Teen flunking every class

sherryb2008May 22, 2007

Does anyone know what can be done about a teen who lives with his mom and is flunking all of his classes. The teen went to live with his mom a year ago because dad would ground him from the computer when he didn't do his homework. Now that he lives with his mom he doesn't do any school work at all. Dad tried talking to the mom but since she has legal custody she says it's her rules and she feels that he (teen) can do what he wants. Dad is paying child support and feels that the teen should be grounded from computer until his grades come up. Has anyone else had this problem and if so....any suggestions?

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Well, its a real concern if he is failing every class.

Its all very well punishing the child, by taking away his computer time, but how about some positive parenting, some encouragement.

Its all about habits and routines, the child gets one thing from Dad and one thing from Mum, so its all inconsistant.

Teachers need to be consulted. Ask their opinion as to what to do with the boy.

I would let the boy have computer time as long as he puts more effort into the school work. He is probably thinking he mays as well not do any work, because he can't go on the computer.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 3:31AM
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Why does he get to choose his custody arrangement? If one parent is not meeting the parenting responsibilities (education) then maybe it's time to change the custody arrangement. Is that an option?

Is he old enough to drive? Some areas have restrictions on driving priveleges for academic probation.

He needs some motivation. I agree it's a combination consequence/reward- loss or gain based on results. Figure out what motivates him and use it. Maybe you need to involve an objective third party, a counselor of some sort- someone in private practice for family counseling, or through your church, or a counselor at the school. Then both parents, the teen, and the counselor can work out a plan together. They will probably work out something in writing, a sort of contract that everyone agrees to, specifying each person's responsibilities.

I can't imagine his mother really wants her son to fail. If she can see this is about making a plan for his success in life, not placing blame on anyone or winning some unspoken battle, she can get her priorities straight.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 10:05AM
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Mom has always had custody but three years ago the teen became too much for her to handle so he came to live with dad. There were clear ground rules; ie. allowance for doing dishes, free computer time when grades were up etc. When he wanted to take drivers ed he had to have C's or better and he got A's & B's so he took drivers ed. So when his grades started to slip again he started to lose free time on the computer. By free time I mean just goofing around and not homework time. He then started sneaking alcohol so dad wanted him to see a counselor and that's when the teen decided he wanted to go back to mom. Mom saw this as an opprotunity to be the "good guy" and told her son that she would get him a new computer and a cell phone if he came back to her house, so that's what he did. And this past year his best grade in school is a D. He doesn't do homework and out of 6 classes 4 of them are F's. Dad has tried talking to mom but she doesn't want to fight with her son. Dad has talked to school officials who say that since mom is the custodial parent they have to go by what she says. Dad has also talked to a lawyer but the lawyer says that since the teen will be 18 in 10 monthes that trying to get custody at this point would be a waste of money. It's sad to see that the teen is wasting his chance at a good education. Dad tried talking to the son about it and even told the son that if he got good grades he would buy him a car for graduation but the teen said why bother he won't graduate at this point anyways. And when dad told him that that was a poor attitude the teen got upset and said that he lives with mom because she doesn't hassle him. Dad feels helpless, he loves his son and has tried to work in unison with mom but he doesn't know what to do; he wants good things for his son but what he sees now is that his son is going to have a hard life without a good education. Dad's friends say that at some point he just have to let go and let the son figure it out on his own....but that's hard to do when it's your child.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2007 at 1:13PM
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Boy, now that I have a teen and friends with teens , I feel your frustration. My friends kids also think "mom" is too strict- you know - having to pick up after themselves! Unfortunatly, the school and lawyers are probably right at this age. It's up to him if his mom won't be less lazy about her parenting.She probably can't handle him again, yet he's too big(scary?) to send back against his will? He probably has options with alternative education, summer schools, repeating this year. Maybe Dad can talk to him rationally about those options, giving his son's opinions merit and not judging him. Hard, I know. But, in a few months he won't have any options once he's 18 .

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 11:13PM
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It might be interesting to ask "MOM" if she intends to support this kid the rest of her life.. This is exactly what she is setting him up for.. What is she going to do with him when the support stops?? Hmmmmmmm..

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 6:41PM
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I don't think it is fair to blame the Mom. Why should a parent be a bad parent just because they don't punish their child? That makes no sense to me. Sometimes it is easier to punish a child because then you can say, "See, I have done everything possible and he still fails." Punishing is an easy way out for the parent but I don't think it helps most teens. Fear of failure is problaby this teen's problem. He does nothing so he has an excuse for failing. If he tried hard at school and then failed, he would be ridiculed. This is the easy way out for him. Fear of failure is a common but comples problem. This boy needs some help with his self worth and I don't think punishment is the way to do it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 12:28AM
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"I don't think it is fair to blame the Mom."


The OP says:
"Dad tried talking to the mom but since she has legal custody she says it's her rules and she feels that he (teen) can do what he wants."

It IS fair to blame mom because mom is not being a parent - she is not stepping up and doing what is right for the child! And that doesn't necessarily mean punishment....

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 4:35PM
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Re Dad tried talking.....This sounds like you are siding with the Dad. I still don't think one parent is to blame in these situations. Mom may be having very limited conversations with Dad for a reason. She says what she has to say and no more. In all fairness, if the father of my child blamed me for the child's failures,I too would have very limited conversation with the Dad. Perhaps Mom and Dad need to speak about this with a counsellor. This concern seems to be more about the Mom and the Dad rather than the Son and school. The poor kid is stuck in the middle of an ugly divorce. Of course he will not concentrate on his school work. Does he constantly hear Dad putting down Mom because of his (the Son's ) failures?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2007 at 9:48PM
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OP does not say how old the teen is. This makes a HUGE difference. Are we talking 13 or are we talking 17. Parent has A LOT more control/influence over a 13 year than they do over a 17 year old. If a 17 year old does not want to do homework, there gets to be very little you can to to "make" them. They can get very stubborn. Even the best parent can have a kid that stubborn. There can be outside factors (i.e. drugs, alcohol, anger issues) involved also that make inforcing rules an almost imposibility...for either parent. Suggestion: counseling, both parents (all if more are involved and BOTH biological parents and teen is comfortable with that), and hope the teen "gets it" before it's too late. Sad to say but most teens "know it all" and don't get it. It really isn't always the parent who's "caused" the kid to be like this, it is sometimes the personality of the teen. It sounds like in this case it was the teen's personality before, but Dad was MAYBE able to keep it a little under control. When he moved in with his Mom he became/was more stubborn than she was.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 5:34AM
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On May 23rd she told told us he is 17, "18 in 10 months."

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 2:36PM
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I missed that. Yes, as I said at 17, they "know it all". I've seen wonderful 17 year olds make awful choices. At around 21 they are saying...why didn't you XXx to the parents. As you can imaging the parent is looking at them with their mouth gaping open. It's not like they didn't try. I look at it too...it pioneer time often these "kids" were on thier own. They were considered old enough to be married, own land, enter into legal contract, etc. Kids can be emancipated at this age. No they're not usually mature enough. BUT they think they are, and you cannot convince them they are not. I've also seen these kids drop out of school, get their GED and go onto college or a trade school and succeed. WHy? Who knows. Possibly they are doing what THEY want, possibly because it is NOT so structured, possibly because they are usually paying for it! Who cares if they are finally coming into their own.

I guess what I'm saying is that MAYBE the Mom isn't to blame. Maybe the Dad isn't to blame. Maybe the kid hasn't found a learnign style that fits him. Hopefully he will "Get it" eventually and not waste his life. Food parents have bad kids. Bad parents have good kids. Go figure.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 8:06AM
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