Just googling to find something that might help our situation. My step son has been failing more classes than passing all through high school. He will be 18 this month. He is diagnosed with ADD since just prior to high school but I think rather than finding ways to help him cope with ADD, he has been using it as an excuse all along. Technically, he "should" be graduating this year but was re-enrolled as a second year Junior. He is attempting 30 units this semester and looks like he may attain 15. His average semester units have been about 12 rather than the 30 or so required. At this point, he has a multitude of core classes left to pass next year. Since he has only been able to pass maybe one core class ( the kind with homework..English, history, science, math) per semester, he has enough elective credits but need the hard stuff. I don't see this happening at all. We enrolled him at a boarding school as a Senior last fall in an attempt to get him the help he needs but he was expelled after 3 months resulting in a huge financial loss. Upon returning to public school he is again failing as before. He does smoke marijuana and makes no bones about it. He says everyone does and he will smoke if he wants to. He has about 65 credits in hard classes yet to pass, but keeps insisting he will graduate...a year late..but will graduate. There is no way, short of a miracle, that he will do this considering his past record. He doesn't do homework unless he is made to sit down and do it. If he would take responsibility and see the reality maybe something would change, but I don't see any changes happening. I think the school is about ready to suggest he drop out and go to adduct [sic] school since this environment is clearly not working for him. Can you help? Advice please?
From: Concerned stepmom, Napa, CA
Dear Concerned Stepmom,
He's 18? The best advice I can give you is to back off. Nothing is going to happen until he is ready to assume responsibility for himself. Not all kids graduate high school in the proscribed period of time. Some go out and work before they realize that diploma is something they want. Then, like magic, they are motivated to apply themselves or to get the help they need to make it happen.
You and your husband need to be on the same page about how you back off -- how much emotional, psychic and financial support you provide -- and I suggest you present it as a contract that he needs to sign on to. Basically, a contract would say that you are willing to sign off on his academics -- that it's up to him to manage his academic achievements. If he wants help to figure it out, to make a plan, whatever, you're available; otherwise, you'll stop nagging, coaching and otherwise asking him about it. In exchange, as long as he's living under your roof, he needs to contribute $x amount to the household and abide by x rules. The contract needs to include details (how many nights does he eat dinner with you? does he shop for his own groceries? do his own laundry?) as well as consequences (what happens if you nag him? what happens if he doesn't pay on time?).