03

May

Figuring Out Where to Stand for Parents

This time of year, can be challenging for both parents and teenagers. There are students who are putting in a heroic effort toward improving their grades as the school year comes to an end. For another group of students, it can prove to be a make it or break it time for grades. Struggling students find themselves at a crucial juncture for passing or obtaining a higher grade. Parents of these children are facing tough choices. They could push their children to improve their grades or pass their class, leave them to their own devices, or somewhere in between. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.

One approach is the hands-on manager role. Parents choose to monitor their children’s progress daily. This could include any or all the following:  look on school’s website for grades, missed or incomplete assignments, and progress with tests, homework would be checked, backpacks have gone through, study time observed, and backpacks gone through. This would entail a lot of effort on the parent and most likely resistance on the child’s part. The potential fallout is a hostile home environment and power struggles. The advantages to a parent deciding on this approach is a parent would have more confidence their child would get the work done.

Another approach is you show me you could do it or else. In this role, the parent sets clear expectations for the child, assists (not manages) the child in their work (if requested), and presents consequences if the expectations are not met. The advantages to this approach include less combative home, increased independence for the child, implementation of problem-solving skills for the youth, and overall less stressful home.  The disadvantages for a child who is not motivated lacks problem-solving skills, or has difficulties in asking for help, they could struggle or fail without hands on assistance.

The last approach a parent could look at is a see ya at the finish line. A parent lets the child know how important school is, how important good grades (or passing) and leave the child to set their own goals. A parent using this approach either feeling confident their child shares the same goals regarding school as they do, or believes in a youth setting their own priorities for school. The advantages would be less stress and fighting about grades. The disadvantages could include lower or failing grades. A child could also have an impression from a parent that school may not be important.

Whichever approach a parent decides on, they should evaluate the disadvantages and advantages to each one. If a parent cannot accept the consequences that a child may experience with failing or poor grades, the last two approaches may not work. If a parent takes on a hands-on manager approach, it is important they settle into a mindset for this journey. Remember what you are signing up for. Understand motivation or priorities for this child is different than the parent. It may be a difficult journey but a journey a parent feels worthwhile.

There is not one ideal approach that would work. Working with unmotivated youth is difficult. At times, coming up with consequences could be frustrating. If a parent does decide to introduce consequences, it is important that they be clear and consistent.  Also, avoid lecturing as most youth will tune you out. Lastly, consider outside help. Professional counseling could help a parent with parenting strategies, determine if there are other reasons for poor school choices (learning, social, or emotional), and possibly motivational tools for the youth.