Now 2 questions about my son. Because of your book, I have identified him as an overindulged son. I really didn't realize this until reading your book, but we have now changed our "Yes" answers to include a way to "earn" the yes first. My son is 15, and will turn 16 in August.
Questions 1: He is currently in driver's ed, so he will probably have his license next Oct/Nov. We currently have 3 cars, so the insurance company will automatically make him a primary driver of one of the cars. Insurance will cost about $850 a year for him, but around $500 if he has a B GPA. He is definitely capable of having a B average, but this year he has become "out-of-control" and isn't doing assignments, not studying for tests, and taking "blow off" classes and even getting Ds in them (he is a freshman).
He has played football since 5th grade, and last fall he was a starter for the JV team and was one of a few freshman to play in every varsity game as well. So he has always loved football. But now he doesn't want to play this fall because he wants to work (even though we have pointed out that many employers will work around his schedule) and he says all of the time spent in practice isn't "worth" it. I think this is due to the overindulging that he has come to expect (he has never had to "work" to be good in football because he is just naturally athletic) because there are kids that sit on the bench all season long and still go out for football every year. So my son has been spoiled this way too.
His behavior overall this year has really become out of control in other ways also (he has been caught lying about sleeping at a friends house and then getting drunk all night, he was given a citation for underage drinking on another occasion about 1 week after he got off being grounded for the first drinking incident, and he has been hanging out with seniors who don't have very good reputations). Right now he doesn't have a B GPA, so I think he wants to work because he wants to make sure he can pay for insurance and gas. I think he thinks that our third vehicle will become "his" and that we really won't have a good reason to say no when he wants to go somewhere if he can pay for gas and insurance. But that's another headache for another day.
My question is this: We would like to "change our minds" and tell him that he needs a B GPA in order to drive at all. What do you think? Oh, and we started a reward system for grades last year that initially paid him for As/Bs/Cs and takes away privileges for each Ds/Fs, but that stopped working....we were taking away the privileges but it didn't motivate him to get his grades up, so then we started saying only one missing assignment per month or else more privileges taken away and then he really became angry all of the time, would just roll out of bed and go to school whereas before he at least took a shower and ate breakfast, started being tardy to classes and risking suspension, and it got to where everything was negative because we had to be consistent and at least apply the punishment for his wrong behavior and there wasn't anything to even positively comment on and this seemed like a really dangerous path we were going down...so we dropped the homework rule and changed to a system where he gets less money for As/Bs and that's it...no privileges taken away.....and that has raised his Ds/Fs to Cs at least. So it does seem that the more involved we became with his grades meant that we were doing more "giving attention to something negative", and switching to a system of just rewarding the positive has accomplished what we wanted all along.
Our kids do chores every week, and they have never received an allowance, so this initially seemed like a good system for them to "earn" some spending money. Also, my son has signed up for more blow off classes next year, even to the point of being in algebra this year but taking basic math next year....I'm mad that the school even allows him to do this, but if I make school change him to advanced algebra or geometry, I know he will do his best to fail that class to prove his point to me. Not sure what to do about this (although according to your book, I should do nothing...but I wish I could get him to look at the big picture).
Question 2: He has joined the golf team (even though he is suspended for the first 6 events for the underage drinking citation) and wants a junior golf membership for $150. This will allow him to golf for free whenever he wants (if there is a tee time) for the whole season. We have supported our kids in the past with sports, as much as is reasonable. New shoes, new softball glove if needed, etc. And have even supported our son about 75% for snowboarding this last winter. It wasn't a formal club through school but it was a sport and since we support our daughter's ski jumping (which isn't through school) by traveling to competitions etc. and pay $50 for my other son to attend tae kwon do classes, it seemed two-faced to not support him in this also. So now golf is the first sport that has come up since we read your book. Do we pay it for him because it keeps him out of trouble and he hangs out with "good" kids that can afford to this also? Or do we make him do something to "earn" us paying for it? Our downfall in the past is "Because you brought your grades up froms Ds and Fs, we'll pay for this" as a way to positively reinforce something, but this has caused him to be overindulged too :(
Ugh! My son is the oldest of 4 children, so we are aware that we are setting "precedent" also to a certain extent (of course we will change if something totally backfires, but still is something we consider when making decisions).
Thanks for any help you can provide.
Sorry for making this so long....I thought these were going to be simple questions :(