So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Quitting has a bad reputation. It’s perceived to be giving up on your dreams or on yourself. It’s what you do when you’ve run out of willpower, support or talent. It’s that thing that losers do. Whatever else we do in this life, we’re supposed to never, ever give up. Quitting isn’t an option.

But that’s not what I’m teaching my kids.

There is a moment for quitting. Every adult knows this, but we like to pretend our kids are the exception to the rule. We will keep them pushing forward. We will be SURE they are successful. We won’t allowing quitting in our house. And then we realize we’ve backed ourselves into a miserable, unrealistic corner with no way out.

Quitting is sometimes the exact right response to realizing we’ve gotten everything valuable we can gain from that experience. You started your child in dance classes, then realized she’s uncoordinated, hates performing, and the whole experience is costing you the money you could be saving for a family Disney vacation. Maybe it’s time to quit. Your son starts the trombone, but he also starts basketball, Boy Scouts, and the chess club. Maybe something is going to have to give.

When we frame quitting as failure, we make our kids feel like they’ve lost out on something when the truth is that it takes a lifetime of starting and quitting to figure out what you love, what you’re good at, and what inspires your passion.

After over a decade of lessons, countless hours spent practicing and a financial investment by my parents that I’ve never felt ready to try to calculate, I quit the violin. I can’t say I ever really enjoyed it, but I stuck with it. The guilt from quitting was pretty heavy, but the relief was tremendous. I’ve never really regretted quitting, although there are still times I wonder if I’ll someday want to pick it back up again. 

I’m glad I started the violin. I’m glad I practiced. I’m glad I developed those skills and the relationships I gained through the activities I did with my violin. And I’m glad I quit. 

I think we would be well served to approach some of our activities, passions and hobbies in a similar manner to the KonMari method of tidying up. We can evaluate that activity and if we decide it is no longer bringing us joy, we can thank it for what it gave us and we can move on without guilt. I want to practice this and I want to teach it to my kids. I want to recognize there are seasons to what we feel passionate about or what we want to accomplish. Quitting is a necessary part of making room for the new in our lives. We don’t have to quit in bitterness or anger, but with thankfulness for what we learned through the process.

If we started activities knowing under the right circumstances we have the freedom to quit, I think we’d feel more comfortable trying new things. That exercise class isn’t a forever commitment. Those voice lessons might be fun for a season, but don’t have to turn into something more. It can be okay for my kids to try soccer this year, then basketball next year.

There are precious few things I don’t want my kids to quit. We will keep pushing through even when school is hard. If they have made a commitment to a team, we will fulfill that commitment before reevaluating. If I paid to rent that instrument for the year, let’s finish out the year. Church is a nonnegotiable, even when it takes time you’d rather be doing other things.

There are many ways to teach our children faithfulness and perseverance. We don’t want them to give up before they’ve gotten what they needed to out of an experience. We want our kids to press on even when things are hard because rewards are often just on the other side. We can emphasize the joy and beauty of working towards a goal and we can also show them the wisdom in letting go of the goals that weren’t right for us. 

So I’m raising quitters. Kids who quit with thoughtfulness and intentionality. Kids who won’t carry guilt for recognizing when it’s time to move on. Kids who aren’t scared to try new things because they know not every activity has to be a lifelong commitment. For some of our over-scheduled, hyper-committed, exhausted kids, maybe a little quitting is just what they need.

You may also like: 

Dear Daughter, Do Not Be Perfect

I Am The Keeper

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.

These Are the Sick Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom kissing head of sick toddler

I’m still in the trenches of toddlerhood, and yet, I already know I will look back on my daughter’s preschool years with affection for what it is: sweet, fun, curious, and undeniably precious. What I won’t miss about this stage is that it’s germy. SO germy. The preschool years bring endless crud into our home. Crud that is heartbreaking when your beloved child’s body is working hard to fight it off, but that also works its way into other bodies. The adults in the home who have jobs and responsibilities, run the entire household and have just endured the emotional...

Keep Reading

I’m Giving My Kids the Summer Fun I Never Had

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two boys playing in the waves on the beach, color photo

I love that my kids hate school. Stay with me here . . . Yes, I absolutely love that year after year, my boys cannot wait to ditch school for summer break, that they endlessly bemoan the academic year and cannot wait for June.  I love it because it is normal. I love it because it means they enjoy being at home and implies that I make summers fun for them, or, rather, allow summers to be fun for them. I love it because I always dreaded summers when I was growing up. Dreaded them with knots in my stomach...

Keep Reading

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime