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Are we allowed to give up?

EveryoneLies's picture

Actually not as angry as before. Just tired.

SS14 has no idea how to study. His "studying" is just staring into the computer and wait for the time to pass. He doesn't know how to take notes. He is currently failing 2 classes. 

Helping him learn how to study has been really difficult. He can't make a plan himself, he has no goals either. On top of that he likes to complain about how hard he's worked-- although he really has not. 

I know as a step parent I probably get to just put up my hands and do nothing (regardless my fear of SS' possible failure to launch). DH has tried hard too. If neither of us is on SS' arse, he won't work. 

I guess my question is really when is a parent allowed to give up. Are parents even allowed to give up? I understand teenagers are stupid arses, and I really don't like to see them fail, but at what point can a parent really say "I tried" and stop?


Kes's picture

By the time my bios were 14, I was definitely not standing at their shoulder, checking on their progress with school work etc. I think that by this age, either they are self motivated or they arent - if the latter - nothing much a parent can do, really, even less a step parent.  

tog redux's picture

Yes, this. If you have to stand over the kid's shoulder at 14, there's a problem. You are better off making sure any mental health issues are treated, he's been evaluated for learning issues, and using rewards and consequences (no electronics until grades improve). Even if you and DH drag him through high school, he won't have any internal motivation for college or work. And if BM doesn't have the same approach to the problem, you guys can't solve it alone at your house. 

My SS was just like this. BM let him do nothing and blame others, DH tried to help and make him work. DH got labeled as mean and strict and SS started refusing visits. He's 21 now and a total failure to launch (but at BM's house, where she is just fine with it, seemingly). 

And yes, YOU are allowed to give up and should. Not your monkey. Your DH should not give up, but should change his approach. 

EveryoneLies's picture

So the issue is partially because his autism. His executive functioning is close to non existence. Every problem has to be given step by step instruction (and multiple times) if you want them solved.

DH is not giving up but sure very frustrated. I have given up and going back to help again many times because, I really don't like to see kids fail. 

SS is only motivated to listen to books and music and all that nice things in life. We've told him he doesn't work hard now he probably won't be able to afford those seemly small things himself when he is an adult. Of course thay has not sinked in yet.

justmakingthebest's picture

Ok, having Autism changes expectations greatly. 

Of course there are ranges with it, but for us, the only goal was graduation. There is no way he could have done that without his school tutors or special ed teachers. When you talk to my SS21 you know he is off, but can't place your finger on it. He is verbal and can carry conversations (weird ones but still). 

I think that you really need to have your husband reach out to the school and increase involvement there with his 504/IEP plans. See what alternatives there are to the traditional classroom (ex- high school vocational training). He isn't going to learn or keep paying attention or anything else like you expect from a NT teen. This is one point where you have to change your expectations and no, there is no giving up. Especially not at his age when you are dealing with a disability. 

EveryoneLies's picture

We know this, and have told school about this. What's being difficult is that the teachers don't seem to believe what we said. Every time we hear from there we heard how great SS is at school. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy he's doing fine at school. Compared to he used to be having meltdowns at school this is definitely a great improvement. But his "doing great" was really just doing whatever he likes in class. That's almost anything but learning.

But you are right, DH is going to email the school and talk about the plan. Because this is really not working for us.

justmakingthebest's picture

I know you are frustrated and this is a DH problem, not a you problem, but I wanted to throw out that I was one of those kids! I didn't know how to study properly and was really struggling in school. My mom sent me to one of those tutoring places for studying and SAT prep. BEST THING EVER for me. This was 25 yrs ago but I am sure they still have them. 

I didn't know about breaking notes into outlines and how to figure out what was important. I focused on all the wrong things. My teachers never taught me like those tutors did. 


tog redux's picture

But you were motivated to learn. If we had sent SS there he would have put his head down and refused to do anything. You wanted to learn and just needed support. 

EveryoneLies's picture

For one we had tried this when he was in elementary school. He refused to work with the teachers and if we could even get his hw done that's already a blessing. If we have a tutor he will probably ask the tutor to do all his work for him. Sigh

Booqueen's picture

I'm not sure if parents will give up. Or are allowed to give up. But steps? Why not? Blum 3 someone told me 'nachos' (not yours). Pretty much said to me I should not care so much and in essence, 'mind my own biz' and I'll be happier. Easier said than done, coz I actually mind too much. Your SS sounds like he doesn't care about himself so all that extra focus and attention you're giving him isn't working. Try asking him 'have you given up on yourself?' It is so so so hard when a child refuses to work. I feel you. Hope he gets some sort of motivation soon.

