My Teenager Is Disappointing Me

DEAR COACH RICHIE: My Teenager Is Disappointing me. I’m feeling all sorts of emotions, angry, sad, mentally exhausted, fearful, but the biggest one is disappointment. My 17 Year old son is a Senior and has 3 classes to take this entire school year, just 3. He’s also in credit recovery to make up credits for failed classes previous years. So technically 4, but the credit recovery class is of no concern (he’s passing that class). The concern is –

We are 3 months into the school year and he started first marking period which was in October off with 2 failing classes. He pulled up both classes to passing grades for report cards that were released earlier this month.
When he was failing those two classes , I got on him like white on rice, I was in contact with all teachers, and guidance counselor, privileges were limited and I had the biggest heart felt one on one to let him know how disappointed I was.
He assured me that he was not going to keep on this way and that he’d pull his grades up and he would keep them there.
Report cards were released a few weeks back and Yes he did do what he’d say he’d do and man was I excited and so proud and I let him know that and he seemed so proud of himself.

Fast forward to today. Progress reports were released and he’s failing 1 class- he went from a 68 to a 31! A 31! I swear I’ve never seen someone get so many grades in the 30’s as this kid! On his last progress report for this class he had a 36 then his final grade was a 68, now a freaking 31?!?
The problem listed on the report is -“Missing assignments, needs to complete homework, needs to complete assignments”

I am just so defeated and mentally wore down at this point. I check with him daily if his work is up to date, assignments completed. I even have him send me a photo of said work, before he goes out. (I work evenings) so I’ve been basically lied to.

He’s also saying he’s going to college, but hasn’t written not one essay, hasn’t applied to not one school and we’ve been after him since September. I completed the FASFA forms and he wasn’t even excited. He was like “cool” .
We’re not pushing him to college this has been his idea since my husband finished his degree and graduated from university back in May. I know he’s not mature enough to go right into university after high school and I’m not about to go into debt sending him.

I just don’t know what to do. He doesn’t work, he doesn’t have a car and he’s off our auto insurance for a year already due to two accidents he had back to back last year.
This is not how I’ve raised him, I’ve demonstrated good work ethic and independence his entire life. I’ve been in corner since birth. He’s just not motivated. 

COACH RICHIE: Sorry to hear about your challenges. My Teenager is disappointing me is a common statement I hear from parents when their children are following the path they envisioned. When we have expectations for our children they feel the pressure of those and don’t want to be pressured. What if he doesn’t go good in school? What if he doesn’t pass that class? Pass in assignments? What are the natural consequences of those things? Why does he need to be motivated?

When we try to control our children they are going to do the opposite of what we anticipate. We are trying to control them by pushing them to do good in school because of our own fears about their future. Then they return our control by some of theirs. When he doesn’t do homework assignments, fails classes, etc. how do you feel? Probably sad and that you are a bad parent. That is how they control us. What if you just let everything be, stopped asking him constantly about his homework, dropped the need to push and control him. What do you think could happen? Could it get any worse? What is the worst thing that could happen? As parents our fears strangle the life out of our children. They don’t have the fears that we have. We tell ourselves we have their best interests at heart but whose interests do we really have at heart.

We want them to be happy right? That is what all parents want for their children. What if they are happy being average. What if they are happy not having a job in the moment. What if they are happy playing video games for hours at a time. We don’t have to encourage this unexpected behavior. Our expectations of them make them feel small and like they are supposed to be different from who they actually are. We need to encourage them to embrace their own self. Whatever that is in the moment. Lazy, sad, unmotivated. etc. If we don’t allow them to embrace themselves for who they are at their core. When we make the statement “My teenager is disappointing me” are we possibly disappointing them?

How do we expect them to grow up and be able to deal with life as it evolves. What if our children never pull their grades up? What if they never go to college? What if they get an average job and just have an average life? If that makes them happy isn’t that all we wish for? When we have all these expectations for them it pushes them into a box they are not supposed to be living in and as a result it sometimes forces them down the wrong path in life because we make them feel like they are doing everything wrong in life. With all these expectations the pressuring to do better in school how do we think that makes them feel? Unloved, Unworthy, stupid? That is not unconditional love.

Unconditional love is allowing them to find whatever their happy place is an embrace it and us as parents to support them in that moment and not to push them to be someone they are never meant to become because our ego’s have trouble struggling with creating a child that is average. To your question. What should you do? What do you think you should do? Would he benefit if you stepped back for a couple of months and let the natural consequences take effect for whatever actions takes or doesn’t take. How would you feel without all that pressure on you? How would you feel if you let go of the statement ” My teenager is disappointing me “?

In the end we have 2 choices. We can try and control our children and have them be angry and resentful towards us. We can allow them to be the person they are supposed to become and love them unconditionally. Either way they are going to do what they want anyway. Would you rather be on the loving end for them to support them if they fail or the other end when they seek others advice. Like friends that will always steer them in the wrong direction. I hope you find something here that you can apply to this challenge. This too shall pass and why not let it pass with an abundance of love without all the stress and drama that you are putting yourself through

All my love and support
Coach Richie XO

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