When do you let your kids quit an activity?

by tcmama

When do you let your kids quit an activity? Our sons, 1st grade and kindergarten, are taking piano lessons. I have no musical ability, but I feel it is important for them to have some exposure to music. We are finishing their first year of lessons. The kids are starting to complain about practicing. Mostly the older one is complaining about practicing, and I think the younger one complains because his brother does. I don’t want them to quit because it is getting harder, but at the same time, I don’t want to force them to do something they don’t like.

Both kids like music and say they would like to try other instruments when they get older. The younger son seems to have an interest in music – he goes through life singing and making up songs. If we allowed the older son to quit piano, I think the younger son would quit too because he wants to do everything his brother does.

If this were a sport that the kid didn’t want to do, I’d let them quit once the season was over and not sign them up again. I wonder though if it should be different with music. I’m not sure if they are complaining now because it is getting harder and they don’t want to work through it. I’m not having them play piano as a resume builder for college. I want them to have exposure and appreciation for music.

Other info – I don’t think they mind going to the lessons because it is during their after-school care, so we don’t need to drive them to it. I started paying them to practice as they wanted to earn more money (daily prices – $0.25 for one time through all songs, $0.50 for two times through, and $0.75 for 3 or more times through).

For those of you who play an instrument or did play an instrument, did your parents make you play? How long did you take lessons for? Do you wish you would have stuck with it for longer? Should I let them take next year off and try taking lessons again when they are older? Any tips to help make practicing more enjoyable or provide more incentive for practicing? Should we allow them to stop taking lessons?


112 thoughts on “When do you let your kids quit an activity?

  1. My sons are in piano lessons and daily practice (more accurately, ~5x/week practice) is a routine battle. (Screen time is dependent on it.) I took piano lessons in grades 1-8 and played flute starting in 5th grade and was in choir starting in high school. In high school, I liked being part of the “music group” in high school.

    Mr WCE is neutral about piano lessons. I want my sons to have to work at something to improve, even if they don’t like it. We may or may not let them quit after 3 years. Their teacher uses the Alfred Premier series and it has a good sequence of song introduction.

    Finn has mentioned kids at his school who practice for an hour+ daily in elementary school, and that’s not the kind of family we are. One of my general parenting concerns is that my sons won’t know how to work because their lives are so easy. Piano is an alternative to slopping hogs or delivering newspapers.

  2. So I’ve never made my kids take music lessons but do make them play a sport (I have taken them to musicals here and there). It’s probably because I grew up playing sports and never was into music so I place more value on sports. They can pick the sport and they are welcome to quit said sport if they lose interest after the season but then they have to pick something else. Basically once they’ve tried something and they don’t like it, I’m not willing to use my time to drive them somewhere to do something they are not really interested in. My oldest quit soccer after 1st grade, tried softball for a few years, and then came back to soccer and now loves it, so I do think sometimes taking a break from an activity may not be bad as they may take an interest in it later on.

  3. I let my kids quit piano in late middle school and early high school after they pushed for it. Although practice was not something they did with great enthusiasm, we had the benefit of a young hip teacher they liked and wanted to please. Later on when we had to replace him with an older teacher the kids did not like him as much.

    Looking back I sometimes think I had no choice but to “allow” my kids to choose their extracurricular activities because I was in no position to “force” them to do anything unless they wanted to do it. That was certainly the case once they became teens.

  4. My parents enrolled me in piano lessons. None of my cousins or friends were taking music lessons. I didn’t want to practice or the extra work and my parents didn’t push. This was totally different from both sets of grandparents – both my parents took advanced piano.
    Now, I wish I had continued and had more support or had been encouraged/pushed to continue on. At least as an adult I would know the basics and if I wanted to return I could.
    Both my kids took basic piano – it was a requirement of at least a year if you wanted to play some band instruments. Now, both kids are in band. They start with once a week lessons at school and then in middle school it becomes an elective with three day a week classes, concerts, grades assigned etc. Just by attending school classes they have learned to play an instrument and read music, still amazes me.

  5. We make kids finish the year with an activity they have started, but otherwise don’t force it, unless it is billed as “something we all do” rather than an activity that they themselves choose. K and 1 is pretty young for piano, but OTOH if they get in the habit of practicing now, it may be easier as they get older. I just ignore the complaining about practicing/homework (yes, easier said than done, and it does drive me CRAZY). I don’t think I would pay for practice time.

    I took piano all through school (from grade 2-12) but didn’t practice a ton. My parents were really good about nudging me to practice, but not Amy Chua-style, so I never felt forced to do it. It would also fall down the list when I was in the last couple weeks of a show, etc.

  6. A lot depends on the temperament of the kid. With DS, we’ve decided it’s just not worth the battle to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. It becomes all about the power struggle and challenging authority than about the actual activity itself.

    DD is your typically compliant, rule following oldest child. She took piano lessons in elementary school and then switched to trumpet and played in the school band for 6th – 9th grade. After 9th grade she wanted to quit because she didn’t like the band teacher and really disliked marching band. She had a lot of other activities going on so we were ok with her quitting at the end of the school year.

    DS is much more likely to challenge anything he believes he is being forced to do. In kindergarten, he wanted to play soccer so we signed him up for a rec team. DH was the assistant coach (he had coached DD’s team all the way through elementary school). It was nightmare – DS would not do anything DH told him to do. Part way through the season, DH stopped coaching; I took over picking DS up from school and taking him to soccer practice. DS would throw fits about having to go to practice. Although my inclination at that point had been to tell the kids they had to finish out the season before quitting, I lost my patience. I was having to leave work early to take DS to practice only to have DS pitch a fit about going to soccer. I told DS he could quit. At which point DS said that if we weren’t making him play, he wanted to play. Argh. I think he wanted to finish out the season so he could go to the end of the season party.

    In 2nd or 3rd grade, DS said he wanted to take piano lessons so we signed him up. Although he liked the lessons, he hated practicing and it was a total pain to get him to practice. When he wanted to quit, we let him. DS epitomizes the saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” This year (6th grade), DS joined the band (mostly to get out of having to take gym). He’s enjoyed it. If he wants to stop at some point in the future, we will let him. It’s just not worth the battle. I’ve learned to carefully pick my battles with DS. Extracurricular activities generally aren’t worth it.

