Teens Consequences for Bad Grades

I don’t know about you but while some are celebrating the end of the school year I am cringing to think about my sons grades at the end of his freshman year in high school.  As they transition to high school, I have been told by many “professionals”,  that poor grades during the freshman year are typical. But personally when I see my son failing classes it has me concerned, even if it is typical. What do you do? About 6 weeks ago I tried to prevent this from happening and I hired a tutor for math, well I think he is still going to fail math. I also limited the number of days per week he would be able to go to the skate park after school thinking he would do homework instead. The consequences were there I think we are still in the same boat and he is in control.

I just read this article Consequences for bad grades shouldn’t be a crushing burden to carry . Though written for a younger age group, I think it still holds true for those in high school. In the article, the author reminds parents consequences should have an immediate,  short term impact.  Thinking back I might have made the consequence of the skatepark to meet a specific goal, such as turning in homework (which seems to be where he falls apart) instead of the looming impossibility he feels of raising his grades.

He will attend summer school for any class that he fails, which I am hoping is not many. I have communicated if he has any grades below a C he will not get his driver’s permit until they are raised.  Should I change that consequence? My thinking is a C grade would at least show that he is putting forth the minimum amount of effort. I also think the drivers permit holds a lot of weight for him.  If he continues on this slide next year the computer goes out of his room.

When all is said and done the truth of the matter, he is in total control of how well he does in school. Right now I know he finds school boring, has very little purpose to his immediate life and he is unmotivated. If he is struggling and wants to succeed he can get help and I would be glad to help him do that. I need to learn to stand back, try and impress on him the value of school and let him stumble; but when I do I feel I have failed him. I also feel that  his education up to high school is somewhat my responsibility.

41 thoughts on “Teens Consequences for Bad Grades”

  1. Please help me help my 13 year old son so he won’t repeat the 7th grade. He was en devices student in elementary school. My son love school and learni everything and ng anything. But when he started middle school his hopes, dreams and his joy for learning just die. Now he failed the 7th grade please hep him so he won.’t repeat the 7th grade. HELP

  2. I’m 16 years old and was struggling really bad in my sophomore year. My parents too all my stuff away, such as video games phone laptop which just made me pissed and which made me say f*ck school and retaliated with not doing any work. I really regret it.

  3. whats wrong with working at taco bell its an honest job maybe then teyll aprpreciate a collegoe education would not bothr me if my son worked at taco bell while he working his way through college im not going to besinkin ony into collee if my son is notmotivated they hve got totake responsibity for themselve thats the problem they dont take responsibility my sonblamesthe teacher me etc but ts him thats not doing his ork it cant be forced they have towant to do well for themselves

  4. Comment From Reader: sajuddo@aol.com
    To the mom of twins – PLEASE don’t blame yourself. You clearly love your sons, you have been a good parent, you have done all the “right” things, etc. My 18 year old daughter struggled in school, horrible grades, barely graduated, is terrified of testing and has announced she does not want to go to college. She has become so school-phobic/test phobic. We had her tested – she tests gifted; and she was diagnosed with executive function disorder. We were able to get an accommodation plan for her in school. It helped some, but we finally took her out of public school and put her in a small, fairly inexpensive private school where she got a lot of one on one instruction. It helped a lot. She has also been diagnosed with depression, and is on meds. She has also been hospitalized. Right now, the meds seemed to have pooped out, and don’t appear to work anymore. She is depressed, terrified of failure, and feels she has no future. It kills me, so I understand your depression. None of us on here want to think of our kids working at Taco Hell and living in some crime-infested dump because they have no money. We just want our kids to be able to fly the nest safe, secure, able to afford housing, medical insurance, food, utilities, etc – the stuff we have. Just basic stuff. Sigh… As your twins are sophomores, I wouldn’t give up. It may be worth having them tested, and looking into accommodation plans for them. It may help. Now, if anyone know what to do about a depressed teen who doesn’t want anything to do with college, please tell me. Is there any hope there?
    Thanks- Shelli

  5. Obviously the teen years were not my favorite as a parent. Don’t give up hope on your twins. It sounds like they have many good traits. Concentrate on the positive. High School is not the end all they can still go to college or some kind of technical school even if they do not find value in High School. Stay positive and don’t compare your teens to the others.

  6. I seem to have it twice as bad as the rest of you. I have TWIN sons who are going into their sophmore year and they are BOTH unmotivated in life and basically failing school. They’re BOTH taking summer school right now and I just logged in and their grades are dropping – AGAIN. I am bewildered. For the last 3 years I can’t sleep and I’m becoming depressed over their prospected futures. I’m ashamed and don’t even talk to my friends anymore because they all brag about their children and I don’t want them to know. My husband and I decided to only have the two children because we wanted to raise them the ‘right’ way. I gave them opportunities that I never had at the same time I’ve tried to get out of their way and let them make decisions for themselves. I feel like a total failure as a parent and can’t seem to get over it. Otherwise, we have been a very lucky family. We have money, no emotional issues, opportunities, etc. We have even had the boys out working with their cousin doing landscaping for their money (to teach them the value of hard work). Nothing seems to be helping. I hate to say this but I almost want this phase of my life to be over with and them to just go work at Taco Bell if that’s what they want. I don’t know how else to feel.

