The Norman Transcript

Features

February 8, 2013

Parents urged to not give in to 17-year-old spoiled underachiever

NORMAN — Q: Our 17-year-old is a highly spoiled underachiever. As a junior in high school, he’s failing two classes and borderline in the rest. We know that his problems are largely due to our parenting style. We read your book on teens and have made some progress, but we’re feeling a sense of urgency. We’re ready to do some drastic things. Where do you think we should start?

 

A: As you now realize, your son is in dire need of a major wake-up call. Start by stripping his room down to bare essentials, taking away any and all electronic devices, and suspending all of his privileges, including driving. Inform him that his normal life will be restored when he has improved his grades to no less than what he’s capable of and sustained the improvement for eight weeks. Anything less will invite cursory improvement, then backsliding. You could get stuck in that sort of manipulative back-and-forth forever.

Unfortunately, this is an eleventh-hour action. Obviously, the earlier parents intervene in a problem, the better the prognosis. On the other hand, it’s better to do something late than to never do anything at all. At this point, there’s a lot of history (and momentum) behind your son’s motivation issues. Getting him to turn himself around is going to require a unified front and calm, purposeful resolve. Don’t expect to see consistent progress for at least six weeks. Keep the faith, stay the course, and be fully prepared for things to get worse before they begin getting better.

“Why is that, John?”

Because when parents finally pull the rug of over-indulgence out from under an underachieving child, the typical reaction is full collapse along with complaints from the child to the effect that since he has no privilege, he now has nothing to care about; therefore, he is not going to do anything to bring up his grades until certain privileges are restored. Believe me, this is nothing more than manipulative self-drama, soap opera, with a heavy dose of attempted hostage-taking thrown in. It’s an attempt to get the parents to question their judgment and begin negotiating.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • Just say no to 12-year-old’s Mohawk

    A mom recently asked me what I would say to my son if he was 12 years old and wanted a Mohawk haircut for the summer. I told her I’d say no. “But is it really that big a deal?” she said....

    August 1, 2014

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Jam set

    Norman residents will serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the homeless from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Andrew’s Park, 201 W. Daws St. A pop-up store also will distribute donations of new and gently used books, clothing, shoes, ...

    August 1, 2014

  • CCFI announces play therapy course

    Center for Children and Families will present the course Fundamentals of Non-Directive Play Therapy from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 8 at Sarkeys Foundation, 520 E. Main St....

    August 1, 2014

  • Recent weather has been surprising

    Earlier this July, a dense cold front slipped into the central section of the Southwest — including Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and bordering states — dropping daytime temperature highs into the upper 60s and 70s, which I believe is an ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Are you a puppet or a prince?

    Names have power. This cautionary statement is frequently found in fantasy novels populated by magical beings. The implication being that you should choose your friends and enemies wisely....

    August 1, 2014

  • Crafter’s emporium planned Saturday

    Members of the Opal District Crafter’s Emporium, plus other local artists, will have an art show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds, 615 E. Robinson St. in Norman. It will be hosted concurrently with the ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Williams book signing event set

    Jared Williams, a resident of Moore, will sign copies of his book “Cerebral” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Hastings, 2300 W. Main St. Norman....

    July 31, 2014

  • Home dedication set Sunday

    Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity will host a dedication of the Ruvalcaba family home from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at 618 E. Apache St. Those attending are asked to bring a pantry item to help the family begin life in their new home. ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Two territorial littermate cats are asserting social dominance

    Dear Dr. Fox: When we decided to get a cat 10 years ago, I thought getting a couple of littermates would work well. They got along during the first couple of years, often sleeping together and grooming each other. As they matured, though, ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Board welcomes new member

    In its June meeting, the members of the Mary Abbott Children’s House board of directors elected Barbara Henderson to serve the remaining term of Anne Ederington, who resigned from the board in May due to moving from Norman. Henderson and ...

    July 30, 2014