What do you say back to this?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I've posted a couple of times about easy child 2. I'm questioning her easy child status, frankly, and sadly, I think its parentally induced.

    Short background, she's diagnosed ADHD after almost failing 3rd grade. Her mom won't do anything, and finally the teacher and I got the school to test her. They recommended further testing, mom finally was pressured enuf to do it, did it, and was diagnosed ADHD. Recommended counseling, tutoring, and getting her involved in a social activity because she's lacking social skills (she didn't have a friend til she was in Kindergarten - grandma kept her and there was NO socializing). So here she is in 5th grade now, struggling again, reading at a 3rd grade level, and mom won't allow the school to tutor her, tho the school has offered because she qualifies with the diagnosis. She can't read, and no one will help her. .

    Anyway, she was here last week doing social studies homework. She had to find 4 reasons that helped an ancient Chinese dynasty last so long. These were 1 statement answers x 4. It took her well over an hour to read 3 pages of text and pull out 4 main ideas. They weren't the answers I would have picked, but we're dealing with a kid who is reading at least a full grade level below the grade she's in, and I thought it was more important she pull out some main ideas as opposed to me handing her answers. I don't know any other way for her to have gotten them. Anyway, she and I spent a total of 4 hours that night doing homework, and that was the last piece.

    I got so frustrated that night. I was afraid she thought I was frustrated with her, so I told her I was not frustrated with her, but I was frustrated with the fact that the school was willing to help her read, but she wasn't getting that help. I told her it was just really frustrating for me to watch her struggle without that available help, and that giving her the answers wouldn't be helpful, so I would just try to guide her. Anyway, we managed.

    I picked her up tonight and the first thing she said to me was "You got all my homework wrong. Remember? My social studies? You got it all wrong." When I asked to see it, the "4 main topics" was all that was wrong, which, again, I refused to give her the answers for.

    She can't read. She also refuses to practice. You have to be on her like flies on a garbage truck to get her to practice. She repeatedly says that she gets a lot more help with homework here than her mom's, and she'd like to come here to do homework, but there was NO ownership of her getting that homework wrong, it was my fault (which is another of her problems - NOTHING is ever her fault).

    What in the world do you say back to that? Step back and say I won't help anymore? Do nothing? What? The kid needs help, but my hands are tied, so what I can do is limited, but I'm not willing to be her whipping boy, either. And beyond that, I'm sure she told her mom I did it and got it wrong for her. And communication with mom is tense, at best.
  2. weatheringthestorm

    weatheringthestorm New Member

    Wow! Sounds like mom is ruining this child's future. I really don't understand the parents that refuse the help being offered to their kid.

    It's my experience that a child having that much trouble doing their schoolwork won't take responsibility for getting things wrong. This is in part because their self esteem is so low. After all, the other kids in her class can probably do the work with little trouble. It's encouraging that she's doing hw at all. Many kids just stop doing the work putting in any effort. That way when they fail it's because they didn't bother, not because THEY really couldn't do it.

    I don't know what to say about the mom, I'm not sure what your relationship is to the child. But I would say to keep trying. I know how frustrating it can be but it sounds like you're the only one helping her. I would try to be patient and maybe pay attention to the words I'm using. Instead of asking what grade she got on something ask what grade she earned, etc. She does have to learn to take responsibility and to accept help. It doesn't sound like she's used to either one.

    Best of luck.
  3. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    It might just be a band aid for a bigger problem but if Mom isn't medicating her would a cup of coffee before settling down with her homework be OK?
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Is husband her dad? If so, what is his take? What does he want to do about her behavior and issues?
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I would again remind her that they were not YOUR answers, but hers. And that all you can do is help, not tell her the answers.

    It makes me wonder - when she does homework round her mother, is she just telling her the answers?

    I would keep reminding her - "this is YOUR work, not mine."

    I've had easy child scream at me in the past over homework. I was trying to help her, she was getting more upset over it by the minute, once she started yelling at me I walked away and refused to even be in the same room until she calmed down and admitted that she wanted me to help.

    We used to have to sit for hours with difficult child 1, as well, when he had similar homework to do. He seemed totally incapable of summarising text or extracting the important from the unimportant. He was not able to apply value judgements to the text he was reading. he was a fluent reader, he just didn't understand what he was reading. I remember entire weekends when husband & I took turns sitting with difficult child 1 in the spare room, while he worked constantly. difficult child 1 was not allowed out of that room except for toilet and meals (and bedtime). A task which would have taken easy child half an hour, took the entire weekend.
    That's when you know something is not right.

