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Parenting Your Teenager: When is it OK to Quit?

Q. My daughter is a junior in high school and has played an instrument and/or played in band all her life. Now all of a sudden she wants to quit lessons and quit band. Is this normal or a warning sign of something bad? Should we let her quit?

A. There are times when wanting to drop something that has been a big part of your life can indicate a problem in need of immediate attention. If there are any other signs that your daughter might be depressed or using drugs, then you will want to get her two appointments - one with her doctor and one with a family counselor who works with teenagers.

If she's not depressed and/or doing drugs, then dropping an instrument and band may be a decision that she is ready to make. Certainly she is old enough to make that decision, and she may have simply lost interest.

How to End Gracefully

You can tell her that if dropping the instrument and band is something she wants to do, there are two things she needs to do first.

The first is have her write a letter of thanks to the person who taught her the instrument and to the band director, thanking each for their time and effort and sharing what she has learned.

I suggest this for two reasons: It's simply a classy thing to do, and it may re-awaken in her the reasons she got involved in the band.

The second is to tell her she can quit band only after she finds something else to be involved in. It's quite fine to want to quit something, but at her age, it needs to be replaced with something else. This is because one of the strongest needs of kids and teens is to have a sense of belonging. This need is so strong that a teen will get it met some how, either in a positive place or a negative place.

By requiring that she find something else to be a part of, you are helping to make sure she finds a positive place to belong.

Leading parenting expert Jeff Herring is a teen and family therapist, parenting coach, speaker and syndicated parenting and relationship columnist. Jeff invites you to visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for 100's of tips and tools for parenting through the teenage years. You can also subscribe to his f'ree weekly internet newsletter "ParentingYourTeenager."

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