You can't force a failing high school senior to connect the dots

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  February 7, 2011 06:00 AM

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Barbara,
A 17-year-old male in our family is desperate to go to college, but he is a senior and failing school. He doesn't appear to see the connection. We're at our wits' end; it's so sad. Have tried everything to motivate him. Do you think that family or individual counseling will help? We're running out of time. Thanks!

From: Junie, Jamaica Plain

Dear Junie,

You've done what you can, and now it's time for you to back off. Have you considered that the reasons he doesn't see the connection -- or can't or won't acknowledge to you that he does -- may be due to over-involvement on your part? Obviously, I could be way off base.

I suggest supporting his decision to apply to a range of schools of his choice. (Avoid being vindictive or washing your hands of him; tell him simply, "We've done what we can, now it's your hands. We'll support you whatever you decide to do.") Frankly, pulling up his grades in Feb. of senior year probably isn't going to matter a whit in his application.

So he applies. What's the worst that will happen? He'll get rejected. But you know what, that could turn out to be the best thing that could happen, if it forces him to re-consider how desirable an applicant he really is.

If does get rejected, you need to avoid a "We told you so" response. Instead, help him to figure out: what's next. There are many private schools and some colleges that offer a post high school program; some are academic, some are not. Taking a gap year has also become a very popular way to spend a year between high school and college in the hope of widening one's experience and maturity. And some kids benefit from working for a year.

Whatever happens to your son, he needs to own the experience and the consequence. You say you're at your wits' ends, and I can well imagine what you mean. But as you've already discovered, you can't force him to study or to make the connection to grades and acceptances. The motivation has to come from within. It's possible that a guidance counselor, college coach or therapist could be helpful but only if he wants the help.

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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16 comments so far...
  1. What does the guidance counselor say about all this? I agree with Barbara that the kid needs to experience the consequences of his failure, but what is the point of letting him apply to colleges? The kid is failing high school - that means he won't graduate. Application fees for colleges are not cheap. And honestly, if he can't understand that if he fails high school than he cannot move on to college, there may be something else wrong with him.

    Posted by dad February 7, 11 07:31 AM
  1. "A 17-year-old male in our family is desperate to go to college BUT he is a senior and failing school."

    So is the male in your family your son, brother, grandson, nephew or what? How do you know he's "desperate" to go to college? Maybe he's not desperate but it's his parents or concerned relative named Junie who is feeling desperate because they think it's the one and only path to adulthood and career. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    There are many options and pathways to receiving an education and getting a career. Believe me, entering a four-year college right after high-school is not for everyone. If he is somehow strong-armed or back-doored into starting a traditional college in September he will most likely fail spectacularly and expensively, and that's the last thing any loving relative should want for him.

    He needs to find what's the best way for him to forward in life. Be patient and gently offer guidance and support as he explores. Finding himself might take a couple of years and include a series of fits and starts.

    It's entirely possible he has a vision of his own, but is afraid to or doesn't know how to express it.

    Posted by JehanneDark February 7, 11 08:33 AM
  1. I sympathize to some extent because I think our society is not set up for those young males who aren't on the college track, but I would not encourage any delusions about college next fall.

    If Junior did attend a college next fall it would be a complete waste of money and time. I guarantee a semester of partying, a semester of academic probation, and a return home $40,000 poorer. He is not doing homework now - why would he do it in a dorm full of distractions?

    Give him permission not to apply to college and begin the conversations about how he should direct himself from here on out. What is the five, ten, twenty year plan? Focus should be on graduating high school and mapping out plans for next year. I would strongly suggest that Junior get a job and pay his own tuition for one or two community college courses while figuring things out. He might also think about a year in some kind of volunteer program where he can get some real world insight or enrollment in a challenging vocational program.

    Posted by Patricia February 7, 11 09:45 AM
  1. It is possible that this young man is depressed. His poor daily effort reflects an inability to engage in the present reality and his "desperate" desire to go to college is the product of the wishful daydreaming that depressed people often choose to pass the time. He might imagine that college is a magical place where people "like him" have enjoyable and meaninful lives, not like high school where overbearing parents and unwelcoming peers make life a constant grind. He is yearning for a geographical solution to his problems, but it almost certainly won't work.

