Friday, May 29, 2009

How to parent a teenager

If you are looking for an answer you are not going to find it here. Look me up in 10 years and maybe I'll have a clue. Right now what I have is a girl who just turned 13 and not a freaking clue of what to do with her. I'm swimming in self doubt and totally scared that I'm screwing up royally.

She is still screwing up in school. Despite my best efforts, grounding, taking away all her cool stuff, lectures on why she doesn't want to end up a drop out, etc., she still managed to fail two of her classes last quarter.

I really don't get it. She's really smart so it's not a matter of the subject matter being too hard. Plus she's really super responsible about other stuff. She cleans her room, does her chores, helps with her sisters. Why can't she do her homework too? I have a really hard time punishing her because 98% of the time she is an angel. She's just doesn't give a crap about her grades. I don't get it.

I don't know what more to do to motivate her. Last summer I started paying her for babysitting her sisters. She gets paid per hour whatever her GPA is. I explained that if she got straight A's that would be worth a bonus dollar for a total of $5. Right now she's earning a whopping $2.33. I tried explaining to her that this is just like life, the better you do in school, the more money you can make. One quarter this year she had a 3.o, but now we are back down to 2 and change.

I asked her to write an essay on the importance of education citing at least 6 statistics. What I got back was an essay on why she "thinks" the high school she wants to go to is superior to the one she is going to attend. She totally didn't read the explanation of the rankings she was citing and got it completely ass backwards.

I get that this last quarter has been an emotional roller coaster for her. First we have to move, and end up in a different high school boundary than where we started, then we try to keep her in that high school by applying for two different programs that would allow her to stay (she doesn't get accepted to either), followed by not making the cheerleading squad at the one she is going to attend. I totally understand how craptastic that is for a 13 year old.

HOWEVER. We now live in a nicer neighborhood. The high school she is being "forced" to attend turns out more college bound kids than the other one. It's students consistently score higher on the state standardized tests. I'm totally not brokenhearted about her having to go there. She doesn't care at all about any of that though, she just cares that all her friends are going to the other school. And in true 13 year old drama queen form, she is POSITIVE she will NOT be able to make ANY new friends at the new school.

I am left confused with how to proceed. On one hand I want to spoil her with fun stuff this summer to cheer her up since I know in her 13 year old mind she thinks her world is ending, on the other hand I want to ground her for the whole summer for getting two F's, and bottom line, I have no idea if EITHER strategy will improve anything.