You can take the Donkey to private school but what if he isn't BOVVERED ?

(58 Posts)
Buzi Tue 08-Jan-13 23:31:12

Having killed myself at my Comp, got myself into top notch Uni, a great career and great life..married happily two kids to wealthy self-made man from Smart yet lost their cash background...how do I manage when my 11 yr old DS is still at school refusing to drink from the font of knowledge, no homework comes home, shocking handwriting, eyelash curling spelling, one word answers...I've tried it all ...tutors,rewards, threats,patience, encouragement...even counselling ( for me that is !!!)...Frankly I am at the point of sending the cheques to charity...I have one other friend...same thing bright enough kid...just not going to even try..! All my other mates kids drifting into London Day, Winchester...you name it...! Do i just give and hope he will get it together eventually ? My daughter 8 is fine ...she does however tend to mimic his behaviour if she wants an out !!
Anyone else had a DS like mine ?

happygardening Wed 09-Jan-13 09:58:55

My DH is a super bright and went to St Pauls where he significantly under performed because like your DS he did the minimum. It was not until he was 21 that the light dawned he's now exceedingly conscientious and hard working.
You say he has "he has a place at a well known boys boarding school come what may" does he not have to pass CE or is the pass mark so low he's unlikely to fail? IME even the likes of Milton Abbey expect their pupils to pull their fingers out and make an effort; lawn mowing and ferreting are now extra curricular activities rather then main stream ones.. Most even remotely selective schools are upping the anti parents may claim they're not interested in league table but they are either lying though their teeth or schools are not getting the message. Those who are not going to do well even at those lower down the league tables are unlikely to make it into the 6 th form or have their choices significantly limited.
Also IME of 8 yrs of boarding this is also not the cure for the lazy child. If prep is supervised then its likely to be 1 teacher/prefect for 12 children but many are unsupervised working in a dorm often with 2-3 others mates and ideal opportunity for pissing around or looking out of the window. My DS is at Winchester luckily he is a bit of a swot but we were told last year that a significant % were not working hard enough (I suspect its all relative) and Im sure some still haven't got the message.
You mention he fancies a top 50 local day school how difficult is it to get in whats the CE pas mark? Perhaps if he really wants to go he would make more of an effort to get it.
Finally you say that he stands to inherit a lot of money. You and he ( if he is) should forget this assuming your not already in your dotage or both have a significantly life shortening illness. My parents and in laws are all well into their late 80's-early 90's we're in our late 40's, my father has already spent over £200 000 yes I have written £200 000 on nursing home fees nothing in life is guaranteed.

If DS is expecting to inherit from you, you could always start talking about the excellent example Bill Gates has set to his children. And then start involving him in family discussions regarding the setting up of a charitable trust fund to disperse the family fortune to worthy causes - education in Africa or whatever lights your candle. You're giving him the best gift of his life - the best education that you can afford for him. You tell him that you will guarantee his school fees, and all further education, and he can always apply for funding later on for education activities. But that's it.

If you're feeling generous, you could say that you will give £50K towards his & any siblings first property (I'm assuming you're truly loaded and this figure would be possible - amend as necessary!), but then that would be it. You've given him the tools to get any job he likes. The rest is up to him. Tell him as much of this as he can process, but start talking about it now. Get it into his head that he is NOT automatically inheriting the lot if he is poorly educated. Obviously this is not a solution if he is inheriting at age 18 from a family trust over which you have no control.

We had this conversation last summer with our DCs, friends and their DS, all of whom are at private school and are pretty comfortably off. I made a big deal of saying the above - you're getting education from me and that's it. DCs (especially DSS) were a little surprised, and it prompted friends (also self made) to join in saying they pretty much agreed too.

You don't have to set up a charitable trust, you just have to pretend you have or you are in the process of setting it up. Obviously you leave your money to him, to charity or whatever you like. But nip that sense of entitlement in the bud while you still can.

mrsshackleton Wed 09-Jan-13 11:25:18

What does the school say when he doesn't do his homework?

Why can't they give him a bollocking?

NorhamGardens Wed 09-Jan-13 11:26:59

It's well known that the children of the very rich often lack a work ethic. Put simply the hunger isn't there if you know that you you've got a trust fund coming which means you never need work again. Sadly I've seen too many lose their way when they inherit (or have limitless cash flow) searching for meaning & purpose in their life that comes (if it comes) seemingly much later in life. It's very easy to fall into bad company and get into drugs etc if you known you can continue to party and know there's no real need to get up in the morning and pull your socks up at some point. If you are good looking and charismatic the dangers are even greater I fear. Tough too if you have a parent that's self made and done amazingly well for themselves. I've seen children pretend they're not interested and love the high life etc when at their core they fear they can never measure up to an astounding parent. They need time with their parents IMHO love and reassurance and often that doesn't happen because Mum or Dad or both are too busy running the world.

