Pandemic 12-year-old Refusing to Attend Online Learning

Modern Parent

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I (38 F) am a single mom of one who is living apart from my ex-husband (46 M). The custody agreement has our son with me every weekend but with his father Monday through Friday. (I’m already fighting for full custody but that’s a completely different story. We go to trial in June.)

Ever since this school year started, seventh grade, our son has been absent from class almost every single day… I know because I get calls every day from the school saying what periods he missed. I’ve been in constant contact with his teachers, particularly the science teacher who’s been nice enough to give me a report each week on his attendance. They’re able to monitor how long a child stays logged into class and sometimes our son logs in just to log out minutes later.

I’ve tried punishments, I’ve tried a reward chart, I’ve tried talking to him. He IS in therapy, yes, but I’m not sure how to utilize that resource in this instance since I’m not really able to discuss what he talks about with the guy. Dad’s situation has him working a lot but from the reports I get from my son his dad is sleeping a lot during the day. Mostly night shifts and spotty on-call jobs for his small business cleaning fish tanks for other businesses. No matter how many times I talk to my ex-husband he doesn’t seem to understand that he has to stay on our son and make sure he’s at the computer during school time. I literally don’t understand! The computer is in their living room. It’s a small, one-bedroom apartment. There’s no room to hide if he’s not present on the computer and in class. His dad should be able to see or at least spare an eye. Heck if it was me and I had to go out to work I’d start leaving security cameras to watch in my absence so he knows he can’t get away with it.

I can’t be with my kid during the week so I feel powerless and confused and hopeless about the whole situation. Just got another automated call from the school saying he missed all three virtual classes again today.

Does anyone have any advice? Comfort? Anyone in a similar situation? It would be different if I could directly influence him but I can’t.

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