please hold my hand ... have decided to try 'backing off' with ds (15)

(69 Posts)
basildonbond Tue 16-Oct-12 16:28:30

ds1 is ridiculously bright, but also incredibly lazy when it comes to school work

He finds it almost impossible to sit down and concentrate and has got prevarication down to a fine art ...

Our relationship is really suffering as I've become the enforcer/nagger (and it's all been me as dh is away a lot for work)

We've come to the conclusion that unless ds wants to work, nothing I say or do is going to make him so I'm going to tell him once to do something but then let him get on with it and deal with the consequences himself.

All fine in theory .... but it's very hard in practice!! On Sunday he allegedly spent 5 hours making notes for his GCSE History controlled assessment this week and produced a grand total of 3 sentences .... he managed to go on Facebook and YouTube very successfully though hmm which meant that he had to spend all last night on it and not do his maths which was already late and was supposed to be in today - this morning we got a letter from his head of year saying that he had a detention for missing registration because he'd stayed in the library finishing off yet another piece of homework

arghhh how can someone so smart be so monumentally stupid??

BeingBooyhoo Tue 16-Oct-12 16:38:55

i think backing off is the right thing to do.

you have done the nagging and it isn't having an effect. well not the effect you want, it could be having the "heels dug in" effect as it did with me. leave him to it, prepare to hear bad results and to say "i told you so" at the end of it. you cant do the work for him or sit the exams and nagging at him doesn't make his hands do work, it just pisses you off, pisses him off and makes the whole thing really stressful for everyone. if he isn't going to work he isn't going to work and nagging wont change that so you might aswell have him not working without the constant nagging because that isn't good for you either. he may just need a good dose of consequences and could surprise you by taking responsibility for his own work once he realises he isn't doing it for you but for himself and that his grades are gonna suck if he doesn't kick himself up the arse and knuckle down. i know when my mum nagged i just went and sat in my room listening to music and texting with a textbook open on the bed. i was a stubborn little cow and hated being told to do something. left to my own devices i worked out what i needed to do in the end and my results were all my own doing, good or bad.

lljkk Tue 16-Oct-12 16:39:15

He's not the first, he won't be the last...

Have you tried limiting his Youtube or FB access?

Hullygully Tue 16-Oct-12 16:40:02

Unplug the router

NatashaBee Tue 16-Oct-12 16:41:47

What HullyGully said. And I would let the school know what you plan to do.

NatashaBee Tue 16-Oct-12 16:42:56

*as in, tell the school that you are letting him plan his own schedule and manage the consequences. Not tell the school that you plan to unplug the router...

flow4 Tue 16-Oct-12 20:36:56

Yup, another vote here for backing off. You don't really have any other option: by this age, it's up to them: you can't do it for them and they have to do it themselves.

MaryZed Tue 16-Oct-12 23:33:49

I will join you if you will hold my hand back.

ds2 is 14 and has his Junior Cert in June - which at the rate he is going he is likely to fail. In his first year he had the highest score in maths in the year; now he is probably about the middle of the year, and he just doesn't seem to care.

I do unplug the router, and lock up his guitar, and take away his ipod, and pretty much everything, but it makes no difference. He would be happy to lie on his bed and stare at the ceiling for three hours hmm.

And he used to be such a nice child <wails>

BeingBooyhoo Tue 16-Oct-12 23:51:57

Maryz i was your son! i really was. i remember spending 90 minutes watching a spider crawl over my bedroom wall during an enforced study session. and i knew exactly what i was doing. i wasn't being stubborn to get my mum all frantic and hysterical, i really hated her getting like that but i really couldn't defeat that part of me that refused to do something simply because i had been told to do it. left to my own devices i actually managed to get a good bit of studying done before my gcses, but as soon as my mum told me i should be doing it, downed tools and found something, anything else to be doing that meant i wasn't looking at a textbook. i was the same with cleaning. left on my own i would gut the house top to bottom, but tell me to hoover the back hall and you would be waiting 3 months. it's not big or clever but it was how i functioned. my mum still doesn't get me now and tries to tell me what to do and when to do it.

