My son has been doing martial arts for a couple of years now. He likes it for the most part—he just graduated to a level where he gets to learn how to fight with sticks, which is, he thinks, pretty great. So I was a little surprised when, chatting with him about it the other day, he informed me with some deliberation that he figured he would quit at some point. "I'll get bored," he said. "I'll definitely quit eventually."
There's no need to borrow trouble, so I didn't push him on it. But I know that, after all the work he's put into it, if he comes to me some day and says he wants to quit, I will look him in the eye and say something along the lines of, "Okay. If that's what you want, we'll quit."
Probably a lot of folks think that's not the best tack to take—even as I type I can see the silent, judgy pursing of lips. I've talked about this here before in terms of adults quitting the workforce, but the stigma against quitting can be even more iron-bound with kids. American parents (or at least middle-class American parents) frown on giving up willy-nilly just because you're bored. How will you ever overcome hardship if you just give up when the going gets hard? we ask. As Delia Lloyd says in a recent piece at Brain, Child, "There’s a real value in old-fashioned perseverance. And with all the talk of 'life skills' these days, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for children to start learning the value of commitment early on, even when they find something onerous."