    Incentives – something that has been very helpful with DS is that about 2 years ago, we switched to making him earn all of his screen time. He can earn screen time by doing homework, practicing, exercising, or doing extra chores. This helped change the dynamic. Previously, DS would race through homework in order to get screen time. If homework took a while and resulted in him not getting screen time before bed time, he would completely lose it. Now that there’s a reward for spending time doing homework or practicing, he grumbles a lot less. And if he wants screen time but doesn’t have homework, he will voluntarily practice the saxophone or do extra Spanish practice or figure out some way to get screen time.

  7. I do make DS exercise – and it can’t be me nagging him to run or ride his bike. Through the soccer experience, we learned he’s not really a team sport kind of kid. He did aikido for several years. This year, he did cross country in the Fall which was great and then track in the spring. I’ve told DS he can do anything he wants to get exercise (this is key with DS).

    It’s not an issue with DD – she loves team sports and is on multiple teams. And voluntarily goes to the gym.

  8. When our middle kid was 3 we signed him up for gymnastics which he did for about 2 years. At that age its a lot of balance and confidence building exercises, trampoline fun and each session ends with being able to jump into one of the trampoline pits that’s filled with 6″ cubes of foam rubber. But beginning at 5, it was real gymnastics, i.e. work. Specific muscle building exercises, etc. No longer fun, so we had him finish the month we had paid for (it was month to month) and then let him quit. He was starting ice hockey around then, so no big deal, and one less location to keep on our schedule.

    I think it’s important to expose kids to different things; some they will take to, some not. The goal is for them to have something other than school that they are interested in. It might take a while to find the right thing. Our kids did take piano from about 1st grade with varying degrees of interest/success. But they all did it for at least a couple of years. DS1 transitioned to guitar in 6th grade for a year or so. DS3 did drums (no drum set, just the rhythm pad) for maybe a year. No one pursued music after middle school.

  9. The other thing is to see if along the way, kids like to do something. With DD it is art and crafts. Her electives in middle school will include art and craft/sewing. DS likes art but never wanted to take it because it is graded. Kids interests will diverge over time. In the younger grades both siblings will probably take the same activities but that will change over time.

  10. DH and I bonded over our shared hatred of piano lessons long before we had kids. I took about 6 years, he did about the same. We both have minimal musical talent (I think I probably have even less than he does.). Not like totebag-minimal-talent (meaning average), like clearly a couple of standard deviations below the norm. So, our kids don’t do music, we don’t value it, and we are probably ruining them for life. (I think they get enough at school, and next year at their homeschool enrichment program).

  11. Kids school started band in 4th grade, both picked an instrument at that time. Teacher required practice of 20 min a day for 5 days per week or some combination of 100 minutes, but had to be split over at least 3 days as “homework”. Teacher also “tested” you on the concert music, a few measures at a time. If he didn’t sign off on those measures, you didn’t play them in the concert. At least my kids didn’t want to sit there without playing, so they practiced after observing the consequence. DD#1 8th grade year and DD#2 6th grade year, we got a new teacher. He was awful. I made them stick out the year, mainly becasue DD#1 was applying at high schools and it would not have looked good for her to drop out part way through. However, the next year I let DD#2 drop it. She picked it up again in 8th grade (new teacher) and continues to play in HS this year. DD#1 is finishing up her 8th year.

    I don’t nag them about practice and it sometimes gets done at home or at school, but always enough that they are passing off on their music and getting good grades.

    They were both taking Kung Fu at one point. They both dropped out after about two years. I was disappointed as they were within about 6 months of getting their black belts. But, they weren’t having fun and the class time was getting harder to make.

    In general – if they sign up for a “season” or “term”, they have to finish it, afterwards they can drop it.

  12. Thanks everyone for the responses so far. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I submitted the post. My biggest concern is that if older DS quits, because he isn’t really in to playing, then my younger DS will quit too. Younger DS actually likes piano but he hero worships his brother more and wants to do whatever his brother is or isn’t doing. I want to keep younger DS engaged, if possible.

    The older DS is very, very athletic and physical and soccer really is his thing. Older DS has a temperament similar to what SSM describes – he is very intense and we can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. There was a quote in my alumni magazine about someone who works as a bison herder (or something like that) which sums up how I feel about parenting my strong-willed child, “You can get a bison to do whatever it wants to do.” But I’m sort of with WCE that my kids’ lives are pretty easy and I do want them to struggle through some things, but I don’t know if I want to deal with fighting about practicing.

  13. So, we’ve been having the same discussion about Aikido and our oldest. She isn’t asking to quit, but she never wants to go. Because it is flexible, she never has to go – there are many times per week. However, she seems to be taking after her mother in terms of physical ability – I don’t think she will be a good team sport player. I want her to find individual activity that she can gain success at through hard work (martial arts, maybe swimming, running later on). I also want her to do it even when it is not easy. There are many things you can be good at through perseverance, not through natural skill (triathlons, backpacking, etc.) I never liked team sports as a kid – I was always one of the worst kids on the team, and there is no camaraderie or important life lessons when you don’t bring much to the table.

  14. Our kids took music lessons at various times – DD did flute and then drums, DS did guitar. They lost interest after several months. We got tired of having to force them to practice, so we told them they needed to practice on their own and if they didn’t, we would stop lessons. They decided they wanted to stop.

    My feeling is life is too short to force kids to spend that much time on something that, IMO, is not important. Not to mention spending the money.

    We do make them play a sport or have some other plan for getting exercise. They get to choose what that is.

    As a general rule, we’ve always required them to finish any activity they’ve started. There have been a couple of exceptions when things turned out to be very different from what we expected.

  15. We all took lessons from the same woman in her home. Mom drove us and we sat on the couch waiting for each other’s lessons. I always grumbled about practicing, but I did it. The last few months I was probably really annoying. I quit somewhere around the time that I started playing trombone in hand at MS, so still had an instrument. I can read music, but don’t have occasion to. I never did learn to sing from written music–always have to hear it first.

    What had far more impact on my ability to enjoy “serious” music as an adult was listening to classical music every week during Sunday Dinner, which was a big meal in the “good” dining room, with the china, silver, cut linens, etc. We kids could pick the music if we asked. I’m sure the 1812 Overature and Rhapsody in Blue we over-exposed, and we certainly popped finger canons at each other, but we were enjoying the music. We also went to classical concerts 4x / year. That was a family activity. I don’t recall any of us objecting to any of it, as long as Casey Kasem was done before the classical started.

