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what to do with a teen?

Posted by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:04 AM
  • 10 Replies

A year ago I got custody of my 14 year old cousin. My oldest child is going to be 9.    I have had to drive an hour for court (5 times before I got custody) Now we have to go every 3 months or so. They want me to get a foster care license to be able to keep him, and that is a big and timely process.

The thing is in one year this kid has gotten 7 detentions and mainly not his fault, I think we got that straight. He would always have a smart comment and the teachers didn't like it, but thats what you get when you live with drunks for years. Anyways I will try to stay on subject.

The main problem now is his grades, I thought we had it straight, I told him I didn't need to keep him I did it because I want to, and the way he could show me he appreciates it and everything I do for him is his grades. He wasn't turning things in, just showing me he doesn't care and not trying. Was better for 2 months now brings progress report home and has an E, before I looked at it he said " I didn't think I missed any assignments". Yeah RIGHT!! Missing 11 assignments. HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU TURNED IN 11 ASSIGNMENTS??

I am so sick of having to talk to teachers, the courts, state workers and he's not trying. I told him I dont care if he has E's if he is giving it his 100%, but he continues not to. I dont understand. He has a much better life now, he has things that he could only dream about before and this is the Thanks I get?!!  I have 4 kids of my own, and we had to make a lot of adjustments for my cousin to live with us, I'm about ready to throw the towel in.

Thanks for any input and for listening


by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:04 AM
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by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:10 AM

First of all, let me say that I have a 17year old son just like that!! He could care less about his grades, and have to stay on him all the time about them.  Okay that being said, please don't give up on this kid.  He's been through a lot, and needs some stability in his life.  It sounds like you are doing the best that you can with him.  He may not be making the best choices now, but is he getting in any serious trouble anywhere else?  If not, it may be that he's just bored with school, or he's struggling and is scared to let you know.  Who knows why the kid is like this, I'm not sure.  I just know that he needs someone to love him and at 14, he's still a kid, and needs someone right now!! Just support him, love him and encourage him as much as possible, and hopefully he will finally decide to do better!!!!!  I know I'm not much help, I just don't want you to give up on him!!!!

by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 8:26 AM

Well I'm glad to hear that he's living with someone who really cares and loves him.

How long has he been living with you? I'm sure that this is a hard adjustment for any child regardless if the living conditions have improved or not. KWIM?

Well, since I have no experience with teens, I'm not going to pretend that I know what I'm talking about but maybe you could do what my parents did to me.

  • Speak with the teachers and have them email you the weekly homework assignments and their due dates.
  •  When he gets home ask him what needs to be done (referencing the emails), have him sit down and do the assignments, and then check over his work . Checking his work will give you a little insight as to how well he is understanding the material he is being taught. There could be a good chance that he's too embarrassed to tell you that he is having a hard time.
  • Then ask the teachers to email you if the assignments haven't been turned in. If he has not turned in the assignment and you are notified of it then you can continue on with punishment .

Once he gets the idea that he will be dealing with this on a daily basis he probably will start turning in his work. Dealing with the repercussions every quarter is less hassle than every day. I lived in a smaller town and the teachers were willing to do this. I'm not sure how large his school is but hopefully his teachers will be willing to put in the extra effort. Other than that the only thing I can think of is homeschooling him.

by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 9:27 AM

I have had him for 13 months. I guess I just missed all the steps leading to teenage years, but still he cant afford to slack, I have the state looking over my shoulder. I know he gets that he needs to keep up on his school work, he just chooses not to. Just gets pretty frustrating.

The teachers are supposed to be letting me know, but they dont.

He's not mouthy or anything like that, I guess I got lucky on that. I think he wont talk back cause he knows I am doing him a huge favor. I am the only one that stepped up, he would be in a regular foster home if I didn't.

Is there a way to get through to him? The social worker will get copies of report cards, so will the courts. He needs to step up and put forth the effort.

by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Being a parent of a teen aint easy nor is being a teen. Is he seeing a counseler? It may help especially since there has been major changes in his life. Sooo many things are out of HIS control the only thing He can control is his schoolwork.

Dont take his poor grades as a personal attack against you.."And this is the thanks I get". He is probably very angry,confused, how bad can I mess up before she sends me away...

