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Dear Gramps,

I have a teenager who won’t drop an AP class that he is struggling in. He is overwhelmed and getting depressed. He is getting a B in the class, but it will affect his GPA such that he may not be able to get into BYU, which is his goal. He doesn’t feel like he has time to finish his eagle project or to go YM during the week. He is turning 16 next month. He is taking this AP class as a sophomore. I think he is not dropping the class because I am telling him he should. How do you deal with stubborn teenagers?





Dear Kim,

If I had the answer to that question I could retire. But perhaps I could expound on the changing role of parents as children grow up, and it may shed some light on your dilemma. When children are small–preschool, the parents are their principal teachers. In fact, the greatest learning period in a child’s life is during their pre-school years. The greatest period for speech and language development, for instance, is from 0 to18 months. But when a child transitions from a home-centered to a school-centered environment the role of the parent changes from that of a teacher to that of a coach, i.e., from teaching to motivating. The parent’s role is now to cheer from the sidelines, to enthuse and to motivate. The teaching role doesn’t shut down overnight, but the ability of the parent to be an effective teacher continually diminishes as the child continues to grow. That is very likely why your son is doing just the opposite of that you’re telling him to do.

If you could go over with him your perceptions of his various options and their different consequences, and then let him understand that the decision as to which option to take is entirely up to him, and that you will support him in whatever decision he makes, you will have a much greater influence on his behavior that if you just try to tell him what to do. He will make up his own mind anyway.

Now, just for the sake of completeness, let’s carry the argument on one step further. When the child is no longer in school and leaves home to be on his own, the parents’ role changes again–this time from a coach to a consultant. A consultant only offers his services when called upon. Otherwise, it’s called meddling.






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