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Daughter Failed Exams And No Motivation To Study

by Maya

I am a mother of an 18yr old daughter who has failed her 12th exams, but has no interest towards studies.

She is very confident in herself, speaks her mind boldly, has great PR skills, and is helpful. She is overweight in spite of which she is confident. She does not pay much attention to dressing up. She is my only child.

From the beginning - even as a young child I have always had to be behind her to get on with her studies (be it her homework, projects, tests etc.) She never does anything on her own.

She is quite capable and has the capacity to grasp concepts well, but makes absolutely no effort. PTA would always be about her being very good/kindhearted, respectful towards teachers, but academically no concentration particularly during high school.

One of the teachers feedback was that my daughter thinks she knows her answers well, but that is not what is expected at the examiners level.

Till her 8th STD her grades were good (of course with my constant monitoring). During her 9th STD some guy proposed to her, which she confided in me. This started the downswing of her studies.

With great difficulty she managed to clear her 10th STD exams with a 72% pass. (She had extra tuition as well as help from me & my sister).

We got her admitted in a good college but she ended up with failing her 12th exams. Both my husband and myself have been assuring her that it is not the end of the world. There's always a next time. But the problem is she does not show any interest to complete her studies.

We have our own business which is doing well and able to support her financially in every aspect. In fact she has expressed her interest to ultimately join the family business. To which we have always told her that she has to complete her studies, make herself knowledgeable and join in later.

Another thing is that my husband and myself end up fighting because of her lazy attitude towards studies. He feels she will come around whereas I feel it will be too late.

I feel she manipulates my husband into believing that I am torturing her.(Initially I will be patient with her but as she drives me up the wall I end up abusing her physically.)

This is the point where my husband walks in and blindly supports her, which infuriates me to no end and we end up fighting like cats & dogs. She sits back and watches the whole scene impassively.

Please suggest


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Young Adults And Education - Part One
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Maya,

You sure have worked very hard to try to ensure your daughter's success academically and clearly you care very deeply that she gets a good education and has access to College studies.

I am going to present some ideas to you that you may well find a bit challenging so I am going to ask you to keep an open mind and consider some other ideas.

I know you have done everything you can to try to make her work harder at her studies and pass her schooling. To the point of even getting yourself so frustrated with her, that you have lost your temper and physically abused her.

Do you think what you have been doing has worked?

It seems not, in terms of the outcome you wanted. You have managed to force her to pass some school levels, but only with extreme pressure, energy and drive from you. This means she has never had to learn to motivate herself, she has never had to deal with the consequences of her choices and she has not valued her education because it has been your drive and energy not hers.

You obviously value a good education above all else - even to the point of risking your relationship with your daughter. I know you love her very much and you only want what is best for her, but somewhere you have developed tunnel vision about her worth and ability to succeed being linked with passing exams.

Of course education opens a lot of doors. Particularly for those kids who want to go on to study something in particular like medicine or law. In those kinds of fields you have to develop good study habits (Mum is not going to be behind you cracking the whip every step of the way!)

I think you will disagree with me here, but I believe we actually place far too much emphasis on rigid schooling models and exams and put our kids under far too much pressure to succeed at something that really is very little measure of how well they will get on in the world.

Schools are set up to deliver a standardized education to the average child with the least amount of adult attention. I am married to a school teacher, so I know what is required for teachers to push through a set curriculum to a group of children, half of whom are not engaged in the process.

Part Two Follows . . .

Young Adults And Education - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

We all have different learning styles, we all have different strengths. There are a lot of other skills and abilities we need to develop to be a well rounded human being, and school only touches on most of them. Kids need to be able to learn, and the need to be able to research and find things out, they need to be curious and they need to be able to think creatively.

Our school systems are not geared for the way the world is now. Our system of teaching and our curriculum are based on a model of over 100 years ago, when employers needed a semi-literate workforce for factories or as support in business. Universities used to be places where great thinkers debated, argued, tested and hypothesized.

Many universities now are geared to spitting out a young adult with a piece of paper who can spit back the answers in a test. This does not equip a child to cope with the fast pace the world is changing now. The internet has totally changed the way societies operate, and how businesses are run. A lot of these skill are not even able to be taught in school as they change so rapidly. I would never have imagined twenty years ago, I would be working with people all around the world, and that my business would be online. No school could even have begun to teach me the skills I have had to learn.