flow4 Tue 16-Oct-12 23:57:03

My DS1 had a lower objective test score in maths at the start of year 10 than he did when he left primary school (Y6). In year 8, when he'd just turned 13, his English teacher told us he was the only boy in his year still reading for pleasure. He never read another novel again sad

pixwix Wed 17-Oct-12 00:00:13

Basildonbond - I reached the same conclusion back in yr 9 - mine is also 15, but in yr 10 now - he's one of the older ones in the year thank God!

It got to the point where I was sick of the sound of my own voice, and the H1 detentions for homework - it clearly wasn't working. No matter how much I nagged, it had no effect, neither did taking stuff away.

I don't know if it is coincidental, but in the last year, I have seen a sea change in him since I laid off. I made it clear that his homework was his concern, and that if he wanted to do whatever he wanted to do after he left school it was up to him - but he would need qualifications - and he seemed to switch on.

Now, he is pretty self organised, gets on with it, and is getting good grades. Every now and then, I will ask him how his homework is going, and he rolls his eyes, and tells me it is under control. certainly, he is producing stuff, and doing well, so I allude to how well he is doing, and how mature he is etc.... he's now really motivated - mostly through maturity and school - rather than me.

I haven't completely left him to it - more that I am a resource. Am happy to read through essays, or to test him on stuff if he wants, or to suggest further reading if he's engaged with something... A few months ago, he asked me to test him on the reproductive system - that was a complete joy....

I don't know how, and I don't know why - one of the mysteries of teenage life - perhaps the moon was rising in saggitarius - suddenly he engaged with stuff. but certainly, stopping being on his case seemed to help - you can help and support, and you can lead a horse to water, but not make him drink.

Ach - he's my first teenager, so am fumbling in the dark meself!

basildonbond Wed 17-Oct-12 08:28:40

Thank you

I've told school that I'm leaving it up to him and that he will have to face the consequences - not heard back yet

It is sooo frustrating - this morning he told me he'd been too tired to do his maths h/w which is now very late - but he did find time to get his haircut, go swimming, eat half the contents of the fridge and sit on the loo for an hour ....

I have turned off the router before but apparently he needed the Internet for 'research' hmm

Good to hear that some of your dc have managed to turn it round once left to their own devices - sadly I suspect ds is going to need to fail quite badly before he pulls his finger out ...

ClippedPhoenix Wed 17-Oct-12 13:34:46

<<holds hand>> as have a DS of nearly 15.

My DS would rather do absolutely anything but homework. I remember doing a course a couple of years ago and I was the same to be fair grin

I'm a mean mum and make him sit in the kitchen with no other distractions to complete his homework. I don't read it through or anything even though it would take nano second as it's only probably a sentence at best. World War III would erupt.

Where revision is concerned (which I think is the most important aspect of homestudies) I make it as lighthearted as possible, we both quiz each other and have a bit of a laugh together.

blinkedandmissedit Wed 17-Oct-12 13:39:35

Joining in too. DS is 15, in year 11. He is pretty bright, but getting Ds and Es as he refuses to even do the bare minimum. In the past 2 weeks I have had 2 phonecalls and 3 letters from school - all different subjects! He is on report. Yesterday I found 2 detention slips in his diary. Today I have a letter from the science department telling me is is basically doing nothing.

HOY is involved.

Somehow he thinks he will be doing Alevels next year!

He has no internet or pocket money, but again is one who will sit and do nothing, rather than work. We have tried backing off before but it's really hard when there is constant contact from the school asking for our support!

However, I feel if I carry on being involved, my relationship with DS will be damaged beyond repair, as hardly a day goes by when I don't have to speak to him about whatever joy I have received from the school. The issues also appear at home, with all chores also completed to a minimum, as in washing up still dirty etc.

