As a single parent, many parenting decisions fall on my shoulders. Choosing to get my daughter started with piano lessons was easy. So was picking the teacher and the nights of the weeks for her lessons.
Now, four years later, I face a new decision. Do I let her quit the piano lessons like she wants?
She doesn’t know that I’m even considering it. However, I have quietly started running through the pros and cons of the decision in my head. I’ve consulted my own parents and other parents I talk to often.
The Pros and Cons Quitting the Piano
The following are the various pros and cons I’ve put together so far to letting her quit lessons or not.
The piano teacher has been sending me hints about this. The entry-level material was only supposed to last six months, but she’s still working on it approaching her third year. We have increased our practice time lately and I have seen some improvement on this. But, it might just be time to throw in the towel.
A big reason I’m hesitant to let her quit, though, is that she might regret it later in her life. I know I regret quitting when I was a child. She idolizes various musicians and recording artists. So, I point out to her that none of them have ever said they regret all the practice they put in over the years. I really don’t want to raise a quitter or someone who doesn’t understand the value of going the distance.
I make threats all the time. I try encouragement. I do all I can. Yet, she just doesn’t want to practice. She goes to lessons, sure, but her daily practice at home either doesn’t happen like it should. It happens when I’m mysteriously not home to confirm it. Or she just phones it in while her mind is already on YouTube and Netflix which happens soon after.
She thinks she doesn’t have any talent. Maybe she’s right. Maybe it doesn’t matter though? Is talent always something we’re born with? Can’t it be learned? Even if she doesn’t, the practice over time can breed discipline that is a useful skill in just about every other area of life.
This is a great reason to let her quit. Remember how I said I’m always encouraging, scheduling, overlooking, and threatening? It’s exhausting. I only have so much energy, and I need it to work full-time, raise her, take care of myself, and hopefully enjoy life once in a while.
This one’s a tough one for me. The digital piano I bought cost me money, even if I got it used on Facebook. The electricity it uses costs me money, since it’s a keyboard and not a full piano. The books cost a little bit of money even if I got them used off of Amazon and eBay. The special piano bench with storage for our sheet music wasn’t cheap either.
The lessons definitely cost me money. Every penny counts as a single father, and do I really let my daughter decide it’s okay to throw all that potential investment away for nothing?
The flipside to this one is that I might be the one throwing my money away if I keep forcing her to go when it’s against her will. This is especially true if it turns out that she actually has no desire to keep up with it. So, do I just have to cut my losses and move on?
It’s hard to swallow the idea that I spent all that money on a keyboard in the home plus the piano books, plus the lessons, and it might all be for nothing. Then again, she has learned how to read music. She is used to taking lessons.
She’s even begrudgingly used to practicing or at least making up good stories about it. She’s expressed some interest in picking up a guitar and I could easily swap out the keyboard for one at the pawn shop.
What if the guitar fascination is just a smokescreen so she can transition out of piano? How do I really know that the guitar lessons will take? She’s a crafty one sometimes and she might know that guitar practice can’t be done too late in our small house whereas keyboard practice can happen anytime with headphones?
My daughter has been going to lessons lately with a really bad attitude. That’s certainly no fun for the teacher who I actually really like. He tries hard to get her excited about piano. My daughter complains a lot, forgets materials, and half-halfheartedly plays her assignment. I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t be doing that to the teacher who can easily find another student that is probably an easier paycheck.
So, Should I Let Her Quit?
So many parenting decisions come down to either gut instinct or just what I want to see happen, even if it’s not always something that makes me a good parent or not. I mean, I want my daughter to eat healthy, but some nights you just have to order pizza to keep your own sanity intact. Now that I’ve rationalized both the pros and cons of letting her quit piano, I’ll hopefully wake up in the morning knowing what I’ll finally decide on.
Anyway, for me, the whole point of going over all the potential pros and cons isn’t about making a thorough decision that’s been thought out and rationalized in both columns. While every pro or con can matter a great deal, it’s more about just getting through the indecision and analysis paralysis to know what’s truly important.
At the end of the day, it will just boil down to me loving my daughter. It could be the love she recognizes and feels now. Or it might be tough love she doesn’t respect until she’s got her own kids a generation from now.
If you’re facing a similar decision with your own kids, all I can say is, good luck! Are there any pros or cons I have missed? Let me know what decision you make and why!