    I’m not as rigorous or scheduled with my son, but put classical or jazz on occasionally. I was pleased the other day when we were watching a clip and he commented that he loved that Ode to Joy was (ironically) playing in the background. It’s just as overplayed as the 1812, but I hope that indicates he might be familiar with a bit more. I once dragged him a concert of early music, mostly singing. He hated it and I haven’t taken him again, so his vocabulary of madrigals is weak, but that’s probably ok.

    I don’t know how you’d make a kid do an activity they didn’t want to do. As young as yours are, maybe, but when mine was in 7th or 8th grade, I asked his coach why he was sitting the bench so much. He didn’t want to play, told coach not to put him in. There was no discussion about the next season. (He decided this winter that he wanted to play again and is really enjoying it now).

  16. What about letting them take the lessons, but let the teacher mete out the consequences for not practicing? When I nagged, it never turned out as well as if the teacher handled it.

    And, yes, there is some benefit it working at something that isn’t easy for you – learning perserverance I think is harder these days.

  17. “I think it’s important to expose kids to different things; some they will take to, some not. The goal is for them to have something other than school that they are interested in. It might take a while to find the right thing.”

    I agree with this.

    The only thing that we let DS quit mid-stream was a particular soccer program that he absolutely hated. It was obvious that he dreaded going to this program, and the relief when we let him quit was so obvious that I wished that we had let him quit earlier. It just wasn’t a good fit. No regrets there.

    DS takes guitar. He is in his 3rd year of lessons. The first year, we didn’t make him practice at all, and he practiced pretty infrequently. The second year, we started making him practice for 10-15 minutes on most days. So we’ve made the decision that we are okay with less practice and slower progress at this point. He’s not part of a band/orchestra- it is individual. So it doesn’t affect anyone else if he moves through the books slowly. He enjoys it, even if he doesn’t always enjoy practicing. I like that he is doing something musical, and something where he is not naturally talented. He tends to excel at math/logic things (chess club) and sports, not musical/creative activities.

    We’ve never had to push sports/exercise. DS is a competitive, naturally-coordinated kid who has a lot of energy that he needs to burn. If he was more inclined to sitting, we might have to push more for family activity. As it is, he is more like a puppy that needs to be walked & he forces us out for family activity so that he doesn’t bounce off the walls. He also loves playing sports (that particular soccer program aside),

  18. “What about letting them take the lessons, but let the teacher mete out the consequences for not practicing? When I nagged, it never turned out as well as if the teacher handled it.”

    This absolutely works better for us. His guitar teacher gave him guidelines for practicing that were reasonable (e.g., do two scales, practice this song 5 times, do this lesson in the theory book). He listens to him more than us.

  19. “My feeling is life is too short to force kids to spend that much time on something that, IMO, is not important. Not to mention spending the money.”


  20. TCP, I’m stealing that “bison” line. It’s great! If your oldest quits, can you set the age he is now as the minimum age they have to go to? By the time the younger is that old, being the only kid taking lessons will be normal, so you might sail right on past that expiration date.

  21. All of our kids played instruments — piano, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, French horn — but not until they were at least in the third grade. IMO, your kids may simply be too young for formal music training, even though the younger one seems to have some interest and ability. You can expose them to all kinds of music and different instruments in an informal, casual way, but forcing the issue now may kill the interest entirely.

    FWIW, the French horn teacher told me that when people find out her profession, the most common reaction is that their parents let them quit too early, and that they wish they would have persevered. But 5 and 6 year olds still have plenty of time.

  22. “My feeling is life is too short to force kids to spend that much time on something that, IMO, is not important.”

    That’s where I come out on it.

    tcmama – I get your concern about DS2. What about chatting with him about how he’s different from his brother, and that’s a good thing, and he should pursue his own interests regardless what older brother is doing, etc. Those kinds of chats are likely good to have on a somewhat regular basis for a kid in that position anyway. It’s so easy for the youngers to put themselves in the shadow of the elders, and to follow along without a lot of thought. A talk with a parent about it can sometimes ease a change in that dynamic. A chat with the elder about encouraging the younger to stick with piano might also help — elders can do better at helping the youngers develop into their own people, imho. I’ve had both kinds of discussions often as my two have grown up. Not saying they make an overnight difference, but they can be good for both kids.

  23. I read a great article about the difference between white-knuckling through something difficult and developing the emotional maturity to deal with it well. If I can find it, I’ll send it in for a post. The end point is that all the emphasis on “grit” is misplaced, and not just because of the classist problems built into it. If a kid is forced to do something they don’t want to do in the name of “grit”, they might develop emotional skills that will be useful later in life, or they might just hate it and perpetually feel like crap. It’s important to pay attention to how the child is able to deal with it, not just that they do it somehow.

  24. “FWIW, the French horn teacher told me that when people find out her profession, the most common reaction is that their parents let them quit too early, and that they wish they would have persevered.”

    Oh sure. And my own DS told me this a few times in re piano lessons. But this is so easy for a kid to say in hindsight, having completely forgotten all the avoidance tactics re: about practice, the begging to be allowed to quit, etc. When DS said this to me, I told him it’s never too late to pick it up again. He never did. He wanted to *know how to play piano* – he didn’t want to actually *learn to play it* and I expect all the other kids who say this sort of thing are the same. Otherwise, they’d be saying, “I wish my parents hadn’t let me quit … and that’s why I’ve taken it up again on my own.”

  25. Risley’s wisdom shines through again. Ita about younger kids being in the oldest shadow & needing to get out.
    We started piano in second grade, the youngest that teacher would take. I think there are some methods that work for younger kids, but am not terribly familiar. There is a Kindermusik program for kids through first grade, which might be an option for the musical younger son. It uses real instruments, not just the maracas, sandblocks, and triangles the littles use, so could segue into another run at piano later without making it seem like this was a fail.

  26. My oldest started on the violin when he was 4, and it was obvious pretty quickly that he was pretty good at it (not good like headed for a professional career, just good as in his playing didn’t make you want to flee the room), but he whined incessantly about lessons, especially when he was 6. I did not let him quit, though we did switch teachers because that was one issue. In third grade, he started playing with the school orchestra and loved it. He played with the orchestra until a year ago when his schedule did not permit it. Now, he plays with an adult amateur orchestra along with his dad, for the sheer love of it, and is going to be able to take orchestra again next year in school.

    My younger two have folloowed similar trajectories. Lots of whining until they could start playing with other kids. One kid switched to bass and really likes it, and the other now wants electric guitar lessons in addition to violin.