  7. my son is the same way never does his homework or studies all he cares about is his girlfriend hes 18 and is graduating hs by the skin of his teeth hes a former honor student but by junior year his grades fell he feels that its putting him too much pressure to to expect him to graduate high school on time he will be graduating this year his teachers have called to tell me so I can relax weve done tutors therapy he says he gores i call the therapist and he hasnt been there lies constantly hes been diagnosed with adhd were at the end of our rope hes going to community college he has other issues besides the adhd he has a probelem with his leg and has had a few surgeries with more maybe to come he has many issues and has overcome so much don’t know what to do all he cares about is his phone and his girlfriend

  8. my son is getting to graduate high school. since his junior year he went from being a homnor student to never doing his hw we were worried he would not be graduating we had him diagnosed with adhd and he is now on meds he lies all the timeI had to get a call from his teacher telling me to relax he will be graduating I’ve been caklling teachers all the time etc weve tried punishing therapy he says he goes I call the therapist he did not go whats the point he has to want it not me he grades were so bad he qualified for a special program at community college where he will not have to pay and he can take up to three years to get his aa degree he has overcome alot hes has problems with his mobility and wears a leg brace and now this adhd thing I’m at my wits end everyday another fight another lie any ideas anybody

  9. To all of you worried parents out there who are in despair, you should know that you don’t always have to go to the extreme to get your kid’s head straight. I am a sophomore in highschool, and I too screwed up my freshman year because I had no interest in school. So naturally I was scolded by my parents. Plus I have a sister who is currently attending Stanford. So once I found out that my genius sister was going to a private college, I didn’t feel happy. Sure my friends found out about it, but I never bragged because I felt burdened. But during the summer, my older sister took me to her prefrosh week. It was incredible. There were so many things to do and learn, that I started to realize what I could be doing if I hadn’t messed up. So when I came back home, I set myself to become succesful. And by doing so, I discovered a lot of tips which helped me.
    1) We kids do much better if we are self-inspired.
    2) Parents, check on your children’s friends. I don’t know why, but you actually become “smarter” if you hang around with smarter people than you. ( I used to be with the jocks, but I’ve also been even more popular now ever since making friends with the smarter students.)
    3) If you want, you could assign your child to a legit job. It boosts their self esteem. But don’t let them audition for something that wastes their time like pizza delivery. Becoming a tutor really helped me out! ( I was so surprised how much I learned from teaching that I told my mom and dad that I didn’t need a tutor!)
    4) Make sure they don’t care too much about “what’s cool” or as we teens call it, hype!
    5) DO NOT HOVER OVER THEM! I absolutely hated it when my parents did that. Even though their intentions were pure, it was so bothersome knowing that they always had their eyes on me.
    6) Do not take away what they love (hobbies…it’s your call what to do if they have a boyfriend/girlfriend). But also make sure that they don’t over abuse it. For me, my parents threatened that if I didn’t bring my grades up, then I couldn’t play baseball or the saxophone anymore. But to me, sports and music were my “Trevor Time”. That was the only time I could relax and not over stress.

  10. My daughter has been going to private school since kindergarten (catholic school)..she is now a Sophomore and she’s a very confident 15 1/2 yr old, she is very active in Drama and Music and always was comfortable on stage and sings in front of the entire student body,,plus she’s a great girl, strong values, funny, lots of friends…HOWEVER,,her grades are horrible…granted she is in a lot of honors classes, her grades are 1 B,,C’s and D….not her best for sure, ..she is a smart girl with a lot of confidence, but she doesn’t seem to be alarmed by it,,she forgets or doesn’t care about homework and her tests are horrible…she gets to the bottom grade and then she has to work double hard to get it to a passing grade. Her schooling all these years have been a financial burden on us ( we don’t make a lot of money ) but the money we do make we have felt it’s important for our daughter to get a good education…she is our only child,,and no she is not spoiled..anything she has of value she bought herself with birthday money etc..WHAT DO I DO I stay up nights crying and worrying about her grades…I actually came to the point where I told her that if I see 1 “D” for her last qtr she will not return to the school she loves and she will go to public school ( would help our wallet but we really don’t want to do that)…PLEASE HELP…we’ve taken stuff away from her etc….she just doesn’t seem to stress over it…she does want to go to college but her GPA is only 2.7..not too good…HELP!!!

  11. My Daughter is 14 and she has been barely squeaking through school since 4th grade. She had to do summer school to get through 7th grade. Now she is a freshman in high school and currently has 4 E’s and a D-. She’s failing her “conventional” classes and her “New Tech” classes, too, so it doesn’t seem to matter what teaching style they use, she just doesn’t perform. What gets me is that she is taking French and she LOVES it, does well on tests, and participates in class but she has an E in it because she doesn’t do the homework.

    We have tried grounding her until her grades got better, gave her a fresh start when the new marking period started, and taking away her phone, ipod, radio, magazines, etc. Nothing changes. I’ve told her that I don’t care if she doesn’t do well as long as she tries but she won’t even put in that much effort.

