difficult child missing more school

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Californiablonde, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    This week so far she has missed three days. We went ahead and took her to the doctor's on Tuesday, where she was diagnosed with a bacterial stomach infection. She has been on an antibiotic since Tuesday night. While she was at the docs, the doctor told her that she needed to still go to school even though her stomach is giving her issues. Basically difficult child has been feeling nauseous but not throwing up. I also had a talk with her and told her that she needs to toughen up and go to school regardless. She has finally reached the point that she needs dr.'s notes to clear all her absences at school because she has missed so many days. We do have a doctor note for Tuesday only. She refused to go to school yesterday and today. My mom made her a deal this morning that she would let difficult child stay home for a couple of hours in the morning (the nausea usually gets better during the day) and she would pick her up to take her to school around ten a.m. difficult child agreed. I know that difficult child is exaggerating her symptoms, because I stayed home sick yesterday due to a sore throat and cough, and difficult child was home as well. She felt absolutely fine throughout the day. She ate an egg mcmuffin from Mcdonald's in the morning, and she even wanted to talk me into getting her another one. So her stomach isn't that bad.

    Later this morning, when my mom called her to get her up for school, she told my mom there was no way she was gonna make it there. She felt too sick. Same routine as yesterday. So this is her third day of missing school this week. Two of the absences are going to have to remain unexcused, because the dr. note we have only clears one day this week. I don't know what to do with her anymore. The next step is being put on an attendance contract by the school, which her case carrier has already threatened us with. The next step after that, if she misses any more days, is being taken to truancy court. Worse case scenerio is I could go to jail over her non attendance. Her dad would also have more ammunition against me to take custody of both kids. Yes, he is still filling ideas in the kids' heads, every time they go over there for a visit. Telling them that soon they will both be living with him, even though they have both vehemently told him they do NOT want to live with him and the evil stepmonster. I don't know what to do to motivate difficult child to get to school. How do you get a fourteen year old big kid to go to school when she refuses?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You fix the real problem... she's in the totally wrong placement.
    Nothing else is going to change until THAT gets changed... in my opinion.

    And... I don't know how your system works, but here, a 14yo definitely has say in whether or not she lives with Dad or Mom. The fact that NEITHER kid wants to live with Dad is a big statement.
  3. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    One of the reasons why the school is fighting mainstreaming her is because of poor attendance. In their eyes if she can't even make it to school for her ED classes then how is she going to survive mainstreaming without getting so far behind. At least that's their mentality. It's a catch twenty two. And I understand that my kids are old enough to decide where they want to live, unless the father can prove I'm unfit. difficult child 1 missing so much school and now with unexcused absences on her record doesn't make me look like parent of the year. The judge I'm sure will take her lack of attendance into consideration. I have no idea what to do.
  4. cdngrl

    cdngrl New Member

    I don't know the whole situation, but I have read a bit of it... I hope it's ok for me to jump in...
    I don't know how things work there, but here there are sometimes options for kids who have school refusal due to anxiety and other mental health issues, and I'm wondering if that could be the case there as well. Some of the kids have a modified school day, so they attend the parts of the day that are easiest (mentally and physically) for them to attend and participate in at first, and over time they may be able to increase the time as they have success. Some kids here have also had physicians write to the school board stating they require instruction at home due to their condition - the school board then pays for a teacher to go to their home (usually only about an hour a day) to teach some of their academics... again, this is a temporary measure with the goal of getting them back to school in the future. Maybe there could even be an option for her to go to school but spend part of the day in the guidance or resource area or something, rather than in the classroom? Is there any possibility whatsoever of an alternate placement that might be a better fit? I understand that you/she are in a particularly difficult position with the poor relationship with the school and poor fit of her placement, but I think I would request a meeting with everyone who could possibly provide support for your perspective to talk about what options there could be given her health condition.
    I feel for you, and I hope you are able to find a way to get the school to work with you to support your daughter.
  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What type of infection does she have in her stomach? The fact that she can actually eat though is making her case not very good...sigh. If she was truly as ill as she is saying she wouldnt be able to eat at all. She would be on liquids only.

