How do I get my child serious about education?
Real Mom Problem
“My 16-year-old daughter is failing in her junior year classes. She wants to drop out of school. Her only interest is her boyfriend.”
- 1. Talk about their goals in life and what they need to do in order to achieve them
- 2. Express an interest in what they're learning and doing in school
- 3. Praise them for good work and trying their best
- 4. Discuss real life, how much things cost, and how education can impact earnings
Real Mom Solutions
Many teens are too busy with the here and now to be thinking about the future, but these moms have helped their teens get serious about their educations. See their suggestions below.
Communication Works Best for Some Moms
My son is 16. 13 and 14 were the hardest years. We just kept talking to him about school being a privilege and how in some other countries people don't get free education. He griped that he "would rather work than go to school," but it is hard to keep that perspective when you see videos of homeless children in Vietnam living in a dump. My daughter and other kids I know that LIKE school are involved in social school activities. Try to encourage your teen to join a sport, group, or club.
Get excited! Take an interest in helping them choose classes, including electives. Talk about their classes and what they are learning. Do not just offer to read their papers to make corrections; discuss the content and take an interest. If they feel what they are learning is interesting and useful, they will be more interested. I have learned so much (and remembered a lot) from my sons during high school. It is fun to discuss different theories and ideas.
Some Moms Use Rewards & Consequences
We wrote up contracts with our boys. In them we stated that school work and homework come before everything. Grades must have a 1 for effort (meaning they are trying their hardest). All assignments must be turned in and on time. IF they are not, my sons would return the uniform of the sport they were playing. We used sports because that was their passion. Having contracts worked great for us!
Sometimes we have to let our kids screw up for them to understand. My 20-year-old daughter made it through high school but got kicked out of college in the first semester. Of course she came home but it wasn't for free. She was refusing to go back to any form of school. So she had to work and pay rent and utilities. After about 4 months of having to work 2 full-time jobs just to cover the basics, she applied at the local college. She's had a 4.0 ever since. Meanwhile we pay for the basics.
I let all my kids know that dropping out of high school wasn't an option and even the one who hated school at one point graduated, so stand firm and don't back down.
Other Moms Explain Life's Realities
If there is a YWCA where you live, they sometimes have groups that can help kids who want to drop out of school. They also have ones filled with criminal women that probably dropped out of school themselves -- kind of a scare-her-straight type of thing? I have a rule that my kids have to be in school or working full time. If your teen wants to get her GED and get a full-time job (although in this economy I am sure it will be difficult to say the least), then she could give it a go. If your town has alternative high schools, then maybe she could try one of those?
Show your teen the cost of independent life on a piece of paper. Write down all the categories of expenses, and what the monthly bill is for each expense. Then list 20 different jobs, some he's qualified for with only a high-school degree, some that take a 2-year degree, some that take a bachelors, and some that take a professional degree. List the after-tax earnings of each of these jobs. Shatter his illusions that life is pretty without a degree or that you'll be funding his non-educational life in any way after high school graduation.