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Recently, Empowering Parents invited our readers to send in their parenting questions to us. We chose three to answer, and the first is from a mom named Susy whose pre-teen son doesn’t seem to be interested in anything but Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Soccer. (To any other parents of pre-teen boys — sound familiar?)

Here is her question:

Dear Janet,

I have a 12-year-old son who is hearing impaired.  He is NOT interested in academics at all. We switched schools because he wasn’t up to the academic standards of that school. Now, he is attending a more relaxed school since he’s been through a lot lately – among other things, he was bullied.

My husband and I are avid readers, he’s grown up seeing us reading and interested in learning more. But, he won’t read anything other than The Diary of the Wimpy Kid.

My question is:  What can we do to inspire him and instill in him interest in academics? I’m afraid that if he continues like this he won’t start a career.  We are willing to do anything so he can go to college, but he doesn’t show any ambitions other than playing soccer.

I’d appreciate your valuable advice.

Susy in California

Great question, Susy — I can hear that you’re really trying to find ways to motivate your son, who sounds like he’s also had a tough time recently. First, I want to say that parenting often feels like one of the toughest things we’ll ever do. I have so much empathy and admiration for any parent who is trying their best to learn new techniques to be more effective with their kids. I hope my answer to your question proves to be helpful for you and your family. Please keep in touch and let us know how it goes with your son.


To see my video response to Susy’s question, please click the video link below:

Janet Lehman

Janet Lehman, MSW has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years and is the co-creator of The Total Transformation Program. She is a social worker who has held a variety of positions during her career, including juvenile probation officer, case manager, therapist and program director for 22 years in traditional residential care and in group homes for difficult children.


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