    Her older brother (10th grade) has a 3.2 GPA and her younger brother (6th grade) gets all A’s and B’s. I don’t want to compare them but sometimes in the back of my mind I just can’t help it. I know she’s a smart girl but if it’s not about her favorite Hollywood celebs then she’s just not that intersted in learning about it. She knows everything there is to know about Justin Bieber and everything relating to him.

    I’m absolutely sick about the whole thing and my wife (stepmom) is coming apart at the seams. It’s good to know that we’re not the only ones in this boat. Sometimes I feel like my daughter is the only one that acts like this but I can see now that so many of you are dealing with the exact same problems.

  12. WOW, I thought I was all alone with my own daughters issues. My daughter is a freshman, 14.5 years old. She has a strong attitude towards me and my husband. All I ask for her is to bring descent grades home. She doesn’t clean her room nor does she have chores to do. I think this may be the problem though… I think I baby her way to much. She gets what she wants and I do so much for her but in return, she can’t does not do much on her part. She is not failing completely but her last report in Algebra she received a C-. This new progress report, her grade in Algebra has been fluctuating from a C- to a D. I take her twice a week at 7:00am to early morning tutoring. There’s day’s that I take her and she decides not to go. She has all kinds of resources at School to help her grades but she does not take advantage of it. I am on her all the time and I remind her that if she does not take things seriously, she will fail completely. She gets so irritated with me. I’ve been trying to let her show me that she can bring up her grades but I feel if I don’t keep at her she starts to drop her grades again. At this point, from what I have read in this blog, there is no real solution as each child is different. I feel like I am back to square one…What to do. I guess I will let time take its course and just hope for the best. It is somewhat a relief that I am not the only one going through this.

  13. I had really bad grades my freshman year in high school. I had many consequance. My aunt came to my school during my som. and junior year. At end of my sophomore year and decided to change. I got grants to pay for my first year of college. Let him see where it takes him. If you need adivice or want a role model for him. Just email and I’ll give you my personal email.

  14. Wow it’s great to find this site. I identify with so much that you are all saying. For me it is not my son – he is the son of my partner and that makes me a step mother but to be honest, much as I do the things like cook and clean and shop and try to talk, in the end I don’t have much authority. I have only been in this family for a year and I arrived when things were already getting hard. My step son is 15 and very bright, very interested in things he likes – music, DJing, computers etc – but totally disinterested in doing anything that he thinks is boring or too much effort. We have problems with him stealing money in the house, he used our credit cards to play online poker and so isn’t allowed free access to the computer. But of course this feels hard as it is his main interest and is what he wants to study. All purses are kept locked away and you can’t imagine how stressful that is in your own home. We have just found out he has not been going to school – every morning he was up and out before 8am – but he lied and just went to sit in a cafe and play table football and machines. His father is near the end of his tether – he tries to set limits and make consequences but this boy is always one step ahead of us and the worse thing is that his mother – who he lives with two weeks out of every four – backs him up. she says it is more important to be a good person than to get good grades. but the problem is he isn’t even a very good person at the moment. You just can’t trust him and to be honest his stealing and lying and laziness makes me feel ungenerous – I don’t feel like doing nice things for him any more. I feel constantly manipulated.
    WEll – great to read your stories although I so feel for everyone with the frustration and confusion this all causes. People tell us it is ‘just adolescence’ but actually I think it is more worrying – it is such a total lack of care for anyone else. I too was a bit bolshy when I was young. I took time off school – but I also studied. I didn’t really help too much in the house but if I was asked I would do it. I smoked and drank a bit too early but I also liked reading and writing and I helped people who were in trouble. I ate the food my mother made for me – there were things I didn’t like so much but in general I ate vegetables and meat and soup and normal things. He only wants pizza and pasta – but with no sauce. It is so awful to cook things for him – I am a vegetarian but I have cooked chicken and beef for him – but if he doesn’t want it he just takes one look and walks out to get a take away. Ahhhh – we all need a place to express this stuff. Sorry to blurt it all out and if it doesn’t make sense it’s because I am really lost as to how to proceed. thanks for listening Eve

  15. @ kidsRTC

    Thanks much. I just checked my email and got offered a freelance position for a big gaming company… so I am totally stoked right now.

    @ Shelli

    Where you are at and where your daughter are at are indeed parallel situations. My recommendation to both you and your daughter is to start partaking in something you enjoy, and do it on a daily basis. Whether it be working out, reading a book, drawing, becoming a movie buff for a certain genre… there are just so many ways to further yourself as a person. Yoga.. if I tried to list everything, I’d never leave! haha.

  16. Thanks for the comment Rex. I have been really trying to get into my daughter’s head, and it has been very difficult. As I reflect back on my own teen years, I did everything by the book, and was sort of the model kid (I am making up for my past sins by being a screwed up adult now :)). I think the main difference between my daughter and me is that she does ponder the big questions, like what is the purpose of her life, what is all this angst about, etc. Maybe I was just a clueless teen, but I never really pondered my future, or thought about why I am here, and what do I want for my future. I just rolled with the flow. Now that I am sitting at the half century mark, and my former career is essentially over, I am now pondering what to do with the rest of my future, and I can’t help but feel sort of paralyzed by it all. Perhaps that is what is in my kid’s head; I honestly never thought about it as parallel to my current situation. Ironic, huh? Best of luck to you with your career. There is so much more available for your generation than was the case for mine.

