dealing with teens/pre teen

mom_of_4February 24, 2011

I am going to try my best not to ramble. I used to post here regarding issues with dealing the my skids bm and the many many issues that arose with that rocky relationship. Thankfully (and I can not say the enough) things are 100% better. We still have the kids most of the time. Although officially we have them every other week, the weeks that they are with her I meet her every morning and every afternoon with the kids to take them to and from school and wedneday's and friday's they are still with us because of her job. I am not working right now because I was laid off and then as a family we decided that I would go back to school and home school our oldest last year to help him get caught up. He is back regular school this year, but finding a job is nearly impossible so I am still at home and going to school but I am basically the primary caretaker for all of the kids.

My problem is with our oldest boys. At the beginning of the year our oldest (13 7th grade) spent the entire 9 weeks lieing about his work and almost got two referrals in less then a week. He wasnt doing any of his work at all and was lieing just about every day about it. We talked, we yelled, we had conferences with teachers. I finally setteled on every time you tell a lie I am taking something away and it is never coming back. I am tired of yelling. He was grounded for nearly an entire 9 nine week period because of his grades. He finally got a clue and brought all of his grades up. So, I told him that okay now you can earn things back with every A you bring home. However, now the younger son (12 6th grade) is doing almost the same thing. The difference with him is in his own head he is always right. He argues that he didnt lie even when he literally just lied. For example: "Do you have homework tonight?" "No." "Really, I spoke to your teachers and they said you have x y z to do. Why did you say you didnt have work." "I didnt want to do it." I then ask why did you lie? And his response is always an argument about why it wasnt a lie and blah blah blah. Now, I know middle school is a tough time for teenagers and I know teen boys can be a hand full. But, I am starting to get to the end of my rope. It seems like every single day there is something new. A new project that he didnt bother to do, a new lie about the teacher said I didnt have to x, when I full well know the teacher never told him that.

I am at a loss. I am tired of taking things away and I am tired of them being grounded. But, I also dont want to say oh, well if you fail you fail. Their education is just to important. And on top of everything, I feel like I am the one that is being the bad guy all of the time and they are going to end up hating me for it. Dad works so I am the first person to handle the problems. DH does always back me up and reinforces the consequences and lectures. BM attemtps to back us up and says the right things when we are all together but then when they are at her house even when they are grounded (a punishment she agreed to and sometimes came up with) lets them pretty much do whatever. For example last weekend younger son had a project to do not to mention being grounded for lieing. Instead of making him do the project she let him watch a movie with her. She is working overnights now, and quite frankly I think she really cant handle the schedule and is burned out with dealing with the situation. She has gone from being on top of it, to crying to me about dealing with them, to just shaking her head and not doing anything. DH is tired of it and has started to say well if he wants to fail let him fail. So, now it is down to me. While I know that I am the one out of the three of us that is not working and admittedly has the most time and family resonsibility to deal with this... I am starting to see the resentment build. And bm just confided to me that the boys run hom to her to complain about being in trouble and so on. Supposedly she said she is backing us up but I have a feeling the conversation is more like a "Oh baby Im sorry but..." That is her usual M.O. "My poor babies"

I dont know what to do anymore. I am trapped at home dealing with two teenage boys that pushing their limits to say the least and now I am feeling less and less supported and more and more like the boys are going to end up just hating me. I am out of creative ways to stop the lieing and get them to do their work. I am also completely exasperated with the lack of support. I dont want to rock the boat with BM because it took us so long to get to a positive point in our relationship but I can feel it boiling over... particularly when the oldest comes home and I ask did you do your research for your project last night? and he tells me he only looked up one thing because BMs laptop's battery was about to die and instead of hooking it up she said dont worry about it. But, she has no problem saying the a project needs to get done no matter what when they are with us and I am the one that is going to have to spend the entire night carting them to the library or helping them on a computer. I am trying to be understanding that this job schedule is killing her... but my understanding and patience is about to end across the board. Advice??

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oh boy...I hear your pain.

My nephew did not do well his last two years of high school, he was just so lazy and so unmotivated. Not like he failed, but sure did not do well at all. He does great now, graduating college and is going to continue his education, he also works two jobs. Who knew... Sometimes it is just age?

My DD did not do well one year, I think it was 7th grade, about age your son is not doing well? For her it was age and finding herself in this world and growing up.... It passed.

Do your kids understand natural consequences? Like if you don't do well you will be held back and it is embarrassing, if you don't do well you won't be able to choose good classes, won't graduate on time, won't get to good college, you won't have a good job etc etc It did seem to work in our cases.

