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Flunking Eighth Grade

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My son eighth-grader refuses to do his homework. I have had three meetings with five of his teachers. One teacher is near retirement and since my son is polite, she lets him sleep in class and not turn in class work as well! His other teachers are at a loss since his testing is very high.

He pulled this same stuff in the last two grades. I offered to help with the work and finally to do it for him, but he refused. I took away his TV, laptop, toys, games, etc.

I know this is one of the better junior-high schools in the area. The others are filled with gangs and drugs and all other vices available. He shows no signs of any drugs, and has well-above average intelligence, but he's not motivated, even after punishment. He's had good teachers and great opportunities.

I've seen no signs of depression, although he is a little aggressive toward his mother and sister. I think his behavior may be due to an accident I was in last year that left me injured for life. I take strong drugs for the pain and lost my own company. Money is tight, but my son's always had what he needs in terms of toys and trips, etc.

My wife starts fights over everything. She is upset about my not working. But no one will hire me due to my bad back and the medication I must take. McDonald's won't even hire me!

What can I do to save my son? Come to think of it, the whole family needs help.

A: Each family is a system. When one part of the system is performing well, it impacts each and every other part of the system. But, when one or more parts are not working well, the system begins to fail.

You gave the best advice. Based on your description, the entire family is hurting and not functioning well. I cannot confirm the reasons or indicate to what degree each of the issues you mentioned play a part.

At this point, intervening in just one part of the system (your son's issues) will not work well. Get professional assistance. Together your family can work out a plan to help each other become more productive and have a happier life together.

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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 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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