HS daughter wants to move in with dad

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  May 23, 2012 06:00 AM

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Hello,

I have a 15 year old daughter in High School who should be in the 10th grade but has repeated the 9th grade. Her second year in high school will be ending in a few weeks and she is still failing. She's a smart girl that seems to be easily distracted by her friends and social activities. I have spent at least 500 dollars on Summer School (which for some reason she always passes) to try to get her caught up. But her work has still piled up. After fooling around the entire year she has expressed to me that she wants to move with her Dad and attend school in another district so that she could start over fresh. I have no problem with this if I think her habits would change. I explain to her how important education is and it is her responsibility and I don't want her to run from her responsibilities. However, on the flip side.I honestly have not been doing the greatest job at monitoring her assignments because of a 4hr round trip commute that I have everyday. I am currently looking for work with a shorter commute. I'm thinking that maybe she would have more of a disciplinary figure with her father. I'm not sure what to do. Please advise! Thank you.

From: Renee,Catasaqua, PA

Dear Renee,

This seems like a no-brainer to me. In fact, it seems to me that your daughter is taking responsibility for her actions by recognizing that she's finished at this school and wants to start over.

Dad is willing and able? You'll be able to maintain a relationship with her, and maybe get yourself in a different, if not better, situation? Go for it.

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3 comments so far...
  1. I agree... but only sort of. The biggest question you should be asking yourself is WHY can't she focus? I would rule out any problems like learning disabilities and ADD or ADHD first. I know, I know, the ADD card gets thrown around a lot. But it's a *real* problem with some people. And teens who have a simple chemical imbalance in their brain are much more likely to end up consuming drugs and alcohol. Ruling it out won't hurt anyone. Start with your primary care physician, and ask them to rule out learning disabilities including ADD. Also ask the school to do a full evaluation - she might be entitled to services like OT - which surprisingly has an arsenal of very simple therapies that help. Like making sure your daughter gets a break every half hour or hour. Or giving her extra time to complete exams. Or having a weight on her lap when sitting at a desk (as weird as it sounds, it stimulates the nervous system and helps calm the entire body and mind.) Push HARD for this, you'll need your mama bear to show. It sounds like you're overwhelmed (that's an awful commute) but it's critical that you and/or her dad get to the bottom of this. You don't want her to simply move the problems with her - you need to give her the tools to overcome this.

    Good luck!

    Posted by Not easy, but you can do it! May 24, 12 08:47 AM
  1. Second agree with caveat: Set up meetings with her Literature, Writing, and Math teachers (core subjects).

    -Ask the WHY she's failing, and listen hard to the response. I'm going to guess she's reading way below grade level, and so she can't comprehend the on-level texts or write at the level she needs to respond to them. Then again, maybe she's socializing during class. Or maybe she has an attitude or there's something else going on. This is obviously a long-term problem, so really LISTEN to each teacher.

    -Ask HOW you can help her improve those things. If she's that far behind, she's not going to pass next year either. She doesn't have the foundation, so the house will fall over. Then follow through!! If it's peer tutoring, or Kumon, or you sitting down with her every night, or whatever, do it. That's going to send a FAR clearer message to your daughter. Actions speak louder than words, and right now she's hearing you say it's important, but your actions are telling her otherwise. I totally get that you're working to support her, and that food and housing is the most important. She sees it as, "Mom doesn't know about no homework/sloppy paper/failed exam...And she won't know until February report cards so I'm safe for now."

    -Hours in class does NOT equal success. You would think, "Summer school will catch her up if she goes--It's 100 extra hours of school!" but if they're not meeting her at the level WHERE SHE IS and pulling her up, she won't get it.

    Do this BEFORE the end of the year. Let the teachers know that you're sorry you haven't followed through, and you know it's too late to change her grades now, but you're trying to prepare for next year so that you can better support her. If her dad can be at these meetings, get him there. If she goes to his school district, he needs to sit down with the teachers before school starts or in the first 2 weeks. If she stays with you, do the same. Talking points:

    -She is way behind. What can I do to support her academically and behaviorally?
    -How often should I contact you to monitor her progress, and how (phone/email/note/text)?