    As far as how to get a kid to school, you call the truant officer and have them escort her to school. Simple as that. I have had to that. They can come out and take the kid from the home and put them in their car and off they go. They will charge you if your child doesnt attend school. In many states there is a fine and or jail time. I went through something very similar with my middle son over stomach issues too and they took me to court. Thankfully I wasnt convicted because his doctor backed me up but it was something I didnt enjoy.
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You need to get somebody on your side of the table who either has professional degrees behind them (therapist, psychiatrist), or is a recognized advocate. Right now, you're spinning your wheels. It's a catch-22. But you're NOT going to be able to put the "you have to re-start this on the right foot" responsibility on a struggling, challenged 14 year old. SHE needs help. School will not listen to you (because they have proven that... there are some schools where parents do have impact). Therefore... get that advocate and get rolling.

    Sorry for sounding like a broken record but... you HAVE to break the impasse. Somehow. And your mother as an advocate isn't working either.....
  7. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I know someone who had to do this - several times. It was a good thing because the school saw that the parent ws trying everything to get the kid to school and the kid did not want to be brought to school by the truant officer, so they eventually saw that as a threat that mom would make good on and they went to school on their own.

    Janet is right, though. You do have to do something to get her to go because they will place the blame on you for her lack of attendance. I forget, but has the school been any help in this area? Do they know what you're dealing with at home?
  8. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I understand the fears with ex and I agree I'd get on record what your efforts are. In MN parents are held accountable to get their kids to school until a certain age then mid school-ish age.the.child is responsible to attend and the parents responsible to compel them to attend. A little shift. So, if the parent can document that they have made daily efforts they are not going to get in trouble.
    Time for a meeting as others have said. That documents that you are saying there's a problem and you need a new plan. If the plan includes an officer coming to get her when she refuses thats fine.

    And on the big picture front...kids may have say in where they live, and you and other adults get that, but SHE is not likely really able to believe that, if her father is telling her differently. I can imagine that if he is saying such things she is overwhelmed and facing school stuff on top of that may be too much.I am just guessing, maybe she is doing the only thing she can control that makes her feel a little better?.

    Is she able to directly work on that subject with a therapist? Can the therapist support a restraining order of any kind to limit what he is allowed to say to them? Or a change.to.specify that in a.custody agreement? Is there even a custody agreement? I think I remember you said he didn't really have any rights but maybe I'm mixed up. (Sorry ) ...

    I bet.there are people here who have ideas on how to negotiate what can and can't be said to the kids on agreements. Just a thought.

    I know you let your mom do the advocating but your spinning your wheels with that. She sounds like she cares but you have said that you two have poor boundary guidelines. I get that, have had to work thru it with my sisters too. It really is.worth it.to pull back and get a separate advocate.

    I.know it's easier to say than to do because we really don't know the whole picture. So please know I'm just throwing out ideas but support whatever you decide is right for you.
  9. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you are in this situation. It really is taxing. And unfortunately it can be very difficult to solve. We never could.

    We could make our difficult child to go to school, even in that age though he was over 6 foot tall and in top shape. But he did get into car (and out of it) when we demanded. But that didn't help much. He has never been one for direct confrontations, but more a sneaky, passive-aggressive b*****d. So we got him to school, we got him go into the school, and when we escorted him, we got him to go to the class. But he simply didn't stay there. They couldn't handcuff him to his desk (and I suspect that would just made him expert lock picker anyway), he could easily outran his aide and they couldn't lock school doors (and again what I said about lock picking...) So off he was in most days long before the school day was over.

    His school 'attendance' only got really better when he ended up living 3 hours from his school and having to physically go there about once a month. It was little better when he got from our middle school (grades 7 to 9, ages 13 to 15) to our high school ('grades' (or in fact flexible schedule to do enough courses), 10 to 12, ages 16 to 18-19. There he did attended interesting and difficult to self learn classes without much fuss. And he went to eat at school every day. And because he was in sport program that was even more flexible and usually done in four years and because he did well in courses he studied independently, he was given a lot of leeway. And for him that worked well, but I suspect that it mostly doesn't.