    Time off from school should follow high school graduation. Finding a job with enough to hold his interest or spark his imagination would be a good idea during the time he takes BEFORE going to college.

    I slid through highschool, barely, and then took a year off working dumb jobs. Then my parents rushed me into college to avoid the stigma and lost skills that a longer layoff might have caused, at least as they imagined it.

    I flunked right out of college and wasted five thousand dollars for the spring semester, a lot of money back then.

    Later, at age twenty-three I went back to college and graduated summa cum laude and went to Europe on a Fulbright fellowship.

    So, the take away here is the twofold:

    1. Don't rush along to keep pace with "normalcy" at the cost of establishing a record of college failure at tremendous financial expense.

    2. Life is long and there are always chances and possibilities down the road for people who don't march along with the crowd for whatever reason.

    Posted by neilpaul February 7, 11 10:27 AM
  1. Perhaps Junior is desparate to go to college because he knows a standard high school degree, with no other training, gives him very few options for jobs and supporting himself.

    He's right. But that doesn't mean college is the right choice. Some research into alternative paths to careers should be in order. Technical training. A year of post-grad study at a high school (some private schools offer this) to explore a bit. A guidance counselor should be able to help provide resources for non-college ideas for job training. Not everyone is right for college. And some who are right for college aren't right for it at 18. Someone this boy trusts should talk to him about the other options that he has.

    Posted by jjlen February 7, 11 10:49 AM
  1. One more thing. I would be very cautious about letting him apply because, unfortunately, there ARE schools that would happily accept your tuition money under the guise of remediation program.

    Posted by Patricia February 7, 11 02:24 PM
  1. They are not running out of time. They are out of time. At least as far as going to college right after high school. I agree that the family needs to sit down with a guidance counselor and talk about what happened and what can happen next.

    If he is truly interested in college, then maybe he can try some classes at Harvard Extension School. It's open enrollment, so anyone can take a class. It will give him some "college experience" and perhaps a better understanding of what college requires. At a smaller expense than a full-year's tuition (if he finds some place to take him).

    Posted by Susan February 7, 11 03:52 PM
  1. There is something else going on under the surface with this kid. I agree with "neilpaul" in that it could be depression. I'm a 35 year old male and this situation reminds me much of myself when I was his age. I graduated 4th from the bottom of my HS class, I was not motivated, I wanted to go to college, but it was just the idea of college. I would have never made it and I knew it. What was my problem? A.D.H.D. and I am just learning this now. I didn't have the hyperactive part, just a major attention deficiency and it was causing all kinds of problems. I self medicated with marijuana and it made it worse and I never knew until now. Please don't be naive and think that YOUR sweet 17 year old couldn't possibly be smoking weed, you just don't know. It had to be said and its just something to think about. You have to consider all of the possibilities in order to rule them out. I think therapy would be the best option if he is willing. Good luck and I hope you read all of these comments.

    Posted by PJ February 8, 11 09:05 AM
  1. What motivated my brother was working in a warehouse over the summer, a job he got through a temp agency. One of his co-workers said to him, "You're lucky to be in college. Get the most out of it. Or else you'll end up like me, working this crap job for the rest of your life."

    Posted by Croquette February 8, 11 09:42 AM
  1. Sorry, but I think the concern should be why is he failing, not worrying about getting him in to college.

    The fact that Junie is completely anonymous when it comes to her relationship with the boy, how she knows these facts to be true, etc. etc. suggests that there is at least SOMETHING going on in the family dynamic.

    Is he depressed, on drugs, has had some kind of trauma or medical problem, what's the situation with his parents, etc. etc.

    In other words, why is a presumably college-bound H.S. junior now a flunking senior and why aren't a lot of alarms going off for the people that care about him?

    Just wondering......

    Posted by cause_and_effect February 8, 11 09:46 AM
  1. As a college consultant, I do see students, both male and female, who want to go to college but have done very little academically to show that they are ready. I don't think it makes sense to have college as an option at this time. I suggest a year spent volunteering, working, a gap program or doing an internship in an area that he or she might enjoy. There is a lot of growing up that can take place at this time and then students may be ready for the college experience. Many students can also take a class or two at a community college and see how they like it. I have had some students who were not academically successful in high school, but after a little time off, went on to do quite well is a four year college. I never give up on kids. One of these students was one of my five children. He has gone on to be a very successful businessman.

