It was my daughter’s choice to join the school band. She wanted to learn how to play a new instrument and was excited to join an extracurricular activity that she could share with friends.
But as the year went on, her interest dwindled. For months, she begged to quit and, for months, I encouraged her to continue, determined to teach her it’s important to see things through to the end. But then I realized that if your heart truly isn’t in it, perhaps it’s better to let go.
She had also been doing several styles of dance classes, joined the basketball team and was doing track & field.
In all of those activities, she was enthusiastic and driven to succeed. But with band, she grew apathetic and I knew it wasn’t going to stick.
Parents struggle with the choice between forcing their children to finish what they’ve started or letting them quit something they clearly don’t enjoy.
While “quitters never win” often rings true, knowing when to quit and move on can also be a winning decision. Encouraging children to stick with something they’ve started can be an important life lesson, but letting them quit may lead to the discovery of a lifelong passion.
Allowing them to explore their options and pursue their interests early on can strengthen parent-child relationships, and increase self-confidence.
Upon realizing that my daughter was overscheduled, uninterested, and determined to focus her time on the activities that she loved most, I decided to let her discontinue.
Here’s the thing though: I didn’t quit for her.
I told her that if she was serious about quitting, she would have to go to her band teacher, and explain to him in person why she has decided to leave. I wanted her to learn that quitting is tough. It takes guts to admit when something isn’t the right fit, and courage to do so gracefully.
In life, she will be faced with many scenarios where she will want to take the easy way out and leave a note, send a text, or ask me to make a phone call on her behalf. She will break up with boys, she will decide to withdraw from a class, or she will quit a job. It won’t be easy, but I want her to learn that if she makes the decision to quit, she needs to show respect, and do so in a respectful manner - face to face.
Too often nowadays, we go out of our way to make lives easier for our kids. But by doing the tough stuff for them, we’re setting them up for more difficulties in life when they’re older.
Deciding whether or not to let a child quit a non-essential activity is not a make-or-break, life-altering decision. If you do decide to let them quit, I encourage you to let them do so themselves.
They’ll not only learn that quitting can be tough, but they’ll also learn that sometimes, it’s OK to quit.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.