EveryoneLies's picture

Thank you. 
it is really easier said than done haha. We told him he's not study for us but for himself. He's not putting efforts in for us, but for himself. Dh told him it's sad to see him throwing his future away. None of those seems to matter though. It really gets old when you are repeating the same scripts everyday. 

ESMOD's picture

I guess there is a difference between him wanting to succeed... and not really having the skills to succeed.  I know that I took a class in HS that really taught us how to take notes that would be effective for our review.  The class did not have a text book so that was the only way to have study materials!

It was a skill that was very helpful.  

If the kid is frustrated because he is putting in time and not getting results.. perhaps getting him tutoring help to teach him skills would be good...because a professional may have a bigger bag of tricks than OP or the kid's father.

If the kid is just not interested in succeeding?  well.. dad can set consequences and offer incentives.. but beyond that, at some point the kid needs to hear that HIS future is dependent on what HE does now... dad already has a job.. education.. and if SS doesn't do what he neeeds to do now?  his options will be very limited.

justmakingthebest's picture

You have the same mindset as me on this.

OP, his dad needs to give him the tools for sucess. He might not use them, but as parents we have to present the tools. 

None of us wanted to listen to what our parents (or SP's) did when they were in school while we were teens either. An outside resource might be a big help- and it could also be a waste of money. You won't know until you try. 

grannyd's picture

ESMOD, you’ve wisely written:

~ …there is a difference between him wanting to succeed... and not really having the skills to succeed.~

When I was about 9 years old, we were introduced to fractions and, although I excelled in language arts, math was a struggle; I simply could not 'get' it and was horribly frustrated. 

In only 3 evenings, my brilliant, loving, stepfather coached me to an understanding of fractions that serves me to this day. Dad celebrated my successes with laughter and applause, making me feel like the smartest kid on the block, instead of like a dunce. Tutoring can be of tremendous help for discouraged children.


EveryoneLies's picture

I think it's both. He doesn't have the skills and he's also not motivated. I tried teaching him some of the note taking skills I use, but when I'm not telling him word by word what to write he can't do it. (Or he won't do it, I don't know if it's a can't thing or won't thing anymore)

he's leaning Spanish now. And he doesn't bother to find and memorize the words that he doesn't know. We tried to layout the things he needs to do to get over this obstacle. But  at the end it really just feel like we have ourselves a second job after our day job. 

told ss his future will not be so comfy if he doesn't put effor in right now. Regardless, he's very optimistic that he will get in to college and everything will just turn out fine. If high school is too hard I really don't think university is easier. Told him that too.

ESMOD's picture

I don't understand really why his dad can't ask him to work out the problem he will have getting from point A to point B.

Son,  I know you don't enjoy this class and don't think the information will be useful.  Unfortunately, your school requires you to take and pass this class in order to graduate.  I know you want to go to University.  How do you plan on graduating if you don't pass this class?  I'm not going to pretend that everything you are asked to learn in school will be useful in your future life, but sometimes there are things we have to do if we want to move on to other things.  This class is one of those things.  You need it to graduate.  You will not be going to college and will have to leave home and figure out to work to survive at 18 otherwise.  I know you think this is something that we are forcing on you, but the reality is that the only person that your lack of effort hurts is you.  You won't graduate.  You won't go to college.  you won't be able to afford a car or nice things.  You will be riding the bus.  You will be living paycheck to paycheck at some menial job.  Whether you pass or fail this class doesn't impact me or your teacher... we will go on with our lives and jobs.. it's YOU that will be hurt in the end.  So I'm going to ask again, what is your plan to graduate?

justmakingthebest's picture

All of the behaviors that you are describing relate back to his Autism. 

There is no internal drive. There is no faking interest in something he doesn't care about. There is no realitic perceptions of the future. He is thinking college because that is what he was told. He needs to have his world reshaped into something that is realistic for him to to handle. 

EveryoneLies's picture

You are all correct.

I think it's also because so far every time SS has failed someone was there to catch him, to clean up after him, to fix the broken things for him. So far none of his grades count. We've told him numerous times, high school is different, all your grades count. You won't be able to get into college. All of it has been said. 

But he has never actually had the natural consequences from failing school. I don't think he understand the real impact. It's scary because when he finally learn/see the impact it might be too late. 

SS wants to go to college partially because DH told him, partially because college seems all fun in movies. We told him how much work we had to put in to get the degree, I don't think he believes us though. Oh well. 

EveryoneLies's picture

Good question. I don't think he would like to work lol

his idea of "work" is not practical and sometimes too naive that's laughable. 

He just thinks he will be doing some office job, what that will be, no idea. He also thinks he will be able to get in and graduate college. To be honest right now I see none of those happening.