Not to mention the money you’ve already paid and there’s no refunds. If they quit before they reach (fill in the blank) it will look terrible on their resume and ruin their chances at a great career.
Is that story actually true?
What college or career are they aiming for (or maybe you’re aiming for them?) that’s going to disqualify your teen for changing passions after 5 years or just before reaching the top? I know some do ☹️
We went through this with our son and it was HARD!! My husband and I struggled with our identity as sporting parents and our dream of him reaching the top. It was our dream, not necessarily his.
Our son started Taekwondo at 5yo and loved it – competing and winning many medals for his perfect patterns. At 10yo, only 2 belts away from testing for his Junior Black Belt, he wasn’t enjoying the 2-3x/week practices and fussed about going.
I felt caught off guard because he loved it for so long and thought he was just going through a phase.
This ‘phase’ continued for 6 months and got worse, now only one belt away from qualifying for his Junior Blackbelt test. My son finally told us he wanted to quit…we were NOT ok! I mean, who quits just one belt from the top?! And what kind of crappy parents would we be to allow that?! That’s like quitting university one course shy of a degree!
That’s when we caught ourselves in our own story of quitting and owned OUR dream for our son. After 3 weeks of working through this, we talked to our son’s Taekwando Master. He was kind and compassionate and said many kids leave after being focused for so long and some come back later in their teens or adulthood. It was solid character training, and nothing was lost.
Watch the full video here ⬇️
That was what we needed to let go.
We told our son he had to complete the semester we’d paid for and then he could quit. We also said he needed to choose another activity and gave a timeline of 3 months.
The last time we walked out of the Dojang I held back tears. I wanted the connection with parents, beaming as our son achieved new levels and cheering him on at competitions with podium photos. I’m super competitive and was an award-winning athlete too and I wanted to keep living that through him.
Having done Taekwando for ½ his life, he was finished. Or was he?
A month later my son came up from the basement, walked over to me and said, “Mom, I think I should finish what I started. I’m going to finish my Junior Black Belt.” I was so proud he’d chosen this on his own.
It was a long haul over the next 9 months to get started again and complete the 6-month training before the big test because he’d also started playing Lacrosse. We promised to get him to every practice and after his test we’d never ask him to go to Taekwando again.
At 11yrs, 3 months our son successfully completed a rigorous 24-hour test including physical fitness, patterns and board breaking to be awarded his Junior Blackbelt, an accomplishment he’s very proud of today.
He’s never gone back and that’s ok.
The key for us was owning our dream for our son and the impact for us if our he quit, rather than projecting those on him. We did the work to release expectations of him ever going back and supporting him to find another activity he enjoyed.
This was about his happiness and learning new things.
If there was a scholarship or career at risk with his choice it might have felt harder but staying in it would have created resentment toward Taekwando and us. There’re enough unhappy people in the world doing what they were told to or supposed to, he doesn’t need to one of them.
Even hockey great Wayne Gretzy says to tell kids to enjoy activities and not focus too early. He was a multi-sport athlete and benefited greatly from that exposure, with less chance of burn out than the average year-round, single sport athlete faces.
Check your story.
What’s your story about quitting and failure? Is that in the way of your teen wanting a change?
These are tough conversations that can quickly disconnect you and your teen, and your partner. If you could quickly end the nagging and emotional blow ups so your teen hears you and they feel heard by you, would it be worth it?
Click the link below to join my FREE masterclass and learn my 3 pillars for creating an honest, connected relationship that lasts a lifetime, WITHOUT having to be a perfect parent.