When I was growing up, my parents valued hard work and dedication, and instilled this in our family. Quitting wasn’t in our vocabulary. I can’t remember a time when I wanted to quit a youth sport or activity.
This foundation led to some stressful times for me and my son once he reached his teen years.
In his elementary years, my son loved hockey. We’re a hockey family. We watch NHL games on TV, and three of my four kids played the sport growing up. My husband and I acted as coaches for many years, and I was the team manager for a few seasons.
So, as parents, we were more than willing to shell out the money every year so our son could play minor hockey. However, his individuality started to show once he reached his teen years.
He started expressing interest in other sports
My son’s drive to be active and try new physical activities delighted us. There were years when he tried different sports, like football and lacrosse. Although he did well on his teams, they didn’t grab his attention. He wouldn’t return to the field after completing the season. His laissez-faire attitude started to show, but he at least stuck it out with hockey, since he had years of enjoyment playing.
But, when he was 13 years old, my son played his last year of minor hockey. His neutral attitude toward hockey changed to disdain, and he talked about quitting for good. At the time, I thought his contempt for the sport came from a bad experience with a coach. We tried to rectify the situation, but my son refused to play.
Unable to let the sport of hockey go, I devised a compromise: he would try recreational hockey instead of the minor league team in our area.
We wanted our son to maintain an active lifestyle with healthy habits
We eventually enrolled our son in the local rec hockey league. While this change took away the stress of competition for him, he still wasn’t happy. He expressed his dislike for the game and frustration with his teammates. He even refused to play during a tournament in his last year. As a mother, I was heartbroken that my son was unhappy. I couldn’t see it then, but he needed something else for his mental health that he wasn’t getting from hockey.
My husband and I firmly believe that children need a physical outlet, especially our son. He’s an active kid who needs to be busy and expend energy. But, after a long discussion with him, we decided he should stop playing hockey. It wasn’t the sport for him anymore, even though he once loved it. His interests had changed, and he had been trying to tell us for years.
I felt like I ignored his previous requests, hoping to change his mind and have him remain in the sport. Because my brother and I grew up playing on the ice, I always assumed my kids would have the same love for the game that I do. Once I stepped back, I could see my son wasn’t happy and no hockey team would change that.
When we took time to talk to him, we ensured our son knew that we supported him in his decision to quit hockey. However, it was clear that he had to keep active and find an activity that suited him.
Little did I know how much more my kid could and wanted to do
He started running at home. I’ve been a runner for years, so I helped him find a suitable training plan. He participated in a few local races, but that wasn’t his passion. So we started exploring different activities.
Although my son quit hockey earlier than I would have liked, I’ve enjoyed watching him in other sports. I’ve been to lacrosse and football games, 5km and 10km races, and even Brazilian jiu-jitsu matches.
Currently, he trains at a mixed martial arts club and participates in tournaments, even as an adult. He no longer laces up his skates, but I couldn’t be prouder of him. He was able to find a sport that he enjoys while keeping himself active and healthy.
Nothing compares to the experience of watching your child succeed at an activity they love. The joy I see on my kid’s face when he’s training and competing is incomparable. I’m glad he found something that he loves to do and continues to excel.
If your child expresses an interest in something new or different, it can be beneficial to explore various options. You only know what your child is capable of once you let them take control.