Monday, August 25, 2008

My child wants to quit - now what?

It’s that time of the day, and you’re trying to get your child ready for her karate class when she says, “I don’t want to go back – I don’t like karate anymore.” Gulp, what do you do, how do you respond?

Some of you are not going to like my answer...

Why did you sign your child up for martial arts training in the first place? Was it just because her best friend was training, or because he saw a re-run of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? If your reasons for signing your daughter or son up for karate fell along these lines, then begrudgingly I’d agree that terminating the program may be in order.

I’ll bet that your reasons for seeking out a martial arts school were a little more substantial than the ones given above. You probably thought that the discipline provided by the training, along with the physical activity, not to mention the very useful skill of self defense would enhance your child as she encountered a world which is not as kind, not as safe, and not as well-mannered as it once was.

So the first question is not one I need to answer, the first question is for you. What has changed in the world, as it relates to your child that would make you reconsider your original decision? Is the world safer, more kind, did six weeks of training instill the virtues of discipline and work-ethic as you had hoped? Probably not.

This cannot be overstated – you made a decision to provide your son or daughter with an educational perspective that cannot be attained anywhere else. As the parent, you (probably) did not sign up your child for frivolous reasons, and you shouldn’t cancel the program for frivolous reasons either.

Let me give you a couple of perspectives and see how they resonate with you. What if your child said, “I don’t want to go to school anymore,” or “I don’t want to go to church/temple anymore.” Would you for one moment even consider this statement at face value? Likely, you would probe the cause of the statement, and maybe, maybe, maybe take some action to address a problem. More likely than not, you’d explain that school is a part of your child’s life, it is required, and tomorrow morning she needs to take the math test.

Do you like music? Because, it takes a long time to develop the skills necessary to understand, appreciate, and perform a musical instrument. Martial arts are no different in this regard. If we left the decision up to our children, we would never have another musician. Ever. No child would ever voluntarily practice the piano with the necessary rigor it takes to build proficiency. No child would ever attend required athletic practice sessions if she thought for one moment missing practice was an option.

You are the parent, and you have to be the stable force in your child’s life. The whims of your children will come and go as easily as daydreams and dandelions. If you are likely to allow their flighty thoughts of fancy to sway your decisions relative to their safety, self-esteem, and discipline, then what next? “Mom, I don’t like wearing a bike helmet.” “Dad, why do I need to study history, I’ll never use this stuff.” The list of “I don’t see the point” topics is never ending and you’re going to have to draw the lines somewhere. Safety, self-esteem, and physical control seem to be a pretty good place to start.

With only one exception, the child who says, “I don’t want to continue with karate” should be met with the same love, kindness, compassion, and firmness that they would have received if they expressed a desire to never see the dentist, history class, or religious studies. These are important parts of life and full appreciation will not come in a month or even a year.

Of course, if you’ve found the particular martial arts school to be lacking, then by all means seek another school or instructor. Be the stable, guiding force in your child’s life. They really will thank you for it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this article. My son said tonight he wants to quit. And I had no intention of letting him quit and told him that several times before even signing up....BUT the way you worded it really re-affirmed my original outlook on this matter. Thanks for the great article!

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