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Old 01-18-2010, 02:45 AM   #1
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Default Kid Stress, sorta OT, but how to cope?

One of my children (a teen, 17) is giving me so much stress it is severely affecting me. Tonight I am so upset I can't even sleep. So I thought I'd post here, hope for some support and suggestions, because I am literally ill over this.

He's one of my older kids, has always been a "good boy", sensitive, kind, compassionate, etc. Usually very obedient at home tho I will admit he has had a few minor things at school where he was told to do/not do something and just silently refused and got in trouble. But now he is a senior in high school and he just WILL NOT to his schoolwork.

He is smart and capable and I have NO understanding of what is going on with him. He has friends, he seems happy... in fact he IS happy. No drugs or drinking, no girlfriend (doesn't want one yet), no bad stuff going on, has good clean friends. He just procrastinates a TON and thinks he is invincible and can pull everything off at the last minute.

But now that he is a senior, he can't. His schedule is FULL of classes necessary to graduate. His teachers and counselors have told me, if he fails ONE class he will absolutely not graduate with his class. Right now he is failing four classes and has D's in the others. He is in real danger of not graduating, and when we talk, he shrugs and says "I'll get the work done." He says he WANTS to graduate, and I think he does, but he doesn't seem to GET that once you are so far down you cannot pull all those grades back up. In fact he has a project this week that, if he doesn't get a good grade on it he fails the class. Period. And doesnt graduate.

I am doing everything I think is wise with discipline, like grounding (some) and taking away his electronics. I don't think there is much else I can do. I think he has to decide to do it at this point.

But please tell me HOW not to let the stress eat me alive. Or turn me to bingeing? I can't sleep, I feel like a bad parent, I have nightmares about losing him, it is horrid. Tonight I feel like I can feel my hair turning grey. I am not sure how to handle this level of stress. I just love him so much and want to help him and I can't.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:26 AM   #2
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I don't have kids myself, but really feel for you.

17 is difficult. I was a nightmare at that age. It was all about control issues with my family and any authority. It was my way or no way. I barely graduated from high school by taking the easiest classes. All of my friends were under achievers, which resulted in me having no aspirations of going to college. One day at 19 I became very interested in something I could make a career out of. So, I went to college then university. I remember asking my mom why she never said anything about me going to college as my 3 older siblings had been. She said, 'If I would have nagged you about it, you never would have gone. There was more of a chance of you going if I didn't say anything.'

It seems like you laid a good foundation in regards to you kid. Just keep the communications open. It'll pass. My dad use to tell me when ever I was on a bad path, 'you'll just make life harder for yourself; you'll be the one that suffers.'

Have rewards been offered for getting good grades?

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Old 01-18-2010, 06:09 AM   #3
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Are there any consequences? Auto? Insurance? Etc. ??

My kids are young, but I remember sometimes it's the same when you're older...all about the consequences.

GOod luck! I am in fear when my own are that age!

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Old 01-18-2010, 07:18 AM   #4
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Good luck! I know my brother and my husband both did not consider high school and studies worth their time to do them, and do them now. Both did not graduate. Both have since went on to get a GED, and my brother is in college now, and has been for a couple years.

My husband has his GED, and though his line of business is dangerous and physical, he makes MUCH more than I do now , and more than I have ever made - and I have a college degree. He's also a VERY smart guy - the only person I know who can do fraction addition in his head in a second.

This isn't to say your son needs to get his heinie in gear, but more to say if it does happen and he does not graduate, there is hope that he still will go on to be successful - if he turns his thinking around.

Do all you can, but you can't do everything. I saw my parents go through the same stress with my brother (I was in college at the time), and I know it's hard. I know it frustrated me that he didn't try harder, and made them upset so much. My main senior year argument with my folks was which college I would attend

Good luck!
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:31 AM   #5
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I have a 20 month old and can tell she is going to be a pistol but then so was I. What my parents did was just love me until I got myself together. It seems like he knows what needs to happen he's just not interested in getting it done. Sounds like something happened to trigger it. Even though he doesn't want to day it may be because he tried and was rejected and some guys don't handle rejection well. I was like that but the more I hung out with the popular crowd they weren't doing as well in school as me and I didn't want anyone to know I was doing well so I would get low grades. I just know my parents prayed for me and I came around.

Try asking him what he wants out of life and how he plans to get to it. YOu may get to see where his head is. I'll pray for him because this is a tough age.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:05 AM   #6
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It sounds like your son has a major case of Senioritis! I have a 22 year old who was a major underachiever in hs--she just graduated from university, very successfully I will add. The most painful part about being a parent is watching, and sometimes letting, your child fail. Some kids just have to learn the hard way. It sounds like you are doing all that you can, but he has to really do this for himself. You cannot force him to do it as you have found. I have a friend that is going through this right now and I know how hard it is for her, and you. His not graduating on time and with his class may be something that he has to experience. I think he's a good kid as you describe. This does not mean that he will not be a successful adult or future student.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:09 AM   #7
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Lyn -

I'm in a somewhat similar situation - not the specifics because my son is 5, but he's shortly to be evaluated for ADHD (or other stuff too, I guess) to figure out why he's having such a tough time in school.

So while I can't really answer the specific parenting issue, I can relate to the stress aspect and trying to not let it throw me off track.

A big thing for me was figuring out that to lose the weight, I had to be selfish and do it for MYSELF. Not for my son and my desire to be healthy (not to mention alive!) for him, as important as that is to me. But that wasn't enough to motivate me. I had to find the desire to make this change because I wanted and needed to do it for me. And because of that, even with dealing with the stress of my son's situation, along with some other stuff going on, I have to allow myself to value me as much as I value anyone or anything else.

