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Context:

高校も不登校中退で通信制を卒業、転職歴20回以上の息子の母です。よろしくお願いします。幼い頃から頑張りがなく飛びついては止める傾向があり遂に高校も続きませんでした。

goo.ne dictionary defines two meanings for 飛びついて

1 勢いよく身をおどらせてとりつく。飛びかかる。「子供が母親に―・く」「柳に―・く蛙」

2 興味をもったものなどに、軽率に手を出す。「もうけ話に―・く」「流行に―・く」

I think second meaning suits better here. So my translation for the phrase in bold is:

幼い頃から頑張りがなく飛びついては止める傾向があり遂に高校も続きませんでした。

Since he was a kid, he did not have the tenacity you need, to throw yourself at the things you are interested in. This eventually led him to stop going to school as well.

Am I understanding this correctly ? This might be an obtuse question but if I had to pull out 「飛びついては止める傾向」and translate it, what would it mean ?

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As Chocolate pointed out, you seem to have missed the V1 + ては + V2 construction:

So 飛びついては止める傾向 refers to the son's tendency to do 飛びつく and 止める as a paired action for many times. 止める (read やめる) in this context means "to quit", and 飛びつく is the opposite, i.e., the second definition of goo.ne.

幼い頃から頑張りがなく、飛びついては止める傾向がありました。
Since childhood, (my son) has lacked tenacity, and had the tendency to (always) jump at something new and quit it soon.

飛びつく in this figurative sense usually needs a target (e.g., 新しいものに飛びつく, チャンスに飛びつく), but since it's clearly contrasted with 止める, it can be inferred in this case.

  • So the full sentence might be something like 新しいものに飛びついてはやめる傾向がありました。 Makes sense. Thank you for the links and explaining 飛びつく. :) – vadasambar Aug 19 at 2:13

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