    So what I found was that staying the course led to something that all three of them really liked once they got older and could play in a social setting.

  27. Yeah, I’m sort of with Fred and DD. My goal was to expose my kids to a bunch of different things, in the hope they’d find someting they really enjoyed and wanted to stick with. But I’m also not going to pay for things and rearrange my life for optional activities that they just whine about — screw that. So they can do it, or they can do something else. But if they do sign up, they will see it through the season/period/whatever.

    With music, I have specifically offered both kids extra paid lessons if they want, but the “price” is they have to practice 15 minutes a day. DD took me up on that in 9th grade, when she first transitioned to tuba and wanted to do that summer trip; since she got back from that trip, I’m not sure she has practiced once, so I never called the guy back to pick up the lessons again.

    Part of me thinks I should push it more. But then again, these are supposed to be optional fun things; my kids have enough “shoulds” in their lives, between school, Hebrew School, and now jobs. And I am trying to fight my natural inclination to turn everything into a life lesson. So to this point, I have let it go; they are getting to the ages where the desire has to come from them anyway.

    I can also testify from personal experience that “exposure” and forced practicing does not lead to long-term appreciation. I had to play the violin, and had to practice. And when I left for college, I left that damn thing behind and never looked back. I also have no remaining significant appreciation for orchestral music; I prefer it to my kids’ band music, but honestly, I’d rather listen to Radio Margaritaville or Classic Rewind.

  28. “He wanted to *know how to play piano* – he didn’t want to actually *learn to play it* and I expect all the other kids who say this sort of thing are the same. ”

    Well sure. That’s true of a lot of things. I guess with music or any other skill that requires an investment in practice to learn, there has to be some interest, and then there has to be some perseverance to push through the boring parts of learning. And sometimes that requires a little push or encouragement. So I agree with those who say life’s too short to battle kids & waste money on lessons/practice when a kid really doesn’t like something. But I also say that if you have to encourage kids to persevere if there is some interest/talent/desire, that is a normal parenting role. The problem is that the line between those is often grey.

    Plus, all these things also have to be balanced against all the other family priorities. Hence why we wouldn’t let DS play travel baseball in 3rd grade – he had the desire/interest/ability, but we had to look at the $$ and the time spent driving all over the area and determine that it was going to make us all more miserable than happy. I’m sure that balance gets even harder the more kids you have.

  29. In extras even if a kid is very excited and enthusiastic to sign up there will be the initial excitement followed by a valley of lack of enthusiasm. This does make it hard but on the parent to decide whether to push through or quit. Many times the child is getting better but doesn’t quite recognize this. Most things require you to at least show up and do that activity for the time assigned.
    The valleys occur with everything in life so when to push through, when to fold is an important lesson.

  30. Risley – good point about getting the older one to encourage the younger one to keep playing.

    Both kids begged and begged to get a piano. DH and I did not force them to start lessons. We got a piano for free from DH’s coworker. When I looked around for piano teachers most didn’t kids before 2nd grade. The piano teacher that teaches at our kids’ school wants kids to start as early as possible. It is really nice to not have to drive them to lessons.

    Older DS isn’t bad at piano, but he got really hard pieces for his spring recital that I’m not able to help him with the notes. I took piano from 2nd – 6th grade and was terrible, but I can still read a little bit of their music. I think some of his frustration might be how hard it is. But you all are making me feel less guilty about allowing the older one to quit. They don’t have lessons over the summer, so I might give it a month or two to see how they feel about starting up again.

  31. We did let DS2 quit soccer after one horrible year when he was 6. It was clear he did not want to play. Years later, when he hit middle school, he decided he wanted to play soccer, and started blaming us for letting him quit. He seemed really mad about it. Fortunately, he was able to join a rec league and get up to speed even though he hadn’t played for years. He still says, though, that we should not have let him quit.

    DD whines every year when lacrosse season starts, saying she doesn’t want to play. But once she starts, she loves it because all her friends play. I think the issue is the uniform – most of the other teams now wear shorts but ours still insists on the little skirts. She says she feels like a dork in the uniform. We aren’t even allowed to take photos.

  32. “They don’t have lessons over the summer, so I might give it a month or two to see how they feel about starting up again.”

    Oh, I think taking the summer off is a good idea. We slow way down on lessons/activities in the summer outside of day camp and after baseball season ends (4th of July). DS wanted to keep taking guitar, but he takes it every other week-ish instead of every week, and we don’t force practice. This is understood with the teacher who agrees the summer lessons are just to prevent him losing too much over the summer – going into maintenance mode. He will pick up the guitar & play here and there voluntarily, but it’s nice to have a routine in the evenings that doesn’t include homework, practice or scheduled activities. We get out and play catch a lot or go for bike rides, etc.

  33. Ivy – ITA. I’m all for urging the kids to stick with things, pointing out how they’ve improved, trying to find incentives (playing w/ others later as MM says would’ve been great – we didn’t have ES orchestras though). I tried all of that and the kid still wanted to quit, so I decided life was too short to argue or make him miserable, and I let him quit. And I wasn’t about to fall for the bad parent guilt trip later when I heard, “I wish you hadn’t let me quit” because that is so easy for a kid to say, and it’s so easy for a parent to feel guilty on hearing it, while neither of them is accurately remembering just how miserable the kid was. You could force a kid to stay in every single activity and surely they’ll wind up excelling at one of them by HS, but who wants to do that to a kid, or to ourselves? All the woulda should coulda stuff is easy to say and easy to feel guilty about.

  34. As my kids have gotten older, they have made observations and asked for specific lessons. DS had observed that he lost ground in music over the summer so he asked for outside music lessons. Sometimes he feels lazy and dosen’t feel like going but as it is a supplement and meant primarily for him to get better he goes.
    DD wants tennis lessons. None of her friends to my knowledge play tennis but she has been asking about that for some time. Let’s see if her interest remains.

  35. I struggled with figuring out how my kids would respond to obstacles. Not that you want to make life hard for your kids, but figuring out what type your kid is. It helps when trying to find activities, schools, and even peer groups to know their MO to get a good fit. My DD#1 is more the perservere and climb over the mountain type, especially if there is some carrot (not necessarily external) while DD#2 is more the find away around the mountain type and is more externally motivated. Not all teachers appreciate the “find the way around the mountain” as it isn’t the path they told you to follow, while others are OK as the outcome was achieved. We have to work with her on trying to understand when it is OK to go around and when you must climb it.

