Uncle of a teen who wants to help his nephew communicate with his dad

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-02-2014
Uncle of a teen who wants to help his nephew communicate with his dad
14
Thu, 01-02-2014 - 8:44pm

Hi,

Recently my brother asked if I could come talk to my nephew because his grades have been dropping in school.  Some background info on my brother:

1. Single working dad

2. He works the graveyard shift and goes to school in the day time so its hard for him to find time to talk to his son.

3. I can't say for sure but I'm sure having this schedule makes him stressed out and irritable at times.

After talking to my nephew, I found out that he needs to get tutoring and help with staying organized.  I asked him why didn't he come to his dad when his grades started dropping and he said he doesn't know (I suspect maybe because he's afraid of how his dad will react to the bad news).  While I'm always happy to help my brother, I feel like there should be an easier or at least more effective way for my nephew and his dad to communicate.  I don't have any kids yet so I don't know what its like to be a parent of a teen but I do feel like there's a communication barrier between teens and their parents.

What tools have you guys used to help with communication?  Are there any external tools or applications that would help? 

Thank you!!!

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Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

My kids were most likely to open up while riding in the car with me, especially when it was dark out. This was before everybody had a cell phone so I was the only person around to communicate with lol. 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

My kids were most likely to open up while riding in the car with me, especially when it was dark out. This was before everybody had a cell phone so I was the only person around to communicate with lol. 

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

My kids were most likely to open up while riding in the car with me, especially when it was dark out. This was before everybody had a cell phone so I was the only person around to communicate with lol. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009

Welcome to our corner of the village and I think it is really cool that you are trying to help your nephew and brother out in this way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nephew is also blessed to have the grandparents at home.

Hubby and I live with our two daughters, their hubbies, and three grandsons, 3, 1 ½, and two months. The four of them each work two days a week and attend classes together four evenings a week, while hubby and I come home from work and have a ball with the grandsons. LUCKY US!!! We’re like the Obama’s in that we have three generations under one roof.

Our two young couples started hanging together in 7th and 8th grade; the younger couple was in the talented and gifted program and skipped into the freshman year of high school with the older couple. (One of my jokes is that hubby and I only had girls, but we sent them out early on to steal us a couple of sons. LOL). So, I do have some experience with teen guys and gals and some observations.

The 7th through 12th grades can be very tough years for many teens. Difficult in many different ways, emotionally, socially, academically, etcetera. For some, maybe many, the secondary school years can be most painful. For starters, their hormones are kicking in or not kicking in when other teen’s hormones are or are not. Pimples etcetera. The girl or guy you like, doesn’t like you. (Our two young couples missed out on this one. LUCKY THEM!) Teens worry about having a date for the dance, fitting in, not being the nerd, etcetera. Remember those happy days? LOL

Sixteen can be an older sophomore or a younger junior in high school. Classes get more difficult. Geometry and Algebra II, foreign language, some crazy dude named Shakespeare, Greek mythology, Greek and Roman history, biology, chemistry, etcetera. Oh, don’t forget those AP classes with lots of extra hours of pain in the form of extra homework.

Also, our kids went to a school with kids literally on government assistance at one end and those with parents and grandparents at the other end who could, and often did, outspend us middle class parents ten to one, and the poorer families 100 to 1. Very painful to those on the lower to middle to watch the rich kids driving new sports cars and wearing high end designer clothing, the most up to date iPhone, regular attendance at Cowboy’s games, etcetera. Those kids were also going off to very expensive private universities if they could get in. And they do not have to work side jobs either. But money does not always buy happiness now or in the out years.

Oh yeah, while your head is spinning like a top, they want you to start selecting a college and a career path.

My point is that we often forget how hard being a teen is.

Communication wise, our style as parents early on was lots of questions and the requirement that they join in the conversation. That also went the other direction. They could ask questions with the expectation that we would give reasonable answers. Many times we had to give each other the time to think about things before we could go further. It worked with our girls and the couples, but that may not be universal to all teen/parent situations. Like most things in life, “your mileage may vary.”

Years ago I read the story of a father who went on a fishing trip with his teenage son. When he came home the father told his wife it was terrible because the kid didn’t say much. A few days later the mother spotted an essay that the boy had written for school about his favorite day. She sneaked a peak and it was the boy’s version of the same fishing trip. One point is that our perspectives are not always the same as the teen’s perspective.

We found hotdogs and pizza at the local Costco were a good place to talk and cheap. Also the hot tub that we purchased at a yard sale was a good place to corner them. LOL We had girls and couples; for a boy it might be a fishing trip, camping trip, or a baseball game (in the cheap seats).

Schools are required to test the kids for learning disabilities, which sometimes don’t show up until high school. If they have learning disabilities the schools are required to give them special assistance.

Though slipping grades are not something good, they are not the end of things. Hubby and I are the youngest kids of the youngest kids of our parent’s generation. Therefore, our kids have lots of older cousins. Two of those older cousins had to repeat Algebra I and attend community college because of poor high school performance. Now in their early thirties, they are both in PHD programs. My point is that there can often be light at the end of the tunnel that is not an oncoming train. (Our couples went to community college and local state university while living at home.)

Turning to the dark side of things, you want to make sure that there is not a drug issue. I only mention this as a remote possibility.

One of the things about all of us is that we have limited areas that we have knowledge of. Thankfully, we haven’t had all the issues to deal with; just a few are more than enough. And we don’t have all the understanding of somebody else’s situation. We are somewhat like a person looking at a few stars, trying to understand the universe. Or the old story of a group of blind people touching various parts of an elephant describing what they felt was the nature of an elephant. My point is that nobody is too blame when we go off on the wrong path. It’s just the nature of limited information or limited experience.

I hope my ramble is of some value to you and yours.

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