Why I Won't Let My Son Quit Music Lessons

Why I Won't Let My Son Quit Music Lessons
14 January 2016

Should kids be encouraged to stick with clubs and after-school interests even when they want to quit? Or are you firmly of the view that making a child persist with a hobby when they lose interest is tantamount to cruelty to kids?

Me? I used to think that persuading a reluctant child to stick with gymnastics / piano lessons / whatever once they start begging to give it up was about as productive a pursuit as nailing jelly to a tree. But lately I've changed my tune.

Picture the scene. It's Wednesday afternoon in my house, which means only one thing. Piano lessons are looming. I can feel the tension building before we've even hopped out of the car and made it indoors.

'Right, I'll sort a snack while you do homework and then five minutes of practice before you teacher arrives,' I chirrup, trying to sound as upbeat as possible.

And then my son's entire frame is invaded by body snatchers. There, in the place where he should be, stands Kevin the Teenager. If he doesn't physically collapse like cold spaghetti in a heap of silent protest on the floor, he'll start scuffing his shoes (Kickers, no less, how dare he!) along the ground and muttering about the utter injustice of his whole life.

I'd be at my wits' end with it, were it not for the fact that I've made a simple decision. I am going to persuade / cajole / bribe my son to stick with piano lessons if it kills me. Which, some days, I think it might.

Now you can clutch your pearls and decry my parenting skills and utter lack of humanity but my mind is made up. Not, I hasten to add, on account of some pushy parenting approach to raising my kids whereby I force them to pursue interests that they could care less about.

No, my determination to get my reluctant pianist to keep up with his scales stems from conversations I've had with countless adults, all to the effect that they wish their parents had made them stick with the interests they had as kids which they inevitably ditched before they reached adulthood.

Most of all, I was really struck by the words of a hugely talented musician who told me that his parents 'made' him stick with piano lessons even though he begged to be allowed to quit - and he's enormously grateful to them for making him stick with it.

'Without my parents' capacity to see the bigger picture and anticipate that I'd regret it as an adult if I gave up music lessons, I wouldn't be the musician that I am today. I wouldn't have the joy of music in my life to the extent that I do, I wouldn't get the pleasure that I do from truly excelling at something that plenty of other people chose not to work hard at, and I wouldn't know the buzz of playing to an appreciative audience in a packed auditorium.'

Those words ring in my ears every time Kevin turns up in my kids place and, thus far, they've drowned out all his protests. So yes, I'm 'forcing' my kid to play piano and no, I'm not going to allow him to quit no matter how much he moans.

I only hope to goodness that one day he might thank me, and I won't be the one nursing regrets.

What's your view? Do you think children should be allowed to quit hobbies as soon as they lose interest, or do you believe in persuading kids to stick with the things they're good at even when their interest wanes? We'd love to hear your thoughts over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parents

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