  36. ‘They don’t have lessons over the summer, so I might give it a month or two to see how they feel about starting up again.”

    I agree, this is a great idea. Everyone needs a break sometime; the key is figuring out whether they just need a temporary break or they are totally done, because they use exactly the same words for both. I generally look at whether they are excited to pick it up again — if they whine during the season, but then forget about it and want to sign up again the following year, then start whining again when they are actually doing it, I generally write it off to standard kid stuff and turn on the “stick with it” parenting lesson. OTOH, when they are just not interested in starting back up, ok.

  37. I was forced to take piano lessons for 8 years. My brothers all took it from 1-5 years. Omg. We all HATED it. I will never allow a piano in my house. It brings up such feelings of disgust and hatred. I think this is one area where my parents really messed up. None of us gained anything from the lessons except learning to hate everything about piano. The last time we were all together at my parents’ house, my kids were banging on that piano, and my brothers and I were all ready to strangle them.

  38. I told my kids that they had to take basic piano as that would help them they took a band instrument. It helped that multiple music teachers mentioned this. They weren’t interested in playing the piano per se, but knowing they would switch later helped.

  39. tcmama, you’ve gotten a lot of great advice today (and what a lovely reminder of what a good resource this board is for parenting ideas). I wrote a post earlier from my phone that hasn’t shown up but it didn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said.

    I will say this, though, from the parent of one strong-willed child to another: they have enough struggles. Developing the cognitive flexibility to accept the world as it is rather than how they want it (thank you Rhett) takes a lot of energy for them. Adding a miserable activity, or even a low-interest activity, just sets up unnecessary power struggles and that energy is better used elsewhere.

  40. My feeling is life is too short to force kids to spend that much time on something that, IMO, is not important. Not to mention spending the money.

    A valid point. However, the Totebag has taught me not to discount the social aspect of all this. While a given kid might not think soccer or the trombone is the greatest thing ever, they might very much appreciate the ready made group of band friends or the social standing that comes with varsity soccer.

  41. Also – to Ada’s point, DH and I are also several standard deviations off the mean in terms of musical ability. No amount of lessons would get us competent. We just are missing that gene.

    However, one of our kids is exceptionally musical. He begged and begged for lessons on his instrument. We waited a year before giving in, and he’s amazing at it.

    My point here is that they are who they are. Give them time and space to discover who they are, and then support them in THAT.

  42. I would even add the financial aspect. I was reading the Stevie Cohen book and someone related an early days at SAC Capital interview:

    Hiring Manger: Did you play sports in college?
    Prospective employee: No.
    Hiring manager: Thanks for coming, have a nice day.

  43. My sons have above average musical aptitude and were interested in starting piano lessons. DS1 chose to be in choir at school and is learning extra recorder songs at school. The boys were able to start when they chose. (I didn’t want them all to start at the same time to minimize competition- they end up spaced over ~19 months.)

    Much of my decision for piano is logistical- I found a teacher who comes to our house and we have a piano. Sports or swimming would require me to get 4 kids in the car and drive 20 minutes each way and I have enough trouble managing my life. We play soccer and indoor soccer (1-3 times/week in season) but daily swimming is beyond my pain threshold. Lack of activity choice, for time and money reasons, is one of the downsides of having 3 siblings.

  44. WCE – some larger families pick one or two activities that all their kids do. There are families that do soccer which means nearly all Saturday and sometimes part of Sunday at the kids games. Then there are families at dance with both sons and daughters. Both parents sharing responsibility. It is definitely easier. The younger move up very quickly because they are always around the activity.

  45. My parents forced me to do an activity that I hated (piano). They forbade me from doing the activities that I really, desperately wanted to do (ballet and gymnastics). The battles about all of that caused strife and resentment through the years. No activity is worth messing up family harmony, IMO.

    I agree with the tactic of exposing your kids to a lot of things, and then letting them take the lead on what they want to do, and to what extent.

  46. A valid point. However, the Totebag has taught me not to discount the social aspect of all this. While a given kid might not think soccer or the trombone is the greatest thing ever, they might very much appreciate the ready made group of band friends or the social standing that comes with varsity soccer.

    And if the kid is willing to put in the time and effort to practice the trombone or go to soccer practice without having to argue about it all the time, I will fully support it. But if I have to tell the kid to practice every day and he does it half-assed, I’m not going to waste my time or money on it. Yes, some kids need a push, but there’s a difference between a push and forcing them to do something they have zero interest in.

  47. I agree with the tactic of exposing your kids to a lot of things, and then letting them take the lead on what they want to do, and to what extent.


  48. Lark, thanks for your 12:20 comment. It gives me good words and phrases to use when talking about my kiddo, who is not so much strong-willed as terrified of the consequences of being found deficient in some way. Forcing him is not successful, as per my comment re “grit”.

  49. I would love to take recorder lessons — I played recorder a bit when I was a kid (it was similar to clarinet, which was my band instrument.) But damned if I can find a recorder teacher! Guitar teachers are thick on the ground. (For Denver Dad’s benefit, I even called Swallow Hill, but no joy).

  50. I played recorder when I was a kid, and then took lessons for several years as an adult. My mother was a very good recorder player, and I inherited her alto recorder so I wanted to get good with it. It is pretty easy to find a recorder teacher if you realize that many flute teachers also do recorder. I found one through the local kiddie music school.

  51. My parents never forced me to do any activity that I didn’t want to do, with the sole exception of swimming lessons. They felt we had to be able to swim at something just beyond survival level as a life skill. Everything else was optional.

    It makes me sad that so many people hated piano only because I begged relentlessly to have a piano when I was little. My parents finally got one when I was around 10, and I took lessons happily along with playing in the band (flute), jazz band (trumpet), and singing in the school and church choirs. I quit band unceremoniously in 10th grade though when we got a new band director who was a total A-hole. I dropped it in the middle of the year & had a study period instead. My parents were surprised, but they didn’t force me to finish out the year. I am forever thankful of that.

