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?