Ask an Expert: Do I let my partying teenager fail at school and be responsible for her own mistakes?

Do I let my teenager fail school?

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My daughter is very bright, but is disinterested in doing anything but partying and having a good time. She is in year 10 and is in danger of failing (we’ll find out soon). I cannot get through to her how important school is. Sometimes I think I should just let her learn the hard way, let her fail, and live with the consequences. But I just keep pushing her and offering rewards if she will do her work. I don’t know if I can keep this up for the next two years. How risky is it, do you think, to let her fly on her own and be completely responsible for her own mistakes?

Honestly, I don’t know that it’s ‘risky’ to let her deal with her own consequences. It’s not going to be the end of life’s opportunities if school doesn’t work out. My own brother has no more than a year 9 pass, and at 23 he’s been employed as a political aide and is about to join the police force. Life doesn’t end at the HSC. That said, there’s a lot to be gained from going the traditional route and getting through with good grades.

What’s more concerning is that there seems to be a lack of concern for what happens later. Does she have any goals or aspirations for a career? Does she have an answer when you ask her what she will do after school ends? If not, that’s a sure sign that the HSC will be no better than this year.

From what you’ve said, there seems to be absolutely no connection between school and the rest of her life right now.  It sounds like your daughter needs to have a serious conversation with you or another adult that she respects. Is there is someone in her life who she admires, especially if they have taken a non-traditional route to their current career path? If so, try to arrange a chance for her to talk with them. You might be surprised at the kind of conversation that will make a difference. If she can manage to connect, for herself, the link between focusing at school and getting what she wants, then the rest will fall into place.

Kate Edney, Managing Director of Confidence Boost Tutoring,

Our Ask an Expert Week panelists are all qualified professionals in their field. However, advice given on The Kids Are All Right website is not a substitute for direct, personal, professional counselling or psychological care, medical care and diagnosis.

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  1. Hmmm… I wonder if I will have to deal with these issues with my Mr14. My older son has learning issues and won’t be doing an ATAR and I have to say it’s quite a relief not to have to worry about academics with one son. He does have an ambition for beyond school and it sure is a big driver.

    I hope that my attitude would be to let my kids fail and see whether they picked themselves up. I’d also NOT enable the partying at all ie they’d have to work for their own money and I’d hope that the dullish jobs teens get would make them aspire to more stimulating work after school. I can’t emphasise how important I think it is NOT to give teenagers money but to make them work for their own… I’m tough! But in the long term I think this will be so important for their adulthood.
    Seana – Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel recently posted..Our Top 21 Things To Do In Jervis Bay With KidsMy Profile

  2. My son is out of control drinking alcohol taking drugs partying every weekend not going to school sleeping fighting with me is no reasonable way of dealing with it I’m just ready for break down I need to get him some help



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