...so said the counselor. Yes, we visited a counselor. I still can't believe it.
The decision was made easier by the fact that we know the professional already as he was the neurofeedback therapy provider for our older son last year. He formerly was a school counselor then went into family counseling and now works doing both neurofeedback therapy and psychotherapy. Through casual short conversations in the months I took my older son to neurofeedback therapy for learning challenges diagnosed as brain injury from Lyme Disease (and ADD/ADHD and Dyslexia were ruled out), I got to know this man. I felt we were on the same page. He is also pro-homeschooling.
Later when we began to have a problem with slacking I was sick of being accused of being Overachieving Homeschool Mom and tired of my son thinking my husband was being Unreasonable Dad. I decided it would be worth it to fork over $150 for a family therapy visit so my son could hear about real life from someone who is not his parent.
My son had already been enrolled in some outside classes so he was getting a clue that indeed he was wrong that courses designed by me to do for homeschooling were not unreasonable due to my high expectations, in fact, my expectations were less than the outside classes. Yet he still resisted me on doing a typical school load. My son felt that 2.5 hours of academics a day was sufficient for him.
In a nutshell the challenges were: procrastination, fear of failure, dissassociation by escaping to video games, Facebook, YouTube and any other Internet distraction and the associated cover-ups by deception, sneaking, and lying. There were other distractors too: music on the iPod and email and texting and begging to go out for a random bike ride in addition to the already heavy workout with the varsity sport team. Learning and studying were made difficult by constant distraction and seemingly no attention span.
My son stated to the counselor things such as: the textbook is boring, this subject is stupid, I will never use this stuff in my real life, who cares if the state law says high school kids have to learn this, who is the government to tell me what I have to learn in what grade, so forth and so on. This logic loving kid said he had a certain goal and knew the facts about what it takes for college admissions for that major but then said he was unwilling to do that work. Can you say disconnect?
The reply was this is a typical upper middle class problem. Poverty level kids and other kids with less fortunate circumstances than my son(s) have real life issues they are struggling with. I knew what he meant when he said that. Those kids are trying to survive and they have a hunger to work hard and to claw their way out of their situation into something better. In contrast these upper middle class kids don't really have a sense that what they are doing is linked to their survival. They have a pretty darned good life to the point where to do the hard academic work has no appeal to them. They are used to a life of entertainment and fun but learning hard material is not fun and it is not easy. When given a choice to do this fun thing or that borning thing which would you choose? Even most adults choose the fun stuff. It takes serious internal drive to stick to the hard work or the unpleasant tasks.
High school is a time of a person's life when doors start to close and when pathways become shut off. The choice of paths that lead to different types of careers and future lifestyles gets smaller and smaller if the student does not do the right thing to keep the more doors open. My husband and I are trying to get through to our son that this is Go Time. It's time to buckle down and get serious.
No matter how much I want my son to fulfill his goals and to achieve his dreams I cannot do the learning for him and I won't help him cheat the system to portray his homeschooling achievements as something they are not. I want both of my kids to go off to college ready to succeed which includes having an internal desire to learn, an ability to do college level work, and a grasp of how to handle time management. If my son wants to transition from a young man to a man he has to grow up by choosing to the right thing, the mature thing, by doing what society expects from him, and that includes taking courses he thinks are stupid, reading textbooks he things are boring, and studying to memorize facts he thinks he will never use again. These things are things that my husband and I agree on and I'm happy to have a counselor that is of the same mindset so my son can hear it from someone else. That may have been the best $150 I have ever spent.