    With this girl - what happens if you read it aloud to her? (I'm not telling you to do this, just asking). Does she still have trouble working out the answer? In which case, I think there is something wrong with how she is processing the information. This goes way beyond merely not reading well. Teaching her to read will not fix the problem.

    What worked for difficult child 1 - mind mapping (aka clustering). I've written about this before. It's a really good technique for ANYONE who has a writing task to do, or something to think about.
    You begin with a blank page. You write the key phase or word somewhere in the middle of the page. And you don't even have to use words - a picture will do. Or in this case, you could write, "Chinese Dynasty - why so long?"
    You then think of things about that dynasty, characteristics. Write down each one as you think of it (or as she thinks of it). Some of these will not be the answer. They will be dead ends. Some will be correct, or at least part of an answer.
    Once you've written down everything you think is related to the topic, you begin joining the dots, showing any connectedness between these thoughts. And in this situation - the ideas that have the most connections are likely to be the correct ones.

    A mind map takes the thought processes away from pure mental effort and puts them down on paper you can look at and go over. It makes for less mental strain.
    Sometimes the connections are three-dimensional - that is a complexity that you can't get, with a linear essay plan. And I think this is easier than an essay plan.

    Next time she has a similar assignment, show her this. In the meantime, you play with it, see what you can do with it. Maybe you're writing a letter to someone and you want to get your thoughts together - write "news" in the middle of the page, then write down the points you want to tell this person. Then join the dots, so you're not jumping from this point to that one and back again.

    I hope this can help.

  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    WTS - it was lack of homework being done that FINALLY got her mom to do anything initially. But that year is over and mom is back to square one, refusing to acknowledge anything, so we're approaching a similar repeat of history. You're right, she has no self-esteem, and she's starting to oogle any boy that will pay ANY attention to her, which also scares me. She has no girl friends.

    Her mom agreed to medicating her for the remainder of her 3rd grade year. I also (finally) got her involved with an after-school tutoring group that year, and I took her in the mornings she was here a half hour early and the teacher worked with her.
    Now the bad parts - this only happened for the last 2 months of school because that's how long it took to pressure mom into it. And her 5th grade teacher won't work with her before school (this teacher has young children - I do understand her side, too). Since she did "ok" last year, mom is refusing to medicate this year. And the teachers in this district say that most of 4th grade is review, not a lot of new material. My ex-mother in law worked in this district and warned me of that back when easy child 2 was in 3rd grade, during the first fight.

    husband is her dad, yes. He and I both would like to get her more help, but we're really at a loss as to how. He pays child support, and with difficult child's expenses, we really can't afford anything like Sylvan, tho if she lived here or even if we just weren't weren't paying so much child support, we'd be taking her to that. We just plain can't afford it, and mom nixes anything we set up to get her tutoring at school beyond the one day a week we have her.

    Honestly, the way things are going, we'd like to get custody of her, or at least 50/50, so we could work on this stuff. She's not a bad kid, but she's gonna be if we don't get on top of her SOON. But mom's parents have money and mom bullies them like any difficult child you've ever seen. In fact, mom's older daughter (not husband's) hasn't lived with her for over 7 years now, but the dad still pays mom support, he says cause its cheaper than fighting her to stop. But anyway, point of all that is, she can play a long legal game that we just can't afford to play.

    I feel guilty for being angry with her because I know its just what she's been taught, but on the same note, if I just sit and take it, that just reinforces what she's being taught...

    Just at a loss. (And can NOT understand why a parent would want to doom a child like this...all she needs is TUTORING!)

    PS - she's had this paper back for several days, so she's been hanging onto this to tell me that it was my fault...she didn't just get it back at school today.
  7. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Marge, I tried reading some of the text to her and while it seemed to help a little, it didn't help a lot. The school's testing showed she has processing delays. I don't recall what it was called, but they would give a list of 5 words and she could only recall maybe the first one or two. Always. Same with directions, she just couldn't recall them, whether she read them or heard them. They said they had some successful tutoring methods that would help, but - alas - mom won't let her receive it.

    I also see this in everyday life - she'll want to tell about her weekend and literally it will take her minutes to finish a sentence. God forbid when she wants to tell you about a movie, it will take forever and there will be no character, story line, or plot that can be extracted from what she will eventually get out of her mouth. There are issues.

