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Should I Force My Teen to Continue Wrestling in High School?

My son is 15 and a freshman in high school. He is very athletic and has wrestled since he was 5 years old. He is very talented and wrestles on the national level with a lot of success. However, he recently decided he doesn’t want to wrestle in high school. My husband and all the coaches want him to wrestle at least his first year in high school to see if he likes it. He says he wants to box instead. My husband and his coach said he will regret it if he doesn’t wrestle because he is so talented. I don’t know if I should force him to wrestle one year in high school and see how it is, then, if he doesn’t want to continue that’s fine. Practice is right after school and his older brother wrestled too so he doesn’t have a ride home unless I come to get him. My husband said I should just let him stay at school until wrestling is over and his brother can bring him after practice. I don’t know what to do… is it ok to say “you are going wrestle for at least one more year?” (From the USA)

Forcing your child to do what he doesn’t want to do is never a good idea when it comes to sports, music lessons, academics, or performance skills. The research on this is very clear. You are working to develop a person who can make their own decisions, experience the difficulty and struggle along with the joy and satisfaction of making his own choice and making his own way. He might have a boxing champ in him — or he might recommit to wrestling and that wouldn’t have happened had he just felt pushed.

Support him in his PROCESS of making his decision. Let him know you are there to talk, let him sort out his reasons. You can help point out the pros and cons, but leave your thoughts of what is right for him as not something you will judge him on if he makes a choice different than what you want. When coaches, parents, and teammates offer their opinions they are often trying to persuade based on their needs. Let your son have the dignity of making his own mistakes—or reaping the harvest from his decision. It is his life and learning how to make his own choices is a big part of it.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

from Ask the Therapist

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