It is so hard. However, the level headed part of me feels that the outcome will be the same whetever I do, so I may as well try to preserve my relationship with DS.

flow4 Wed 17-Oct-12 20:29:10

In case anyone has missed it, here's another similar post with some more views and advice: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/teenagers/1588526-Underperforming-17-yr-Son

chocoluvva Wed 17-Oct-12 23:03:36

My DD 16- is the same. I've backed off quite a lot too - very hard to do. I've noticed that she will respond to ocassional chivvying though. It's not just me either - I've heard her teacher tell her specific ways to do her training - her expert, highly-regarded, beloved by DD teacher and still DD said, "Why can't I do it MY way though?"
Goes off to bang head on wall.
The problem is the time-scale isn't it? At what stage will your DS reach the conclusion for himself that he needs to get on? Will it be in time to do ok in his exams? I've tried to persuade DD that she only has a few more months and if she can prioritise school just for those few months she will have so many more choices available to her, but I might as well try to persuade her that I was Queen of Fairyland!!!
I think you've had really good advice OP - about preserving your relationship with your DS.
Good luck to you and your DS smile

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 17-Oct-12 23:11:51

this time last year I was having a nightmare with then-15yo dd

she did her gcse's this year < nod at Hully >

let me just tell you that she was predicted C's and D's in most of her subjects prior to mocks, with the constant refrain of "she could do better if she actually tried/applied herself"

we nagged her, we cajoled her, we threatened her, we rewarded her, we punished her, I came on here and tore my hair out over and over

we went in school, got teachers on board and got weekly updates, we got extra tuition, study plans

the upshot of all this angst and relationship-destroying drama, you ask ?

she got almost exactly the grades she was predicted, with some a grade below

we didn't manage to pull her up on anything at all

in other words, it made fuck all difference

now if this helps one person to not have the stress we did, I will be very glad

back.off.

chocoluvva Wed 17-Oct-12 23:20:51

Well, HappyHalloween I don't know about the OP your post is useful for me. If my DD doesn't do well I don't want to be thinking, 'I didn't nag her enough and feel responsible'. It's good to hear that some DCs just don't respond to their parents best efforts.
My friend's DD gave up at school despite her parents best efforts to make her study and she flunked her exams. She did a boring poorly-paid job for a year, went back to college to retake some exams, did a HND and is now successfully doing a degree in nursing. She needed to learn for herself the hard way.
Shame it's so expensive to get qualifications once you've left school though.
How's your DD getting on now, Happy?

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 17-Oct-12 23:22:23

that is how I felt, choco

that if I didn't push her, i would blame myself for not trying harder

bottom line ?

it wasn't my battle to win or lose

chocoluvva Wed 17-Oct-12 23:25:21

"it wasn't my battle"
A lightbulb has just come on in my head! Honestly.
Hope that helps you too OP.

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 17-Oct-12 23:26:35

with regrading of English papers after all the hoo-haa, and sitting a maths and English paper on commencing college (that she came top of the friggin' class in !!!) she scraped enough C's to get on a level 3 vocational course

we have, apart from attending open days, parents induction evening and showing the appropriate level of mild interest, pretty much let her get on with it unaccosted smile

no irate letters home from college yet...

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 17-Oct-12 23:27:24

she has to resit maths gcse next year though...much to her disgust

i shall be keeping out of it completely

it's a bloody relief I tell ya

chocoluvva Wed 17-Oct-12 23:28:13

I don't like being told what to do either - unless I've ASKED for advice!!

HappyHalloweenMotherFucker Wed 17-Oct-12 23:29:11

choco..I did turn it into a battle

every evening, we would argue and she would still not do anything constructive

the only thing that helped, in hindsight, was running through oral tests in languages over and over

she still got D's in French and Spanish though grin

MaryZed Wed 17-Oct-12 23:29:37

Ok, night one of backing off, and guess what?

He had no homework apparently, none hmm.

On the upside, we didn't have a row <grits teeth>

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