It is a challenge that nearly all parents face. Your child signs up for an activity — sports, music, arts — and things start off swimmingly. Youíre convinced that your child has a natural flair for their chosen endeavor and you encourage it to the best of your ability with dreams of seeing your child in Carnegie Hall or being Super Bowl MVP one day. All is well until — suddenly it isnít.
When the going gets tough a childís normal reaction is to want to quit. Football used to be fun, but after moving up an age group your son is the youngest on the team and the big kids hit too hard. If it isnít any fun, why should I keep doing it?
In ages gone by, extracurricular activities had a stronger allure than they do today. Kids 30 years ago didnít have 300 channels of cable TV and fully-immersive Massive Multiplayer Online games and movies on demand to tempt them into staying parked on the couch in front of the TV for hour after hour. Easy is in. Lazy is the acceptable norm.
Sometimes we have to do the hard things exactly because they are hard. John Kennedy famously said ďWe do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.Ē Now, he may not have had your daughterís cello lessons in mind when he said it, but the lesson applies just as well to that as it did to sending a rocket to the moon.
There is a fine line here, however. As Iíve said over and over here, parenting is a balancing act. Letting your child quit baseball mid-season because heís the slowest kid on the team on one end, forcing him to play all through High School even though he hates it is on the other. Somewhere in the middle — something in the “make him finish out the season but let him decide whether or not to continue beyond that” range – lies the promised land of proper discipline coupled with appropriate individual accommodation.