Time for Natural Consequences?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Castle Queen, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Guest

    At what age is it appropriate to stop badgering your difficult child to do his homework and let natural consequences kick in?

    Knight has had an assignment that consisted of reading a historical book, then gathering items representative of what was discussed in the book, putting them in a bag, and giving an oral report using the items in the bag and how they relate to the story. He’s had this assignment for 3 weeks and its due Monday. He has the reading done, the items gathered, all that is left is to collect his thoughts about how each item relates to the story and practice the oral report. I have been reminding him (read: asking, pleading, threatening, removing privileges) of this all week because it’s his dad’s weekend for visitation and the last time I sent them to their Dad’s with homework it didn’t get done, kids got sent home early so Mom could help, and Knight broke down into a 3 hour crying jag about how much he missed his dad and how unfair it was that their time together was shortened. Dad says it’s my job to make sure homework is done before they come over so he can have a fun stress free weekend with them. Knight’s therapist says Dad should be equally involved, but since Dad sometimes doesn’t feel well enough to come to the appointments, he didn’t get this message. Dad apparently does feel well enough to call the therapist to tell him what a bad parent I am

    So here we are again, two weeks later. I emailed Dad to let him know what has transpired regarding this most recent homework assignment. Told him it was his option whether or not to have Knight for the weekend but he did need to get the homework done and not left for me to deal with Sunday night. He called me, AT WORK, to tell me to stop my controlling and manipulation. He said he had called the teacher because he “doesn’t trust me.” Rambled on about how his doctors have told him to reduce stress, etc, for 15 minutes then abruptly hung up on me. I am wondering if its even safe to have the kids over there. He is not forthcoming about a)what his medical condition is and b)what medications he’s on. Legally its written that he should have his visitation, so can I really even follow through with making Knight finish the work before he goes over there. I’m exhausted. I feel I’ve done everything I can. Dad just isn’t on the same page regarding education, homework deadlines, and developing good study habits. If Knight goes over there with homework, Dad makes sure he knows that I am the bad parent for sending him with it. Knight apparently doesn’t feel the need to do well in school even though he’s very smart, in the gifted program in fact, and really doesn’t have many other strengths and interests he can leverage to make friends (he’s not a good athlete, for example). He doesn’t realize he could lose the gifted program and his reputation by continuing to do as little as possible to just squeak by.

    What do you all think?
  2. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I used to be all stressed out about oral reports when I had to do them. I always worried and practiced.

    My daughter, though, puts her thoughts together at the last minute (possibly as she walks up to the front of the room) and does fine.

    I think if he isn't stressing about it, just let him wing it. Maybe he doesn't need to practice, but if he does, he will hopefully learn for the next time.
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Oh, hon... HUGS, first of all. For you, AND for Knight.

    He's old enough for the responsibility of homework and natural consequences. I would say this to him: I'm not reminding you about your project again. If you don't have it done, then you will be the one who has an F.

    Forget the father ever helping with homework. He sounds just exactly like my kids' BM. She said the SAME THING about homework. It was OUR JOB. Since Daddy doesn't want to be involved, you just have to deal with that - and so does Knight.

    I'm pretty sure Knight "gets" that Daddy has no interest. Especially if he's in a gifted program. What he doesn't get is WHY. ..."Doesn't he love me?"... And it doesn't matter how awful he is, he IS Knight's father, and Knight will always love him.

    Onyxx has some of the same situation... She loves and hates BM at the same time (in her words) and refuses to visit her because she feels betrayed. We talked about this, and I stated that I would bet if she KNEW BM would love her, she would do just about anything. And she said I'd win that bet.

    BM still pulls this kind of thing with Jett all the time.

    Seriously - let it go. Remind him one more time and tell him what the consequence will be... And let it go.

    One more thing - more hugs. It's hard.
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Just a thought: have you had a neuropsychologist done on him? I'm just curious that's all. The way he reacts to things makes me wonder about Aspergers Syndrome or NonVerbal Learning Disorder. He sounds so much like difficult child 2 it's amazing. difficult child 2 is a great kid, usually does his homework, but when it comes to prepping for a long report (we just suffered through his Science Fair Project - ugh!).

    I wonder if you gave the teacher a call and explained that he's been working on it consistantly for the 3 weeks but you can't seem to get him to practice. You could ask her to let you know how he did (a quick call for her to make). It could be that too much practice may make him more anxious...he may already know what he's going to say. Ask her for real critical feedback so that you know how far to push the next time they have this type of assignment.

    As an aside, difficult child 2 gave me a rough time about practicing his presentation. His teacher was blown away at how much he knew (even stuff that he'd glanced at but didn't incorporate into the project). He did really well.

