Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

When Does A Parent Let A Child Quit?

Our son was in the 7th grade and wanted to quit band. He played the trumpet and from what we could tell was pretty good and had some potential. However, we also didn't want to be the pushy parents who made a child do something they both hated and would ultimately resent.

Been there? Sure, most parents come to these crossroads with sports, piano playing, art lessons or some other potentially enriching activity for a child wondering just when to pull the plug on their involvement when they object.

I remember wanting to quit my lessons as a kid when they became too hard and my parents simply said, "Right, over our dead bodies.  We've spent too much for you to quit now."  As tough as that sounds I'm glad they didn't allow me to stop since I've used and enjoyed my musical background most of my life in some way.

So what does a parent do in those situations?

First, it always helps to consider a planned, strategic trial period. That means that you and your child agree that you're going to try if for another marking period, few months, summer, etc.  However, during that time you have to be assured that you get their best or the deal is off and they will just have to stay at it.

Second, you might also try some options. With our son, he had done a significant trial period in band so we gave him a choice.  He could either stay in band or would have to take private lessons for the next semester.  Then we would evaluate whether he would continue either of those or just stop.  The lessons option, however, required that he still give playing the trumpet a significant shot before we just dumped it.

Third, be sure to listen to your kids about their feelings.  No, most young kids don't have the maturity to decide on their own whether an activity or training should be stopped or not but their feelings are real.  We're glad we listened to Tim because there were some genuine concerns he had that we needed to know about and we were able over the next year to help him navigate a good course rather than a destructive one.

Too many parents are pushing their kids to do what the parents want and end up injuring their child physically, emotionally or intellectually because they didn't listen to the child at all.

So, as you come to those watershed moments, don't just cave in or push insensitively.  Be the parent but be sure that you walk alongside your child and make good decisions together.  Because like us the results can be good. We got to watch Tim playing first trumpet in the Rose Parade. That ain't bad.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment