Dependents or Codependence? Updated

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At what age do we start expecting more out of our children? I’ve been wrestling with this issue for a while because my son is 10, almost 11 – a “tweener”. Between a boy and a teen, but definitely with a teenager’s attitude problem. LOL

I am realizing finally that my nicknames for my son are getting old, and very soon will be a sore point. I don’t guess he’ll want his friends to know I call him sugar and munchkin (though he surely is not) and all sorts of other cute things. We have a very special Moniker for him though that he’ll never be rid of… but I won’t share that here, if he ever finds it I’ll become a statistic instantly because he will kill me. I say that purely in jest. šŸ˜‰

But seriously, when do we as parents cut the bullshit and coddling and stop excusing their various behaviors as “being a kid”? Right after Christmas break my son came home with a report card that, were it html code would’ve been all white. (FFFFFF is the HTML code for white).

I promptly grounded him from everything fun that he holds dear with the exception of his legos. I let him keep those. I figured if I took away every distraction or preoccupation, he would have nothing else to do but get his work done and be prepared for more. The next report card was passing, but that’s all it was, just passing. I’m not impressed. My son is not a stupid kid, but his laziness will only make it harder for him to learn because he’s not keeping up with his classmates, it’s a terrible cycle and what’s worse is it snowballs into a much bigger problem.

Earlier this week I vented about this but didn’t really go into much detail. Not that I am here, but I want to hear from other mothers or anyone who has children that struggle in school or struggled themselves or was 10 once, whoever, I’m not picky.

Yesterday I decided on a whim to go through my sons’ backpack, good thing I did. I found work that was incomplete, looked through his spirals for his daily work and saw a lot of pages with the beginnings of work but nothing after the first few lines, papers that I should’ve seen and signed, a permission slip (for the all important “Changes in Your Body” video) and all sorts of other things. The boy was shocked at my whim and disappointed that he’d been found out.

Most importantly I found a two week old progress report from school that had the same damn problem, all F’s. One of those grades was an 8!!! I looked at my son and asked if he remembered how he just earned everything back recently and if he recalled how boring it was for him, he said yes. I told him that he needs to find a way to fix these grades and fast because if I see another report card with a failing grade even just 1, little man goes into no fun mode again. He knows I’m not playing. What else does he have to do or think about? Not bills!

I told him that I believe I’d made the impression that grades are important in our household and he agreed. I advised him to ask his teacher today what he will need to do in order to bring those grades up and then do whatever she tells him to. He said he would. We shall see.

You see I know he’s lazy. I knew that all along. I’ve just been waiting and hoping that there would come that moment where everything just “clicked” as it does for so many kids, including myself, and he would finally buckle down and get after it.

I think, like he does his alarm clock every morning, that that moment came and clicked and he shut it off and went back to sleep. I told the little man further that if he ends up repeating a grade because of this laziness, that I’ll hold him back a year from his license for every year that he repeats, (he looked at me with lack of understanding on his face) I explained that if he fails this year, that he’ll be 17 before I let him apply for his license. You should have seen the shock in his eyes.

I’m raising the stakes though because the stakes of his future are high. His ideal would be that we buy a “dream” car when he’s 13 and he and DH can build it to the specs that he wants for him to have at 16. I told him if he wants that from us…we need to see some B’s, not just barely passing.

What do you think? Do you have this issue with your kids? Any motivation ideas? Horror Stories? Brothers who lived a life of crime due to laziness, or that woke up at 15 or in high school and are Dr’s now? Let me hear from you on this one MouthyGirls and Boys!

Update: Below are the replies I received on MommyTalk.com – which are very helpful…read on….

Not at the stage…yet….
Wow, there is a lot of great advice here! I know we were also raised with the whole thing of as soon as you get home from school, you sit down at the kitchen table and you stay there until your homework is done. There is no playing, no tv, etc until the work is done. I know that really helped us and that’s what we will do with our kids also. I also agree with having your son help to identify the problems and what he can do to fix them. And just holding him personally accountable for things. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with going through his backpack with him as soon as he gets home everyday. Once he becomes more responsible with that, then you can give him more freedom to do it on his own. But setting schoolwork as a first priority really helps. Then if something fun is going on and he doesn’t have his work done, he doesn’t get to go. It will seem like you’re being really mean (in his eyes) but you can explain that that is just how life works- if you don’t get things done then you miss out on the fun. You can give examples of when that has happened to you (I didn’t get my work report, or the laundry, or whatever, done so I didn’t get to go out for lunch, or whatever). But things like that can help him to see that his actions and choices have consequences and help him to make responsible choices, not just doing things because you tell him to. At any rate, I wish you the very best!

Sent by: luv2bhome
Apr 10, 2008 9:29 am

Hang in there – Have him help

My son is 2, so I haven’t experienced this from a parental perspective.

From my own experience, I think raising the stakes and “letting” go, thus begining to treat him more adult-like is perfectly fine & needed at this age. He is starting that transition,

The one thing I would add, this comes from work experience & I think it could apply, is..

Have him help find the solution, meaning don’t just tell him this is the way it needs to be and these are the concequences if the expected behavior is not met. Add to that – work with him & have him actively participate / decide on what he will do to accomplish the expectation. They can be simple things, ones that he can attain, but he will the owner of those steps and if not attained you can talk to him about why and teach him accountability for his actions because he decided them.

