14 yo step son, bad grades, advice?
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|Sat, 06-21-2003 - 9:44am|
I have a 14 yo step-son, headed to 9th grade this fall. Yesterday his grades arrived via mail and they are disappointing. Mike does not live with us, he lives with his 5th grade brother and mom 30 minutes away in a different school district. Mom has lived with her boyfriend for the last three years but just this May moved out when they "split up". She's still seeing him a lot, just not living there. Anyway, Mike is very capable of good grades. His teachers all comment his problem is not doing his homework. When asked why he has not done it, his reasons are it's hard, there was a lot to do, I left my book at school, blah, blah, blah. Mike did well in elementary school, but when he moved to his new school the grades dropped. He has friends, some really good, close friends, so he isn't a loner. I believe part of the problem is that mom was a poor student and so was her boyfriend (who dropped out of high school and had to get his GED), and Mike has no one to go to as a role model or for help. Mike's parents don't communicate much, mostly because mom wants to handle things on her own, not involve dad. My husband (the dad) is a college grad, has his CPA license, spent four years as a foreign language linguist in the military, he's very intelligent. I am an office manager and I'm in college part time as a mathematics major. Mike knows he can come to us. It's laziness that he isn't doing his homework or seeking help if he really doesn't understand it. It's more fun to play video games and watch TV than to do homework. He doesn't want to bring homework here on the weekends. I have two daughters, one in 5th, one in 7th. Both with excellent grades. The 7th grader works hard to get A's, it doesn't come naturally like it does for the 5th grader. Both understand that getting good grades is part of their expected responsibilities.
We have told Mike that his grades are disappointing and that he is capable of better grades. His mom has taken away the Playstation and TV. Mike has spent weekends here doing chores and getting serious lectures about his poor grades and teachers comments (never brings his school work along). He has been lightly punished here since he is only here four days a mnth. His mom said if he didn't get all C+ on his report card, no freshman football. With a D in science and pre-algebra, and a C's in everything else, no football this fall. His grades all year have been C's and D's. My husband has talked with Mike's teachers, they all say he is very bright, gets good grades on his tests, the low grades on the report card are due to sloppy projects, late projects, homework not done. My fear is that he is headed towards high school this fall, every grade counts for college, and he seemingly could care less. We have used people in his life as negative examples to motivate him to do better (i.e. his grandmother didn't graduate high school and has always worked as a waitress, gas station employee, factory worker because without the diploma, she can't work anywhere else and she is one bitter, nasty woman because of it). One last thing... Mike's mom and dad do not speak much. Mom divorced dad to be with the boyfriend and just shut off communication. Dad has tried to talk with mom, but she always "has another call" or doesn't have time or says she is handling it. Three years in middle school, same grades the whole time, same comments the whole time. By the way, back to the 5th grade brother, he is struggling desperately in school, has problems with reading comprehension and basic math skills. He is in Sylvan Learning Center this summer getting private attention to help him for next year.
One of my big concerns is that I notice my 7th grader with A's tends to hang out with friends who have the same grades, same personality (slightly geeky!). Same with the 5th grader. So Mike could tend to hang out with friends who have the same attitude towards school and that attitude concerns me. We have talked to Mike about the virtues of getting work done, getting good grades. We have not forced college on him but we have mentioned that if he ever wants to go to college, the grades he has will keep him out of the schools he may want to go to. He says he does not want to spend his life as a collections agent or McDonalds burger flipper. But he doesn't know what he wants to do. Does anyone else have experience with a slacking teenager? Have you found something to motivate him/her? What have you done that hasn't worked or that backfired?