There will come a time in your parenting journey when you will have to help a child decide if they should quit doing one thing so they can pursue another. How will you help them decide the best thing to do? Not a hard choice if they’re terrible at one thing and seem to have more potential in another, but what if they’re actually good at both?
And what if it means quitting sports?
Wait. What? Quit sports?
Yes, quit sports.
You mean after all the years, money, games, and practices . . . we’re just going to quit?
I know. It sounds bad just saying it, but this is something we found ourselves wrestling with just a few years ago.
We have three kids. All of them have grown up playing sports. Swim, softball, football, basketball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, tennis . . . we have loved every minute of every sport. They have always been a big part of our life as a family.
Great memories made.
Great relationships formed.
Great life lessons learned.
Our son was a kicker for his high school football team. When he finished his sophomore year, he was next in line to be the starting varsity kicker. He had worked hard his freshman and sophomore years to improve, and he had become a great kicker. (I’m not just saying that because I’m his mom. He really was great!) Even though he loved football, he was beginning to consider other goals that would require more time in the books and less time on the field.
We listened as he talked about taking more Advanced Placement classes to better his chance of going to the college of his choice and how he wanted to become more involved with student missions. He just didn’t know if he would have the time to commit to playing football and still do well in the classes.
When he asked us, “Do I keep playing football or do I quit?” we knew it was a huge decision. Even though we hated seeing him give up something he enjoyed, we knew he had a choice to make, so we answered with this question:
“Which one are you most passionate about?”
For us, it wasn’t about quitting football. It was more than that. It was about him doing what he couldn’t stop thinking about—what his heart got excited about!
We knew it was important that our son make the choice. We didn’t want to hear later, “Why did you make me or why didn’t you stop me?”
This was his choice and he had to own it.
We also knew it was important that he knew we supported him, no matter what. We didn’t want him making a choice to please us or out of guilt for all the time and money we had put into sports.
After a lot of thought, our son made the choice to follow his passion. He quit football and began taking more AP classes. He also spent a lot more time working with student missions—both local and international. He soon learned that following his passion was so much more fun than what he thought was fun before he followed his passion! And because he enjoyed it, and had more time to focus on it, he became very successful in it. He became president of his school’s student mission chapter and easily got into the college of his choice with a 4.4 GPA average and 16 AP classes.
Together, we discovered that passion is the best fuel for the human spirit. We had no doubt that our son’s academics and his mission work were his passions because we never had to remind him about a meeting, drag him out of bed for school, or encourage him to study. His passion did that for us—and more importantly, for him.
As hard as it was to say goodbye to sports with my son, watching him live each day with passion has been more rewarding than all the game days combined.
This season of parenting taught us all a few things:
Giving our kids opportunities to make big decisions and discover what they’re passionate about is important.
Asking questions that help guide them in their decision-making, rather than just telling them what to do, is also important.
Supporting them—whether they fly or fall—that may be the most important.
God made every person with unique abilities for His purpose. As our kids grow, we need to do everything we can to help them learn how to make decisions that will move them closer to what they’re passionate about and then give them the freedom to go for it. Trust me, watching your kid live life with passion in their eyes is one of the best feelings in the world.