Thursday, May 28, 2009

No Breaks in Parenting

It really is true when they say "you always have to stay on top of your kids". There are no breaks. I get it for the little ones but I thought it would be a little easier as they got older. This is definitely not the case. I guess I should have known better since I wasn't exactly a saint in my tween to teen years but still, I remember always caring about school and my grades. No matter what mess I was in or with which crowd I was hanging with, my grades were always important to me. I can't seem to get this through to Teen. She moved in with us when she was 12-6th grade. I was happy about this because I honestly felt that we could provide her with a better life and better education here in our part of the woods. Plus I know she was miserable living with her mom and her then stepfather. Soon after she moved in I noticed pretty quickly her lack of interest or better yet, her lack of wanting to take ownership of her schoolwork. It was so frustrating. And for me, it was worse because this was something I just plainly did not understand. How can you NOT care about your schoolwork? And to add to that, I didn't raise her so I had no idea how important school was made to be for her by her mom. I knew she was homeschooled for the two years prior to moving in with us so I had preconceived notions as to how seriously school was taken prior to her moving in but I can't say for sure. Anyway, 6th grade was tough. I was diligent about her schooling. I checked her grades, HW and schoolwork daily. She had her teachers sign her agenda daily. I had several conferences with her teachers, I paid several thousand dollars for tutoring (that I'm still paying for), got her glasses because she couldn't see the board, and finally when all of that didn't help, I took her in for ADD/ADHD testing. She was diagnosed with ADHD and has been on medication since. This helped to get her to focus in school but it still hasn't fixed the overall problem. We made it through 6th grade but mentally I couldn't do it again. In addition to her school issues, we had a TON of behavior problems. I couldn't take it anymore and I told her mom that she couldn't live with us any longer. Over the summer, Teen realized she liked it better with us and promised to make some big changes in order to move back in. She even signed a contract! And this worked for awhile. I told her the first D or F she brought home she was moving back with her mom. Now, I know this sounds harsh but the D's and F's she was getting was not because she couldn't do the work, she just didn't DO the work. I understand that not everyone tests well, but she doesn't even study. Anyway, when she got her first D she actually cried because she didn't want to move back. I wasn't going to force her to go as I knew the living conditions at her mom's were not productive by any means plus my heartstrings were pulled. I thought maybe she finally cared. So, I let up. I wanted to give her some independence, as I've read that this is important as kids get older...give them a chance to be responsible. I didn't nag her about her grades daily, I didn't check her stuff daily and it worked for awhile. She did ok. Plus, guilty on my part, this was the year that things were going downhill with the restaurant at breaking speed and I was going through a complicated pregnancy. My focus was not on her. I know this is bad but I just needed something to function on its own without my daily involvement. I remember having discussions with her about it and she understood as best as she could. It was rough year for all of us but we got through it. And now we are into 8th grade and it's like we've gone backwards. The behavior problems are not there so much anymore, although she still sneaks off with my stuff every once in awhile. She's a good kid. I'm thankful I'm not dealing with drugs or criminal activity, our behavior issues are what I think are typical tween/teen issues....respect, know-it-alls, too cool, don't care, "whatever" attitude, etc. Our problems are still school. She's back to D's and F's and the whatever attitude. She's not doing her work and she's not studying for her tests. We've already received a letter that she might have to retake 8th grade and that didn't seem to bother her..well, she gave us the "I don't care" attitude. I blame myself for not staying on top of the daily schoolwork and agenda checking as I did in 6th grade but I thought we had moved on from that. I wanted her to learn to organize and take pride in her schoolwork. And yes, I will admit, selfishly I didn't want to go through the hassle (and it is) to go online daily to check to see what HW or tests she has for every class and then check her agenda to make sure she wrote it down or did it. I just want her to take responsibility of her one major responsibility- school. This is the only thing that is important in her life right now. She doesn't have a job or a ton of activities that she has to juggle with, it's just school. And if she can't get it together now, what is it going to be like in High School? I've told her it's harder but she just shrugs it off. We just got into an argument over it again this morning. So, as a parent, you have to question if you are doing something wrong. So, maybe it is me and my fault for not diligently nagging her daily about school. I want to say it's pointless now, since it's nearly June, but as they say and as I have learned....there are no breaks in parenting.

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