Not doing homework

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-02-2012
Not doing homework
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 4:05pm

Ok..This is going to be long...I have raised 2 biological children and 3 step children who are all adults and my current DH has a 17 yr old DS that lives with us.  His dad works nights so I get the "pleasure" of enforcing restrictions.

DS is currently a Junior in High School and most of this Freshman and Sophomore years he lived on restriction.No cell phone, no xbox, etc.

This summer he had a job a bought a car, with the understanding if he didn't turn in his homework, he would not be driving it to school...well we ware 4 weeks into school and he only drove maybe 2 weeks, he hasn't had a cell phone for 3 weeks and has no xbox, kindle, DS or IPOD...nothing that connects to the internet.  AND he is still getting zero's.

When I caution him about spending his money on silly things he says well he would have a job if I would let him..oh...I didn't want him to have a job during school, because I wanted him to concentrate on school..and have fun on the weekends, but his father said if he turned in all his homework he could have a job and I reluctantly agreed.

So now he blames me for no car, no phone, no computer and no job...and I remind him, all he had to do was turn in his work.

He is a very very bright child, making 98-100 on the TAKS tests and is in a Charter School, so its not like he can't do the work, he just won't...

Any suggestions?





iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 11:08pm

I've always been very hesitant to put the kids in a position of having nothing left to loose because once everything is gone, what's going to happen if they continue to not do what is expected?  My foster son has often said that when his aunt used to ground him for months at a time, he was almost motivated to get in more trouble because "what's she going to do about it? Ground me? Haha, I'm already grounded for the rest of my life!" I suspect that at this point, your step-son sees no reason to start doing the homework because what's going to happen if he takes the easy way out and does not do it?  There's nothing left for you to take away and he can tune out your scolding.

Can you hold out short term "carrots" to motivate him to make baby steps in the right direction?  Like "turn in your english assignment on Friday and you can have the car Friday night.  If you don't turn it in, no car."

I agree that his father should be laying out restrictions, but if dad works evenings I'm not so sure how he would do that.  It's easy to say "then dad should get a job working a different shift" but in this economy, that's easier said than done.  If you have a job that supports your family, you don't leave it too easily.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 8:15pm

First of all I think that his dad needs to be the one to enforce restrictions.  This is putting you in the position as the bad guy & dad gets to coast.  I also think that taking every single thing away is not working.  Obviously it didn't work for the 1st 2 yrs so why would it work now?  I had a difficult DSD (I say had since her father & I are now divorced).  He wasn't good at discipline--he'd threaten & take away everything and then realize he went too far and then give everything back.  The only time I really remember punishment working was when she had to do summer school.  He told her that every Friday she had to bring home a note from the teacher (she only was taking one class) that she had handed in all assignments--if she did, she could use the car on the weekend, if not, no car--there was no excuses or bargaining.  Everything was set out in advance and she knew the consequences and there was only one day to check--and because it was her responsibility to get the HW done, there wasn't constant nagging every night either.  I also wonder if he can't drive to school, then is he taking the bus? 

I really think his dad (not you) needs to contact all his teachers and get something going about HW--like daily emails if necessary unless they post on line.  Find out if he's having trouble in school doing the work.  If he seems capable of doing all the problems (no LD) you might have to treat him like a younger child and set aside time for HW--like after dinner, there is no TV, he has to sit at the kitchen table until it's done & you will check it all.  I do also wonder what he could possibly be doing that is taking up all his time. 

Also, having a job sometimes makes the kids focus and use their time more wisely.  My son is taking 7 classes including 2 AP, gets good grades and still has a part time job.  Right now luckily he's only working 1-2 shifts a week. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2000
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 5:06pm
Hi and welcome to the board. Sounds like your dss doesn't have good study/homework habits for sure. If he has all the fun stuff taken away and doesn't do his homework what does he do from the time he gets home til he goes to bed? Is he in extra curricular activities? If the restrictions on cell phone, xbox, etc. didn't work the first two years in high school chances are it's not going to start working now. Maybe for him friends are a huge thing so restricting him from his friends would make more sense. Or TV. Have you and your dh sat down and talked to him about what he wants to do after college? If he wants to go to college the grades have to be there. If he's more interested in a technical path perhaps there are some technical elective opportunities at his school. If he's just biding his time to get out and get a job then stress the fact that these days his chances are slim to none of getting any type of decent job without a high school diploma. I also have one that was bright but didn't like to do his homework. He's 22 now and back then you couldn't see all the assignments on line so I never knew when he had homework and when he didn't. Unfortunately since he didn't develop good study habits then he went off to school and bombed second semester. I do agree with your dh that as long as he's putting his homework first he should be able to get a part time job. Obviously the idea of not wanting him to work so he can concentrate on school work isn't working out - he has no interest in school right now. Sorry I don't have more concrete advice - hopefully others will chime in here.
Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Tue, 10-02-2012 - 5:04pm

Has he been evaluated for ADD, Executive Dysfunction, or any processing disorders?  Very smart kids with these kinds of disorders typically do OK in grammar school, but the wheels fall off in Jr Hi or HS.Sounds like that is exactly what happened here.  Before you assume he simply doesn't WANT to do his homework consider this:  Do you think this child ENJOYS being yelled at??  Do you think he ENJOYS constantly being in trouble?  Do you think he ENJOYS being <<<...on restriction.  No cell phone, no xbox, kindle, DS or IPOD, etc...>>> for 2 YEARS???  There is something else going on.  Take him to a competant psychiatrist for a complete mental and physical work-up.