I have recently gone through a divorce, and it is greatly affecting my 18-year-old son. He is a senior in high school, but he may not graduate due to poor grades. I am tired of well-meaning advice on how to “shape him up,” but I don’t know what to do myself.
It sounds like your son is struggling emotionally with the divorce and this is reflected in his deteriorating grades. The first thing we recommend is making an appointment with a counselor. Your son may have a lot on his mind that he needs to talk about before he can focus on what is important, such as his grades.
If you’ve tried counseling, consider why it did not work. Sometimes kids do not click with their first counselor. It is not uncommon to try a second or third counselor before you find someone to whom your son responds. Consider counseling even if you have tried it before.
You can also try to assess your son’s feelings about his father to see if he needs to spend more time with his dad. Arranging more visits and phone calls with his father may provide the emotional support that he needs right now.
In the meantime, make sure you are spending quality time with your son as well. This does not mean that you force him to open up to you or convince him to complete his homework. It means setting aside time to just talk about what is on his mind and inquire about his day. Go to a movie. Grab a bite to eat. Take him on a hike. Encourage him to participate in hobbies that he enjoys. Small, pleasant conversations can be priceless.
Lastly, we recommend that he contact the Boys Town National Hotline if he’d like to talk. He can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-448-3000. That goes for you as well!