Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's the Difference

Between letting your child be responsible for himself and being lazy? I'm struggling with that right now. The semester my son was placed on the "basic" track at school which means that his classes have seemed easier than what he has had before. His grades improved and he was doing most of his homework with little to no help/supervision. Also, a few weeks ago, we were invited to leave the school at the end of the year. Definitely as a result of the improved performance, and maybe as a result of being asked to leave, I've backed off on my role as homework supervisor. Until now I've had a major financial interest in seeing that he passed all his classes. Since he is going to public school next year, that interest is gone. I've kept an eye on his grades and while he hasn' t been perfect about handing in homework, I wouldn't say he has been significantly worse than he was when I was cracking the whip all the time. However in the last few weeks his grades have declined, and now, on the eve of exams, I'm seeing more missing work and lower grades, to the point that he is going into exams with an "F" in two of his four subjects (in one of which he had a "B" a few weeks ago). I really think he needs to learn to be responsible for his own work. His homework is HIS, not mine. However, I don't want him to fail--but on the other hand, why not? He needs to learn that actions (and inactions) have consequences. If he goes over to the public school as a sophomore rather than a junior, no one will know but him that he was held back. It is another year that he can stay on my health insurance (and when you have a kid taking $500+ in meds every month, that's important). We haven't told him yet that he is not going to summer school for the class he failed last nine weeks (and don't plan to tell him until school is over) so maybe he'll see that as something to avoid. On the other hand it isn't working...but it sure is easier and more fun for me to not do homework with him every night. I've taken the little one to the playground, read with her, read my general, done something other than homework at night for the last few weeks and I've loved it. Am I just being lazy or am I trying to give him a skill he really does need to learn?


  1. Anonymous9:19 AM

    In my own humble opinion, your son is at the age where he should be doing homework on his own. After you ask what he needs to do, your responsibility is basically over. I never sat over my kids to get them to do their homework. Granted, none of my kids is autistic, but I really think that by high school, he should be graded on what he does on his own and should live with the results of his own work. But then, I'm a mean mom, so who knows? : )

  2. Ruth,
    I can understand your conflicting thoughts. Ds does need to learn to be responsible for getting his work done but the question is "Is he capable of that level of independent responsibility?"

  3. Honestly Renee, I don't know. How responsible is responsible enough--and how do you teach responsibility if you don't give him any? On the one hand this, logically and reasonably, seems like a good time to let him fall on his face. He is going to a new school next year, fresh start and all that. He'll have more support next year, at least in theory. On the other hand, am I rationalizing this simply because it IS easier for me? I wish I knew.

  4. Does he have chores? Are there consequences when he doesn't complete them?
    Maybe let him have full responsibility for electives but not the core courses?
    I know with James, getting a lower grade (in his case it's a B) means nothing to him; it's not a consequence. But when I take away the Wii or computer, that is a consequence.
    Although I can also see your point about letting him fail this year and just repeating the year at the new school. Hopefully he'll learn from that but maybe he won't :(
    Isn't parenting toddlers so much easier than teenagers??

  5. Here is my two cents:>)
    I would not be helping either at this point. I would make it be known that this is the way it will be from here out. You will work with him occasionally- for difficult memorization or whatever-BUT he has made his choice for public school- by effort- and he now has to work to get out of public school. They can "hold" him there until he is 21 (we know that most don't- but he can attend until then)if he continues to choose to fail classes- but that is HIS choice. I would not give him other options- GED, other things- until the absolute end.
    Maybe even a bargain that he does not have to do summer school IF he chooses to do it on his own next year. Then write a contract to that effect- framed and placed near his desk.
    I don't know Ruth. My brother and sister in law pushed pulled and hauled both of their kids through their junior year and then let go- eventually both got GED's and are well employed as 30 year olds after completing alternative type colleges of their choice. It simply isn't the same as it used to be....
    But be ready- regular track public school- in my experience- is simply a lower type of education- lower expectaions- less motivated teachers for getting a kid to college- BUT he may be VERY successful at it and whew- he can move on and be successful in a real part of life.....
    Does that sound too negative?
    All I can say is that I did not struggle with a child with a disablity- but a normal intelligence unmotivated girl. She only knew what she wanted AFTER she married and had a baby. Now- at 24 she is kicking herself for not studying and cheating herself on her basic education. She and her husband now are asking for books from me that I had my highly motivated son read in high school. (He was the #1 in his class of a very poor public high school....)


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