OP you sound very smart and switched on so will know this and take steps to mitigate against this. He needs to find something that intrinsically motivates him, what does he love? Does he talk about what fires him up and what he wants to do in the end? Listen and help him achieve this end even if it isn't something you'd have privately hoped for.

There's a saying that one one generation makes the money, the next spends it and the next loses it - or something like that. Anecdotally I've known few children of very rich parents be incredibly ambitious. Some have followed their dreams but dig a bit deeper and you find Dad is often on the board, has given them huge amounts of money or set them up as CEO in one of his businesses. This isn't always a bad thing but I can't help feeling some would have taken or more or striven for more if they hadn't had the back up. Feeling like a middle aged person who hasn't achieved their potential or done very much isn't healthy and can have damaging consequences. Knowing your parents are multi millionaires can simply kill ambition stone dead. Chinup gives good advice - with wealth comes power and responsibility.

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 12:20:35

When does he suppose he will get money from you? Not until he is 60+ in all likelihood.

I'm slightly scratching my head at the tone of your posts, you come across very gung ho, while you make him sound like the archetypal public school brat, which isn't good either.

I was reading through the Littlegossip website for Charterhouse school (I won't link to it), and lots of hideous comments about how much money people have.

Do you really want to send him to boarding school with other spoiled rich kids? I can't see it improving things.

I suggest you shop around very carefully for schools without this attitude. Maybe in India?

NorhamGardens Wed 09-Jan-13 13:44:58

HappyGardening with respect if we are talking about top boarding schools etc and from the tone of the OP I suspect 200k is a mere drop in the ocean. In some circles a trust fund of 2 million pounds to one child will be seen as meaning they'll have to eventually get a job as this won't even cover the house in London. A significant minority really do have almost unlimited funds. Hedge funders working for themselves sending children back to the UK to board, hired guns (not even in banking) that make a more than a million a year plus share options etc, etc (and that's only one part of the couple). I haven't even touched on the aristocratic whose children have many in trust...

NorhamGardens Wed 09-Jan-13 13:45:30

Money in trust I mean.

funnyperson Wed 09-Jan-13 13:47:27

Agree with chinup tell him you will fund his education to post grad level after that any excess will go to funding your grandchildren's education.
Also, hate to say this but being wealthy at 40-50 something doesn't mean you will be wealthy at 70-80 something, always keep some money in the pot for a bit of world tour, healthcare and pasture.
Don't send him to a comp, the education wont be as good. Do the usual: clear firm structure for homework : set time of day, quiet period , good working environment, etc. Homework diary, make sure he takes all his books in that sort of thing.
Get a psychologists assessment in case he has learning difficulties eg ADD/Dyslexia/Dyspraxia. The shocking handwriting one word answers are a bit worrying.
Enjoy your time with him before he grows up. It will happen soon enough esp if he goes to boarding school in 2 years (having passed the common entrance I suppose: check he may need extra time for the exam to get his answers down on paper otherwise that place might slip away).

JoanByers Wed 09-Jan-13 13:57:45

I was talking to a woman who sent her son to boarding school in Australia. She comes from a culture where children of the rich are generally very lazy. She reckoned that Australia was the most grounded and her son had to work in KFC to show him what the real world was like.

wildirishrose Wed 09-Jan-13 13:58:58

Put yourself in the mind of a child, would you bother working if you knew money was just going to fall into your hands? We actually have the same situation with our children. They all have properties in Mayfair for when they’re older, money in trust etc, etc but not one of them knows about it. I make them work for every penny I spend on them and at Christmas they got a PS3 game between them…. Nothing like doing without to make someone hungry for success.

NorhamGardens Wed 09-Jan-13 14:05:31

WildIrishRose - how have you done it? Surely they'll know you are very well off and if they have the measure of you will know this is on the cards? Unless you live very humbly & have hidden any outward signs of wealth from them? Having said that I fully respect what you're doing & making them appreciate the value of money is truly admirable in your circumstances.

What about their peers? They sound fairly young and I imagine that you hear a lot of 'well so and so has...'. How do you manage this? I imagine it maybe easier to hide money in trust and future property in Mayfair whilst they are young? In my experience they get wind of it later on...

wildirishrose Wed 09-Jan-13 14:40:56

We recently built an orphanage in India so all the children were involved in the project from the beginning. When you see abject poverty on that scale it affects you no matter what age you are.
They know that they’re very fortunate but I also try to drum into them that money and possessions don’t always last but work ethic and determination do.
They don’t normally mention what others have its more so-and-so goes to bed at 9 why do I have to go at 8, if they did ever say that someone had the latest xbox they would have to do jobs, extra homework or research until they earn enough to pay for it themselves.
My eldest has had her own business since she was 14 so I very rarely give her any money. The younger ones sell their old clothes, games, toys etc at car boot sales or on ebay to earn some cash.
I don’t know if I’m doing the right way or not but its taken a lot of sacrifice to make our money and I don’t want our children to be horrid little rich kids who think that Mummy and Daddy will give them everything in life while they do nothing.