    In fact, when she stole money from difficult child 1, when i confronted her with the truth, she admitted it immediately and offered to pay difficult child 1 back. IMMEDIATELY. Prior to me knowing the truth, we asked her repeatedly, and she concocted story after story. Then after she came clean with us, she went back to her mom and told her mom she stole it from her, which was finally the story she'd settled on here as to where the money she suddenly acquired came from, prior to me finding out what really happened. While we KNOW she has a big problem with lying, I also can't help but wonder if part of it is that she can't recall words or maybe even what really happened to tell the truth sometimes, so she blurts whatever comes to mind just to give an answer. Not sure that makes sense, but there are examples where that fits.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'm kinda jumping around here, too, but you asked, Marg, about homework at her mom's. I cna't answer what happens there. I know in 3rd grade, the teacher was as frustrated with the mother as we were/are.

    I also know the first time I talked to mom about her issues at school, mom yelled at her (and has a long history of this, I've known mom for years) and told her she was gonna be "stupid like her dad if she didn't get her head out of her hiney and do her work".

    husband and his sister struggle to read, as well. They both feel they are probably dyslexic.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    It sounds to me then, that the mind-mapping idea has the best chance of anything, of helping her. It's something you could show her how, maybe talk to her teacher about it, then hope that with the teacher's support as well she can follow through a bit more. If her mother won't help, the best option (and I know it's a poor one) is for her to find something she can do for herself, to help get around the problems she has.

    And this is something husband & his sister could try, too.

    Nobody ever needs to see the mind-map when you're done with it. However, in an exam it can be worth handing it in in lieu of an essay, if you run out of time.

    This kid sounds like the odds are well and truly stacked against her. If you can't do anything more (such as fight to get custody) then maybe this can help. At least it's something.
    And who knows? Maybe when she can choose where she wants to live?

  10. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Could his daughter be dyslexic, too?
  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Shari, I think you're between a rock and a hard place. If mom is resistant you would need enough custody to have some weight in decision making. If there are processing problems she needs consistent, professional tutoring (hopefully using a proven program) with support from home to make a difference. Patchwork help from a parent who has limited access to her will only go so far and I'm inclined to say it would be better for you to preserve your relationship with her than to push, push, push on the reading when you likely can only make a small dent in the problem.

    I'd probably be stepping back until you are in a position to have some leverage in decision making. There's a lot of reading help available in school now due to NCLB and schools in general have never been more willing to help kids. How hard had the school pushed biomom to sign?
  12. daralex

    daralex Clinging onto my sanity

    Just a few thoughts - my difficult child has Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) (precessing disorder) She would get so frustrted trying to comprehend info that she just stopped trying. Homework was a nightmare for years (I'm homeschooling her now) As someone said earlier - there may be more going on than just a refusal to read or learn. That being said you are kind of stuck as to what resources you can use due to mom (shame on her!) The best you can do is keep track of what's happening, try to be an advocate to the best of your ability and keep the faith. It sounds that the way the situation is going with mom that it's not leaving you any wiggle room to help this child. It's very sad for both of you and I can imagine how frustrated you are. Give her a soft place to land and support her the best you can - it may be all you can do unitl mom comes to her senses or daughter wants things changed herself. Sorry this wasn't more uplifting!!!
  13. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    You are right, between a rock and a hard place is exactly where I am. husband is supposed to have joint custody, so he should be able to have say in school decisions, but mom nixes anything we try to do. And since she has primary custody (and knowing her history), the school does not cross her. They apologize and suggest taking it to court, but contempt of court her is a joke. We'd pay $1500 for a judge to say "don't do that anymore".
    We're documenting all this sort of stuff. easy child 2 already wants to live here, when she gets another year older, we'll probably see what we can do. Right now, she's still too young for her say to have much pull.
    In the meantime, we just do what we can to get her to turn in her homework which she has attempted to do. Blank papers and not trying are the only thing not acceptable.
    Which brings me back to my original question. I can't do anything to "fix" her problems right now. So how do I respond when she blames me for homework that she didn't get right?
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    For times when you can't win and arguing will only escalate I favor an answer that neither assigns or accepts blame. "I'm sorry that your answers on your homework weren't correct". It's not a lie on the part of the parent but it acknowledges the child's concerns, the kid can interpret it however they want, and you can often move on. :peaceful: