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My teenage son has not been doing his homework, and we have punished him for it. He has forged our signature on the forms and is now threatened with suspension. He was in top class til last year. Why is he lying why does he feel unable to come to us for help till it's too late?


Ashley Hammond Replied: A rapid deterioration in academic performance at school can be (but may not be) the result of other dangerous destructive behavior such as drug or alcohol use. I strongly suggest that you discuss this type of behavior with your child and if needed drug and alcohol testing is an option. I also suggest family counselling to discuss this situation in a less threatening environment for your child. Admitting failure or academic difficulty to parents is often extremely difficult and if this is the case then tutoring or additional help may be needed. Pay close attention to your childs actions and friendship circles to help understand what has happened to create this down turn in academic performance. A mothers instincts are usually good. if you think he/she is in trouble then they probably are. You can also seek help from the in-school counsellors who will give you a sense of your childs friends and the circles that they move in. Good Luck
Posted On 2010-06-20 21:45:50
Pamela Waterman Replied: You have several issues here: why he didn't do the homework, why he lied about it, and why he feels it's either okay and/or necessary to forge your signature. If he was a good student prior to this year, he could either have been influenced by new friends that schoolwork is pointless, or he could have one or more incompetent teachers from whom he is unable to learn (we've sure been through that, particularly with higher level math and science teachers - you wonder how they got the job and kept it). He may have been intimidated to ask the teacher for help (or tried and got nowhere), or he may have asked you and that didn't work either. (In my family, we have to really watch it that we don't launch into long lectures when a simple clarification is all that was needed.) So, did he stop coming to you for help on academics? The counselor should have the listening skills to get him to explain, maybe without you being there, whether it was peer pressure, the "school is worthless because I don't get it" attitude, or "my parents don't get it" or "my parents' expectations are too high." Lying has to be presented as extremely serious and only leading to situations where he can't lie his way out of it: he either turns in results or does not get a grade (college life) (let alone the higher moral issues). Believe me, we went through most of this just this year with our very, very bright junior who had a 4.2 but wanted to drop out of school due to similar reasons ("No one likes me" - an exaggeration, and "the teachers are masochists"). Your school may agree to keep him if you and he both sign an agreement involving the following types of tasks: time at home without the laptop computer (eliminating Facebook distractions) or cellphone (ditto), time studying at the dining-room table in full view of one or the other of you but with scheduled breaks, weekly time with one or more teachers (assuming there were several critical subjects with poor grades), and agreement to sit with one of you to review test results as they come in. You and they must also lay out the reality of what his life will entail if he is suspended. You can review progress after two weeks, and ease up a bit if things are improving. A small reward may also be in order if he not only show remorse but gets his act together and makes progress. If not, you may need to pay for some time with a licensed counselor to get him to admit what's really bugging him and why he feels he can't go to you. It can be hard for the parent to admit he/she may have contributed to the problem (again, been there done that), but nothing can be solved until it's identified. (We paid for our daughter to retake a course at a community college - she did great - the problem really was with the high school teacher,and the school just wouldn't make a change for us.) Best wishes.
Posted On 2010-06-06 17:09:16
Lou Longo Replied: Teenagers are at a point in their life where they are trying to find their identity and where they fit in with their peers, at home and socially. Hormones are starting to kick in so now there is that dynamic in their life. The change in grades from the top of his class to academic issues and forging signatures is a somewhat big one and with behavior changes such as this, there is usually a catalyst. Try talking to your son first and reinforce how much you care about him and just want him to do his best and be happy and see if he will open up with anything going on. Maybe there is peer pressure, a new girlfriend, harder classes or possibly he is just not inspired to do schoolwork for some reason. If he is like many teens I know, he will probably not share much so then I would look to his friends and see where they are at (similar school issues, new peer group etc.) and if you know their parents well, ask them if they have noticed similar things with their own child and/or yours. Finally, you can make an appointment with the school and ask them candidly what they have noticed and what recommendations they have as this situation occurs frequently in schools everywhere. Good luck and keep the communication lines open remembering what our psyche was like as a teen.
Posted On 2010-06-06 08:43:50
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