    College Direction
    Denver, Colorado

    Posted by Susie Watts February 8, 11 01:19 PM
  1. I can sympathize having gone through this last year. My son is very bright (I know that's one everyone says about their child but he scored 2200 on his SAT's). He is definitely suffering from depression and currently in therapy but it's taken a *long* time for him to agree (and seek out for himself) to see a therapist. We tried everything we could think of and still nothing movitvated him. We're hoping that between the therapy, hopefully some medication (not the "self-prescribed" kind), and some experience in the real world he will be able to move into a better phase in life. It's so painful to watch your child go through this and hopefully they will come out a better person.

    Posted by concernedmom February 8, 11 02:29 PM
  1. I know this thread is over a year old, but I stumbled onto it after "googling" my own predicaments. In clear relativity, I'm a 17 year old who by all realistiv means will probably not be graduating by the traditional sense this year. There's 3 months left in the school year and even at an alternative hs with an "independent pace" system and accelerated HS possibilities, I still don't see it happening. realistically. I think there is very much that can be takem from each of these posts. To add, although my ADD may be of some underlying hinderance to my academic succession, I don't think it's fair to rely on it as some sort of scapegoat. Either way, ADD diagnosed or not, I still got to do the work to get the win. I definitely see myself as that daydreamer. Currently, one of many affairs or "options" i've directed my attention towards throughout my adolescence, is vocational school... I want hands on/ practical learning skills. I want to learn chemistry, sciences, medicine, social psych etc. but I only seem to want to do so, by listening and testing my own knowledge.

    Posted by Crossroads March 18, 12 10:19 PM
  1. I am an 18 year old male in my senior year of high school. The situation I am in is much like that of the 17 year olds. Im just trying to pass this year and get out of this place. Im actualy writing this in night school because I failed English. Since around 8th grade my grades have been all D-F range with the occasional C. I absolutly hate school but the one thing i hate more than that is teachers and parents telling me I am either depressed, or doing drugs. On more than one occasion my parents have tryed to bring me to a therapist, who knows maybe I am the crazy one haha but i refuse to go. I have never done any type of drug nor am i depressed. The accusations are straining our relationship, so if you do decide on theropy or drug tests be very gentle when bringing it up. For any parents that read these comments be sure to consider drug use and depression but know that that is not always the case. Also I understand where this kid is coming from as far as wanting to go to college. From the time us kids enter school to the time we leave we are told that college is the only way to go, I believed this to be true up until very recently. *IT IS NOT* but it seems that many parents are reluctant to catch on to this idea. People love to shove "you wont get a good job or be happy without college" down your throat. Try sitting down and talking to this kid about other options. Like he is a person with a brain and the ability to think. Not someone that you can pick and choose how he should live. Like I said im sitting in night school right now. Im a kid just like your kid. Keep an open mind and remember the idea is to help your kid, with whatever he chooses to do. On a sidenote. One of my favorite people in this school is a janitor. No lie. One of the happiest people I know. He cleans bathrooms then goes home to his family. Im not saying be a janitor im just saying that college/money realy isnt everything however cheesy that may sound.

    Posted by Forerunner March 20, 12 04:46 PM
  1. I have a 17 year old son that is a senior this year and the situation sounds identical. He wants to go to college, however, he failed three of the four classes he has for the first 9 weeks of school. He was skipping with a group of kids that we have fought to keep him away from. He has admitted to smoking pot only after we've found evidence and a failed home drug test. We have called the principal, guidance counselor, teachers, and police officers to ask for help. We have taken his vehicle and all electronic devices. All I want him to do is graduate. I don't want him to look back in May and see all of his friends graduate and be disappointed. He has only four classes a day and has made decent grades up until this year. I don't know what to do. I

    Posted by Stressed Mom November 2, 12 05:17 PM
  1. As a father who has gone through this with one kid and am going through it with another (the son in the middle was straight As and four years to a double major in college), I have learned a few things. The guy with ADHD problems that posted already is identical to my sons. Some things I keep in my mind and tell every one who will listen. "No one wants to be a failure." "There are many roads."

    This kid doesn't want to be failing his classes, find out why and try to help. Have a heart to heart and find out whats going on. Do your part. Advocate for him at school and offer him any help you can. Make sure they are doing their part, just telling the kid its his responsibly won't work if there are underlying issues.