  17. Hi Rex, Thanks for your advice and I think you are pretty right on with your comments about how impossible it is to see the big picture for most teens. I think it is great that you are passionate about art and going into gaming. I agree with you there is a lot of potential and it may be the stepping stone to even greater things later. Good luck to you!

  18. Lots of good advice here. As someone who is only 23, I think that my insights on the matter might help out.

    At that age, the real issue is not being able to see the bigger picture. As many of you likely do, well, those who didn’t do well in High School, I wish I would have taken it more seriously.

    However… for some reason, at that age, it’s nearly impossible to see the bigger picture; unless you’re hanging around older people with successful lives.

    A lot of the time, not doing schoolwork can be considered ‘cool’ to one’s peers. Think outside the box in matters like these; what is really going on will always surprise you.

    I think it’s because at that age, you have no real purpose for living. You hang out with friends, do stuff with your parents, and are expected to do well in school.

    You should have your kid meet some people who are 30 years old, but work at a fast food joint because they didn’t take High School seriously. I’m lucky that I’m an art major and my portfolio will get me into a good game development school.

    Don’t knock it, it’s a bigger industry than the movie industry these days. Multi-billion dollar and what not.

  19. Hi Greg,
    If Teacher’s only knew what impact they have with their words. My son is approachin 15 he is a Freshman and for the last 2 years I have been so worried as he has done poorly in math. His 8th grade Teacher didn’t grade his paper and would just give him an “A” or “B” the awful part is my son did not have the right answers. I tried to get many different family and friends to Tutor him and. Nothing until this past November I decided to email the Math Dept at his High School and I got a District Tutor, although it is more expensive (30@hr) than a peer Tutor (like a NJHS student who will do it for free as part of their community service)I went for it. He finally had a Math Teacher one on one who cared about him. I met her first as my son has had depression over math and grades. She started back from Chapter 1 and tutored him 2 times a week, and now they are at Chapter 6 Tthis is where his class is). The goal was to get my son pass his mid-term. He had a 50-56 all semester. He passed his mid-term and now has a low “C”. The point I’m trying to make is he is getting confidence back because his Tutor knows how to structure the material and believes in him. Maybe you can find someone in your school district that has a good reputation with teaching kids and contact that person and ask if they tutor or someone they know. Do not get me wrong we are not out of the woods yet, however progress is being made. I wish you good luck as I understand your frustration!

  20. I have a 15 year old daughter who is a sophomore this year. From the time she hit 7th grade she has struggled tremendously with math. Her 7th grade instructor was known to be a horrid instructor best fitted to college level studies and had a snide way of making things more difficult than they needed to be. Early in her 7th grade year he told her that math just wasn’t her thing and she would never be any good at it. From that day forward she has been convinced of this and her grades show it. My child was not the only one to have been told that over the years with the same result. My question is how can I even begin to convince her that the attempt at a good grade is worth the effort. So very frustrated…

  21. Hi Shelli,

    I got back last night from visiting our son in Utah at his RTC for Christmas. We spent 9 hours on Christmas Eve day doing make-up worksheets for his Government class. The most repetitive, redundant, mind-numbing drudgery I have ever had to endure. There were two tests, each with 25 or 30 questions, ALL to be answered straight out of your brain–no multiple choice, true false, matching or anything. One of the questions was to name the nine Supreme Court justices. I have taught high school government, and I cannot do that! I’ll bet not more that 1 in 1000 Americans could. I could get up on my soapbox again, but you get the idea.

    I am in California and so do not know the New Mexico laws, but I do have lots of experience dealing with a troubled teen, and would love to help you any way I can. Here is my e-mail address–send me a message if you would like to talk and I will give you my phone number.

    Best of luck with your daughter. We all know what you are going through.

    Beth begargan@yahoo.com

  22. Hello Beth – Well said. I am sick to death of NCLB, and we live in a state that has a large contingent of kids that are in unfortunate income/social situations that inhibit their abilities in school (New Mexico.) It is as if school administrators have almost made a contest out of who has the highest-scoring school, and the kids are hammered with homework in the belief that they will score higher on achievement tests as a result. I NEVER had the quantity of homework I have seen my daughter bring home (I am 50) – it is incredible. I brought this up with her school counselor recently; I said that I was not expecting my kid to go to Harvard, or even try to get admitted. The counselor was sympathetic to me, but said that she did have parents who wanted their kids to go to Harvard, so they had to “teach to that level.” ????? To please a few parents living vicariously through their kids???

    I was going to get on my soap box about grades, but just had an incident with my daughter that probably further explains why I am here on this site. She made plans to visit her friends tonight. I just heard her in the drive way starting my car. I rushed out and told her that she didn’t have my permission to use my car (i had asked her for help with cleaning the house before Christmas and it didn’t happen). She started the car anyway and when I tried to get the keys, she pushed me out of the way and took off.
    Help! Shelli

  23. Hi all–This is a huge issue for me. My son is in an RTC, and still managed to fail 4 out of 7 classes this past term. I thought he was going to fail 5 classes, so this was actually an improvement! He HATES school, always has, and has learning disabilities as well as ADHD and yes, executive function disorder. EFD is VERY real–they cannot retain information or keep track of anything, unless it is something that is important to THEM. And yes, they can be extremely articulate and self-assured–my son certainly is– but if they don’t care about something, they cannot force themselves to hold it in their minds, like most of us can. School is torture for some of our kids–laziness can certainly be a factor, but there are also REAL organic reasons for some of their problems (for some kids.)

