I know you don’t want your kid to be a “quitter”. Me neither.
But at sometime, our kids will face the tough decision, “To quit, or not to quit.”
Maybe it’s soccer, football or volleyball. Or it could be the baritone, ballet, or eating chocolate chips out of the Nestle bag in the pantry—sorry, that’s on my quit list. Without a doubt, our kids will encounter the question, “To quit, or not to quit?”
In yesterday’s post, Quitters- Part I, I wrote about some lessons our family has learned from the four-letter word, “QUIT”. The Green kids aren’t quitters by nature—they tend to work hard and stick things out. But there have been occasions when it’s been time for them to let something go.
Once our kids decided to quit something, we’ve tried to teach them to quit well. It hasn’t always gone smoothly, but here are three principles we’ve tried to teach.
1. Take time to think it through, seek advise and pray about it. When our kids are old enough to invest a lot in a sport, they also need to invest in the decision about quitting. It’s a perfect chance to teach them to pray at crossroads. It’s good for them to learn to take time to think about it instead of making a decision quickly in a moment of high emotions—or exhaustion. And sometimes we’ve told them to seek outside advise from some adult friends who they respect. We know we have a bias as parents–and our kids know it. An outsiders voice can be helpful.
2. Complete their commitment. When I talk about quitting, I’m not talking about fighting with the coach on the court and storming out of the gym never to return. That’s not quitting well. Our kids could quit a sport after the last buzzer of the last game. But they couldn’t quit in the middle of a season. And believe me, we’ve had some long seasons.
It didn’t matter if our kids were mad at a coach, didn’t get to play the position they wanted, or didn’t get to play any position at all—they had to complete the season. By the second week of seventh grade football two of my boys knew that they’d be happy to never put on a football helmet again. But they finished the season. They gladly turned in their pads when it was over and picked up a soccer ball. Another time one of the boys didn’t want to return between games at a tournament—and he had good reason–but he had to see it through. We told him that he could quit the sport if he wanted, but not that way. He would have to quit it well. Kids need freedom to ask the question about quitting, but they also need to learn perseverance to finish a commitment.
3. Talk to the coach. No teenager wants to do this. My boys would prefer hiding from the coach in the hallways for the next couple of years instead of talking to him. But it’s part of quitting well when there has been a significant investment in the sport with a coach (I’m not talking about a seventh grader who decides not to return after just one season with 200 other boys on the football field). Dialing a coach’s number or knocking on his door at the end of a long hall has probably been the hardest part of quitting well, but it’s worth it. It teaches our kids to show respect and often leaves the door open for future options.
Last summer Lucas quit soccer well. He was burned out and needed a break. He stuck it out through the long season, spent the summer thinking about his decision and called the coach before school began. I respect his coach because he took the news graciously and left the door open.
We’ve all learned some lessons on his soccer journey. Burn out is real. Lucas needed the freedom to walk away from the sport. And he needed to quit well.
Now, it’s time to play ball. The soccer journey continues as will the lessons we learn along the way.
What about your family? Have you learned some lessons as your kids have made tough decisions? Share them with us as we think about how to make our kids “good quitters”.