    Unless he's gotten really great grades up until now and can still pull out, he's not ready for college next year personally or for acceptance. Make graduating a priority and find another road past that. Make sure he knows that not going to college next year isn't a failure, he always has options, one goal at a time.

    Senior year is where struggling kids implode. If they haven't been able to succeed for three years then they are frustrated, depressed, and don't see the point in more painful effort. Schools tend to make it worse by pushing kids towards total individual responsibility, which just puts more pressure on the kid who is already struggling. (A note on that, schools are as responsible for teaching as kids are for learning) They will engage in other activities that are less painful, like weed. They will not do homework or skip class because its easier to say you failed for those reasons than because trying hard wasn't enough.

    Posted by dan December 5, 12 06:52 PM
 
16 comments so far...
  1. What does the guidance counselor say about all this? I agree with Barbara that the kid needs to experience the consequences of his failure, but what is the point of letting him apply to colleges? The kid is failing high school - that means he won't graduate. Application fees for colleges are not cheap. And honestly, if he can't understand that if he fails high school than he cannot move on to college, there may be something else wrong with him.

    Posted by dad February 7, 11 07:31 AM
  1. "A 17-year-old male in our family is desperate to go to college BUT he is a senior and failing school."

    So is the male in your family your son, brother, grandson, nephew or what? How do you know he's "desperate" to go to college? Maybe he's not desperate but it's his parents or concerned relative named Junie who is feeling desperate because they think it's the one and only path to adulthood and career. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    There are many options and pathways to receiving an education and getting a career. Believe me, entering a four-year college right after high-school is not for everyone. If he is somehow strong-armed or back-doored into starting a traditional college in September he will most likely fail spectacularly and expensively, and that's the last thing any loving relative should want for him.

    He needs to find what's the best way for him to forward in life. Be patient and gently offer guidance and support as he explores. Finding himself might take a couple of years and include a series of fits and starts.

    It's entirely possible he has a vision of his own, but is afraid to or doesn't know how to express it.

    Posted by JehanneDark February 7, 11 08:33 AM
  1. I sympathize to some extent because I think our society is not set up for those young males who aren't on the college track, but I would not encourage any delusions about college next fall.

    If Junior did attend a college next fall it would be a complete waste of money and time. I guarantee a semester of partying, a semester of academic probation, and a return home $40,000 poorer. He is not doing homework now - why would he do it in a dorm full of distractions?

    Give him permission not to apply to college and begin the conversations about how he should direct himself from here on out. What is the five, ten, twenty year plan? Focus should be on graduating high school and mapping out plans for next year. I would strongly suggest that Junior get a job and pay his own tuition for one or two community college courses while figuring things out. He might also think about a year in some kind of volunteer program where he can get some real world insight or enrollment in a challenging vocational program.

    Posted by Patricia February 7, 11 09:45 AM
  1. It is possible that this young man is depressed. His poor daily effort reflects an inability to engage in the present reality and his "desperate" desire to go to college is the product of the wishful daydreaming that depressed people often choose to pass the time. He might imagine that college is a magical place where people "like him" have enjoyable and meaninful lives, not like high school where overbearing parents and unwelcoming peers make life a constant grind. He is yearning for a geographical solution to his problems, but it almost certainly won't work.

    Time off from school should follow high school graduation. Finding a job with enough to hold his interest or spark his imagination would be a good idea during the time he takes BEFORE going to college.

    I slid through highschool, barely, and then took a year off working dumb jobs. Then my parents rushed me into college to avoid the stigma and lost skills that a longer layoff might have caused, at least as they imagined it.

    I flunked right out of college and wasted five thousand dollars for the spring semester, a lot of money back then.

    Later, at age twenty-three I went back to college and graduated summa cum laude and went to Europe on a Fulbright fellowship.

    So, the take away here is the twofold:

    1. Don't rush along to keep pace with "normalcy" at the cost of establishing a record of college failure at tremendous financial expense.

    2. Life is long and there are always chances and possibilities down the road for people who don't march along with the crowd for whatever reason.

    Posted by neilpaul February 7, 11 10:27 AM
  1. Perhaps Junior is desparate to go to college because he knows a standard high school degree, with no other training, gives him very few options for jobs and supporting himself.