    Set up a homework routine. Homework done and checked before TV/computer time. Cell on top of fridge while working to limit distractions. Does she have an agenda to write down assignments? Use it to help her schedule out long-term assignments (finish book by this night, rough draft of paper by this night, final draft by this night).

    Good luck. I know watching your kid struggle is hard, and so is knowing that your support of her physical needs is hurting her academic success. Parenting is the world's trickiest balancing act!

    Posted by PrimaryGradesTeacher May 24, 12 03:51 PM
  1. I have been through a similar situation with my older daughter, now 19. She made up some excuse to want to go live with her dad, and learned a very hard lesson as a result.

    Please keep in mind WHY you are no longer with her dad. For us, it was because he was an abusive alcoholic/addict. Well, he disappeared for three years after I made him move out, and eventually found sobriety & came back. I didn't know if dd had other, more personal reasons for wanting to live with him (I have my own abandonment issues, so never want to stand in the way of my children's healing).

    Well a couple years go by, her grades are still an issue, and we all find out that ex is a dry drunk. He wound up being very abusive to dd, and as a result I pulled her out of there during her second semester senior year. I went directly to the school counselor and explained the situation. She, and the principal were very supportive, however the school board voted her out (I live in a different state & school district, and because she lived with me she was not allowed to finish her senior year).

    The day she was told she had to leave school, she decided she was moving in with her 30 year old boyfriend!!! She had tried attending in his district, but there were issues with transcript transfer (so she said) and she dropped out. She went back to finish that last semester in January, and dropped out again in March.

    Her boyfriend is a deadbeat alcoholic, and I pray she does not have to go through all that I endured during my marriage. I pray she will see the light soon & get back on track! She was always an honor student up until high school. Even when she started doing poorly she was still Editor-in-Chief of the school paper, President of the Lit Mag, President of the GSA, Involved in Student Government, Drama, and Color Guard. She had spent a summer at Georgetown University with the Junior Statesman program, which is a very prestigious program! She was an aspiring journalist, and politician.

    In any case, the whole point of the story is to be mindful of things BEYOND her grades in making your decision. I felt trapped when she wanted to move in with her dad. If I had said no, I would've had an angry, resentful teenager on my hands. Well, after what happened, I think that may have been preferable. I have already made it more than clear that dd #2 will NOT be moving in with dad. EVER!

    I wish you well! It is very difficult being a teen these days, but even more difficult being the parent!!!

    Posted by Tamara May 27, 12 08:31 PM
 
3 comments so far...
  1. I agree... but only sort of. The biggest question you should be asking yourself is WHY can't she focus? I would rule out any problems like learning disabilities and ADD or ADHD first. I know, I know, the ADD card gets thrown around a lot. But it's a *real* problem with some people. And teens who have a simple chemical imbalance in their brain are much more likely to end up consuming drugs and alcohol. Ruling it out won't hurt anyone. Start with your primary care physician, and ask them to rule out learning disabilities including ADD. Also ask the school to do a full evaluation - she might be entitled to services like OT - which surprisingly has an arsenal of very simple therapies that help. Like making sure your daughter gets a break every half hour or hour. Or giving her extra time to complete exams. Or having a weight on her lap when sitting at a desk (as weird as it sounds, it stimulates the nervous system and helps calm the entire body and mind.) Push HARD for this, you'll need your mama bear to show. It sounds like you're overwhelmed (that's an awful commute) but it's critical that you and/or her dad get to the bottom of this. You don't want her to simply move the problems with her - you need to give her the tools to overcome this.

    Good luck!

    Posted by Not easy, but you can do it! May 24, 12 08:47 AM
  1. Second agree with caveat: Set up meetings with her Literature, Writing, and Math teachers (core subjects).

