Video games & being truthful with your kids

I just happened upon this topic last night, as my fiance and I were watching some random YouTube videos on old video games. Quite a few I had never even heard of, but he had and had played them. This got me to thinking about my history with video games and eventually led to a decision of mine regarding my future kids that my parents did not do with me.

When I was a kid, I obviously knew that video games existed, no matter how sheltered I was. I asked my parents before for a system, not even one in particular, but they said no. I eventually bought one myself – at a discount – once I had my own job, and while I enjoyed it immensely, I am far from a hardcore gamer. There are many games that are just out of my league, talent-wise, the kind that you get how to play with a lot of experience behind you that you just can’t grasp otherwise. I enjoy watching someone else (like my fiance) play games I’d never be able to, but he grew up playing them. I didn’t. I got my first system and games at 17, which, for all the gamer friends I have, is pretty late in life compared to when they started playing.

Whenever I had asked my parents for a video game, they had said they couldn’t afford it. My fiance’s parents, on the other hand, were able to provide the occasional system and plenty of games for them, because they waited until the inevitable price drop and specials and sales. His family certainly was no better off, and in fact it’s a pretty good guess that they had less income than my family even did. Yet they afforded a small luxury here and there, at a discounted price. My parents refused, cost being their reason. Nowadays, I see their refusal for what it was: they just didn’t want me to play video games.

Now, if they had just come out and said they didn’t want me to play video games…sure, I would have been upset (yet another thing barred from me for religious reasons) but later on I would have admired the fact that they had been up front and truthful with me. Just like with my one normal Halloween, however, they had to dig an excuse out of a barrel that just plain wasn’t true. I think it’s ridiculous lying to kids like that to save face. If you don’t want them to do something, shouldn’t you be able to sit them down and explain it to them in a way they’ll understand and accept? And even if they don’t fully accept it, at least understand it? Why the lies, especially when they become so blatant later in life? I know my father orchestrated the whole thing – as he really did just about everything in my life, like a puppet master – so my respect for him has gone down even more (and it wasn’t very high to begin with).

Which brings me to my decision: I will not lie to my kids about stupid shit like this. If I don’t want them to participate in something or have something, I will have an actual reason (not a stupid one like “oh our religion prohibits it” which I won’t be forcing any kind of religion on them anyway) and I will be able to explain it to them. They don’t have to fully accept it, but they will understand my reasoning. And, I think, later in life…they will respect me more for being up front and honest with them rather than throwing out some flimsy excuse. My kids will be able to say that their mother was truthful with them. They won’t have to go back in their memories and dissect everything and judge whether it was the truth or not, because they will know it is true from the get go.

Another layer to the issue is, knowing that my parents – and my father in particular, as I know he bullied and forced my mother into doing and saying things she wouldn’t otherwise – outright lied to me on certain things, even small things, it brings into question everything they ever told me and taught to me throughout my life. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a principle I want my children to have to follow. I want to be a living example for them as much as possible. While my parents talked the talk about living in Christ and being an example, they weren’t always that way themselves. While I’m no longer a Christian, I will strive to live what I preach and let that speak for itself for my children. I think that is so much more important than hauling them to church every Sunday and Wednesday and forcing them to memorize scriptures and barring them from “worldly” distractions, because if I can’t practice what I preach, how can I expect my children to really listen to what I try to instill in them?

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6 thoughts on “Video games & being truthful with your kids

  1. My mother gave me some great advice when I was young, and as it turns out, this advice saved me in a lot of ways. She told me that as their child, it was my job to learn from my parents, as they had been through much in their lives and had managed to get a lot of things right. At the same time, though, while learning from the various successes of my parents, it was my job to learn from their failures and mistakes. My mother acknowledged at that point that she and my father had surely made their share of mistakes, and that they would make more – her advice empowered me to see this and learn from it, and I am and will always be grateful to her for having shared this wisdom with me.

    That having been said, I am sitting here now as a father to a very precocious four year old boy. In these four years, I have dedicated myself to the task of not repeating the failures of my parents (in particular, my own father) with my son. I am happy to say, this has been successful: but at the same time, I must admit to having made my very own blunders. I tend to reflect a lot on my actions, so it’s been possible for me to spot some of these mistakes pretty early-on and try to correct them. But the mistakes still get made.

    No parent, in my opinion, raises a child without making their own, original brand of blunder. I think lying to a child for the sake of convenience (in the case of your parents / father, the convenience of not having to admit the simple truth) is a pretty stupid mistake to make because it simply doesn’t have to be made in the first place, if you are willing to stand behind what you want or don’t want. I’m going to wander into the realm of religious critique here for a moment, and suggest that this is something common (in my experience at least) among people who allow themselves to be spoon-fed their religious beliefs without critically challenging them from time to time (as Jesus himself encouraged his followers to do, if memory serves).

