Friday, November 11, 2011

My unmotivated 16 year old daughter

My 16 year old daughter simply refuses to study. She has the desire to excel yet she is unmotivated to read and practise her subjects. Last year she went thru a compulsory public examination and did very well, scoring 6 As out of 8 subjects. Her results were not reflective of her previous exam records which most of the time she would fail. This was due to us, the parents, helping her to schedule and plan her school work. We pushed her for 3 months before the exam. We also taught her how to study and she did acknowledge that the method worked. We figured since she learned the new techniques and did very well last year, she would try to repeat the success. But this week, she had a school exam and she didn't even attempt to study. She took subjects like physics, chem, additional math yet she did not study!

She claimed she does not know how to study. She told me before that she does not enjoy studying. She likes to draw and is very creative and wants to be architect or an engineer. But to be that, she needs to excel in math, physics and not just drawing. I'm exasperated. I don't want her to fail. I want her to be what she wants to be but to do that, she has to study.

What can I do? I cant keep an eye on her and force her to study all the time. I want her to have the inner drive to do all these herself and i hate being viewed as a pushy mother.
Dear Norhana:

You answered your on question when you stated: "I cant keep an eye on her and force her to study all the time."

She is 16 and I think you have two choices here each with possibly a different outcome or the same. As she is 16, if you ride her until she is 18 and then off to college, there is the possibility that your hard work will pay off and she will kick it into gear when she is in college.

The other choice is to look at this situation as a valuable life learning lesson for her and you. This is not about you getting your high school diploma or your college degree. It doesn't matter how much blood sweat and tears you put into this she is the one who has to decide what to do with herself. However, letting up now could be a disaster.

On the other hand you can not go off to college with her to make her study and do what she needs to do. As long as you have more of an emotional investment into her success or lack of success is she does not have to be invested at all.

You said you don't want her to fail. She is only 16 and is not a failure until she is still living at home when she is 30. Failure is a learning lesson for all of us. Don't fear her failures and don't teach her to be afraid of failure. Sometimes sparing our children from life lessons now only makes their lives harder not easier. Just a thought.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller