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Dr. Keane
Dr. Keane, Family Counselor
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1768
Experience:  Parenting Workshops, Teacher, PHD Clinical Psychology, 30 yrs. Exp. 4 Children
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Hi - First some background - I have a teenage son who is almost

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Hi - First some background - I have a teenage son who is almost 17. His mom and I divorced over 4 years ago. I have remarried and have children with my second wife.

My question is concerning my teenage son. He has always attended parochial school. He is a bright kid, but is very unmotivated academically, which seems to have worsened over the last year. When it comes to academics, my rule is "only A's, B's, or C's" and my only goal for him is to have the opportunity to attend a decent college (i.e. we're not shooting for Ivy League). Keeping the grades in the acceptable range has been a challenge for years, and is purely a result of motivation. Frankly I am fed up with paying over $7,000+ annually for his education when he is lazy concerning academics (his phrase). I am considering putting him into public school for his last 2 years of high school. The public school he would attend has many students there that he grew up with in grade and middle school, so I know he would find friends quickly.

Question: Is it a mistake to change schools at this point in high school? I just don't see the logic in continuing to pay for a top rate education if he is not willing to take advantage of it and just "coast and slack" for his last 2 years.
Hi, thanks for the background information that is helpful. A couple of questions. How was he academically in elementary school? Did you notice any changes after you were divorced? Any history of learning disabilities? Depression? I will be better able to help you if I have more information. thanks.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Dr. Keane,
In elementary school he was a very good student - A's and B's mostly, a few C's here and there. His grades started to drop at the end of 6th grade (before the divorce). His grade in middle school definitely dropped (during the divorce), but I blame a large portion of that on some very poor teachers (who have subsequently been fired, lots of parent complaints). When he moved to high school (better teachers) his grades definitely improved over middle school, and he actually said he liked school. I have had him tested for learning disabilities - none. No history of depression. He is definitely a "tactile learner" - does much better with a hands on subject than pure bookwork - but I don't think that is an explanation for his motivation issues. Nearly all of his teachers has said that he is capable of better work.
Hi, I was going to ask you if he had ever been tested so you have done all the right things in that area. I can answer your question by saying that it would not be a mistake to change schools as long as you are doing it for the right reasons. If he is a lazy child and just not motivated then what is going to happen in a public school? If you feel he will do the same, then go ahead. My concern is in two areas, one is less "personal" attention in public school and two, is there something else going on that is more than just being a teenager. Is it because he was rebelling when you were micromanaging? or could he be depressed. You divorced when he was 13 and that is a tough age for kids anyway.
I would have a talk with your son, ask him what he would like to do in terms of schools and then set some rules and boundaries whichever school he chooses. I would also rule out depression, it can exhibit itself in many ways that aren't glaring. At his age he is trying to present himself as all knowing, it's part of the process of being independent so it's important that you listen, you don't have to agree but you have to respect each other and both opinions. Once he feels he has input into his decisions you may see a different kid emerge. But like you if he isn't getting what he should be from an expensive education you do need to rethink it without any regrets, it won't be a mistake.
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