Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mom and Dad I want to quit, Can you quit with me?

The title of this article may sound confusing; however, when you read on, you will see the relevance to a parent’s life and common daily occurrences. I have been running a martial art school for almost 30 years. Before running this particular school I ran another school when I was a teen-ager. So I have been around parents and children for almost 4 decades. 

Image result for picture of a quitterWe have a saying amongst martial art school owners – “behind every demotivated student, there is a demotivated parent.” Before you get angry, stop reading or take that saying the wrong way, allow me to explain. I realize most parents are the most motivated individuals on the planet. I also realize that parents dedicate their lives to the pursuit of happiness, the success of their children and they will stop at nothing to help their children achieve these goals. 

However, the problem in parenting at times is lack of tools or strategies and methodology of parenting skills. After all, there are not many courses, out there that teaches a fool proof system on parenting. No matter whether your child is in the martial arts, plays a sport, instrument or it has to do with school, we all run into the same problems. Children get bored, frustrated and want to quit. My school has been open so long, that I get to see children grow up to be adults and even have children of their own and they rarely say, they were happy they quit. Most of the time, I hear stories of how the adult has been regretful their entire lives because they didn’t stick with their martial art training and should have continued. In fact many parents enroll their children because they wished they hadn’t quit when they were younger. They blame their parents saying things like “they were the parents, I was the child, I didn’t know any better,” or they say things like, “They should have made me stay, and my life would have turned out much different than it did.” 

In a parent’s defense, being a parent myself, we tend to choose our battles. We don’t want to go through life miserable continually bargaining, fighting and arguing to get our children to do what is the correct thing for them. Remember the last time you checked out at the super market and your child started bargaining for gum or candy. You said “No,” but eventually gave in. However, if we don’t parent (teach and discipline), then what is the sense to parenting at all. It is easy to be a parent, but the art of actual parenting is difficult. 

So our article title “Mom and Dad I want to quit, can you quit with me,” is so true, because when a child is bored or demotivated and they want to stop. The parent may stand strong and fight the child or even force them to go to their martial art classes or other activities. But eventually the child will win out. With enough pressure from the child, enough tantrums, enough struggles, a parent loses their motivation. So in essence the child pressures the parent into quitting as well. We may not see it that way, but the reality is both the child and parent quit. We realize as parents that a child has so many opportunities in the 21st century, they quit martial arts, they take up gymnastics, and they quit gymnastics they take up swimming and soccer. You get my point, they are in a perpetual cycle of quitting. Which will eventually become a character trait whether you like it or not. Children rarely stick with many activities long enough for them to benefit them in the real world. To become amazing. They quit long before, they master, or semi master that particular skill. 

The martial arts due to its diverse nature, it can help a student young and old in a myriad of ways. However, some are not evident until they experience that particular lesson or struggle. So for example as they get older and start college, they may find the discipline that they have learned long ago in their martial art classes can be applied to their schooling. Or even their job, or interview process and most of all it is never too late to learn self-defense. So why is it that people quit? It is quite simple; complacency of the activity, or routine and boredom breeds contempt or lack of interest. Because of the way the activity is perceived it is looked at as a stimulant. In other words, they get used to it and it is in their mind the same old, same old is going on... Repetition breeds contempt in many cases, however it is the most important part of mastery.

It is our goal as martial art teachers to always keep things fresh but what makes a martial art teachers job so difficult is they deal with children for many years. At least in the public school system a teacher and the student spend a year together then they move on. Even in our school system this type of learning is failing our children. They become great at cramming for a test, spending way to little time mastering the material and moving on. They do not work toward mastery, they work on mediocrity. There is very little time or enough time to stay on a topic to become proficient at it. In fact I coined the phrase “mastery not mediocrity.” 

In a martial art school with years of repetition a child turns to an adult and continually becomes proficient at “The Self.” They are always improving who they are as human beings and growing.

Check out this testimonial I just received. 

“Hello Shihan I've been thinking about this for a while and I've been having this idea bounce around my head for a years. I still remember the times when I was younger and I trained with you all the way up to brown belt as a child. I was very nervous knowing that I would be eventually taking my black belt test and I decided to quit. I have to say, I regret this still to this day. It's something that I still harp on at times and I would live to actually earn my black belt and practice for the rest of my life. I wonder if my life would have taken a different path if I stuck with you and the martial arts. I don't know if you know for the last 5 year I moved and started a new life in a new state and I seen that you just opened a new dojo which is literally 10 minutes from me in Delray. My mom has been an inspiration to me that she kick boxes and started off with you as well. I feel like I need an outlet and would like to join your dojo again. And start over learning Ninjutsu, possibly to complete my goal and journey toward being a better person. 

In essence this person regretted quitting for many years and this is only one out of hundreds of students that have told me this. 

You may be asking – what can you do to win this battle as a parent? 

Here are some suggestions: 

1) Always be the parent. Never allow your child to decide things on their own or coerce you through resistance to change your mind. All Character trait are developed within the first 10 years of a child’s life. This is a very crucial time. So within this time you need to set good examples and make choices for your child. As difficult as it is, or as hard as it may feel, you must persevere. This is the trait we are also teaching your child. So if you allow them to quit, or you say I choose my battles wisely you in essence are sealing their fate to be that way for ever. It takes a ton of really dedicated hard work to change your personality or character traits.

2) Teach the “Stick-to-itiveness” Attitude. Many times parents will say, we are not quitting we are going to finish out our year. Or the Smith Family are not quitters we are just taking a break. I know that when they say this, they just don’t want to admit to themselves that they are quitting. Stopping after a year is quitting. If you went to college and stopped after a semester or a year and didn’t go back, that would be considered quitting. However, we don’t like to label ourselves or children as quitters, but if they start and don’t complete the skill to at least black belt then they quit. 

3) Understand that your children will not hate you, if you force them to do what is right for them. They may not like you for a small period of time, but they will love you in the end. I have never had a child who received their black belt say “my parents made me go and I hate them because of it.” They always thank them, hug them and say they love them because of it. So do not stop, push through the hard times. It is you as the parent that has to be strong for the both of you. Your martial art teachers will be there with you through thick and thin. Changing hats, personalities and language as your child grows through the ranks, always deepening or attempting to their relationship with your child or you as an adult. 

In closing, if you had a crystal ball, you would see that keeping your kids in any activity for a long time is beneficial. Teaching them the “I am not going to quit attitude”, will change their lives forever. The martial arts are life changing in every way but you have to stick with it long enough to see that. Also, remember the old saying, “Quitters, never win and Winners never Quit!? Don’t allow you children to stop, because the benefits are endless. Take this from a dad and a martial art instructor with over 50 years of experience.


  1. great article sir. Loved it.
    Perhaps one day write one on parents divided.

    1. I will absolutely write a post explaining how to get both parents on board or set a standard for one parent to help the other understand.

  2. Great article... Thank you for your insight.

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help with. Or write about.