Have Parenting Questions? Ask a Parenting Counselor for Answers
I hope that I can assist you with your question.
Could I have a little more detail please?
yes, of course
my boy is 12 years old
over the years he's been in/out many activities/sports
at school he's doing very well
but with activities - he seems to always quit and doesn't/hasn't stuck with anything
I'm concerned that he's learning to be a 'quitter'
and his mother (we're divorced) has the mentality of - if you don't FEEL like it - don't do it
there's no issues of physical/emotional abuse etc in any of these activities that would warrant pulling him out
He's now quit, AGAIN, out of martial arts saying he's bored
and its seems he's always excited at the begining of these activities
How does he approach the issue of quitting?
so, my question is - do I let him continuously quit?
what do you mean?
Does he play your ex and you off of each other
he knows his mother will always let him quit
Can you and your ex get on the same page regarding this issue
while I'm always trying to get him to follow through
unfortuantley, we have worked with a counsler and had an agreement that he would stick this out but she doesn't honor it
If he involves himself in an activity, give him a time frame. Martial arts is tough, as there is no real end game. Maybe he is allowed to "finish" after his yellow belt.
he just got his yellow belt.
If he plays a sport, he must finish the season...
my main concern is what seems to be a pattern of never sticking with anything, however much he's excited by it
I would recommend giving him goals to accomplish when going into an activity.
and consequences if he doesn't meet those goals
I would also suggest that he works towards the the opportunity to try new things
He must save the money to for the guitar; for guitar lessons for example
his latest position is that he doesn't want to do anything after school
I would give him choices
he wants to do "nothing"
If he swims; he has practice three times a week. The other two days he can "do nothing".
says that I must let him be himself and being himself means doing nothing
ha, a perfect 12 year old...
seems that way, but I also know he's echoing his mother voice
I would hold strong to have him involved in an activity. Research is strong on the fact that he will perform better socially and academically if he is involved in extra-curricular activties
I would sit down with him and lay out the expectations, however make sure that he has choices within that.
agreed - that's been my position all these years - but it's been a non-stop battle esepcially given that his mom let's him get out of it easily
Is it a sport thing?
What about theater classes, music etc.
no - it's ANYTHING
he showed a lot of interest in video game design/programming - went on two camps - beginers/advanced - then never did anything with ti
then he went to a lego robotics camp - loved it - got the whole kit - same thing - does nothing with it
and list is very long
includes sports and non-sports
How does him perform academically?
What is his self-esteem like?
academically he's a good student - on honor roll
How does he perform socially?
self esteem - not so good
not very social
Does he have a group of friends that he hangs out with outside school?
although he's invited almost 20 kids to his b-day party next weekend
I would assume that is actually where the problem lies.
If he doesn't fit in socially with the activities that he is offered, he finds it difficult to maintain engagement.
He loved the activities like lego camp, because he found social success.
after leaving camp the social component was not present, so he lost interest.
hmm..actually not very much - he didn't like many of the kids there
ok, let keep looking at this
Do you get involved in the activities with him?
you might have a point - I didn't think of it this way before
let's look at the last activity - Aikido - a non-competitive martial art
Do you have an activity that you both share?
I offered him to do Aikido with him - didn't want to
He loves going to the shooting range - I offered him to get a bit more serious about it - more competitive - again, no go
From what you are telling me, competitive is not his interest...
When I think about it - he's been open to training with me (e.g. Karate - I'm an instructor)
Maybe join a gun club that goes out on treks...
that's correct - no interest in competitive stuff
Are you a hunter?
I'll have to look into that - (don't know if there's one out here)
he's against hunting
It may be a tough find to find a non-hunting club
but it seems to me this is a core issue
so it's almost irrelevant what next activity we pick
I would watch the social interactions with him during the party and see how comfortable he is.
he'll want to quit eventually
and with whom he is most comfortable.
I can say with confidence that he's always been on the shy side
to me that is the core of the issue...
and always been worried about "being watched" while he's doing
he needs to develop a group of friends that he feels comfortable around.
but if I look at Aikido - he was doing fine - didn't see any issues with
shyness and he made a couple of friends there
I would maybe suggest offering an outing with that group away from Aikido
From your perspective, I suggest an activity that that two of you can do together without a need for an outcome... i.e. fishing.
another interesting point: he's been reluctant to have any friends over
I would sit and listen and see what he has to say. It is tough not to offer advice, however allow that time to be his time to talk with you. If he doesn't say a word, that is also ok. Sell it as spending time with your son.
you referring to going fishing etc?
I will allow you to choose the direction of the conversation...
Do you want to go the fishing angle or friend angle.
i've had lots of talks with him...he continue to reiterates his mother's voice - "want to do nothing / must not be forced to do anything"
Forced and follow-through are not the same thing...
of course - but he sees no difference because of what he hears from his mom
I would not let yourself get cornered by allowing him to enter anything that doesn't have a defined end game.
she's been telling him he's being forced by his dad since he was 6
the issue is - he doesn't want to get into anything now
I would own the fact that you are forcing him to be involved.
That it is in his best interest to be involved.
Be open to choices and different things.
yes, I do want him to get involved in something/anything for the reason you stated above
I've been EXTREMELY open to anything he wants to do - but what if he wants to do NOTHING?
should I just accept that?
It is a tough fight and the balance must be between allowing him choice and choosing what is in his best interest.
I would keep up the fight.
at this point - I don't care what he chooses as long as he chooses something and sticks with it for a while
And he knows it. but his choice is to do NOTHING.
I would be flexible in the expectation. "I will leave you alone if you are involved in an activity one night a week for a year"
I've gone through that with him already
That may be a compromise with the ex also
It sounds like the steps I would take.
for a while - he seemed very settled with aikido
1. you must get your ex on board with your expectation; even if she doesn't agree
I've already made all these compromises. The end result = she continues to tell him that being himself and doing nothing is fine and he
continues to quit every activity he gets involved in
2. Allow him to choose the next activity and give consequences for not following through... i.e. pay back the cost of classes.
However, I would be more value on involvement then follow-through
I know you want to see him stick to something, however it sounds like it is a tough social challenge for your son.
What about a social club? Boys and Girls club
not sure - i doubt he'll go for it
It is non-competitive, he effectively can do nothing if he chooses, however he is in a social environment.
would you accept his reason for quitting Aikido as "boring"?
or is that covering something deeper?
as in social related issue?
Social is really self-confidence
It sounds like that is at the core of the issue...
well let's call it self image, self-esteem and self-confidence together.
Ok. That's pretty much what I've been thinking all along.
so what's the fix?
A little at a time.
I stay strong about involvement
I would own as your expectation and value judge the fight about follow-through.
sorry correction- own it
I would spend as much time with him doing the things he chooses and showing interest excitement and encouragement.
If that is going shooting with pressuring it to go any further; great.
Or if that is allowing him to teach you how to program.
If he is involved for you; you are involved for him ...
I would - if you can - do as many things with your son and ex together or at least be present supporting him...
Be-friend the parents of children that your son seems to enjoy and use that your social interaction to support his.
ok, good stuff - thank you