    Hope this helps!

    And good luck to him on his presentation on Monday!

  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I'd have a neuropsychologist evaluation done. There may be a reason why he is smart and can do the work, but doesn't want to finish it. I'd try to cover all the bases before I'd let him fail. JM 2 cents worth.
  6. Chaosuncontained

    Chaosuncontained New Member

    You know, I've been having this same problem with my almost 9 year old. It is like pulling a bull dogs teeth to get him to start his homeowrk AND then to finish it. I have come to learn that for us, I can remind him gently about it and give him consequences ("You can't play Xbox until you're done" or "you can have a snack when you are half way done"). It works for us waaaaay better than me arguing with him. Being a Mom is hard. Being a mome of a difficult child is harder ((HUGS)). You are not alone.
  7. Bunny

    Bunny Guest

    I would let natural consequences kick in. If he doesn't get his thoughts togther for the oral report he will be the one who will have to explain to the teacher why the work was not done. I tell that to my difficult child all the time when he threatens that he's not going to do his homework. "It's not my problem. You're old enough to make the choice not to do it, but then you are old enough to deal with the consequences as well." Of course, that's not what he wants to hear. He wants me to say that I'll do the work for him, which not going to happen in this lifetime.

    If you know that homework does not get done at dad's house (which I think it a load of garbage, but that's another story for another day) make sure that difficult child knows that when he gets home he will not be allowed to stay up a little late to get it done. Bed time is bed time, whether he bothered to get his assignment done or not.

    The only other thought that I have is that maybe the idea of having to give a presentation in front of the class is totally overwhelming to him. From what you say, he's gotten most of the work done. He just needs to organize what he wants to say. Also, just becuase you don't see him trying to get his thoughts together does not mean that he's not thinking what he should say when he gets up in front of the class.

    I hope that he gets the project done.

  8. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I started letting natural consequences kick in about third grade, and I refused to give any assistance if Miss KT did not ask for my help "like a civilized person." If she started throwing an ugly fit in the middle of my helping, I stopped and told her to figure it out for herself, and to take her tantrums elsewhere.

    The consequences of not doing school work didn't become clear enough for her until 9th grade, when she failed second semester Biology.
  9. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    I think this is a good question for the teacher.

    Let her know the homework issues at home. Let her know you are going to back off to make it less of a battle zone in your home...

    Then if he does the homework? Great! If he doesn't, it's a school issue and he can explain to the teacher why it wasn't finished.

    You may be very surprised to discover that it just isn't worth all the stress and effort that you are putting in. The teacher will probably tell you that he is not the only student who always has issues with completing homework assignments. The homework (or lack thereof) may also not impact his grades as much as you'd think. No - he won't get straight As....but he probably won't fail either.

    I think you should set up a homework routine for afterschool (such as come home, have a snack, 30 minutes of work at the kitchen table, then chores, etc). If he doesn't have homework -that's fine, he can study or review his notes or whatever - but he must put in that 30 minutes. Let him know that you are available to help if he needs it...and then leave it be.
  10. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    Had the same issues with one of mine. To the point he would do the homework but somehow not get it handed in (or it could be anywhere along the chain from hearing it assigned to getting it done). We tried all kinds of things to help HIM take control - planners, voice recorders, what have you. I finally decided it was HIS life and choice and HE had to figure it out. He managed to dump himself out of AP English because of not handing in a long term assignment (that he had actually done). The teacher called me, and I told her that it was up to him - let him realize the consequences.
    MY life was much more peaceful once I decided to just let HIM handle it or not. His choice, his life.
    His biodad would yell and scream at him, but it still didn't get the work done. Whatever.
  11. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Guest

    Thanks all-you are awesome!
    NVTS and MWM- We actually did try for the neuropsychologist- in our initial appointment she (the neuropsychologist) refused to do an evaluation. She said whatever she found (and she was pretty sure what she'd find-adhd) would only cause more dissent between Ex-H and I over how we'd treat it. She went on & on about how our conflict would eventually cause the ruin of difficult child. I haven't asked for a referral yet to the one other neuropsychologist in our area because I felt so chastised by the first neuropsychologist. Maybe I should try the second one...I just hate the idea of having to pay for another appointment at which we get cut off at the knees...

    Bunny/NVTS- I do think there is a very strong anxiety component to the homework avoidance. It seems at its worst when an oral report is coming due- but coincidentally these are also the assignments for which the longest prep time is given. I think he may also have trouble organizing but he refuses my help. Maybe he just can't face the fact that the prep will lead to an oral report. I have major social anxiety myself- I had to give a presentation at a conference for work a couple years ago and the only way I got through it was to practice almost to the point of memorization.