Sent by: SJ
Apr 10, 2008 7:55 am

My daughter is 12 and believe me, the attitude I understand, she walks around the house like her world is ending everyday! As far as schoolwork she is outstanding, straight A’s. There are times though that I see her grades going down, I gave her the same advise you gave to your son, ask your teacher what you can do to bring those grades up. I also spoke to her teachers and asked that anything below a C grade would require a signature. Not so she got in trouble but just so that I am aware of any struggles that she is having. She would tend to hide those grades. With the teachers being on board they would let me know if they did not get the test back with a signature. She had no choice but to show it to me, I was going to find out either way. We also have a rule about homework and projects, the day that they are assigned, they get started and they are due in my hands a day before they are due in her teachers hands. I hope that I am teaching her to be on top of things and not wait until the last minute. This has helped but it is not a miracle, it seems I have to remind her of the rules every month, she acts as if she never heard it before, I swear, I hear my mother coming out in me more and more everyday! Good luck, let us know how it’s all going, you are stepping into some of the hardest times I have discovered. Talking to all these moms here really does help, at least you know your not alone, everyone else is going through it too.

Sent by: amberautumn4
Apr 10, 2008 5:45 am

Been there, done that, still there
you have company, trust me

I have so been where you are, am so there now, and have resigned myself that my older child will be disoranized his entire life. Every thing you describe is classic ADD – which we got him diagnosed at 15, started him on Adderall – then Strattera – it really made a difference. Except . . . . he’d forget to take the meds – then chose not to.

I think I am much happier as a mom and for him when I evaluate him on more than just grades and organization I know I will never be organized, neat and orderly. My room will never be picked up and I still lose things on my desk all the time – even if I spend hours cleaning and organizing it my clutter fairy rearranges everything overnight. And I can’t tell you how many times a week I misplace my car keys. I’m on my third cell phone in a year (dropped one in the parking lot; the second went through the laundry by mistake) Does that make me a bad person, or a loser or lazy because I can’t stay organized? I hope not because then I’m in big trouble.

Be careful how you use words like ‘lazy’, ‘unmotivated’, and so forth. I used to throw them at my son all the time out of frustration – until I sat down with him to do an ADD checklist – and realized we both answered ‘yes’ to most of the questions. You might be able to google an ADD checklist on the internet – don’t know for sure.

The ONLY thing that ever worked for us (at the suggestion of a counselor) was what we referred to as ‘table time.’ That meant that for an hour every day, my son had to sit at the kitchen table, with quiet and do his homework – in public. If his homework was done, then that was when he could clean out his backpack, review notes, etc. And in hindsight, I wish I had raised my kids doing homework at the kitchen table, immediately after school.

Once the TIME is scheduled, then the tools, organizers, calendars can be focused on )hopefully.) In truth, my 19-year-old will probably struggle his whole life with meeting deadlines, not losing homework and important stuff – it’s frustrating to watch – yet he can’t change his genetic make-up.

And remember other qualities that to me are more important – honesty, character, empathy, drug-free.

PS – Many of the most creative, inspiring people are the leaders and dreamers – they come up with great ideas because they DO think outside the orderly box –

Hang in there – it’s not just you. I think what you describe is about every parent I have ever talked to, ESPECIALLY with teen boys.

Repeat after me: The teen brain is not done growing. The teen brain is not done growing. The teen brain is not done growing. Then re-evaluate when they reach about 25.

Sent by: Katrina
Apr 09, 2008 10:38 pm

? don’t know if I can help

My brother struggles 15 and gets on my moms last nerve- doesn’t care, thinks he smarter.

Get him a daily planner, student issue. Have him write every class and all homework then make him have the teacher sign it. If no homework- he is to write no homework and still have the teacher sign. if he doesn’t have it signed find the right punishment. if he has it filled out and signed reward. If he says he has no homework- you will know truthfully if he doesn’t. Once his grades improve and he shows he can be trusted give more independence-request teachers to give you weekly progress reports-if possible

My sis in law does this Nephew has a floder for every class- inside the folder is a notebook- other side of folder is all that classes papers organized and neat… she check it everyday, once he got the hang of it she stopped checking- Staying organized is key!!

Try focussing on the here and now- you don’t do your homework punishment- you did your work reward. Maybe focusing on the future allows him to put it off one more day.

Sent by: mommyO2
Apr 09, 2008 8:04 pm

Good luck

I have the same issue with my 11 year old girl and 9 year old boy. However the girl “gets” it, when I threaten her, she brings the grades up. I have to literally take everything my son holds precious before he gets it. Then I am the meanest woman on this earth, and I am not as mean to Hannah as I am to him.

I found an F on my son’s grade right before spring break – well needless to say it was a LONG week for him. He had to bring home that paper and redo it, and not just one, I made him rewrite the answers on another paper everyday. When his grades slipped in math, I found him a website that was multiplication & division game – so he would learn while playing on the computer – this actually worked.

As for all the crap in the backpack – I have that issue also. Stuff I should have seen and did not. However, his teacher is wise and emails me if it is really something. Also the access online to the kids grades helps. I check every other day for them, that way if they slip the slightest, I am on them. Call me an anal mom, I call my self protecting my investment – one day they are going to support me! HAHA!

Sent by: Kachinamom
Apr 09, 2008 7:00 pm

I am so intrigued at how quickly these moms rallied around to give me support, they are wonderful people and I’m glad I joined MommyTalk.com I’ve met so many great moms, that I think it makes me a better mom to seek that support from other moms “in the trenches”. So if you’re a mom, you should pop over to MommyTalk.com today and find some comrades in arms…

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