Should we get involved in this?
Here is the situation. My nephew (DH's sister's kid) is a screw-up. He is basically lazy, addicted to computer and video games, very mouthy and is a horrible student. I've known him since he was 8 (he is now 17) and he was always lazy.
He is a high school junior (although he is still in some sophmore classes because he failed them last year) and last week his guidance counselor told him he should drop out and get a GED. The guidance counselor repeated this recommendation to my SIL, so he wasn't just trying to scare the kid. DH and I were both very upset by this. Outraged, in fact. My SIL is upset by it, but doesn't seem to know what to do. My SIL is a wonderful person, but is a big part of the problem. She doesn't know how to "parent". She is the "cool mom" and everyone likes going there (no rules, etc.). She isn't going to change, so it is a waste of time arguing about it. The kid's father is long gone. SIL lives with her fiance, who is a great guy, but when he tries to step in and discipline (just enforce rules, no hitting or anything), SIL says things like "you don't like my kid" (her last boyfriend of 11 years, who DH and I lived very much, left because of all the BS with my nephew) and "I didn't have to do chores when I was a kid" (which wasn't true. She was supposed to do them, she just didn't, leaving DH to do them all). They end up in a huge melt down because she thinks he will leave also. The truth is, he is counting the days until the kids graduates and leaves, he can't wait (he confides in me and DH). Even he (the fiance) says that if she would spend 25% of the time she spends worrying about him on dealing with the kid, the kid would be better off.
We have stayed out of the issues with my nephew except when SIL wanted advice. We would give advice (post the rules, have reasonable consequences discussed up front, enforce the rules), and she would then ignore it. Their mother (my MIL) is part of the problem. She reinforces the "soft" attitude with my nephew and says he has a hard life because his father is gone, he should enjoy being a kid, etc. "It is better that he be home playing computer games than be somewhere doing drugs". I'm not kidding, my MIL said that. The kid only leaves his room to get food (which he brings back into his room) and to use the bathroom.
My SIL is very intimidated my people in authority positions. She is smart (she is a paralegal), but has no self confidence at all. If someone she thinks is smarter than her tells her something she doesn't argue with it, she freezes (this includes people at the school, doctors, etc.). I asked her what she said to the guidance counselor after he said the kid should drop out, and she said, "I didn't know what to say". So, they never got to the reason she was there, to learn what he needs to finish school. He goes to a very good public school, so there are a lot of requirements for graduation that didn't exist when we were in school (community service, a senior project, etc.). She has no idea where he stands. She seems to think it is the school's job. I'm sure the school is frustrated dealing with him (lazy and manipulative) and her (naive and a pushover).
DH and I both have the academic abilities to help our nephew. I am a lawyer and DH is an engineer. We are thinking of proposing to SIL that he come to our house 1 night during the week and for a few hours during the weekend to tutor him. DH would do most of it (nephew has no respect for women, probably because his mother and grandmother are both total pushovers and treat him like a little prince), so it is doubtful he would sit and listen to me for a few hours (but I could help DH behind the scenes by dealing with the school and proof reading his work).
He has the rest of this year and then next year to get his act together. We don't know what he still needs to graduate (and neither does SIL), so we would need to get up to date on the exact situation at school. He probably needs summer school.
What do you think? I called her fiance and asked him what he thinks. He thinks she will leave it up to the kid, and he will take the course of not doing anything, assuring her that he will doit on his own (which he won't).
I have a good relationship with my SIL. As far as DH and her go, she looks up to him, but she thinks he is too "tough" (liek their father). He thinks she is a repeat of their mother, which is not a compliment. In other words, they get into little arguments, but they basically get along well.