    Daisy- I wish I had more control of his after-school routine but he goes to afterschool care until almost 6. I work til 5, then pick up Sprite at her daycare, then Knight at his (He was kicked out of Sprite's daycare last summer, since then I have had the dual pickup headache). We get home, I immediately cook supper, so we are lucky to have 90 minutes together for homework and family time before bed. The policy at aftercare is they give the students the opportunity to do homework while there, but won't force them. The lure of an activity in the gym or outside (when its above zero!) beats the lure of homework every time!

    I noticed last night Knight didn't pack his homework to go to Dad's. Sprite forgot something here at home so when I deliver it today, I think I will just ask if he wants the homework. If he says no, I won't say any more.
  12. Jena

    Jena New Member


    how are you and welcome by the way i've been sooo wrapped up in my own extended difficult child drama lol. thanks for the support by the way it's appreciated. i haven't kept up with everyone else's stuff.

    so, are you guys newly divorced or within 4 years? sounds like you two or at least dad still has alot of junk. your difficult child is probably picking up on that also. I have found thru the ten years and might i add WONDERFUL years of divorce difficult child has purposely done things to make dad and i have to talk EVEN IF THEY WERE NEGATIVE. not sure this is what's going on, yet i bet he's feeling it somehow.

    it's sad yet true i go thru same, and i do make sure difficult child has the homework done before she goes. i do think at ten they need reminders. i mean their ten and let's face it they have junk our kids. so yea i do remind. yet what ive found helfpul is to make up a simple schedule and break down the assignment on day one that it's given. than tape that list to their room wall and also put it in hw folder as well so ea night he can do it.

    you probably need your break and punishing him with hey do your hw or dont go to dad's wont' fly i've tried that too. yet i'd tell him it either gets done or you will be up late sunday night when you return. i wouldn't bother with dad. it's sad i know i do have same yet that's why we divorced them their never going to be the men we want them to be let's face it lol. :)

    so....... what's up medically with him? yea i dont' blame you i'd wanna know too. especially since he's being a real hypocondriac can't spell about it. hmm how could you even go about that?? I don't know without dragging yourself through another legal thing

    by the way it's never easy yet if you do it well and it's for the right reasons divorce can be amazing for all :) kids shouldnt' live in craziness so good for you!!
  13. Castle Queen

    Castle Queen Guest

    I love the idea of taping the schedule to the bedroom wall-I am definitely going to try that!
    We have been divorced since July, and haven't lived together since October 2009. He would disappear from the house without warning for hours at a time, get drunk, and come home and wake me from a sound sleep to verbally abuse me. I saw a lawyer in June of 09 but decided to wait since he was having surgery- things got worse. I got a court order for him to vacate the house after he had a bad paranoid episode in Oct 09 during which he called the police on me for supposedly making all kinds of changes to our house and vehicles. the police called an ambulance and he was taken to a psychiatric hospital, where he stayed for 5 days and was diagnosed with bipolar. Ex later told me he didn't have bipolar but did have a bad reaction to Cymbalta which he was on at the time.

    His medical condition? He has back problems/fibromyalgia. During a drunken outing with coworkers he tripped over a curb and broke his collarbone, which led to back/neck surgery, fibromyalgia, stenosis, countless procedures, MRI's, prescriptions for pain and muscle relaxers, mood stabilizers, antidepressants- I can't keep track anymore and honestly it's impossible to have a coherent conversation with him anymore. Without a lawyer I can't really force him to disclose what the latest diagnosis and treatment are & he won't disclose because he says I should have paid more attention by attending appointments with him when we WERE married. (I was already taking off too much work to go to difficult child's appts) Two days after he received the divorce petition, he quit going to work and was fired. Now he says he can't work at all due to his health and has filed for disability. I'm not holding my breath on that one-if the kids ever see any money from it I'll be very surpised.

    At times he can be very cordial and at others- nasty, nasty nasty. I'm praying the cordial side is the only one the kids see and that he reserves the nasty for me only.
  14. Jena

    Jena New Member

    wow good for you!!! getting out of bad situations is sooo hard and your child is sooo lucky to have you! seriously. iv'e been there done that. verbal abuse is often harder than physical because your soul slowly gets crushed. so seriously good for you.

    as far as the rest is he in aa? i'm sorry i dont' mean to be nosey. i have aa experience too, not me loved ones. if he's working the program great otherwise if hes drinking i'd lighten your load mentally and reduce visitation to only during day for a few hours. i know it seems like a drastic move yet at the end of the day he's sounding kinda unstable.

    my dad was an alcoholic, so it touches a soft spot.