My wife and I are very concerned that he will never pick up the pace, yet we hold out hope that he will at some point mature enough to realize his life will "suck" if he doesn't make the grade. All his teachers seem to think our efforts are a big pain to them. They think we "should let him control his destiny." We feel that we can't allow him to wade too deep in the water and sink, even though a 14-year-old should be more responsible. Do you have any advice?
He also probably feels embarrassed by your constant communication with his teachers regarding his poor performance. Your approaches to inspire your son to greater academic achievement have not been successful because they are rooted in a shame-based foundation. I know that your intent is to get him to reach his potential but far too many of your approaches have been grounded in making him feel fearful and pressured, e.g. admonishing him that "his life will 'suck' if he doesn't make the grade."
Your son may or may not be underachieving academically. Does he have some fundamental lack of knowledge in key academic areas? Is he preoccupied by some emotional conflicts that he has not shared with you? I know that he believes he is a major disappointment to you and that this knowledge makes him feel very sad, confused and angry. I would highly recommend that you and your wife seek some family counseling from a therapist who has experience treating families with these problems. Please give your child a chance to reframe this situation so that it's not all about him failing you. Thanks for listening.