 How about setting up goals/rewards for decent grades every 6 wks, something he really wants or wants to do.setting up positive consequences. I found setting negative consequences didnt work for my kids. I got reaaly frustrated w a couple of my kids and told them if they want to fail and repeat the grade, so be it. I backed off.When they realized it was THEIR choice, they would suffer the consequences, they decided that they really didnt want to repeat the grade after all and got decent grades.

Hang in there, it will get better..not as soon as you might like it but it will get better. Also how about setting up family counseling, all these changes affect them too.

by Silver Member on Dec. 1, 2009 at 10:19 AM

I would think about how you go about this with him. It is a lot of pressure to be taken from your parents and live with someone else, cousin, aunt or man on the moon. He probably does not know a lot about succeeding. He needs to be taught.

Instead of telling him that his grades are the way to thank you (that alone is a huge amount of pressure) him help to realize that they are his responsibility to himself. He has never had this before or he'd still be with his parents. It is going to take all the baby steps that you are currently doing with your bio kids. Say "hey, I am so pleased that you are no longer getting detentions like when you first came to us. Now let's work together to help do the same for your grades. How can I help you help yourself? Do I need to remind you about things every morning.?" etc… Tiring, especially with other kids, but as someone who was never praised for much herself, I know it works and it takes time.

by Silver Member on Dec. 1, 2009 at 10:35 AM

sit down with him and write up a contract.In it put down he WILL complete and pass In ALL assignments or else------------- Will occur. That blank can be loss of computer time, tv time. friends time etc.AGRRE as to what goes in the contract.For us we did sports.if my kids missed assignments they had to turn in the uniform of the sport they were playing.

Have you spoken to him when you are not upset about what his choices are? How that ifd he doesnt perform he wont be able to stay? do you think having someon from the State explain it to him would help him take his actions more seriously?I've not been in your situtaion so Im kinda grasping at straws for you.

Surround yourself with people that add to your life not subtract from it.

by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 11:05 AM

Yes I have spent a lot of time explaining and making sure I'm not talking another language. We went to parent teacher conferences a few weeks ago, he was doing better than he had a month prior. I told him he was doing a good job and that his grades would continue to improve as long as he kept turning things in. I also explained when I say "I dont have to keep you, it's because I do it cause I want him to have a better life". I also told him that the way he could show me he really appreciates everything my husband I do for him would be through his grades, I'm not asking too much just turn it in, ask us if he doesn't get it. He does talk to a councelor, he wanted to come back and stay with me, he lived with me for a short time a few years ago. His mom didn't want to let him go, she took it more personal ( which she should have), so he got into trouble with the law, then they found her unfit, and I had to fight to keep him out of a foster home. Stupid way to get what you want but thats what kids do when they feel trapped. He told my grandma that he wasn't going to High School there, and thats exactly how it worked.


by on Dec. 1, 2009 at 2:01 PM

It's pretty normal teenage behavior whether you are 'troubled' or not.  I was the same way for no particularly good reason.  I did manage to graduate on time.  Not being held back was enough motivation for me to at least pass my classes...

I think it sends the wrong message if you are saying things like "I don't have to keep you".  It doesn't matter what you follow that up with, because it's the first part he'll hear. 

What does the state mandate for his grades?  Is it enough to show that you've been going to parent teacher conferences etc?  I can't imagine that they'd require a certain grade point average if you can prove you are giving him attention and putting all the effort you can into trying to get him to do his work?


Mommy of Isabelle Rose, born 10/11/2009

by on Dec. 2, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Maybe I do take it a little personal, but I bent over backwards to help him and I only ask that he turns in his work and tries. I can't do everything for him, he has to want to have a better life. Maybe I look at it the wrong way. I look at it like if he's not going to put any effort into graduating and things like that than what I'm I doing?? He is now failing 3 classes, with another on the boarder, for not turning work in.

He is on probation for his stunts at his moms, He is expected to keep his grade to atleast a C, and he has 3 E's and a D- 


by Susie on Dec. 2, 2009 at 9:16 AM

I am ready to ring my 18 year olds neck this minute so I have no answers.  All the sudden she turned 18 and thinks she can do whatever she wants.  Where did my good kid go?

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