    FWIW, I had very very average musical talent, but I enjoyed it & had friends from being in music. I also had little artistic talent, but I took tons of art electives in HS even though it probably prevented me from being at the tip top of my class. I’m glad no one pressured me about my GPA due to my “bad” grades in Art. (I got some B’s, IIRC.) Taking art was fun, made me happy, and gave me other people to hang out with sometimes besides the Calculus crowd. (that was a feature to me, not a bug)

  52. tcmama – my oldest sounds a bit like your oldest. She loves the idea of doing something, but if it starts to get too hard she’ll shut down. She doesn’t find the value in practicing (we struggle with homework because of her “belief”). She even admits that she doesn’t like to fail, so she’d rather quit than have to keep trying. We have gone through several activities that by the end of the season or session we were dragging her to and I think it was more stressful on us then on her. Last year we let her take rock climbing at a gym in Northeast. She loves it. She ends up failing a lot, and has to keep working at the problem (rock speak for route) until she masters it. She doesn’t view it as practice and it is teaching her that it is okay to fail. It think it helps to see others at the gym, including kids who are older and really good, failing when they first attempt a new problem. So, what I’m trying to say, is that you should let him quit and help him find something else.

    Side note, I never took a music class of any sort until the mandatory 4th grade recorder class. A few month later I picked out the violin and played that for 10 years.

  53. “She loves the idea of doing something, but if it starts to get too hard she’ll shut down.”

    So my small sample of oldest children (myself, my husband and my daughter) – we’re all exactly like this except when we really like something… I’ve gotten better about this as an adult, but not wanting to make the effort because something is too hard is mostly because I do not care enough about the activity. However, with sports as a kid, I was willing to put in extra practice at home by myself because I loved it. And that is also why I do force my oldest to try things once but if she don’t care enough to do it more, I don’t force it. The younger two want to try a ton of stuff so it’s more about prioritizing.

  54. Thanks everyone! DS will also thank you in the fall if he no longer is playing piano.

    I find it interesting how many of us on here were forced to take piano lessons and didn’t like it. I hated taking lessons and find it ironic that I’ve been considering forcing my kid to take piano lessons.

    Ivy – I wish I would have been more like you in high school and taking classes that interested me rather than worrying about grades and failing. It is what I wish for my kids when they are in school too.

    I really appreciate the parenting advice here.

  55. Tcmama – also I second (or third) that recommendation about talking to your youngest. I was the domineering oldest sister who forced one of my younger sisters to quite horseback riding lessons because it was conflicting with the tv show She-Ra. She really liked it and I think would have continued if I hadn’t pressured her (she fell off the horse one day and I saw my opportunity)…

  56. Great advice for you, tcmama. Give us updates next year.

    I wanted to address a theme I saw above when a middle school aged child wants to quit a long standing activity after a change to a new coach/adviser/teacher who is “a jerk” or some such. Sometimes the person is a jerk. Sometimes he/she is bad at the task or has a group of favorites and the child is not among them. But sometimes the new adult is a creep/creepette, and you know what I mean. Young middle school kids may not even know how to articulate or identify the creepiness. Young teens may have a better idea, but either blame themselves, don’t want to share with parents, think they won’t be believed, think they are immune because they are not in the victim group. If my kid suddenly turned on a favored activity under those circumstances, I would never make them stay. I would probably not push them to articulate the reasons more clearly, but would keep an ear out for comments from other parents or even the kid chatter in the carpool.

  57. Mooshi, thanks for the tip about finding recorder teachers. The U apparently has good early music programs (and therefore hungry grads who could teach), but that’s waaaay across town.
    Now if I could just figure out the Arabic lessons!

  58. Meme, I remember those whispers about the band leader at a different school when I was growing up. Turns out she was just a lesbian, no pedo leanings, but in those days the two were barely recognized as distinct. Going back to BB this year, we had hoped and expected him to have the same coach. Turns out he’s not coaching this season. The new coach clashes with my kid personality-wise and also has my now tall kid playing positions he was never in as I e of the shorter kids in the team. He hated it. I could see the struggle in himself and, based on past experiences, braced for him to want to quit. Scoring the game winning basket doing something he never would have done but for this coach’s instruction really shifted his attitude. There is still a personality clash, and he still loves those moments when he feels like he’s back on the other guy’s team, but I am hopeful that this series of events might help turn my buffalo around in other things he doesn’t want to do.

  59. But damned if I can find a recorder teacher.

    What HM is trying to say is, “Did you ask the Google?”

  60. I have several recorders, and I DID ask the Google, and I’m usually quite good with my google-fu. Thanks, HM!

  61. Hm, I gotta say, many of those aren’t super-near Denver. I mean I can of course drive to Niwot, but jeez. But there are a few.

  62. @RMS – does it surprise you that the recorder teaching industry is centered around Boulder? Damn hippies!

    @Meme – It’s interesting that you say that. When I was 15, I couldn’t explain why I was repelled by this new band director so much, but I just couldn’t stand to be around him, especially in private/small groups. However, he abruptly left the school not long after I graduated. My brother, who was there at the time, said that it had to do with a relationship with a female student.

  63. “If my kid suddenly turned on a favored activity under those circumstances, I would never make them stay. I would probably not push them to articulate the reasons more clearly, but would keep an ear out for comments from other parents or even the kid chatter in the carpool.”

    In this sort of situation, you might also want to offer another avenue in which to pursue the interest. E.g., if the new band director is the reason your kid wants to quit, perhaps something like youth symphony might be an alternative.

    When DD was playing softball, we saw kids changing club teams a lot, and not getting along with the coach(es) was one frequently cited reason. Sometimes it was the parents, not the player, not getting along with the coaches.

  64. “While a given kid might not think soccer or the trombone is the greatest thing ever, they might very much appreciate the ready made group of band friends or the social standing that comes with varsity soccer.”

    Absolutely. I’ve seen this play out many times at my kids’ school. It’s a K-12 school, with a lot of new kids added at 6th, 7th, and 9th grades. Typically, the new kids at these grades know, at most, a handful of kids when they start at their new school, and often it’s through extracurricular activites, often sports, dance, and music. They’ll very often find their crews through these activities, and stick with them through HS and beyond. These activities often provide kids with large elements of their identities.

    It can also be very important to kids whose peer groups are defined by these activities progress sufficiently at them to maintain their status within those groups.

  65. Generally, in these situations, it’s our responsibility as parents to take the long view on these activities, and look at how making our kids continue, or allowing them to quit, will affect them in the long term.

    It’s also useful to have a goal, or goals, in what you want your kids to get out of these activities. It’s probably useful to communicate these goals to your kids, and let them quit the activities once the goals are met.

    In some cases, it’s pretty easy. E.g., with swimming, our primary goal was proficiency to the point of greatly minimizing the likelihood of drowning, with the secondary goal of proficiency to not needing to worry about them at pool parties or the public pool. With martial arts, it was primarily learning to fall without getting hurt, with some self-defense ability being secondary.

