Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raising Teenagers

I figured parenting wasn't going to be a walk in the park. But I didn't know it would be a walk in the park on the bad side of town at two AM. Teenagers.

Many of you know we homeschooled for nine years. This is the children's third year in "real" school, or public school. The system they're in is fantastic - no complaints. It's the children in my house I take issue with.

At first I blamed myself, having taught them for so long. Maybelline, for instance, has had pretty poor grades the last year and more. Pulls herself out of the hole at the last minute. She's a social child. But she proved, her first year out, that she is capable of making decent grades, that she's smart and can work hard.

Then this happened:



She discovered friends. And the telephone. Don't get me wrong - she had friends before. Just not so MANY of them.

So here we are, into the third year and millionth conversation about working hard and making decent grades, since she says she wants to go to college, and we want her to learn that life isn't a free ride. We've grounded, taken away phone privileges, whatever we could think of. I help her study. When she lets me. (She does better on tests when I help her, and I'm not pushy about it - she tells me that her grades are better that way, but that she doesn't want to take the time - *sigh*)

So the Hunny came up with a solution that might work. I told the Hunny last night, when I'd been up till eleven helping Maybelline study for a test she knew nothing about, that he will almost definitely be implementing this solution. Sooner than he thought he'd have to.

See this?

Photo actually a Martin Grand, from acoustic guitar forum

Maybelline and my mom were antique shopping a couple of weeks ago and came across one just like it. It's a Washburn '79 twelve string. Maybelline fell madly in love, convinced dad to take her back to look at it. She was drooling. He was drooling. The price was WAY more than right. Hunny bought it, had it restrung.

When it came home, though, Hunny let Maybelline play for half an hour, then put it in the corner of the living room. Had a talk with Maybelline about her already slipping grades and our seeming inability to motivate or inspire her to work hard and be responsible for herself and her future. Asked her what grades she was capable of.

Then the kicker. Hunny tells Maybelline that the guitar will sit in the corner until Christmas. She can have a half hour of playing time as we go along, if her grades come up and stay up. If she makes and keeps the grades she states she's capable of, she can keep the guitar come Christmas. If not? We sell it. Plain and simple.

As of last night, I think selling the Washburn is probably what's going to happen. Consequences suck. Big time. For everyone. I love seeing her happy and creative. Hate seeing her cry. But we've gotta do what's best for her. *sigh*

Any advice you care to solicit is gladly welcomed.

Until I write again ...

Flea

19 comments:

The Sports Mama said...

Oohh.... harsh. But brilliant and I love it.

If it helps to give you any hope at all, we fight this battle with Jock. However, here's where the hope part comes in... he did eventually figure out how to motivate himself. When we started high school, it was battle after battle after battle. He wasn't doing homework, wasn't studying for tests, barely stayed eligble for sports. Now, in his Junior year? He comes straight home from practice and after grabbing food (because, hello? Active teenage boy!) he goes right to homework. And actually finishes it. And turns it in. And he studies for tests.

And his grades? Totally reflect that.

Hang in there. She'll get it. She's got tough but awesome parents.

Mental P Mama said...

Sometimes you just have to do what you gotta do. And it sucks. Bet her grades are awesome;)

judi said...

why did you quit home schooling?
Could you do it again with Ms.M.?
I mean if u threaten to and she didn't get the grades up could you follow through?
okay, slowing down to normal speed.
what if you threatened to go back to home schooling the social butterfly if grades don't go up. she wouldn't have so much social interaction, that sounds like it would cramp her style.
such a mean grandma I is.

Daryl said...

She cried when you told her if her grades didnt stay up you'd sell the guitar?

And you felt sorry for her?

Were they real tears? Or the crocodile version?

I would have said 'blow your nose, pull up your socks and hit the books, babe'

Lucky for those children I didnt have, huh.

Karen said...

I've got no advice to give you, just sympathy. Thankfully we have a grand motivating force with our kids -homeschooling. Becky learned that because she didn't apply herself while I homeschooled, she was put back a grade upon entering public school. She's terrified of being held back again. Score one for homeschooling. Kind of.

Egghead said...

You are on the right track I think. Our middle daughter was Ms. social butterfly and she was just happy as could be if she maintained a c average. Take heart if you keep at it they do eventually "get it". Mine did in high school. Finally.

