Did you have a mediocre HS student?

Our 15yo daughter has always been (and continues to be as a HS sophomore) a mediocre student with a lackluster work ethic. She gets tutoring help for a couple of subjects, but still just scrapes by. She doesn't have any learning disabilities. My husband and I try hard not to apply our academic standards on her (both of us were hard-working students who went to selective colleges and graduate schools). We want to believe that she will find her way and that it's okay that her path will be very different and less traditional than ours. She says she has no interest in going to college, but understands that she needs to (eventually) in order to have more career opportunities. I struggle with all of this, because I have a brother who was lazy in school, struggled through college, and turned out to be a mediocre employee who has repeatedly gotten laid off or let go. This isn't the future that I want for my own daughter. I do understand (at least conceptually) that she has to lead her own life, but while she is still a minor, I want to guide her in a way that gives her the best chance for success (meaningful life with a job/career that will allow her to support herself). I don't need judgment, but would love to hear from other parents with a child who also did poorly in school but eventually found his/her way to a gainful employment/self-sufficiency as an adult. I would greatly appreciate any advice. Thank you!

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I had a brilliant daughter who just skated by in school.  It was very frustrating.  In high school she was also wild and difficult to deal with, although she didn't use drugs or get arrested.  She signed up for community college but repeatedly dropped her classes.  She wanted to go to beauty school which I reluctantly decided to let her do.  She even got kicked out of beauty school.  I was so upset.   She did finally finish beauty school, which she had to pay for because I had paid for the first one,  and is a very talented hair colorist.  She now lives in NYC and has worked hard.  When she went to NY I was very worried but she made it, even though she was making very little money.  She is very hard working now and is very successful in her career.  Don't give up, your daughter may surprise you.  I know mine did.  It did take her stumbling around until she was 25 but I couldn't be more proud of her hard work and success than I am today.  They don't always do it the way we would like but that doesn't mean they won't find their way.  Good luck!!

I hear you!  My 24 yr old daughter was average in school. She went to an "average" CSU college and graduated. She decided on a career path and found a job- she now lives on her own and supports herself and is happy. Not everyone is meant to be academic or go to grad school!  Even if their parents did. Hang in there and try to encourage whatever passion your child does have....

I have a kid like that! I just ordered the book, "He's Not Lazy" by Adam Price. It came highly recommended, so I'm hoping it will help.

My son is not yet in the working world, but he has started college and is loving it, after being a bit lost in high school. I was a straight A student who attended a big name college and then grad school. He did not work much at high school, and it was hard for me to understand. In a way, I found it refreshing that he didn’t do something that didn’t appeal to him, because I was a goody-goody who was too afraid to disappoint anyone.  But I also had a hard time understanding why he wouldn’t try his best and of course I worried. He started out in an ambitions program — IB — but hated it and quit. Then he was struck down with a scary bout of depression. That put everything in perspective for me. I would not wish that on anyone, nor am I suggesting that lack of motivation is always connected to depression. (But I do know that teenage depression is under-recognized.) After the episode, my standards totally shifted, and all I wanted was for him to get through each day and feel okay. There is a college for everyone, even after a little time off, and there are all sorts of ways to find success. He is thriving now. He is confident. He likes what he is studying and for the first time seems willing to work hard. I guess in simple terms, I’m saying trust that things will work out and your daughter will find her way. Keep loving her. Give yourself a break. The teen years can be horrible but we get through them. 

I was a mediocre HS student! I had no interest in sports or extra-curriculars and generally was a procrastinator who did the bare minimum. I enjoyed the social aspect of high school but I did not have the drive to be a high achiever like most of my friends. Like your daughter, I didn't have any interest in college but I knew at some point I would go. For me the turning point came when I finally decided (at 20) what I was interested in doing as a career. I went to community college part time, worked part time, grew up a lot and eventually transferred to a CSU. I graduated with bachelors in nursing and I love my job. I'm thankful that my parents allowed me the time and space to make mistakes and find my own path. My advice would be to gently encourage your daughter to continue her studies, provide her with information, talk about what her career path might look like and how she could get there. Often times there are many different ways to arrive.  Most importantly, don't project your brother's issues onto her. She's still very young with plenty of time to discover her passion and develop her drive.

Yes, I have not one but three mediocre high school students. The youngest is a high school junior right now so who knows, maybe he will really turn things around next year (just kidding.)  C's, D's and F's throughout high school, getting by with the minimum expenditure of effort. Very frustrating for a parent who is an overachiever. But the two oldest did eventually finish college at varying long-ish speeds, found their niche, are supporting themselves now, and have both just started grad school in their early 30's to improve their career prospects. They are really good kids and I love them but they are late bloomers and it has taken them a long time to figure out how to "adult". It is not easy for a parent to be supportive of a kid who seems to be just not trying very hard. 

But in retrospect, support from the parent is a key thing. I also have siblings who have not fared very well, and I think much of it has to do with our parents not really being there for us, not only financially but also just not helping us feel confident in our own abilities.  Treat your kid the way you'd treat a co-worker who you really like, but who lets you down sometimes, and who you know could do better. Be sympathetic, be respectful, give them support as you are able to, including financial support if you can, but don't fund stupid stuff like bartender school or motorcycles.  Keep your mouth shut unless you are asked for advice (I only manage this 50% of the time). And when you do give advice, do it the way you'd do it with a co-worker - you don't want to make them feel bad but you also want to hint strongly they are on the wrong path and suggest a better course.  The goal is for them to see themselves as the responsible party making the decisions, not you. Be clear that you are their safety net, you're there for them, and you believe in them.  And find ways to have fun together. It's like money in the bank!

Try looking at a community college coursebook!  You can concurrently enroll her in community college.  Sometimes the best option for a struggling student is for them to take the GED, graduate early, and start earning college credit!