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Mom Refuses To Allow Her 'Education Buttons' To Get Pushed

Dear parent: I’ve responded where you see these arrows.

Just as you predicted, we are having some good days as well as bad. My 16 yr old sophomore just got caught skipping a class (chemistry) 2 days in a row this week--his girlfriend turned him in as they were arguing/breaking up (I think they are back together now). He was in the lunchroom. He was given 2 detentions. He now is saying he "may not serve" them. I kept my composure but it is really hard.

We also got his progress report in the mail yesterday and as he has been telling us (for several weeks) his grades are lower. I truly thought he was doing this to get a response out of me, and he didn't. He is getting a C- in chemistry (was a B+) and a D in advanced algebra (was a C). I did tell him (as I have been for the several weeks now) that it is his responsibility/future etc. and I cannot MAKE him get better grades. I did try to engage him in a non-biased discussion about how did he feel about it, why did he feel his grades were dropping, what he could do to improve them. He said he felt they were ok, he didn't care anymore, school is boring, etc. Is the correct action to do NOTHING?

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Close to nothing.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I would ask to see his report card. And I would reassure him periodically that he is “more than capable of making all A’s and B’s.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Remember, we provide intensity (i.e., acknowledgment and praise) when things are going right (i.e., kid making C’s, B’s, A’s), and provide no intensity (i.e., getting angry, arguing, lecturing, threatening, allowing our ‘education buttons’ to get pushed) when things are going wrong (i.e., kid making bad grades). School is your kid’s job. Bad grades do NOT fall into the “chore” category -- nor the “behavioral problem” category.

This is harder for me to accept than I thought it would be. I did tell him to bring his books home for the next few days and spend some time with them open and I would still take him to part 2 of driver's training, as he has not been violent, misusing his phone, etc. This would only be a piece of paper getting closer to obtaining his license, but I'm not ready to let him get it yet.

>>>>>>>>>>> To allow a kid to get his driver’s license is to “foster the development of self-reliance.” This is what we, as parents, are always shooting for.

I should also mention that our 19yr old son has been a poor student since the 8th grade. He has been tested and was found to be perfectly capable of doing the work. We forced him to go to summer school twice and to a tutor (all of which he paid for) but his grades never improved.

>>>>>>>>>> More evidence that when parents allow their ‘education buttons’ to get pushed, they ultimately ‘lose the war’ on ‘bad grades’.

He would scan his report card into our computer and then change the grades/comments. He would try this over and over again. I had to go get them directly from the school myself. We waited until the last week before he graduated to know for sure whether he would or not.

He did attend college this year and we just found out he is not academically eligible to come back. I found this letter in the outside trash. He once again was trying to change the grade for us (his parents) to see. This was in the trash also. He was paying for college on his own with the understanding that we would reimburse a % based on the grade he received.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> I REALLY like this idea …now you’re thinkin’.

Since he is of age, he does have some choices to make (attend community college, work full-time and pay all of his own bills in his name and live at home and pay rent, or move out and pay all of his own bills). We have given him until the weekend to tell us of his plans. He also will hardly talk to us about this. I now know we handled it wrong, but this occurred long ago.

>>>>>>>>>> I think the “living at home” arrangement (pays rent) will work for a while, but remember – “self-reliance is key.” He really should be OUT by age 20 if you want to be consistent with this model.

My husband is having a terrible time with this method, but he is at least listening to me most of the time and trying to just not be part of it and letting me handle the behaviours/consequences.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> Good. I’m glad he stays out of your way.

I feel I am an emotional wreck as my boys (especially 16 yr old) test me over and over. I just need clarification to simply let the grades go down with no action/consequence/discipline. I did read the book (over and over) and listen to the on-line (over and over), but still feel so much better when you respond with your e-mail. I do feel this is the way you intend us parents to handle it.

>>>>>>>>>> You are on track! Now …stay on that track.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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