    As a side note, I am a credentialed secondary school teacher. I either sub or teach home and hospital or independent study. This is because I know I could never deal with the “school system” in a traditional classroom, with all the bureaucracy and BS. Most schools subscribe to a “one size fits all” philosophy, and spend years trying to pound those square pegs (our kids) into those round holes. They just never fit. With NCLB and “state standards” and the endless round of standardized testing, burned out and underpaid teachers, schools are not places to go to for intellectual stimulation, with the exception of a few classes with great teachers who actually encourage kids to THINK! School is not about thinking–it is about fitting in and complying. Many of our kids have great intellectual curiosity, but it is not fulfilled by filling out endless worksheets and spending hours AFTER SCHOOL on meaningless homework drudgery. I think homework should be banned! They have already been in school for 7 or 8 hours! Much of what kids “learn” at school is forgotten immediately after the test, and is of no use to them at any time in life.
    They are bored senseless at school and their minds cannot take it.

    That said, somehow they still have to graduate. The economy is bad enough now–without at least a high school diploma you are totally screwed. I have no suggestions as to how you make your kid care about school–I don’t think you can. The great irony is that some of the kids who seem “smartest” and who DO have great intellectual curiousity are the ones doing the worst. I think they should let them quit school when they are 16, like they could in my home state of New York many moons ago when I was a teen. After they work at Taco Bell for a couple of years, most would go back to school on their own.

    If your kid doesn’t have issues with learning disabilities, let them take the California High School Proficiency Exam. They only have to be 15 and a half. I believe it is offered 3 or 4 times a year. It is equivalent to a high school diploma. Then they can go get a job or go to a junior college and get on with their lives and spare themselves the torture of high school.

    Good luck to all!

  24. Dear Jennifer, bless your heart sweetie – I too have also become physically ill over my daughter who is determined to crash and burn. She is a high school sophomore, was once a straight A student – of her own accord, we have never pushed – and the last 2 years, she has plummeted. She does have issues including depression, and is on medication and in the hands of a therapist. I also see her therapist, alone, and see my own too. After talking to friends and to the therapists, I have learned that it is virtually impossible to “manage” a teenager. Like your son, my daughter does not appear to respond to loss of privaleges, etc. She just shuts down and retreats to her room and locks the door. Indeed, it does make us feel out of control. Because we are. So how do we deal? Well, I am not an expert, but it seems that you are on the right track; to some extent, we have to just let go to preseve our own sanity. That does not mean that we stop caring and stop implementing rules like curfews and house hold chores. In fact I spring chores on my daughter; she’ll tell me that she has big plans with her friends on a given night, and I tell her that is fine – as long as she mops the floors first, or gets her laundry in the wash, or vacuums the house, etc. I get plenty of dirty looks, obvioulsy. Another thing to do to get the message to your son is that if he is determined to bomb out with respect to his grades, then you don’t have a lot of incentive to do “nice” things for him. I take it he is not driving yet; the next time he sweetly asks for a ride to a friend’s, just don’t. If he is not in the mood to at least keep a C average, you are not in the mood to do him favors. He’ll have to hitch a ride from someone else. Or if wants some spending cash, he’ll have to do some house sitting, rake the neighbor’s leaves or mow lawns, etc. In other words, he is not going to blow off school AND get a free ride at home too.

    And what to do about the grades? You can’t make him do his homework, or make him pass. The more of an issue is made over it, the more it becomes a power struggle. We were advised to back off of our daughter, which we did. Your son will end up in Summer school (as my daughter did last summer). Most kids don’t like that very much. I would delay his taking driver’s ed, unless he is so extraordinarily stubborn that even that won’t work. By Spring of Freshman year, all the kids start talking about signing up for Driver’s Ed; believe me, he will come to you with paper work to be signed, etc. Imagine his shock when you look at him and laugh, and ask him what on earth is he thinking??? Tell him after he passes Summer school with C’s, AND gets thorugh first semester of sophomore year with no class below a C, THEN you may discuss driver’s ED (Warning: be prepared for the fit of your lives. He’ll threaten, scream, howl, – he may even run away – for a few hours or a day or so; hold your ground. Plug in your IPod and go about your business.) And when he gets his license, DON’T BUY HIM A CAR! Let him use the family cars, and be prepared to take away the keys as needed. If he needs a lift somewhere, besides school, he will have to call his friends. Maybe the embarrassment will be enough to get him to better his act. If all else fails, you may have to do what I may have to do – let the chips fall where they may. Some kids have to learn the hard way, which is hard for a parent to watch, but it can also be the lesson that they need. As for your son’s future, colleges generally don’t pay attention to the freshman year. They are more interested in the latter two years and extracurricular activities. He may end up having to get his GED or be on the “5-yr plan.” He can still get into a community college, and then transfer to a traditional 4 yr university. Or he may end up working at Taco Bell for awhile. After he watches his classmates graduate from college and step into $60K/yr jobs while he is making minimum wage, that will probably shake him up. I personally don’t think it will come to that; I think he needs to get some more maturity under his belt, and experience some consequences of his own doing, like summer school, like extra chores or working for pocket change, etc. Don’t let him get too comfortable with all that free time he has because he “never has homework.” With all that time on his hands, he can clean your attic, clean out the closets, groom the dogs, pull weeds, cook dinner everynight, do the family laundry, scrub the toilets, etc. He may just decide that studying is a better gig than being maid, butler, gardener, chef, handyman, etc. I think our worst fears when our kids make bad grades – that our kids will end up on the streets, on drugs, working as prostitutes, etc. – seldom ever come to reality. I know that GEDs, or 5-yr-plans, or working at Taco Bell for a year before deciding that school wasn’t such a waste – does not fit in with OUR ideas of what we want for our kids. But I think they do eventually get it – and wise up and better themselves.