To be honest with you maybe sometimes "you fail- you fail" is not a bad logic. They will face natural consequences of repeating classes and embarrassment. maybe let them face it especially at high school. They usually learn pretty quick that consequences of repeating classes are much worse than mom's grounding. LOL

Do they have intrinsic motivation to do well? Like career plans?

To be honest with you I don't know how much grounding and punishment works. usually not much....Did you talk to school counselor and his teachers, what do they think?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 6:06PM
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Frankly, I wouldn't bother with the "Why did you lie?" -- You know why he lied, and frankly, it doesn't matter *why* he's doing it -- It's always unacceptable.

I'd suggest scheduling a conference with his teachers to let them know you're on their side and that they have support at home. Ask that you be able to tell what his assignments are -- web site? email? While you don't want to create extra work for them, you *do* need to know what work SS needs to get done, and you *can't* rely on him to tell you.

Then I'd set up (with Dad's FULL involvement) a simple set of rewards and punishments. If SS's list of homework agrees with his teachers, he gets a point for being honest and responsible. (This is one that'll be easy for him to earn.) If he's missing assignments or lies, no point. Points for every assignment he completes on time. Points for every good grade. Lost points for failing to complete or turn in assignments. Points eventually translate into priviledges, cash, whatever will motivate him --

True - this shouldn't be your job. But the plain and simple realities mean it will be you enforcing it every day until he gets his act together again. I'd make sure Dad and BioMom are both visibly involved with the set up and rollout, and I'd let them know how critically important it is that they support your effots -- since you're the only one left actually willing to *make* an effort!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 6:45PM
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I like the idea of a point system... that would take away the exasperation of going in a circle every day (including today) Unfortunately, for the oldest failing isnt an option because the schools will not fail him ever again because he failed once. So, if we dont make darn sure he does his work and knows the material they will pass him along anyways. Younger son does understand natural consequences and does have specific career goals but that doesnt really phase him right now because he feels he can charm his way out of it, which, unfortunately does work for him... a lot. At our conference with the teachers it was the same thing as always he is just so sweet and so nice blah blah blah... so we made sure that he was there so we could tell the teachers about all of his lies about them and his school work in front of him.

It is not really that I dont think it is my job, because it a job I accepted, (at least in my opinion), when I married my husband and took these kids into my home full time. But, I do get frustrated with being the heavy all of the time. DH doesnt really seem to get it when I talk to him about it. He just tells me "the kids know you have been more of a mom than their mom has ever been" To which, I think okay yeah she is a flake and I am not but she is still their mom and they are teenagers... they cant see the whole picture just the immediate this is the person making me do things I dont want to do and taking away priveledges but my mom doesnt do any of that... I get to watch movies with her instead of doing my work.

Plus, it makes me seriously concerned for the later teenage years. No matter how much control we have now that fades the older they get and if I (or we) can't get it through their head that doing the right thing means doing the right thing even if mom says don't worry about it....what do the major hurdles have in store. I mean lieing and not doing school work is big, but there are way bigger things... girls drugs driving all kinds of things. I dont know it worries me.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 8:17PM
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When my son began middle school, the middle school suggested that all students have a mandatory study/homework time set aside at home. When my son started running into problems I instituted the mandatory homework/study time and it helped a lot. If my son didn't have homework every day, then he used that time to study or clean out his book bag.

Another thing I did was to make sure it wasn't worth his while not to spend a reasonable effort on his homework or not to turn in his homework. If he didn't do his homework, then when I found out the homework wasn't done at a later date we still made him do that homework. And then I graded it at home. He still got a zero and no school credit, but there was no way around getting the work done. It was either get it done on time, turn it in and get a better grade, or do it late and get a zero. Either way, he had to put the work in. Every test he got back, he had to figure out the incorrect answers. So if he didn't put the effort in to get a reasonable grade, he still had to put the work in on the back end.

I also had conferences and frequent communication with the teachers when needed.

We also coupled this with both short term and long term rewards whenever my son did well. I think when a middle school student is constantly grounded and having lots of privileges away it can get very, very discouraging for them. So it was important to me that when we started having even a little good news we celebrated in a way that was meaningful for him.

The other thing that seemed to make the whole process work is that I was very, very consistent. Consistency was the key. It sounds a lot easier than it was. It was actually very hard and frustrating for both of us, but it worked.