NorhamGardens Wed 09-Jan-13 14:52:58

That's great wildirishrose. You make it sound easy to do these things but it really isn't I know. It's great to think that family influence is ultimately stronger than peer influence too.

wildirishrose Wed 09-Jan-13 15:14:41

It is hard not to shower them with gifts when you love them so much. I hope they understand when they're older.

Ive read your other posts in this thread you have such a lovely way with words and are very informative, I look forward to reading more of your posts.

sue52 Wed 09-Jan-13 15:48:38

Send him to a boarding school that closely supervises prep. It's hard to be a slacker where there is nowhere to hide.

Xenia Wed 09-Jan-13 16:17:36

As hg says the boy cannot expect to inherit. My father died about 2 weeks after he spent the very last of life savings on dementia care which cost him £120,000 a year at home day and night, very similar to the hg situation. You cannot live life waiting for an inheritance. As I had child 1 at 22 I always tell her she'll be lucky if she inherits when nearly 80 years old if there is anything left.

If he wants to go to a good local private day school and not to board why force him to board? If it's a boarding school which takes all comers or placed 700 in the country like Millfield or somewhere he may be better at home developing a close loving relationship to you than being sent away. (Do get him assessed by a psychologist though and let him type all work - could make a huge difference)

Tasmania Wed 09-Jan-13 17:53:29

Could the inheritance be from someone other than parents (granduncle or something) that gets passed down the male line of the family tree?

Anyway - I'd like to know how Buzi apart from schoolwork gets on with the boy. There seems to be something wrong in that relationship when he is totally indifferent about what his mother has to say. Have you ever watched Supernanny and seen the uncanny similarity with The Dog Whisperer???

Tasmania Wed 09-Jan-13 17:56:43

^^ With that I mean with that is... does he see her as an authority figure? Does he recognize anyone as an authority figure at all??

I think that in your position I would be giving him some life lessons in what sort of job he might expect to get if he works hard (and an idea of the salary range) and if it's possible, some hands-on experience of the sort of job he'll be doing for the rest of his working life if he doesn't get those qualifications. That's what worked for me and is also working for DS1 (Y8).

mrsshackleton Wed 09-Jan-13 18:04:47

The more I think about this the odder it seems

Why don't you send him to the local school if that's where he wants to go? It's not that unusual for an 11 yo to want to come home to his Mum after school.

Garnier Wed 09-Jan-13 18:12:19

OP - I feel your pain. I have my own donkey to worry about!

racingheart Wed 09-Jan-13 18:56:52

I am utterly biased and prepared to be shouted at but here's my take:

He may be lazy or he may be a late starter.

If he's lazy, perhaps there's little you can do. But if he's a late starter and is already at a school where the ethos is to work hard and succeed, he can slot right in when his ambition kicks in. This happened to my nephew who went from bottom of the bottom set at primary to top of the top set at secondary and is now at a good uni. One of my DC is just like him, so I'm holding fast to the hope that he too will get an urge to work hard when he hits his teens.

If he's at a school where bright but lazy kids just coasts along unnoticed because so many other pupils are at a similar level, he may never get that drive to sort himself out. It's possible no one will push him. He'll be surrounded by equally laid back drifters who think success is a bit sad and geeky.

So I'd send him to an academic private school with strong expectations, small classes and a hard-work ethos.

tricot39 Wed 09-Jan-13 19:20:42

What chinup said.

I would also start talking to him about what you expect him to achieve in order to go to the school he wants. Discuss what plan b will be with him and why if he doesnt meet expectations - obviously making them achievable! Once he knows the limits it is then his choice and you have to let him sink or swim. <easier said than done>.

Going to a comp didnt do me any harm and frankly pushed me to do well. If you have a reasonable state offering it might be worth considering even if to just mention as part of plan b!

cory Wed 09-Jan-13 19:35:50

Could this supposed indifference to his mother's opinions simply be a case of normal 11yo male bravado?

And could the OP's supposed hung-ho-yness simply be an attempt to control rising parental panic?

In which case- OP, I know how you feel. My ds hasn't got the expectations, but he has the attitude. Though not as bad at 12 as it was at 11. I think a lot of it is to do with insecurity.

funnyperson Wed 09-Jan-13 22:15:08

wildirishrose I wish mine would 'sell their old clothes, games, toys etc at car boot sales or on ebay to earn some cash.' Thats amazing. Does that not take up time? Or do they do it in the holidays?

I ain't at all wealthy so I must say I try to shower mine with gifts, having no hesitation on that front apart from budget which is a deterrent. The only thing is, neither of them have or have had a playstation/nintendo/ipad/wii/xbox/kindle. This possibly helped to encourage .....reading......playing musical instruments....drama....sport......

I am envious of the fact your dc help convert clutter to cash.

OP is your son your first child? I watched a v interesting film called 'Stand By Me' on the tv recently, which, though clearly fictional, was about 12 year old boys messing around. My son never got to mess around much at 12 and watching the film made me think that perhaps wasn't such a good thing for him.

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