    My brother was a challenge. He blew off school, made awful grades, got into a few scraps that landed him in the juvenile detention center, etc. He did eventually graduate, courtesy of summer school. He did get into college, and got his business degree. he never did make stellar gardes. After working for several years, he chose to go back and get his MBA- made a 4.0. He has a big job with a prominant investment firm. He goes to work in a suit and tie, drives a BMW, lives in a really nice newly built home, and does very well financially. He is now in his mid 40’s. But there was a time when my parents thought he would never make it. And they yelled at him about his grades, grounded him, prohibited him from getting his license, etc. – and he screamed back and threatened to kill himself, etc.

    I hope this helps a little; I am a bit less stressed these days, since I quit monitoring my daughter’s grades. If she has to go Summer School again, well so be it. She did it to herself.

    Take care,

  25. Hi Jennifer,
    I really feel for you as I have been going through this the last year. My son is also 14 and a Freshman. Last year in 8th grade I came close to a nervous breakdown. This year I told him that if he needed help I would get a Tutor otherwise if he didn’t want to try than he can be a 5th year senoir or get his GED because I cannot stress anymore. He has started to turn around slowly. He has had a low self esteem and that is getting better. He has a Tutor for ALG and she had to go all the way back to square 1 and we have been patient. I still stress, however not like before. He is responding slowly. Every kid is different so I am not sure what the answer is. Just know you are not alone. I know with my 3 kids they are all completely different. Take Care of you as the stress over this will make you sick.
    Jennifer T

  26. Hi Jennifer, I know what you are going through. I could have written your post. From my experience with three boys and being in your shoes, crying, begging and taking away does not motivate them. What does? I am not sure. My suggestion and what has helped me would be to get help for yourself dealing with your son. Once you take care of yourself, then you will be able to deal better with your son and his situation. There is more going on with your son than just bad grades. Good luck.

  27. I am the mom of a 14yr. old freshman. Words can not express how worried I am about my son’s future. Presently he is failing 5 out of 6 classes. The class that he is passing is health and his grade is a 66. Algebra, Algebra Strategies I, SS, Science and Language Arts he is failing all of them miserably. The hightest grade out of all of them is a 40. Every Friday his online progress reports come to me. There are always mulitiple NHI’s (Not Handed In), zero’s for classwork that he didn’t do, failing tests etc. He NEVER does homework at home. Always says they do everything in class and doesn’t have anything to bring home to do. I am beside myself. I feel out of control, I feel like I yell at him all the time, I have taken his phone away, computer privledges, grounded him from time with his friends/girls. I DONT KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO. He plays Lacrosse for a rec league (which I have spent hundreds of dollars on) and Im seriously thinking of taking that from him as well. I feel like I keep giving and giving and he does nothing in return. He IS a bright kid, but he is very, very lazy. Admittedly will tell you he hates school. I have had talk after talk after talk with him about how he is going to fail and regret so much not buckling down and doing his school work. I could almost understand if he had some sort of a developmental problem…but he doesn’t. Every single teacher has said he is 100% capable of doing his work and doing it well. He just chooses not to. I find it very disrespectful and quite honestly a big slap in the face that the ONLY THING he is expected to do at this point in his life is school and he is making the choice to not do it. His social life, talk of his learners license, girls is an absolute priority to him. I have cried, begged, helped, hovered, gone to teachers, etc….I dont know what else to do. I need some suggestions. Do I just strip him of everything except a mattress to sleep on to make my point clear to him that Im not kidding around? Do I just let him choose his future? HELP….


  28. For Shelli with comments on Oct. 11th our daughter is ditto like yours. Our child who was an honor role student till Junior School, did well in 9th and after that hell broke loose. Not sure what went wrong with her but we talked to teachers, talked to her, took her privileges away….to no avail. Checked even if she is on drugs or something. But she came out clean. My husband finally told her her future is in her hands. She has the choice to be a ditch digger or make her future. At this point we gave her the full control of her future and are keeping our fingers crossed she turns around. Right now it is a BIG worry for us if she will get into college even. It is sad to see her destroy herself because both side of our families we are very successful academically and work wise. We hope the same for our kids. But not sure why the current generation of kids have “don’t care and selfishness” attitude. All I do is pray…..

