Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My son is in the 8th grade and is generally a good kid, however he has become mouthy. Nothing too bad (no cussing or nasty things), but he is condescending to both his father and me. Already this school year we have been fighting about homework and that’s when he gets mouthy.
He could care less about homework or doing well in school. I am pulling my hair out because I can’t make him care. I have hired a tutor and tried taking away privileges. His homework is posted online so I check to see what needs to be done. I remind and encourage him to do his work, which I know is the reason he won’t take responsibility for his own work.
I worry that he will end up failing this year because I am not “supporting” him. I never do his homework for him, I only check to see what needs to be done and remind him on a daily basis. I feel like he is barely staying afloat and I am his life preserver. If I take the preserver off, he will surely drown. Please help!
Harried by Homework
From what I hear teenagers suck, so the sooner we accept that the faster serenity will come, especially if serenity comes in a martini glass, which for me it does. But even if they suck, we still love them and want the best for them.
I know the media likes to blame the advent of helicopter parenting on our insecure egos, but between you and me, I like to blame school technology. Do I really need an email every time my 4th grader takes an Accelerated Reader test? I have to wonder whether all of the internet checks and balances promotes too much mommy involvement and hampers life’s lessons in personal responsibility.
Your son is in 8th grade now. Sure, ask if he’s finished his homework, but perhaps it’s time to stop tracking his assignments so closely. If you don’t believe your son is capable of learning responsibility, how will he believe in himself?
Assuming you’ve ruled out any learning disabilities, your son has probably reached an age where it’s time to let go a little more. Now, I’m not too sure about a “sink or swim” approach. I think I’d lean more towards a “do well in school or face castration!” approach. That usually scares teenage boys into submission, especially if you whisper words such as “eunuch” to him while he sleeps.
If that approach seems a bit extreme to you, I guess you could do something very sensible, like a mature conversation about the importance of education, defining your expectations (Are Cs acceptable, nothing below a B?), how you’re willing to help him and how you’re not, and consequences for irresponsible, dunce-y behavior. And let’s not forget an enticing reward for success, such as keeping his testicles!
This whole parenting thing is tough, which is why I’m convinced God gave us alcohol. I hope I’ve given you some ideas of what to do, or at the very least prevented any further bald patches on your gorgeous head.