    For a lot of other sports, I wanted my kids to have a minimal level of proficiency, enough to be able to participate and have fun in things like company picnics without embarrassing themselves. I’ve seen many times in which guys, often engineers, did not have that level of proficiency and were left out at such events.

  66. When DD was playing softball, we saw kids changing club teams a lot, and not getting along with the coach(es) was one frequently cited reason. Sometimes it was the parents, not the player, not getting along with the coaches.

    Usually it’s due to differences in opinion of the players’ ability level and playing time.

  67. For those of you who remember the story of my SIL’s stepson’s college acceptances, he chose Seton Hall. It’s a great reminder that any kid that wants to go to college can get in somewhere.

  68. “Older DS isn’t bad at piano, but he got really hard pieces for his spring recital that I’m not able to help him with the notes. I took piano from 2nd – 6th grade and was terrible, but I can still read a little bit of their music. I think some of his frustration might be how hard it is. “

    IMO, it’s important for the kids to be able to see progress, as well as have some fun.

    In piano (and most instruments), pieces are often chosen because of certain technics that would be learned with those pieces. But sometimes pieces need to be chosen, often with the kids’ input, because they’re fun, and allow the kids to show off the skills they’ve learned.

    This is not typically a factor with piano, but with other activities, it’s can also help to reward the kids with better equipment as they get better, and the better equipment can also help them get better. This works especially well with activities in which the equipment needs to be replaced as they grow.

  69. What’s the Totebag view of a second opinion on a medical situation. This is the first time, I am having to do this. I haven’t been satisfied with one specialist in a practice I was referred to because I haven’t got a firm answer on why an issue should recur. I have identified another group of specialists affiliated with the best hospital in town and want to go there. Can I get the PCP to refer me to another specialist outside of their health group ?

  70. DD, it’ll be interesting to see how he does at Seton Hall.

    I think being out on his own will be good for him and hopefully he’ll get motivated to turn things around. Or he’ll flunk out by the second semester. We’ll see.

  71. Louise, I’m all in favor of second opinions. Do you even need a referral to see the second specialist? If you do, your PCP shouldn’t have a problem providing it.

  72. Louise, I agree with DD. Don’t hesitate to ask your PCP for a referral, if you need one, and if there is the slightest pushback, find a new PCP.

  73. We lucked out with recorders. When the store gave my sisters class the price list, they put the price for the cheap plastic ones next to the info about wooden ones. Guess what everybody ordered? Because it was the 70s, the store honored the price when the shipment came in and all the parents pulled out $6.50. I’d love to have that one now, but Mom got sick of me playing it when I was in high school and hid it someplace she quickly forgot. I have a cheap from World Market now, will get a nicer one if I find an instructor and make some progress. Right now I barely remember a scale!

  74. Agree with above. It’s perfectly reasonable to seek a second opinion for all kinds of situations.

    A few clarifications – a referral is simply a recommendation to see a certain doctor. When I worked in a private insurance world, I referred people to outside specialists. In general, the one I referred to was the one that was on the call schedule for the day – that’s the criteria. Not the best, or the one that takes your insurance, but the one who was obligated to see you in follow up due to hospital by-laws. If you saw me for a broken hand and I “referred” you to Dr. Ortho General, you are probably better off going to the yellow pages and call Dr. Ortho Hand and seeing if s/he would see you instead. Not that I ever suggested that.

    In general you (and by “you”, I mean people with good insurance) do not need a referral to see a specialist. If your insurance requires a referral, you may need to go back to PCP to get a new referral to see another specialist. Your insurance may not pay for this. Some insurances will only pay for referrals under limited circumstances (i.e. new cancer treatment is one I have seen explicitly allowed).

    Depending on the interaction with the specialist, it is totally reasonable to ask for a referral for a second opinion. This is more common and less insulting than you might think. A professional will give you the name and contact information of 2-3 people they respect working in the same field. Perhaps even someone with sub-specialization in your particular problem.

    This may be worth paying out of pocket for. (Though if the specialist is university affiliated, it is likely you will have some kind of coverage). Be upfront that you are asking to be seen for a second opinion when you make the appointment.

    Caveat: A second opinion is usually a one time event to question the diagnosis or treatment options. If you simply feel that you did not have good rapport or have your questions answered appropriately, you likely need to transfer care.

  75. Small clarification: You should consider asking the specialist to refer you for a second opinion. Good physicians are not threatened by that question.

  76. Louise, I absolutely suggest you get a second opinion, and a third if you’re still not satisfied with the answers you’re getting.

    I once got a third opinion. The MDs were all cool with it, at least it seemed so. I was upfront about getting multiple opinions, and there were two procedures that could’ve been done to address the issue in question.

  77. I did a little bit of family piano lessons, and singing choir in MS. But as an adult I’ve come to appreciate music more. BD (Before DS) we attended a lot of the weekly concerts of the local classical music summer festival and we also subscribed to the local Singer/Songwriter Series. AD we dropped it all for many years, but once DS became a tween we started to all listen to the local alternative radio station and we’ve gone to concerts in town and in LA. Some have been teen appropriate – Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers and others not – Sublime with Rome. Back in 1st grade DS was interested in learning guitar, so I found him a teacher. DS didn’t like to practice, but he stuck with it for 3 years. Since then he has signed up for his MS rock band class every year and we got him a used electric guitar. I think that we can go to concerts together to enjoy music is a good outcome.

  78. Off topic – a short while back there was a thread where CoC and a few others were posting pics of cute tennis shoes/walking shoes. I’ve searched everything I can think of, but can’t find it. Does anyone remember what the topic was that day? Or have good recommendations? I’m taking a trip and will be walking all day, and need something cute enough to wear with casual pants but still comfy. I got a huge blister the other weekend wearing new shoes and had to take them off for the last half mile back to my hotel.

  79. “I think that we can go to concerts together to enjoy music is a good outcome.”

    Among other things I’ll miss when DS leaves is going to as many concerts and recitals as we have, and learning from him about new artists and music. We enjoy a lot of the same music

  80. I started piano when i was 13, stopped at 22. Music teacher at school said for most instruments it was ok to pick up in highschool, no disadvantage to never having in primary.