  29. Executive Function Disorder?! That’s what they said about my daughter. I am not sure if i buy it or not. Not to sound cold, but she is highly disorganized with her homework and her room is a health hazard; yet she is spot on about remembering all the requirements needed to get her provisional driver’s license, and tracking her progress with those requirements. She is spot on about how much it costs to get a body part pierced, saving her allowance money, researching all the documentation she needs to produce to get it done, etc. She is in complete control of navigating through ITunes and organizing her playlists. She has the debating skills of a lawyer – in fact she is taking law. She can argue around every conceivable subject there is. She was active in the recent presidentail campaign, volunteering for her fav candidate. She stood up in front of a room full of over 100 adults (at age 14), and articulated -without missing a beat – why she was supporting this individual, and spoke about where this individual stood on all issues, etc. So she seems able to sort and organize data when it suits her – but when it does not suit her, her EFD sets in. We have a tutor for her twice a week now, and the other day, we told her that she needed to ratchet up her GPR to a 3.0, with no single grade lower than a C. She flew into a rage.

    We are meeting with her therapist next week to discuss how to handle this school situation. It has worn me to a frazzle. Does anyone on this site remember their parents monitoring their homework? It sure was not part of my generation.

    Thank you for writing back – it really does help. I feel very alone with this.

    Take care,

  30. Jennifer, I too stress 24/7 about my daughter’s lack of motivation, which she feely admits, if not downright flaunts. There are times I become so saturated with worry that i just sort of go numb. Part of me feels that if she is determined to make poor decisions that will impact her later in life, I need to let the chips fall where they may. Then part of me feels like I need to get control of the situation. We too have tried restricting priveleges, etc. as a motivational tool. She does not respond. She is a sophomore, and thinks that she is on the verge of getting her driver’s license. We are debating whether to give her the news now or in a few weeks when she comes to us ready to go to the MVD, that HECK NO she isn’t getting her license until she decides to up the ante on her “motivation”.

    Jennifer, I don’t know your age, but if you and I are close in age at all, we are of a generation where our parents didn’t hover, with regards to homework – we simply did as we were expected to do. If we didn’t, we could expect major grief from the teacher and our parents sided with the teacher! I don’t know how or why the social norm changed.

    As a slight diversion, I have been in the work force, in a professional position, for over 22 years. I have watched with bemused interest, the crop of kiddos graduating from college and entering the work force. They are a spoiled, entitled bunch, who scream bloody murder at the thought of putting in their time in the trenches and paying their dues. Every one wins a blue ribbon don’t they ?! The idea of earning the title “Senior” anything leaves them gob smacked – they act like they should just have it! Somehow, I think what I have been observing in the job market might have a correlation with the prevailing attitudes seen in the school system.

    Perhaps when your son enters highschool, peer pressure will rub off on him, as he is exposed to kids preparing for their college years. It is slowly dawning on my daughter that the reason her friends aren’t always available is that they are studying and/or working a part time job.

    keep in touch – I too feel isolated with my kid determined to self destruct, it seems.


  31. My son is 14 and he is failing Algebra, also is slipping in other classes. He just doesn’t study and we have tried taking things away, being supportive and tutors.
    I stress all the time as he is a Freshman and I know he is bright! I feel like I do need to find his motivation and just flick the switch; just not sure when this will happen. He likes computers, so I am trying to find clubs, etc. I go to bed and wake up thinking about his grades, I know I need to relax about it. He is a middle child and the older brother and younger sister both do well in school. It is so helpful to read others blog entries as I feel so isolated on this subject mostly all the time. I do get his grades weekly and print them out for him. I do blame myself also for lack of structure on study habits when he was younger.

  32. Hi Shelli, You are not alone, it sounds much the same as in my house. Right now we are trying our hardest to monitor his homework. That seems to be where he falls short and then of course because he does not do his hw does lousy on tests. I have been told it is the executive functioning of the brain. They can’t see long range. I don’t remember stressing over college entrance exams, I remember taking them and then going to college that was it. It really was no big deal.

  33. My 15-yr old sophomore daughter doesn’t seem to care about school; if one looks at her online progress, made available through her school’s website, it is an odd mixture of A’s and F’s. Class work she does turn in generally gets an A; sometimes she doesn’t turn in class work, because as she says, it is not “up to her standards.” Thus she settles fo a zero. Homework is just as dodgy; we have lined up tuturs as needed, helped her ourselves, etc. Sometimes, we find a string of zero’s for homework – because she just wasn’t “in the mood” to do it. She bombed her freshman year (and did the Summer school gig) and we hoped this year would be a new start. She is a B-C student at this time. What bothers me is what the future holds. When I went to college, no one studied for SATs or ACTs – we just took them. Then we applied to college and pretty much got in anywhere we wanted. It appears that the college game has changed drastically since, and has become this very exclusionary institution. At the rate our daughter is going, I don’t see how she will get admitted to anywhere decent. Further, she claims that she doesn’t care about college, and as for jobs, she claims that she just isn’t cut out for the working world! OK – she is 15, and probably isn’t the only 15 yr old to indulge in such an attitude. But the constant stressing over her schoolwork is making me physicaly sick. Part of me wants to just say – “It’s your gig, kid – screw it up at your own risk.” The other part of me feels like a horrid parent if I get complacent. But I am completely 100% spent. Maybe I could relax more if I knew good colleges would acept average students (by the way – the has tested way above average IQ-wise; she is not dim-witted). Do I just let the chips fall where they may, for the sake of preserving my own mental health?