    I think the important thing, as someone who is engaged and thinking about a time with her own children in the future, is that you never allow yourself to forget that all of us have our own destiny in life. As parents, we cannot and should not even try to control that destiny for our children: our job is to provide our children with the tools they might need and best be able to use to meet their destinies head-on. Many parents, my own, and I’ve noticed also some among my friends, make the mistake of trying to raise a ‘corrected clone’ of themselves, getting too wrapped up in giving their child all the things they never had (sometimes just to spite the upbringing they had under their own parents) and not noticing that their child is generally a different person than they were, with different needs. My guess is that you are already well on your way to avoiding this mistake: I’m suggesting it here because I know at times it’s simply too easy to forget this.

    How does your fiance, with his different upbringing, view the raising of children? I gather from your writing here that video games will be no stranger to your family’s home in the future: maybe you can use that as a springboard for yourself, ‘grow’ into video games along with your child(ren) and progress yourself until you someday rival your husband’s skill? Playing with, even if you aren’t all that talented in the beginning, shows children that you are interested in what they find interesting – it’s a great way to bond, if your child finds video games interesting (I say this because my son has no interest in any kind of video game, even the ones designed for his age group, because – as he says – they aren’t real … we spend a lot of time outdoors!).

    Your post reminded me of a song from my favorite band, the Offspring, from their earlier days (giving here a clue to my antiquated age). The song title is, “Way Down the Line,” and it leads off with the lines: “Nothing changes cause it’s all the same, the world you get’s the one you give away, it all just happens again way down the line.” While I generally appreciate the Offspring for their way of seeing things, and while I understand that this song reflects something that does unfortunately happen quite often, it’s certainly not ‘always’ true. People like us, who move to break the cycle, are living proof πŸ™‚

    So, one long-winded comment down … off to read your next post!

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    1. I’ve certainly learned a lot from my parents’ parenting. A lot of what not to do (like I wrote about) but there are some good nuggets here and there. Mainly, I want to be honest with my children, so that if I make a mistake with them, I can share with them, and even apologize to them if it affected them in some way. Even though I loved my parents growing up, I was often very scared of them, scared they would disapprove of something and punish me (which ALWAYS meant a spanking when I was little). While I want boundaries and rules to be clear, I don’t want them to get a thrill of panic because they’re scared of me. In other words, I’m a parent, but I’m human, and I want them to feel comfortable coming to me with anything and being able to talk. I never felt like I could talk about anything with my parents.

      As far as my fiance and I go regarding kids, we’re very similar. He’s a little more hard-nosed, but I think he’s mainly just passionate about being a good dad and giving our future kids a good life. He had a lot of experiences – both good and bad – with his own parents, so he has a lot of different experiences to draw from. We’re very open as far as communication goes (we have literally talked every day since we first met, just because we wanted to talk, either about small stuff or bigger stuff). He’s not pagan, he’s more what I’d technically classify as an agnostic theist, but he agrees that he wants to raise kids outside of religion and just let them explore and get to know themselves. We were both stifled in different ways, and I’m hoping that we can combine our collective memories so that we don’t do that to our kids.

      Honestly, I certainly don’t want a clone of me! I actually just want to sit back and watch them as they grow and change and evolve into different people. The scientific side of me is fascinated by the variables (me growing up with severe religion, them with no religion, things like that). If they turn out very similar to me, I probably won’t be surprised. But if they don’t, I’ll be more than happy to watch their progress and just help them be the best they can be. Another thing I learned from my parents growing up is that children crave support and validation. And while it shouldn’t become a crutch, when it’s not there at all, it severely inhibits personal growth and “stunts” them (at least until they move out into the real world). I want to be that validation and support, no matter what it is. NASA scientist? Attorney? Doctor? Veterinary Assistant? Cosmetologist? Artist? Stay at home parent? I think I’ll be happy as long as they are. πŸ™‚

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  2. Hello kindred spirit. I wonder how long it’s been since you turned away from Christianity? I hear you on this one though. Just completely hate the dishonesty and the manipulative things that religion drives some people to do. Oh well! I try not to get too emotionally wound up about parents and religion. But your blog’s cool πŸ™‚

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    1. Well, it’s been a long journey. I stayed for a while thinking I could be a spiritual Christian, but I eventually got burned pretty well, so I more or less “officially” left about six years ago. I was just an agnostic theist for a while and slowly slid into Paganism about two years, two and a half years ago. I personally just found the whole concept of religion to be controlling and ripe for manipulation and abuse. Not to say all are like that, or even all within a religion are like that. But a lot of the systems are set up to where if one bad apple gets to be in charge, everyone suffers. A personal belief is just that: personal. Nothing to be forced onto someone else.

      Thanks for the comment and the follow. πŸ™‚

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      1. I do know the bitter sting of what you’re saying, so much so … that I became uncomfortable calling myself a Christian even though I stand as representative of the Nazarene Christ Star (Christ meaning a Positive Light Source of deliverance capable of pulling an in-sync soul out and up-through time and space) .. I strongly believe that no matter what religious title one might hold … if that religion is based on teaching characters of the Positive Light, and teaching characters of Loving, caring and helping one another … they teach what is necessary as to stay in sync and harmony with that frequency-signature generated by that one particular Positive Light Source positioned for that very purpose … and so when the time come the soul of consciousness can travel the distance returning a soul of consciousness to the proper alliance of Positive Light stars …. For truth is, in that signature of Positive Light, we are a constellation-cosmic family …

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