My Kids Don't Quit Activities...Because I Won't Let Them
Quitting. We quit jobs, we quit marriages, we walk out on friendships and sometimes we let people down when the going gets tough. Sometimes it is necessary, even the right thing to do. Our kids quit teams and music lessons, art classes and after school programs. Sometimes it’s necessary, but sometimes they are bored or don’t like the coach or would just rather play video games at home. Deciding when to let your child quit something, be it Gymboree, Little League or music lessons, is a question that never goes away.
My kids have tried it all. I have driven them to sports, drum teachers, glass blowing lessons, painting and ceramics classes. They have tried their hands at their school newspapers, student government, and computer programming camp, though why that qualifies as camp, I am sure that I will never know. In the end, they did not commit to most of these activities, but at the same time, I never let them quit a single activity.
Our rule is simple: Try any activity that we have the resources to make possible. Go once, go even twice but if you commit, I told my kids, there will be no quitting. At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think our children have so many choices of ways to enrich their lives that quitting has become an easy response to frustration or boredom.
I regret many of the things in life that I quit, not because I was enjoying them when I left, but because if I had stuck it out and reached any sort of competency, I might have found that illusive enjoyment.
In reality, this meant that my kids had to stick with a team until the season finished or an art class until the sessions ended. There was no walking out on computer camp because it was dumb or quitting drums because we recognized a dearth of musical talent. Every activity was to be seen through to completion.
Why was I so tough on them? Why draw what might seem like an arbitrary line in the sand?
Constancy, commitment and loyalty are all values I hoped to instill in my sons. Learning to endure something even when it became boring or unpleasant, when the coach or teacher didn’t like my kid, or vice versa, seemed a lesson truly worth teaching. I thought that the first time I let them walk away from something just because at that moment it didn’t suit them was the last time I had any credibility about endurance or resilience because the refrain henceforth would have been, “but you let me quit….”