And I'll let you into a secret - I did not even finish high school. However I had a love of learning, and I did go back to University as a mature age student to study things I loved. I also attended and still do, numerous courses and programs both online and off. My point is, our children do NOT have to pass school exams to be successful. They DO need to want to learn, and they do need to be able to develop good research skill s and be open to learning all sorts of new things, in varied ways. Many of which need a high degree of self interest and self motivation. Only a small percentage of what our kids need to study as an adult will be in a college.

Research tells us the majority of adults will not be in the same career after 5 years. That is not just the same job, but it is actually a different career! Over a life time we can have up to SEVEN career changes. How much of our schooling is related to this? Very little. We need to be able to read, use a computer and learn. The rest changes very rapidly.

Part Three Follows . . .

Young Adults And Education - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Your daughter has clearly developed other areas of her personality, that in my opinion will actually be more useful to her in the long run. Unless she is keen to follow a particular career path that requires exams and intensive study, she really does not need to go to college.

I am NOT saying she does not need to study, learn or attend courses when they are relevant. But I am saying, now is the time to back off and let her discover what she is interested in and what she needs to learn to be able to do it. She has shown some interest in your family business, and maybe that will be something she gets involved in. But I would suggest you encourage her to branch out a bit first and get some experience in the big wide world of work. Starting at the bottom, since she has no qualifications at present. She will quickly show her aptitude for things and will be able to pursue areas she is drawn to if you encourage her.

I would give her a limited time of financial support, then either she has to be in a learning environment - and there are lots of courses or ways to learn outside of College - or she has to be self supporting by going out to work. Don't make it so easy that she does not have to figure things out for herself.

You have raised a confident girl who given a bit more encouragement will flourish and thrive when she finds the areas she is interested in. I suspect being people orientated she will be drawn to careers that involve people in a major way. She may well decide to go to college a bit later on when she gets a clearer idea of what she needs to learn to get into the kind of career she is interested in.

I know you feel unsupported when your husband has sided with her, and you have felt he undermines you. He is clearly concerned when you loose your temper and is supporting your daughter when this occurs. Which for you makes you more angry. I have to say, using physical punishments on children is totally counter productive, and does not work to make a child interested in learning, motivated to study or research or produce pieces of work that excel. It is more likely to foster resentment, and rebellion and low self esteem.

Even though your intentions have been for her best interests, you have not made her feel good about herself when you criticize her and come down on her so hard. She may well have been rebelling against you and there could be some unconscious self sabotaging that may have gone on.

Part Four Follows . . .

Young Adults And Education - Part Four
by: Annie Desantis

I think it could be good for you and your relationship with her, if you learn to deal with your anger in more constructive ways. The stress for you with getting so frustrated, and the impact this has had on your relationship with your husband as well as your daughter is not a happy outcome. I am sure you do not intend to hurt her or to drive any wedges between you and your husband. Parents often have different ideas about what is important, and we have to find ways of dealing with differences that does end up being destructive. You and your husband have developed an unhealthy dynamic around issues with your daughter.

Think back to your own upbringing. Clearly your family prized education extremely highly as you say your sister has also helped in the tutoring. And of course, for many cultures access to education is not even a right for a child, particularly girls, so when we see a child that is not taking full advantage of an education it can be very frustrating.

However we can sometimes hold onto something too tightly when we value something so highly, and it sounds like you have not left room for your daughter to explore her other strengths to the same degree.

Start thinking of all the other ways you mentioned your daughter is doing well. Her people skills are actually one of the most important skill of all - we all have to be able to relate to others, even the most introverted isolated jobs. And in the majority of jobs, the area where people's skills are sadly lacking, are relationship based. You can be very competent technically, but if you can't relate to people, motivate, work as a team, support or mentor people, you are never going to progress very far in most careers.

You have done all you could in trying to motivate her and to a large extent this has not been what she has needed. You are probably just as hard on yourself as you are on her, so ease up a little and bring some more joy and peace into your household.

She needs her Mom to believe in her, she needs her Mom to let her make mistakes, even if you think she might be disadvantaging herself. She needs her Mom to support her discovering and exploring for herself, and testing and trying out new things. She needs to be able to talk things over with you and have you listen not crack the whip and try to force her into doing what you think is important. She is a young adult now, and she has a lot to learn in the big wide world, as we all do.

