Alright, in my house are three kids, two Nintendo DS, a Wii, an iPad, and several computers. Needless to say, a lot of video games get played in our home. So, we have all the parental concerns regarding the amount of time spent playing, and how to protect our kids from negative messages in the content they’re viewing. What should a good parent do?
Well, first let’s hear what the folks at Extra Credits have to say about it.
It’s tempting, when your kid is consumed by an activity that seems to isolate them from you, to cut it off. You want to protect them from the pain of their decisions, and that can blind you to the opportunities that you have to teach them and bond through their new obsession.
Ideally, games are meant to be played together with others. With a little work on the parent’s part, they can be one of the “others” for their kids.
What do you know about that game that your child is playing? If the answer is “nothing,” you’re in luck. You live in the age of the Interweb tubes. Go watch a couple of walk-through videos on YouTube. Find the game’s wiki and do a little reading. Research more about the game so you can talk with them about it. Even the “bad” games out there can provide you a chance to interact and talk about life in a meaningful way.
It just requires your patience and involvement.
I don’t really remember exactly how I let it happen. All I know was that I was driving home with my oldest daughter, talking about this and that as we often do when we’re alone. Somehow the this and the that lead to her asking me a question that would change everything.
“Why do women have vaginas?”
I was stuck, because my daughter was aware that she had asked something big, and there was no way she was letting me out of it.
Mind you, I knew that this conversation was coming eventually, but I really wanted to pawn it off on my wife. She has the biology degree, y’know. She would be far more clinical and careful. I should have known better, though. Trying to dump responsibility on my wife never goes well for me.
So, off I went. As soon as we got home, I pulled her and her brother aside and we wound our way through it all.
Anatomy. Intercourse. Menstruation. Pregnancy. Childbirth.
We talked about being appropriate, mistakes you can make, and the dangers of being irresponsible.
My wife has a gay brother in a committed relationship, so we even talked some about homosexuality.
It wasn’t a short conversation, and the kids walked away feeling both satisfied and horrified. They have a basic enough understanding now to know what’s coming, though, and we now have the opportunity to talk with them honestly about it whenever it comes up (and it has).
The sex “talk” is difficult, but ultimately beneficial for both you and your children.
So, I’ve shared all of that to ask you this:
Have you had the money “talk” with your kids?
In our culture, we’ve become more comfortable discussing sex, even with our children, than we are about discussing money. Whether it’s successes or struggles, there is a sense of taboo around sharing our financial lives except in the most intimate of relationships (and maybe not even then).
The problem is, as important as an honest sex talk is, an honest money talk is a hundred times more so. Our lives aren’t all about our money, but money touches every part of our lives. Money is life fuel. Sex can’t make that claim.
So, you have to wind your way through all the details.
Income. Saving. Spending. Debt. Investing.
How to act appropriately with money, the mistakes you can make, and the dangers of being irresponsible.
If you don’t think you know enough to have the “talk” with your kids, then it’s time to learn. Take a class. Read a few books about home finances. Just so you can have the opportunity to talk with them honestly about it. It might be difficult, but it will be totally worth it. For both you and your kids.
Unless you are one of the lucky few that live under a rock, you know about the horrible assault on an elementary school in Connecticut last Friday. I’m not going to link to the story here, or talk about much in the way of details. A broken, disturbed young man walked into a school and proceeded to kill several teachers and many of their students. Children died.
I’m not a big fan of it when children are hurt or killed. I don’t like seeing it in television shows or movies. I’ve actually put books down when a story includes it. I sure as hell don’t like it when it happens in real life like it did last Friday.
My emotions go on a wild ride. I get angry at the needlessness of the lives cut short. I empathize with those who are mourning for their children. I feel afraid when I think of being separated from my own children in such a sudden and violent manner.
And I wait for all of that to pass, and for the bluster and speculation to clear, before I do anything. It’s too easy to think stupid and impulsive thoughts while in the middle of all of that emotional turmoil. To act on those thoughts wouldn’t be useful.
Extreme, sensationalized examples like the Connecticut school violence should remind us that we live in a world full of everyday tragedy. If we look beyond the tight focus put on this one instance, we should quickly realize that, around the world, far more than twenty children faced a shocking or disturbing death last Friday. Many more than that had to deal with severe wounds or other suffering. And that happens every single day.
Sometimes they just drop dead for no reason at all.
No matter how much we try to shield them from all risks and injuries, there is no guarantee that any of us will see our children grow to adulthood. (In fact, there is a growing concern that our efforts to protect them is harming them more.) We can’t let our fears cause us to react impulsively. Keep the extreme instances in perspective, and don’t unnecessarily trade their freedom for alleged safety.
Our children are just on loan to us. We’re responsible for raising and guiding them, but life is unpredictable. They can be gone in a flash, and there could be nothing we can do to stop it. All we can do is make the best of the time we are given and be grateful for every second of it.
What will we teach them while they’re under our care? What kind of vision and hope are we passing on to them? Are you pointing them to reach for something higher, or are you huddled with them under the shadow of everyday tragedy?