One thing that has helped me a lot was doing the points challenge in this forum, meaning setting my goals for eating, water and activity, and then trying to focus on meeting each of those goals, one day at a time. I can't control what the scale says, but I can control whether I drink that extra glass of water or stop myself before putting that food into my mouth if it's going to put me outside my goal. And I've really thrown myself into activity as a way to help reduce my stress level.

Having this daily reminder that I do have control over these things makes me me feel more in control of my life in general, despite the stresses that I'm trying to manage. And it's also been helpful to realize that everything, even big things like worrying about a child's education and future, can be broken down into pieces that I can handle, one day, even one hour at a time.

Good luck to you and to your son - I have faith that you will both figure out a way to work it all out!
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Last edited by PeanutsMom704; 01-18-2010 at 11:09 AM.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:12 AM   #8
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I have no advice to offer other than to agree with everything that's already been said. My lil guy is only 8. I did want to offer a big though!

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Old 01-18-2010, 11:15 AM   #9
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Does he have hopes of going to college? What are his plans after high school?

I was a bit different in that I really didn't do school work until high school! As a freshman, I started down the same path but I know one day a teacher said something about not wasting her time and it helped something click in my brain. I also wanted to go to college and I know that high school grades mattered, so I bucked up and did the work and got mostly A's from that point on.

Does he need some counseling? It really sounds like something must be going on in his head to not just sit down and get it done with if it means graduating vs not graduating.
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:50 PM   #10
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You're NOT a bad parent. Push those thoughts as far away as you can. Teens are teens. We've all been there and we know how hard it is to find our place. That doesn't reflect direclty on our parents.

My best friend was this way. He knew what he had to do in HS, but chose not to. It was the same when he went to college (which be BARELY got into), and eventually he decided to quit because his grades were so poor he wouldn't get anywhere. He is now in the Navy and doing quite well for himself. What I'm trying to say is sometimes it just takes kids time to come around. Give him as much support as you possibly can to make the right decisions and get the assignments turned in, but if he ultimately fails it is a reflection on him... not you.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:26 PM   #11
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I can honestly say I know exactly where you are! My now almost 18yr had always been a kind, caring, "good" boy. He never did anything horrible, listened well, didn't get in any trouble to speak of. Then one day it was like someone flipped a switch and he just couldn't have cared less. He didn't do assignments or he'd do them & as crazy as this is he wouldn't turn them in! He gave alot of shrugs & IDK was the answer for just about everything.
I took him to counseling - both at our church & another Dr. - I was in daily contact with his guidance councelor, principal, teachers. I tried everything (good & bad) grounding, bribing, pleading, you name it. I didn't sleep, I ate way too much sugar, I cried, I felt like the worst mother - that I couldn't get him over this hump.
He managed to end up 1 1/2 yrs behind - won't be graduating with any of his friends. Wasn't allowed to get his liscense - to this day he doesn't have it.
He finally made the choice to do right by himself.
I think one of the worst feelings is that of not being able to fix it, especially for your child. At some point you have to let them "figure" it out for themselves. I pushed & tried to fix & figure out what was happening and I did everything I could do to be pro active. I drove myself pretty close to insanity! But if there aren't any underlying issues that are present as an explanation it might be time to let him live & learn. Him not graduating on time isn't the worst thing that could happen & seeing his friends moving on might make him rethink his actions.
Best of luck & remember the fact that your concerned is proof that your a good mom!
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:38 PM   #12
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Thank you all SO much for the words of wisdom and experience and kindness. I have been beside myself.

As far as consequences, one thing is that all his friends have been driving for 2 years now and have licenses and most even have cars. He still has his permit. I told him when he got his first year permit that he needed to maintain a 3.0 to get his license, because otherwise the car insurance rates DOUBLE if grades are lower. He seemed fine with that. But now e doesn't seem to care about driving, although he saves his money (when he worrks in the summer) for a car.

In addition to driving being a consequence/incentive, I've done other things. If he does his homework (the homework I know about) he can go play with his friends, but if he doesn't he is grounded. He was playing video games nonstop and his grades dropped so I took his laptop and gaming system and told him he would get them back when the F's went up to D's. I don't think that is asking a lot! He is capable of at least B's... but I am just asking him to pass. His father (we are divorced, have been for 12 years now) offered him $100 per A, $75 per B. His little brother got some $$ for his grades from their Dad but this one didn't seem to care. He just does not care about those grades. I honestly think he believes he WILL graduate somehow, he will pull it off, the teachers will make an exception and let him graduate. But that isn't going to happen.

I did take him to the doctor (pediatrician) and talk to her about it. She says he is "perfectly healthy" and there is nothing she can see wrong. I agree with her, he is not depressed at all. I am pretty sure if I tried to get him to go to counseling, he would refuse, and at 6' tall I can't really make this kid do anything anymore. He really is very compliant on most things, except the homework.

Thank you CD3 too for your experience. I guess I have to figure out when to let go and just focus on loving him and maintaining a good relationship even if he chooses not to graduate. It tears my heart out, it really does, but I will try and have faith he will figure it out later. It just kills me to see all his friends, all the kids he grew up with, getting jobs and cars and getting ready for college. I don't even know what to say to my friends with kids that age anymore.

Again thank you all, just getting feedback and being heard helped me a lot.
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