and the cycle continues.

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answers from Richmond on

I do not have any sage advice; I just want to tell you that I TOTALLY understand! My almost 15 yo stepson (who lives with us and always has) is exactly the same! We have spent years standing on our heads getting this child to do his homework and to take some responsibility for himself. We have tried every suggestion from books, teachers, counselors, tutors...you name it! NOTHING has worked; once he digs in his heels on something, that's it. Nothing we say or do or take away makes a difference. We have gone so far as to strip everything except furniture and clothes out of his room and start selling off his stuff - didn't phase him in the slightest. At this point, his counselor/psychiatrist is finally believing us that there is more than ADD here - he has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and is probably Bipolar as well (his mother is Bipolar so we aren't exactly shocked). To the people that say "let them fail" - that is a whole lot easier said than done. First of all, it's hard to let your child fail - it's not a parent's nature. Also, in our case, he failed kindergarten so he's already teased for being the oldest kid in all of his classes. If he fails another year, he will be 16 going into high school, 2 years older than classmates and almost 20 when he graduates - worst of all, we fear that the teasing will only get worse at that point and he would end up just dropping out. In our state, you can't make your children go to school once they are 16 yet you are responsible for them until 18! Anyhow, my point is, I understand where you are and you have my sympathy. It isn't easy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

My daughter's homework was her responsibility, not mine - esp at 17. Are you going to be reminding her about papers and projects when she goes to college next year?

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answers from Phoenix on

My 11 yo is ADD and has accomodations at school (an IEP, your step dtr should also). Your husband should not just say to let her fail, neither should she be punished for this. She has a diagnosed medical disability and simply needs a system in place to help her. My daughter has this problem also. She was not remembering to bring home homework and/or she would forget to turn it in. So she was getting F's in everything. So now we have in place a system for her where she has a binder that the teacher checks daily before she comes home that she has written what her homework is and that the pages are in there. Then at home I see if its there (sometimes it would disappear in LaLa Land before getting home!) and she does it, I sign her binder that it was done and is back in there, the teacher checks it in the morning to make sure its turned in. You have to get a system in place so she knows what is expected of her. Also don't just accept her word that its either done, or she doesn't need help. You need to stay on top of it and help her. Talk to the teacher, principal if needed and the school psychologist. There should be a "team" in place to help her with her needs at school and at home. Good luck.


answers from Richmond on

Get her a tutor. I was failing miserably in Algebra until I got a tutor... then suddenly it 'clicked' and I was that kid acing every test and ruining the point curve for everyone ;) You could go through the schools guidance counselor to see if they have anyone they could recommend. Usually college students majoring in that particular subject do it for little to nothing!



answers from Washington DC on

If you understand that she needs to take responsibility, there's nothing else to say or do. Let her take responsibility.

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