    He's right. But that doesn't mean college is the right choice. Some research into alternative paths to careers should be in order. Technical training. A year of post-grad study at a high school (some private schools offer this) to explore a bit. A guidance counselor should be able to help provide resources for non-college ideas for job training. Not everyone is right for college. And some who are right for college aren't right for it at 18. Someone this boy trusts should talk to him about the other options that he has.

    Posted by jjlen February 7, 11 10:49 AM
  1. One more thing. I would be very cautious about letting him apply because, unfortunately, there ARE schools that would happily accept your tuition money under the guise of remediation program.

    Posted by Patricia February 7, 11 02:24 PM
  1. They are not running out of time. They are out of time. At least as far as going to college right after high school. I agree that the family needs to sit down with a guidance counselor and talk about what happened and what can happen next.

    If he is truly interested in college, then maybe he can try some classes at Harvard Extension School. It's open enrollment, so anyone can take a class. It will give him some "college experience" and perhaps a better understanding of what college requires. At a smaller expense than a full-year's tuition (if he finds some place to take him).

    Posted by Susan February 7, 11 03:52 PM
  1. There is something else going on under the surface with this kid. I agree with "neilpaul" in that it could be depression. I'm a 35 year old male and this situation reminds me much of myself when I was his age. I graduated 4th from the bottom of my HS class, I was not motivated, I wanted to go to college, but it was just the idea of college. I would have never made it and I knew it. What was my problem? A.D.H.D. and I am just learning this now. I didn't have the hyperactive part, just a major attention deficiency and it was causing all kinds of problems. I self medicated with marijuana and it made it worse and I never knew until now. Please don't be naive and think that YOUR sweet 17 year old couldn't possibly be smoking weed, you just don't know. It had to be said and its just something to think about. You have to consider all of the possibilities in order to rule them out. I think therapy would be the best option if he is willing. Good luck and I hope you read all of these comments.

    Posted by PJ February 8, 11 09:05 AM
  1. What motivated my brother was working in a warehouse over the summer, a job he got through a temp agency. One of his co-workers said to him, "You're lucky to be in college. Get the most out of it. Or else you'll end up like me, working this crap job for the rest of your life."

    Posted by Croquette February 8, 11 09:42 AM
  1. Sorry, but I think the concern should be why is he failing, not worrying about getting him in to college.

    The fact that Junie is completely anonymous when it comes to her relationship with the boy, how she knows these facts to be true, etc. etc. suggests that there is at least SOMETHING going on in the family dynamic.

    Is he depressed, on drugs, has had some kind of trauma or medical problem, what's the situation with his parents, etc. etc.

    In other words, why is a presumably college-bound H.S. junior now a flunking senior and why aren't a lot of alarms going off for the people that care about him?

    Just wondering......

    Posted by cause_and_effect February 8, 11 09:46 AM
  1. As a college consultant, I do see students, both male and female, who want to go to college but have done very little academically to show that they are ready. I don't think it makes sense to have college as an option at this time. I suggest a year spent volunteering, working, a gap program or doing an internship in an area that he or she might enjoy. There is a lot of growing up that can take place at this time and then students may be ready for the college experience. Many students can also take a class or two at a community college and see how they like it. I have had some students who were not academically successful in high school, but after a little time off, went on to do quite well is a four year college. I never give up on kids. One of these students was one of my five children. He has gone on to be a very successful businessman.

    College Direction
    Denver, Colorado

    Posted by Susie Watts February 8, 11 01:19 PM
  1. I can sympathize having gone through this last year. My son is very bright (I know that's one everyone says about their child but he scored 2200 on his SAT's). He is definitely suffering from depression and currently in therapy but it's taken a *long* time for him to agree (and seek out for himself) to see a therapist. We tried everything we could think of and still nothing movitvated him. We're hoping that between the therapy, hopefully some medication (not the "self-prescribed" kind), and some experience in the real world he will be able to move into a better phase in life. It's so painful to watch your child go through this and hopefully they will come out a better person.