Part Five Follows . . .

Young Adults And Education - Part Five
by: Annie Desantis

So I'm sorry but I am going to have to agree with your husband, she will come round to value learning if you let her make her own choices and decisions.

It may not be for quite some time, and it may not be the way you want it. But what you have been doing with her is not working, so now it is time to relax and let go and trust that you have had a huge influence in shaping her, and a lot of your values will have likely become a part of her, once she has a bit of space to think things through without your pressure.

She may well have to have several years of experimenting, trying jobs, changing her mind, building up experiences to give her a grounding to make good decisions for herself.

Work is not the only thing we do in our lives - our work should be the thing that sustains us, that energizes us, that expands our brain and uses our skills for the better of our world. But we also raise families and care for other people in our lives in various ways. School qualifications do not equip us for that. How we relate and get on with others under pins how successful our relationships are.

Many of the most successful people in the world of business today do not have formal school qualifications. And many of our most influential and innovative thinkers do not have a college degree. Of course there are hundreds of highly successful women who have worked their way through college and gained multiple degrees, and lead billion dollar companies.

My point is, your daughter needs to find her own reason for wanting to learn and wanting to study - whether formally through college, or through other courses or learning "on the job".

When she starts to make her own decisions and becomes a more independent thinker, you may well be surprised at how much she does end up valuing your beliefs about education. It is not school that is important, it is willingness to learn. She will develop that when she finds the things she is most interested in learning and learns to motivate herself without relying on your pressure to push her through.

Part Six Follows . . .

Young Adults And Education - Part Six
by: Annie Desantis

It sounds like you have got yourself stuck in concrete over what you think is important, so I am going to challenge you to think of expanding that concrete thinking to be more like a mosaic of hundreds of beautiful pieces all coming together to make a whole creation. The pieces of a mosaic appear broken and disordered, but the end result can be a wonderful transformation.

Let your daughter flourish and concentrate on building a more supportive harmonious relationship with her and your husband. See if you can expand your ideas of qualifications being the only measure of success and being the most important thing of all. I promise you, your daughter will do wonderfully well, despite her lack of school qualifications so long as you help her to believe she can do anything.

Just relax and enjoy your daughter as she blossoms into lovely young woman. She will be fine, you have done the best you can, just concentrate on building a more equal adult relationship now and let her make her own choices, and be responsible for her own outcomes.

Take Care,
Annie D :)

Will Let Go . . . .
by: Maya

Hi Annie,

Thanks a zillion, for taking the time and answering me.

You have made my day and re-emphasised what my sister and husband have been telling me all the time. A part of me wants to let go and do the same thing that you are suggesting, but the fear for the unknown plus my own insecurities (whether am doing the right thing for my daughter) that's stopping me.

Am really going to make an effort to let go and let my daughter evolve on her own......

Thanks again and its been nice interacting with you.


Letting Go
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Maya,
One of the hardest things is for a Mom to let go! Just remember your daughter's life is not a reflection of you. Whether she succeeds with traditional measures of success or not, she is not the measure of how well you have Mothered her.

Your relationship with her is what is most important. You have done the best you could and you have clearly poured energy into her. Now is the time to trust that your values and love are the foundation that carries her out into the world.

Some of that energy could well go towards building your own self esteem and encouraging yourself!

be gentle with yourself, and your daughter

Annie D :)

by: Peacestar

Hi Maya

I completely relate, being a graduate student awaiting my exam results too! And also studying a course that I realized I have no motivation or interest in.

Why don't you try EFT -Emotional freedom technique? Trust me this works wonders and the person doesn't even have to believe in it to allow it to work.

There's a lot of information available for free and it is very easy to learn and apply! You could even surrogate tap for her, meaning that you could imagine this healing for your daughter as you tap on yourself following the EFT procedure.

It's likely that her lack of interest in studies has little to do with the studying itself, it seems that maybe there are unrelated issues that are still affecting her, like the 9th grade incident.

Try it for yourself, surrogate tap for her that she is finding more peace and ease, and see if you could introduce it to her so that she could use it for herself.

Good luck and all the best!

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