    Thanks for listening to me rant… I feel utterly lost.


  34. I’m 18 and graduating high school on Wednesday.

    I’ll give you some advice, hoping it’ll help because I was in the same position as your son four years ago. Try to relate to your son. Did you fail a class, a quarter, etc. in high school? Tell him. Then tell him how it affected you in the long run. If you didn’t, then tell him this: He’ll regret it when he’s picking out colleges his junior and senior year.

    Lucky for me, I’m an art major. Grades didn’t matter for me; I got accepted my junior year based on my portfolio. But still, I wish I did better. I was a C+ student, by the way.

    Also, does his school have an extended math class? Definitely look into that, if they do. I failed math my freshman year and had to retake it my sophomore year. I asked my guidance counselor if they could put me in the extended class and it helped me tremendously. The class was small, about 25 students, and there were three teachers. I wasn’t embarrassed to ask a question, because I knew my fellow students were in the same boat and had trouble understanding “crap” they didn’t think they needed to know.

    If your son says math is pointless, which I thought and still think sometimes, tell him the reason for it is to make his brain grow stronger. That really is the whole point behind math. Unless you’re going to be in construction, accounting or science…it isn’t very necessary after learning addition, multiplication, etc. But what is necessary is to be able to make quick decisions and figure out problems, all of which math can help.

    Your son is in control of his own actions. He may not be an adult yet, but when your 14 or 15 years old…you think you are. And there’s nothing you can really do about it but support him and try to help him to the best of your ability.

    Consequences are a must if he doesn’t get his act together, but first…try to find out why he thinks he’s failing. Is it the teacher? Is he embarrassed to ask questions? Does he have trouble understanding and gets lost? There could be multiple reasons.

    One things for sure, don’t be hard on him; he‘ll rebel against you if he feels like your controlling him (Which…I know you’re his parent but…kids have a weird way of looking at things). My mom always left it up to me to decide, but she told me her past experiences with life, hoping I’d gain some insight because of her mistakes. But all kids are different. I was always mature for my age, acting five years older than I was. Some kids need a parent over their shoulder.

    Hope this helps.


  35. Although there is only 6 weeks left, you never know what a great final grade can do to boost a grade ! I agree that short, immediate consequences are key. I think he’s too young to see the bigger picture, that high school does make a difference, and that habits you develop in school carry throughout your college and professional life afterward. Perhaps, get in touch with his professors and ask if there is anything you can do to stay in touch. I wouldn’t leave it in his hands! Also, I’ve heard that Freshman grades aren’t taken into account for universities, so get him on track now! Perhaps summer school will be a nice lesson too.

  36. The nice part about having a blog, I can run my ideas by great readers like all of you. Your comments are always appreciated and are helping the greater good. I think the best course for next year is small goals, like getting homework in on time. Just that alone would have helped his grades immensley. But bottom line it is up to him and maybe I can get it through his head that the future is really up to him.

  37. Like the new look :)

    Probably 6 weeks before the end of school is not enough time to pull his grades up, especially if he is failing because he is not turning his work in. I think you are so right when you say he is in control. HE IS! As a parent we can only encourage, provide support, and provide resources such as tutors. We cannot MAKE them do their homework or FORCE them to turn it in. They get to make their own decisions and sometimes they are bad choices. Consequences for short-term goals sounds very reasonable. I know at his age he may not know, but what does he want to do after high school? Is there a college he would like to attend or a career that he wants to pursue? If so, those things may help motivate him – help him make a plan for achieving those goals.

    Truly, this revelation has helped me so much in the teen years. My dd gets wonderful grades and is an overachiever. She does however dress oddly and wears crazy make-up and hair. She is strong-willed and opinionated. Many parents say I must have the patience of Job, but I don’t. I just know I cannot MAKE her do anything.

    Next year, perhaps starting the year off with a tutor and also monitoring his grades on a weekly basis via the internet (our high school has online access to grades – show what has and has not been turned in and what grade they got on every assignment). You could do short-term incentives tied to turning in his homework. This would be the encouragement, support, and resources you can provide – the rest has to be up to him.

  38. I went through this with my 19-year-old when he was your son’s age. NOTHING I did make a difference. At that age they are old enough (and big enough!) that you literally can’t FORCE them to do much of anything so I had one last talk with mine about the long-term consequences of not doing his best in school. Because of my husband’s disabilities we have NO money saved for college and his ONLY hope was academics-based scholarships. No college, no good-paying job (at least not in these parts), no good-paying job then none of the luxuries he’s accustomed to at home. At that point, I just let it go. Amazingly, some of it must have sunk in (the part about luxuries, probably, knowing my son!) and his sophomore year he started kicking butt and ended up graduating in 2008 in the honor court with better than a 4.0 GPA.

    My younger son has been the opposite. He is just finishing his freshman year today and he has kicked butt and taken names all the way through. In Geometry (a class hubby and I both struggled with) he’s finishing up with over a 100 average.

    Kids. Go figure.

    I guess my point is that at this age, your son pretty much is going to have to find his own motivation.

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