Saturday, July 17, 2010

Teenager cutting classes

Questioner: BT

Subject: Teenager cutting classes

Question: I have a 17 yr old daughter, a junior in high school. She is very smart, but is unwilling to do her homework and now has started cutting classes. She lies about doing her homework and only sometimes tells me when she cuts.

How do you get a kid to go to class when they hate school? She fights depression, but this is a larger issue. She is on the verge of failing 3 classes and school is almost out. HELP!

Answer: Dear BT,

I know of no way to get an almost adult woman to go to class. I think she will have to find her way back to class on her own.

What I can suggest is taking some time when just the two of you can talk. Maybe do something she likes to do and have fun with, then approach the subject of school and ask her why she is cutting classes. Then listen, really listen to see what you hear. Listen for both the reason on the surface and particular listen with your heart. She is avoiding something maybe because she is afraid of failure or something else.

Lying about going to school and lying about doing homework sounds to me like she is protecting you from what is going on. What I can definitely tell you about adolescents and almost adult children is their parents approval is way more important to them than they will admit to themselves or to you. Most of us are quite old before our parents opinions do not matter more than our own so honor this need for approval by recognizing she is not doing any of this to hurt you.

You referred to her as smart. To a child this may mean they cannot have a problem in their classes. It may mean my parents think I am smart and now I have these classes I cannot keep up in or I do not understand or I am not comfortable in and therefore am afraid I won't do well.

You mentioned she fight depression. This is a LARGER issue and may mean she cannot CONCENTRATE as one of the major symtpoms of depression is lack of ability to concentrate.

My hunch is she is terrified because she cannot control this smart mind of hers, feels all alone becuase she doesn't believe any understands what is going on with her and fears being a failure in her parents eyes because she cannot make herself do well in class.

Need a time to ask her what is up and time to listen to what she says very closely.


M Kay Keller

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