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Boy Does Poorly in School Following Parents' Divorce

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: I'm a 14-year-old who is very concerned about my brother, who's in the fifth grade. From kindergarten through third grade he was an excellent student -- making mostly A's. But since my parents divorced and we moved away from our dad, my brother began failing. We just moved back in with our dad and thought my brother would be better, but he keeps throwing papers away and doesn't turn in assignments. How can we help him?

A: Your brother is very fortunate to have such a caring sister. My guess is that he has lots of fears and maybe anger at the divorce and at your parents. I would suggest that your dad check with the school counselor to see if there are any support groups for children of divorce in which your brother can participate. In such groups he can learn how to cope with the feelings he is having; he'll see that there are others who feel as he does and he can learn how to deal with all that is going on in his life, including his studies.

If there are no such groups in the school, your dad can get a referral from the school counselor for a family counselor who could talk and work with your brother on this issue. There's also a very good book out called Don't Put Me in the Middle, by John and Rita Sommers-Flannagan that might be helpful to your dad.

You and your dad will have to understand and let your brother know that you love him and that it is okay to be angry, but he can't let that anger hurt him.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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