  81. I think Louise had recently bought some walking shoes she liked. Here’s another thread with ideas:

    My Reebok Skyscape shoes are still one of my favorites, but I’ve recently been wearing the Propet Travelfit in both the slide and regular sneaker style for walking. I particularly like Propet because they come in narrow widths, which is the only way I can wear a slide.

  82. Speaking of shoes, I like her style. For the most part, the heel height seems quite manageable.

  83. Because of that shoe thread, I bought some slip-on Rykas, and I love them. They’re machine-washable, too.

  84. http://www.colehaan.com/womens-shoes-sneakers

    Take a look at Cole Haan. I buy my walking around/errand running shoes from them.
    They may be more expensive but they fit well and last. I love their Zero Grand sandals


    Scarlett had posted The Great website, so I bought a pair from them but yet to wear them.

  85. Morning unrelated vent – DS2 and DIL to be are in town and we had our first talking past each other conversation about wedding arrangements. All is well now, but even when no one has a particular agenda and there are no bride or groom or either mother -zillas, there can be drama. Son wanted a Boston organized party because the then 93 year old gparents can’t travel to Calif, and probably some other family members as well. Okay. I said I would pay for it, even though that side of the family is hard to keep under control. Bride wants an east coast reception to which she can invite some of her family. I can pivot on that a bit, with number restrictions, but then they were talking about inviting friends from the west coast to come to both parties. Now I have to make formal arrangements, and they want it Dec 12 or so, when there are tons of xmas parties scheduled. Plus my son’s father and one of his sisters (difficult in other ways) are not on speaking terms, and my son only wants to let her come to the wedding if she brings her husband who can control her. This in the context of his completely baseless worry that he holds that his father won’t come to the wedding at all because he has failed to show up for lesser things and caused a lot of pain in the past.

  86. Meme, sounds like a lot of work plus a a lot of moving parts to plan something like this type of event. I hope you can persuade them to do something simpler. I’m just starting to sleep again because there is nothing left to do for our party except show up and pay. There is so much time and $$$$$ that goes into planning these large parties.

  87. Lauren, when is the bat mitzvah?

    Mémé, I don’t think there’s any issue at all with saying “I didn’t realize the size of the party you were considering; here’s my budget.” I was kind of astonished at how many parties DSS and his bride had, and also at how damn big the rehearsal dinner was going to be. But it’s all over now.

  88. Lauren/Meme – my family loves large and elaborate parties but now no one single handedly has the band width or even wants to plan one. With the family scattered it is difficult to do find helping hands and many events find people just flying in and out. I am glad we are all done with events for now. We have done things on a much smaller scale than has been traditionally done.

  89. I was kind of astonished at how many parties DSS and his bride had

    This sounds like the home country where some wedding invitations were like a booklet beginnng with at least two pre wedding celebrations, the wedding itself and post wedding dinner. Thankfuly the bigger the wedding the more likely the gift guidance would be “Presents in Blessings Only”. Very strict no gift rule from friends (not sure about family)

  90. One more week until the big day. I’m glad it isn’t this weekend because they’re predicting a lot of rain for tomorrow.

  91. DW and I both have small families so we never have big events. About the biggest was the graduation party / family reunion my brother put together last summer, which was about 50 people in his backyard. Sometimes I feel bad that our kids have never been to a wedding, but on the other hand, it’s nice not having to deal with this stuff.

    Meme, tell them how much you are willing to contribute and let them do whatever they want with it.

  92. The problem is that I have to organize the Boston party, rent the restaurant room, and satisfy multiple constituencies. I already sent them cash for the Calif events. Her father is dead, she is an only child, and her fiance has a lot of domineering and crazy relatives. I don’t know whether my ex is contributing any funds. She was also married very young for a bit, probably at city hall, so she has a lot of jitters. I have confidence after dealing with my current daughter in law for all these years that I can work well with my “daughter-in-law elect” (a Gilbert and Sullivan reference).

  93. I still like weddings but half of my cousins are now divorced. These were big weddings to which we travelled when my kids were little. My one cousin’s fiancé just stalled when all the preparations were being discussed. She was already married legally and had to get a divorce even though she had not lived with him pending a religious ceremony. Most odd set of circumstances.

  94. My dad said you have x amount for your wedding, do with it what you will. We organized from afar (was living in D.C. at the time) and picked the venue/cake/wedding dress in a few weekends. We only had a nine month engagement which worked well because we had to be decisive.

  95. MBT, I don’t remember that thread. I got Sperry Seacoasts last month. They are OK, but not as comfy/cushioned as I thought. I’m thinking I should’ve gone with the rubber-toe Treetorns.

  96. DD – re Seton Hall: I know their merit aid is based on achieving/maintaining a 3.0, reviewed annually. So the kid probably makes it to May.

  97. It was supposed to be a buffet luncheon or brunch for 30 local people, including kids. I figured I could work that out and volunteered. Now it is a second reception worth an out of town trip for East coast relatives during high Xmas season. I need to rent a place pronto, and there isn’t even a firm date.

  98. Meme, I thought “Boston” and “East coast” were synonymous. If they want two parties in the region, can’t you say “I got the first one. Second one is on you”?

  99. I was one of those who posted about shoes, I suggested the Ecco Chase or Ecco Soft. I bought the Chase for April break doing the college tour circuit, and they get an enthusiastic thumbs up.

    I really enjoy this blog, but usually only get to check in once a week, I don’t have time to read through all the comments – so me catching that question above must be some sort of kismet or happy accident. I think it means you were meant to order them…hope you enjoy them if you do!

  100. On topic, DH and I have fretted over letting a child quit an activity while the decision is being made, but never after. The child in question has always been happier when they are allowed to determine their EC’s. Only regrets are the time wasted fretting!

    *One exception to that was letting my VERY strong willed DD stop watching Muzzy when she was in preschool. She hated it. I had this crazy idea that she was bound for covert ops someday and that knowing multiple languages might somehow save her stubborn skin. Update at age 13: I still think she is an evil genius and hope that she will use her powers for good and not evil, and tho I laugh at my absurd reason I still wish that she had gotten more comfortable with multiple languages.

  101. “DH and I have fretted over letting a child quit an activity while the decision is being made, but never after.”

    That’s totally rational. Some might characterize the fretting while making the decision as due diligence, and that’s the logical time to fret. Once the decision’s been made, it’s water under the bridge, and any fretting at that point is more appropriately directed to decision still being made.

    WRT language, both my kids are getting pretty good at the ancestral language, which I attribute in part to their having watched a lot of kiddy shows in that language as preschoolers.

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