Two weeks ago our focus turned to new beginnings, and already, many of us are ready to be over it. This has me thinking, what’s so bad about quitting anyway? I love quitting. You know why? Quitting allows me to try new things without worry. Try yoga? Sure! Hated it. Try Running? Sure! Pant, pant! No thank you, actually. Boot camp? Yes! Loved it. And it stuck!
One thing I’m not quitting anytime soon: eavesdropping on people’s conversations in Starbucks. Sorry, the tables are about 8 inches apart and if you’re talking about your surgery or your kid’s tantrums or your husband’s paycheck, I can’t help but listen. Plus, it’s fascinating!
A few weeks ago I was in Starbucks next to two women in their mid-forties. One of the women was bragging to her friend about not letting her son quit his sport. ”I told him, you made a commitment to that team and you are going to do the right thing and show up and support your team.”
While I am all about building integrity and commitment and a strong work ethic, I found this woman’s comment to be a little disturbing. What came across seemed a lot more to do with this mother not wanting to be affiliated with a quitter than a genuine concern for her son. I wondered about all the things he might be missing, all the possibilities out there rolling on by while her son diligently took one for the team.
Rather than raising kids who don’t know the meaning of the word quit, what if we taught our kids how to quit well? Mary is the made-up name of a real girl from my Athena’s Path program. Her mom shared this story with me. Mary, a competitive year-round swimmer since age eight, decided at age fourteen she wanted to quit her team. Her reason: she wanted to try a different coach with a lighter practice schedule. Mary’s coach had been good to her, but she was incredibly tough and Mary needed a break.
Mary asked her coach if they could talk in her office after practice. There, she boldly and politely told her coach that she had decided to quit the team because she needed a lighter practice schedule and she was curious about a coach at a different facility. She thanked her coach for everything she had done for her. Mary’s coach said this, “Mary, you are the first swimmer I’ve had in 17 years as a coach who has quit the team to my face. Every other kid has made their parents tell me. Good luck on your new team, and if you ever want to come back I’ll hold a spot for you.”
I’m not suggesting you let your child quit anything at anytime they choose. My kids, for instance, are not allowed to quit piano. It’s the only thing I force them to do because it’s a relatively small commitment and it’s a huge payoff. About a month ago my daughter finally said what I hoped to hear, “I’m so glad you never let me quit piano. I love it!”. However, more often than not, I DO let them quit the things they don’t like. Not homework, room cleaning, or bathing, but sports, clubs, and activities – yes.
Here are some tips for how to quit well. Use them for yourself or pass them on to your kids.
• Be honest about why you are quitting. Excuses or lies are easily argued against, but no one can argue with you about how you feel.
• Say goodbye and thank you.
• Speak for yourself. Don’t ask someone else to quit for you.
• Hold your head up high and make eye contact. You’re not doing anything wrong!
I hope you enjoy your 2012 and the many opportunities ahead of you. Here’s to trying something new this year! And if you don’t like it, just quit.
Michelle is our resident middle school expert and creator of the website Michelle in the Middle. Along with reading her blogs here every Friday, you can hang out with Michelle on Facebook and on her website Michelle in the Middle.