Recently, two friends shared their decisions to let their children “quit” on-going activities before their natural conclusion. Both were uncomfortable about discussing the topic. They were careful to convey that they don’t usually let their children “quit.” They explained that there were compelling extenuating circumstances that led them to their decisions. In both situations though, these moms helped their children make very healthy and solid choices about discontinuing commitments.
So, why are we so reluctant to let our children “quit?”
In many situations I agree with Vince Lombardi when he said, "winners never quit and quitters never win." Children should have experiences with persevering when things are difficult or don’t go exactly as hoped. Learning perseverance is important when kids are given appropriate opportunities to develop this vital skill. But that’s not the whole story. There are situations in which children can benefit from the conversations and processes that come about when making a thoughtful decision about discontinuing an activity they’re engaged in.
How often have we, as adults, wondered how to extricate ourselves from something? A bad first date, an unhealthy friendship, a volunteer post we now dread. Or how many times have we wished we knew how to say “no” when asked to do something we don’t really want to do? Wouldn’t we, in fact, have benefited from being guided in the skill of “quitting” when a situation warranted it?
I propose that we no longer feel defensive when we allow our children to “quit.” Instead, we should use the opportunity that an unsuitable commitment presents to guide our children in learning how to make the appropriate decision around solving it.
When having a conversation with your child, use these questions as a starting point:
• what can you do to solve the problem?
• what are the pros and cons of sticking with your commitment?
• what would happen if you saw the commitment through?
• how would you feel if you stopped?
Considering the implications through thoughtful conversation can lead to a healthy decision for your child. But even better, it can lead your child toward making balanced and healthy decisions throughout life.