DEAR ABBY: Our daughter, "Naomi," who is 8 years old, has been taking piano lessons for three years. In recent months she seems to have lost interest in the piano, and it's a struggle to get her to practice. I usually lose my temper, and she ends up in tears.
I finally gave up trying to force her to practice. My theory is that unless she is motivated by her own desire to learn, it's not worth the hassle -- not to mention the money we're wasting on lessons.
My husband disagrees. He thinks we should make Naomi practice no matter how much she hates it. I should also mention that our son, "David," who is now 13, was allowed to quit taking violin lessons three months ago because of his many school obligations, plus making the football team -- which his father wholeheartedly approved of.
Naomi is angry. She can't understand why we let her brother quit his music lessons, but we are not allowing her to quit.
What do you think, Abby? If you have a solution my husband will listen to, perhaps we can have some peace in this house. -- FIGHTING IN FLORIDA
DEAR FIGHTING: Assuming that David started taking violin lessons when he was 5, he has had eight years of music lessons. In order to treat both children equally, Naomi should take music lessons for another five years.
Don't give up so easily. Tell Naomi she may quit when she's 13, if she wants to.
For what it's worth, I have had numerous letters from readers saying they were forced to take music lessons and they hated it at the time, but later on, they were glad they weren't allowed to quit when they begged to.
However, readers have never written to say they regretted getting a musical education -- even though they often practiced with tears in their eyes.