    With my difficult child problem was social and especially in elementary and middle school severe bullying. It is one of my big regrets that problem was mostly handled as difficult child's stubborn delinquency and him simply being a bad kid.
  10. StressedM0mma

    StressedM0mma Active Member

    I know you have other issues going on with placement, but I do understand the school refusal part. I have been battling this for 2 years now. The first year I did the OK, stay home I will take you in later, calm down. I later learned that in our case it was a HUGE mistake. she used that as a crutch. Never learning how to face the problem. Now, when she starts it, I take her to school, give her the choice to enter the building on her own. If she does not, I call the Guidance office, and have someone come to the car and escort her into the building. I feel bad making it their problem,but it is what works. I know longer let her do this. It is too difficult for us to climb out of. Hope you can get her back into the routine.
  11. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I see a pattern here that i don't point out to be offensive so I hope you don't see it as such. Truly I mean this to be helpful from one parent of a difficult child who was resistant to school to another. In many posts, you clearly see the problem and you clearly want to improve them. I can always see how passionate you are about what to do and wanting to get it right. I also however see a distinct pattern of fear in your posts and lack of confidence to make the clear steps you know you need to try. Fear of your ex's threats. Fear f your mothers judgement. Fear of losing what support you do have (breaks from kids to ex, your moms help with kids ). Fear of jail over school issues. Etc. I do get it. Most in your situation would be worried about all of the above. I know I would be. The thing is, valid as they are as concerns, you need to move on and take steps regardless of them. And maybe you will lose some avenues of support. Hopefully not but always possible. The thing is, fear of taking the perceived wrong steps are stalling you from taking steps. And your life in your family and home isn't working for you. Certainly your difficult child is going through major issues too. Therefore you have to do something (probably a combo of many things) different or it can't be expected that things will improve. In fact they will get worse and gosh knows you need improvement in your quality of life rather than increase in problems to juggle.

    First, these messages your ex gives your kids? He is getting away with them. At best you can do damage control with kids. But avoiding him on it? Prolongs the damage. Damage control means damage is already done. You need to find your parenting confidence and recognize your value as a caring mom. And push the fear aside long enough to plant your ex in his place. Call his bluff. Refuse to permit those messages to the kids on basis it is harmful to their emotional help. been there done that with my easy child. Your kids shouldn't be hearing this garbage from ex. However they need to see you stand up to him and tell him no more. And that he has been told by you to pee or get off the threat pot. State clearly his accusations have no merit and he will not control you with threats anymore. Tell him to stuff it or take it to a judge because you're not at all worried about a court. Make it known to the kids ignore those messages from dad. They are secure with you and not to worry about this. Especially in early teens, emotions rule and your difficult child sees you afraid of ex's threats and then also fears them. Face those fears with them and via a united from to ex that you are the custodial parent and kids are going nowhere. Period.

    School issues? Don't fear jail. Fear continued school failure with no avenues to address it. Embrace the telephone. Bus time or drop off time comes and no difficult child ready? Call principal and tell them she is refusing for xyz bs reason and ask advice. Chart the call. Take any ideas given by school and try them. Document every single time. Make difficult child sign a school contract with enforceable consequences. Ensure you enforce consequences as at first you likely will need to often. The school will not be legally after you when it is obvious you are never making excuses and you are calling every single time. Period. If it conflicts with work, explain to school principal and teachers and guidance counsellor and truant officer that it may only be on work lunch that you can call. That inability to call at opening bell each absent day is no reflection of shirking desire to force difficult child to school. Merely a inability due to work personal calls and inability to risk daily personal calls.

    As for your mom, she isn't likely to be as invested in this struggling process to change things around. Maybe you will luck out there. But if not, he disapproved often anyhow. Or at least it seems as such from posts. Let her. Oh well. Her inability to see your vision and reasoning is no reason to not do what works best to help you and the kids move into a more structured and more connected relationship. And is no reason to not insist on boundaries for difficult child. She also shouldn't be able to allow difficult child to negotiate school attendance issues with difficult child. That is your job. And mom should back off.

    You're a good mom with realistic wants and needs. You are clearly invested in wanting more for you and your kids in terms of emotion health. I think it's time you do a complete 180. No more apologetic parenting decisions. No freezing from fears. You got this. You really do. I know it.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    3I have not read all responses, and I know this is a radical thing, but why not let her father take her for a while and let HIM deal with this. She doesn't want to go to live with him? Then she gets her tush to school every single day. Miss another day? Time to go to dad's and it won't be easy to come back. I do think you should try the truant officer/police route first (here we can call police and they will come if a child is refusing to go to school if the truant officer cannot come.) but then why not use living with the evil stepmonster and dad as a natural consequence for refusing to go to school? I am willing to bet that dad won't keep her for long because she will be too much trouble and he seems that type. It is just a thought.

    The other option would be to enroll her in online school, but that makes you the bad guy and leaves her home all day alone to get into trouble.