    Posted by concernedmom February 8, 11 02:29 PM
  1. I know this thread is over a year old, but I stumbled onto it after "googling" my own predicaments. In clear relativity, I'm a 17 year old who by all realistiv means will probably not be graduating by the traditional sense this year. There's 3 months left in the school year and even at an alternative hs with an "independent pace" system and accelerated HS possibilities, I still don't see it happening. realistically. I think there is very much that can be takem from each of these posts. To add, although my ADD may be of some underlying hinderance to my academic succession, I don't think it's fair to rely on it as some sort of scapegoat. Either way, ADD diagnosed or not, I still got to do the work to get the win. I definitely see myself as that daydreamer. Currently, one of many affairs or "options" i've directed my attention towards throughout my adolescence, is vocational school... I want hands on/ practical learning skills. I want to learn chemistry, sciences, medicine, social psych etc. but I only seem to want to do so, by listening and testing my own knowledge.

    Posted by Crossroads March 18, 12 10:19 PM
  1. I am an 18 year old male in my senior year of high school. The situation I am in is much like that of the 17 year olds. Im just trying to pass this year and get out of this place. Im actualy writing this in night school because I failed English. Since around 8th grade my grades have been all D-F range with the occasional C. I absolutly hate school but the one thing i hate more than that is teachers and parents telling me I am either depressed, or doing drugs. On more than one occasion my parents have tryed to bring me to a therapist, who knows maybe I am the crazy one haha but i refuse to go. I have never done any type of drug nor am i depressed. The accusations are straining our relationship, so if you do decide on theropy or drug tests be very gentle when bringing it up. For any parents that read these comments be sure to consider drug use and depression but know that that is not always the case. Also I understand where this kid is coming from as far as wanting to go to college. From the time us kids enter school to the time we leave we are told that college is the only way to go, I believed this to be true up until very recently. *IT IS NOT* but it seems that many parents are reluctant to catch on to this idea. People love to shove "you wont get a good job or be happy without college" down your throat. Try sitting down and talking to this kid about other options. Like he is a person with a brain and the ability to think. Not someone that you can pick and choose how he should live. Like I said im sitting in night school right now. Im a kid just like your kid. Keep an open mind and remember the idea is to help your kid, with whatever he chooses to do. On a sidenote. One of my favorite people in this school is a janitor. No lie. One of the happiest people I know. He cleans bathrooms then goes home to his family. Im not saying be a janitor im just saying that college/money realy isnt everything however cheesy that may sound.

    Posted by Forerunner March 20, 12 04:46 PM
  1. I have a 17 year old son that is a senior this year and the situation sounds identical. He wants to go to college, however, he failed three of the four classes he has for the first 9 weeks of school. He was skipping with a group of kids that we have fought to keep him away from. He has admitted to smoking pot only after we've found evidence and a failed home drug test. We have called the principal, guidance counselor, teachers, and police officers to ask for help. We have taken his vehicle and all electronic devices. All I want him to do is graduate. I don't want him to look back in May and see all of his friends graduate and be disappointed. He has only four classes a day and has made decent grades up until this year. I don't know what to do. I

    Posted by Stressed Mom November 2, 12 05:17 PM
  1. As a father who has gone through this with one kid and am going through it with another (the son in the middle was straight As and four years to a double major in college), I have learned a few things. The guy with ADHD problems that posted already is identical to my sons. Some things I keep in my mind and tell every one who will listen. "No one wants to be a failure." "There are many roads."

    This kid doesn't want to be failing his classes, find out why and try to help. Have a heart to heart and find out whats going on. Do your part. Advocate for him at school and offer him any help you can. Make sure they are doing their part, just telling the kid its his responsibly won't work if there are underlying issues.

    Unless he's gotten really great grades up until now and can still pull out, he's not ready for college next year personally or for acceptance. Make graduating a priority and find another road past that. Make sure he knows that not going to college next year isn't a failure, he always has options, one goal at a time.

    Senior year is where struggling kids implode. If they haven't been able to succeed for three years then they are frustrated, depressed, and don't see the point in more painful effort. Schools tend to make it worse by pushing kids towards total individual responsibility, which just puts more pressure on the kid who is already struggling. (A note on that, schools are as responsible for teaching as kids are for learning) They will engage in other activities that are less painful, like weed. They will not do homework or skip class because its easier to say you failed for those reasons than because trying hard wasn't enough.

    Posted by dan December 5, 12 06:52 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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