Okay, so based on the reaction I got from last week’s blog post, it struck like a HUGE F’ing chord with sooooo many parents. Which makes sense. I mean we schlep our kids to and from activities and sports and shell out a crapload of money, and then what happens? They want to quit!! And you’re sitting there like WTF did I spend all that money and time for?
So we’re reluctant to let them quit. We think quitting is, well, quitting. (Read the following in a super hero voice) We never give up!!!!
But here’s the thing, there’s good quitting and bad quitting. So how can you tell if your kiddo wants to quit in a good way? I’ve come up with a handy-dandy little list of questions to ask yourself to figure it out.
1. How old are they?
Many many years ago when Zoey was like 5, there was a boy on her soccer team who didn’t want to play. He cried on the sidelines and desperately wanted to leave every single practice and game. But his dad was like “You’re NOT quitting, you signed up for this.” And I’m like seriously? Unless he stole your credit card and jumped on the computer, YOU signed him up for this. If they’re little, it’s not quitting. It’s just figuring out the things they don’t like.
2. If they keep going, are they going to hate the activity?
You cannot MAKE someone like something. But you CAN make someone hate something. When you force your kid to do an activity over and over again, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna hate it even more. Let them quit and maybe they’ll come back to it later. Maybe. There are no guarantees. But if you make them keep going, good chance they’ll never love it.
3. Are you living vicariously through your child?
If I had a dime for every time I saw a parent living vicariously through their kid, I wouldn’t have to shop at places like HomeGoods. Total bullshit, I will always shop at HomeGoods, even if I’m filthy rich. But seriously, if your kid wants to quit something, try NOT to consider how it will affect YOUR life. They’re the ones who have to do it.
4. When are they making this decision?
Is this a spur of the moment decision they’re making on a bad day? Like maybe they’re just in a crummy mood or don’t feel like practicing that day. Or is this a decision they came to over time and would be the right decision no matter what kind of day they’re having? If they’re having a good day, they’re probably making a sound decision. If they’re having a bad day, let them take a day off.
5. Are they just quitting because it’s hard?
Like if your kiddo is hitting a speed bump and they just need to get over that speed bump with a little hard work, maybe you should encourage them to keep going. But if the challenge is constant because they’re not great at it and they’re not loving it, it might be time to move on to other things.
6. How many times have they tried it?
Like if you dropped your kiddo off for the first time and they want to quit because they weren’t Mozart the first time they played the piano, explain to them that even Olympic athletes suck at first. Ronaldo didn’t come out of his mom kicking a soccer ball. But I’m guessing he got a lot of practice kicking the crap out of his mom’s womb. You gotta keep working to get good.
7. But what if they’ve been doing it for years?
Yes, by all means, if you’ve put a lot of time into something, you should definitely stick with it. Let’s apply that lesson to life.
Who cares if your marriage is miserable?! You’ve been in it for 16 years.
Hate your job and dread going to it every day? Don’t look for a new one!
Think your 80’s hotdog bangs are making it hard to get a date? Why change now?!
See what I mean? Don’t look at it as wasted time or money. Focus on the things you got out of it, and then move on to other things that might make you happier.
If after answering these questions, you figure out your kiddo wants to quit in a GOOD way, let them exit with grace. Just because you quit something, that doesn’t mean time was wasted. It’s when you’re ready to quit but don’t that you start wasting your time.
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