Coffee Bean said...

We have so much in common... I'm just further down the road. One thing I have learned is that although I've learned what mistakes I've made... that doesn't mean that what I did would be a mistake for everyone or that I know how to do it right. My advice is that you pray and that you use your intuition/insights and that of your husband's to deal with things as they come. The thing I can do is pray for y'all and encourage you. You can do this.

Snooty Primadona said...

Well, you are so right! It's a living Hell with teenagers involved.

We never once even so much as grounded our daughter. We never had a reason to.

However, our son was a whole different story. We were never able to control him or make him do anything he didn't want to do. It was horrible & gut wrenching. Now that he's 26 he tells me all the time how sorry he is for the Hell he put us through. That a lot of help, huh? Not.

I agree with your hunny though. I mean, how badly does she want that guitar? Apparently, not badly enough to work harder at her grades. Frankly, one NEVER really knows what's going on inside the mind of a teenager & you probably don't want to know anyway. They are all bullet-proof and they already know everything, right?

So, I guess I haven't been much help. Just know that this too, shall pass, my dear. They do grow up & they do eventually grow a conscience, among other things. I was completely insane during the stage you're at. I know. I'm such a huge help...

diane said...

With my first girl, none of that would have mattered. She just didn't want anything badly enough. With my second girl, that would have totally worked.
It's all a matter of what they want and what they're willing to do. Perhaps a structured work time? Say, one hour per night at whatever time, no excuses. If she wastes it, so be it.
My middle girl blew her first quarter of college, lost her financial aid and had to pay $900 of tuition out of her own pocket. Since then she's pulled a 3.9 GPA. Expensive lesson.

Trisha said...

It is hard to be a good parent. Hang in there and realize that while it might not be fun in the short term - it is better for Maybelline in the long run!

Karen Deborah said...

How about cutting back the phone and friends, the guitar is a constructive thing.

MaBunny said...

No advice since we haven't come to that stage yet of the teen years. All I can say is I hope it works out for you!

Ellyn said...

Sorry, no advice. But I so hope it works. I hate to make them cry too.

I am soooo not looking forward to the teenage years. But, then, I am too. It's a mess in my head.

Jill of All Trades said...

I think I would trade the infant years and being up all night than the teenage years again. They were the roughest for me. Made me nuts. One thing I can say is keep the communications open and try not to be too judgemental, especially the eye-rolling. I caught so much flack for that even when I thought I was trying to be supportive. Apparantly I don't have a very good poker face. Good luck.

imbeingheldhostage said...

No advice-- I think you nailed it with this one. Brilliant idea. The punishment is going to be hard to follow through for you and Hunny though, isn't it! IF you give in, you will lose more than just this battle. Maybe you could start preparing your ad so that she can see you will follow through on this.?

Warty Mammal said...

Good thing you have other friends, because as you know from reading my entries, I flounder around quite a bit!

My husband frequently says "actions have consequences". You and your hubby have outlined a set of desirable/undesirable actions and the consequences that will result from each. The rest is up to your young lady. In some sense it hurts to have to be so firm, but I think in the end it's one of the kindest things one can really do as a parent.

Debbie said...

Guitar is a brilliant idea. With David, nothing worked. He realized he couldn't get into college with his grades...football, girls and partying took priority. He went to a local CC and did great. His motivation was to get into ASU. He did it. He partied and screwed up. Only NOW at 23 is he realizing he's ready to go back to school and he's going to have to pay. We'll help but not a full ride. He knows he messed up. They learn the hard way hon....

Karen said...

I think your Hunny is a very loving, smart dad. Consequences now, are so much better than consequences when you are an adult.

Mayberry Magpie said...

Oh, these things are so, so hard.

Because as a mother, you want them to be happy and successful. We threaten unhappiness to propel them toward success, but only because we think it will work. And then when it doesn't, we're unhappy, too.

But to be a person of your word, you have to stick by the designated consequence. Even if it's not the right consequence, which you tweak as you learn. And they respond.

Thinking good thoughts for you. I was right there with you earlier this year, but we've had a good season -- a walk in the park. Keep walking. The scenery changes :-)