    -Ask the WHY she's failing, and listen hard to the response. I'm going to guess she's reading way below grade level, and so she can't comprehend the on-level texts or write at the level she needs to respond to them. Then again, maybe she's socializing during class. Or maybe she has an attitude or there's something else going on. This is obviously a long-term problem, so really LISTEN to each teacher.

    -Ask HOW you can help her improve those things. If she's that far behind, she's not going to pass next year either. She doesn't have the foundation, so the house will fall over. Then follow through!! If it's peer tutoring, or Kumon, or you sitting down with her every night, or whatever, do it. That's going to send a FAR clearer message to your daughter. Actions speak louder than words, and right now she's hearing you say it's important, but your actions are telling her otherwise. I totally get that you're working to support her, and that food and housing is the most important. She sees it as, "Mom doesn't know about no homework/sloppy paper/failed exam...And she won't know until February report cards so I'm safe for now."

    -Hours in class does NOT equal success. You would think, "Summer school will catch her up if she goes--It's 100 extra hours of school!" but if they're not meeting her at the level WHERE SHE IS and pulling her up, she won't get it.

    Do this BEFORE the end of the year. Let the teachers know that you're sorry you haven't followed through, and you know it's too late to change her grades now, but you're trying to prepare for next year so that you can better support her. If her dad can be at these meetings, get him there. If she goes to his school district, he needs to sit down with the teachers before school starts or in the first 2 weeks. If she stays with you, do the same. Talking points:

    -She is way behind. What can I do to support her academically and behaviorally?
    -How often should I contact you to monitor her progress, and how (phone/email/note/text)?

    Set up a homework routine. Homework done and checked before TV/computer time. Cell on top of fridge while working to limit distractions. Does she have an agenda to write down assignments? Use it to help her schedule out long-term assignments (finish book by this night, rough draft of paper by this night, final draft by this night).

    Good luck. I know watching your kid struggle is hard, and so is knowing that your support of her physical needs is hurting her academic success. Parenting is the world's trickiest balancing act!

    Posted by PrimaryGradesTeacher May 24, 12 03:51 PM
  1. I have been through a similar situation with my older daughter, now 19. She made up some excuse to want to go live with her dad, and learned a very hard lesson as a result.

    Please keep in mind WHY you are no longer with her dad. For us, it was because he was an abusive alcoholic/addict. Well, he disappeared for three years after I made him move out, and eventually found sobriety & came back. I didn't know if dd had other, more personal reasons for wanting to live with him (I have my own abandonment issues, so never want to stand in the way of my children's healing).

    Well a couple years go by, her grades are still an issue, and we all find out that ex is a dry drunk. He wound up being very abusive to dd, and as a result I pulled her out of there during her second semester senior year. I went directly to the school counselor and explained the situation. She, and the principal were very supportive, however the school board voted her out (I live in a different state & school district, and because she lived with me she was not allowed to finish her senior year).

    The day she was told she had to leave school, she decided she was moving in with her 30 year old boyfriend!!! She had tried attending in his district, but there were issues with transcript transfer (so she said) and she dropped out. She went back to finish that last semester in January, and dropped out again in March.

    Her boyfriend is a deadbeat alcoholic, and I pray she does not have to go through all that I endured during my marriage. I pray she will see the light soon & get back on track! She was always an honor student up until high school. Even when she started doing poorly she was still Editor-in-Chief of the school paper, President of the Lit Mag, President of the GSA, Involved in Student Government, Drama, and Color Guard. She had spent a summer at Georgetown University with the Junior Statesman program, which is a very prestigious program! She was an aspiring journalist, and politician.

    In any case, the whole point of the story is to be mindful of things BEYOND her grades in making your decision. I felt trapped when she wanted to move in with her dad. If I had said no, I would've had an angry, resentful teenager on my hands. Well, after what happened, I think that may have been preferable. I have already made it more than clear that dd #2 will NOT be moving in with dad. EVER!

    I wish you well! It is very difficult being a teen these days, but even more difficult being the parent!!!

    Posted by Tamara May 27, 12 08:31 PM
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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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