I hope you find something that works for your family.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 12:43AM
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"DH doesnt really seem to get it when I talk to him about it. He just tells me "the kids know you have been more of a mom than their mom has ever been" To which, I think okay yeah she is a flake and I am not but she is still their mom and they are teenagers... they cant see the whole picture just the immediate this is the person making me do things I dont want to do and taking away priveledges but my mom doesnt do any of that... "

Mom Of 4, I'm sorry but I don't have any useful advice - I've got my own homework issues with SS8. I just wanted to sympathize with your frustration with the "Oh, you're a great Mom" comments - I get them too. Presumably our Secret Step-mom Superpowers are going to be enough to magically undo years of damage, neglect, and/or guilt parenting done by one or both bio-parents. I am thinking about finding forums devoted to foster parents, because honestly I think that the situations step-parents are in is often a lot more akin to that than to regular "parenting" roles - it seems too often like we're trying to patch the kids back together just in time to send them back to bio-parents to watch it all be undone again.

There's some good advice here; I hope that you find something that works. Hugs.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2011 at 8:49AM
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Presumably our Secret Step-mom Superpowers are going to be enough to magically undo years of damage, neglect, and/or guilt parenting done by one or both bio-parents.
LOL, Mattie, that was awesome.

Mom of 4, I really like Daisy's suggestion of homework time. Thirty minutes (or whatever time is their usual allotment of homework from their teacher) is set aside. Every day. End of story. Whether you have homework or not.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 7:15PM
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Totally agree with Daisy :)
I feel for you going thru this rough patch of child rearing, I really really do.
My only contribution (if it's any at all) would be not to "argue" with the kids. They have a way of getting way off course in order to distract us from the task at hand. It took me awhile to see what they were up to, finding myself getting into it with a 9 yr. old was ridiculous. (The most frustrating part of child rearing). Somewhere along the years I came upon a stock phrase to any retort they'd toss my way...which was "that's not the point". And I'd calmly keep repeating it until we got back on track.
No arguing with a child. Charming or not. You don't have to.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:50PM
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You mentioned that one of the boys already failed a grade. Does he have a learning disability?

I love the idea of setting aside a certain amount of homework time each day and dedicating it to school related tasks, even when kids say there is no homework. I had to start doing that in my home.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 11:44PM
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yes, the oldest has add... which I work with to upteenth degree. We actually already have the homework rule... ours is more like even if you dont have homework you have homework... you have to review what you did in school that day to make sure that you understand everything. Which, is why I find it so frustrating that he or rather they lie about having homework. It is not like they get out of doing work, they just end up in trouble for lieing and not doing their homework. It is ridiculous in a lot of ways ... why spend an hour reviewing everything from the day when you could have spent 15 minutes doing the assignment the teacher gave you.

They are just playing every angle that they can and unfortunately it's working on a lot of fronts and I am exhausted. For example: the kids were at their moms house this weekend. The oldest had a report to do. I meet BM at 6 monday morning to take kids to school and oldest didnt do his report. I asked if BM knew and he said "well I asked her if I should finish at your house and she said I guess so" Ofcourse I am highly irritated because we had a very specific conversation on satureday about what he needed to do. And, ofcourse, I make him sit there and do his report. But, to top off the entire deal I show DH what he didnt do... he gets onto oldest ss about it makes a big deal. But then I have to go to school that same evening (report did not get finished before school which I made sure DH knew) and I dont get home until after 9 and he didnt do the first thing on the report and DH says that he didnt realize what he needed to do. So, I end up staying up with ss until late late to make sure the report got done. And then, the next morning DH gives the grounded boys doughnuts even though it is his own rule that when grounded you dont get treats.

I don't know... I feel like they are doing it to test me sometimes. It's not like anyone else is holding them to right and wrong and doing what they are supposed to do. (well I suppose that is unfair DH does back me up but i feel like if I didn't say this is the problem it wouldnt be brought up) Really, I honestly feel like they are testing how far they can push and I will still stand strong... but then I feel like maybe they are starting to have an attitude of you arent my parent that has never really been an issue before because they weren't teenagers.

i tried to disengage tonight and just let DH handle everything but that sooo didnt work... it is not in my nature. I tired to busy myself in my room organizing... I didnt ignore them, I helped them with homework and answered questions but my goal was to make sure that DH made sure they got their homework done and made sure they werent just wandering around doing nothing... but i couldnt help it... I couldnt just watch oldest ss playing with the girls knowing that he had a stack of homework on his bed... ugggghhh it pretty much boils down to I am frustrated!!

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 12:48AM
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