Mike Answers Your Letters

Help My High School Dropout

Dear Mike,
How do you motivate a 15-year-old boy to realize the importance of his education? All that's important to my son is his music. He's good at it. But the struggle on his schoolwork is exhausting. He doesn't care. He has failed 9th grade and is in summer school and really doesn't mind repeating the grade if he has to.


You can't motivate a 15-year-old. He's probably going to be held back and have to go to another school. Make him face the music of what's going on in the classroom. It may be a great lesson.

His mother wants him to learn the lesson without the consequences. We have to make mistakes. As Mark Twain said: good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.

The academic environment isn't everyone's strong suit. But remember many people have great careers without having done well in high school.

Keep your eye on his long-term well being. Make sure he has other things that give his life meaning and give him a sense of self-esteem. Luckily, he's already motivated about music. If he loves music and understands the experience of giving 100% he has got what it takes to have a successful career. Maybe it's producing or marketing music.

Being able to do algebra doesn't necessarily mean you'll be successful.

Dealing With Depression

Dear Mike,

My 24-year-old-son is depressed and was dismissed from college because he said he cannot cope with the academic pressures. He was going to a psychiatrist while in school but he totally stopped the visits including his medication. What should I do?


Get in touch with a psychiatrist right away and get him into treatment again. If his leg were broken, you'd say we're going to the hospital, immediately.

There's a lot going on here, not just school and pressure. When people stop taking medication they often self-medicate with drugs or gambling. He doesn't want to be back home at age 24.

People with depression can lead productive lives. They may have to spend the rest of their life on medication but this is something people can conquer.

Are Older Friends A Bad Influence

Dear Mike,
My 15-year-old son has become friends with a 25-year-old man. My son is very defiant when I tell him he shouldn't be riding around with the guy. My son has had two episodes with pot and swears it is not this guy's fault.

Bewildered in Burrillville

If your kids are hanging out with people who bring out the worst in them, explain to them it's not about this other guy, it's about your child's behavior. Try saying "You're smoking pot, you aren't taking care of yourself. I need you to walk the straight and narrow. I need to be able to trust that you aren't susceptible to these influences." It takes the onus off the friend.

Stnding Firm With A Stepdaughter

Dear Mike,
I have a stepdaughter that I think is passive aggressive towards me, or females in general. When I ask her to take a shower she will sit there as if she had not heard me. Then when her father tells her the same thing she gets up and does it. Her mother and grand mother whom she lives with during the week both have trouble getting her to listen. What can we do to change this behavior?


The authority always has to come from the biological parents. Stepparents shouldn't discipline stepchildren.

If she is passive aggressive toward women it comes from the biological mom.
Get strong women in her life. Speak to her female teachers and coaches and explain the situation. It's miraculous what teachers can do.