My kids wanted to quit karate long before I actually let them. I should’ve listened to them sooner.

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At first they loved karate. I never had trouble getting them to the dojo. They’d train hard while they were there. They’d practise at home. They’d push themselves for belt tests and tournaments—despite nerves or fear. Karate was important to them. And the boost in confidence and assertiveness in both of them was significant. So I kept encouraging them to train, not that I really needed to.

We all started karate the same day. My oldest was being bullied. My youngest was struggling with shyness. I was struggling with grief over my mom’s cancer diagnosis. And karate became the thing that helped us all. Our training became a shared passion, and a really fun way to connect and spend time together.

Eventually they both lost interest; first my youngest, then my oldest. My youngest asked to stop months before I finally listened. And my oldest had been putting in countless hours volunteering at the dojo, and was quickly losing their passion for it.

But I kept encouraging them to go.

I wanted them to love karate as much as I did. I wanted to have something we were all passionate about, a common interest. I wanted them to have a healthy outlet for frustration and stress. I wanted them to develop physical fitness, and to feel strong, confident, and assertive. I wanted them to be tough and amazing and happy. I wanted them to be martial artists. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted.

And that was the thing: I wanted them to be martial artists. But THEY didn’t want to be. And I should have listened sooner.

Instead of making it all about me and what I thought was best for them, I should have listened to what they were telling me. They knew their hearts weren’t in it. They knew karate no longer interested them. They knew it was no longer a good fit for them. By forcing them to train when their hearts weren’t in it, I was not only contributing to their stress and unhappiness, I was also putting strain on our relationship.

They just wanted me to see them and to accept them for who they were, not for who I wanted them to be. And I finally did.

Maybe in future they will start training again, and I will absolutely encourage this if they do. But I never want them to do something to make ME happy. I want them to do whatever it is that makes THEM happy.

Because that’s what I did. No one told ME to start karate. No one forced ME to do something I didn’t want to do. I chose martial arts in my 40s because I wanted it. I chose that path because it is right for me. Not because someone else thought it was best for me.

And my kids will choose the path that is right for them. I will never force them to follow the wrong path again. Their happiness and trust are far more important to me than that.

What do you think about letting kids quit martial arts? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section at the end of this article. Thanks for reading!

Podcast Show Notes

We don’t want to be quitters—nor do we want to raise our kids to give up easily—but sometimes quitting IS the right choice. Join me in this episode as I discuss my reasons for letting my kids quit karate, and what I learned about my kids—and myself—in the process.

Thank you for joining me on my martial arts journey, and in the exploration of all the ways we can perform better in life and martial arts.

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You’re reading Why I Finally Let My Kids Quit Karate by Sabrina Bliem, originally posted on The Karate Shrimp. If you’ve enjoyed this post, be sure to follow The Karate Shrimp on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!