This picture has nothing to do with the post, I just love it! Our whole family has fallen in love with this horse!
Sometimes I really do believe that we have to pick our battles as parents, but sometimes I think that phrase is a way out. A way out of dealing with hard situations. Not so much when they are little of course. Picking your battles with a five year old means putting your foot down when it comes to eating all their vegetables or enforcing the no light up character sneakers rule. Personally I choose to put on my boxing gloves when it comes to character apparel and figure I can find plenty of ways to sneak more veggies into their food. To each his own though.
If only picking my battles were that simple again though. If only they wanted Spiderman shirts again instead of bloody video games and action packed movies that happen to also have cursing and maybe some scantily clad women!
I want what's best for my kids. I really do. I also want them to be happy and well liked. There in lies that slippery line of really picking my battles and using those words as a sad excuse for poor parenting. My son is obsessed with video games. His entire world revolves around when he can play next. He's gravitated towards them ever since he was really little. At first it didn't seem like a huge deal because most of the games were harmless and I would try to regulate how long he played. Sometime though it was just so much easier to let him play for a couple hours while I got stuff done around the house than fight with him about turning it off and suddenly games were the only thing he was interested in. And then he started wanting to play the big boy games. Fighting games.
Before I continue, let me make one thing very clear. I hate video games! I think they are the biggest waste of time. If it was solely up to me, we would not own them at all. However, my husband enjoys playing them occasionally and I do realize that a lot of what kids do together is video games so we have them.
When it comes to the more mature games though, the answer in our house is always no! There are ratings for a reason. I wouldn't let my 8 year old son watch an R rated movie, so I'm certainly not going to let him play a game rated for the same audience. Please realize that this is my own opinion only and I don't judge others who have different rules. Every household is different and I'm not here to change your mind about what kinds of games your kids play.
Recently though we realized even the games that aren't mature have been causing problems. The overall atmosphere of our home has gone downhill. The kids fight with each other more and everyone seems on edge and less patient with each other. So, my husband and I decided together to get rid of all technology during the week. Now the only time they play games or watch movies is on Saturday. And for the most part is has helped a lot. There is a very real shift in the energy of our home come Saturday and it can take up to a day or two for things to calm down again and for the kids to stop asking "can I please just play this one time?"
Are you wondering yet where all this rambling is going? OK so here is the problem. When my kids are home I know what they are or are not playing and if it falls within our family guidelines. However my son (and daughters) are frequently invited to go to friends houses and many of them have different rules than us about what games and movies are allowed. I've tried repeatedly to explain to my son that our rules don't change at other people's houses and if they suggest something that is not appropriate than he needs to decline and suggest something else. I'm sure you can guess how well that is working out.
Last week he came home from a neighbors and confessed to me that they played a game called Bully! The entire point of the game was to go around bullying other people. Now, I do try really hard not to judge other parents, but I just cannot fathom any parent buying that game for their child! Why!!!
This is not the first or second or third confession we've had recently on breaking the game or movie ratings rule at other's houses, so now I'm at a loss. I want my children to enjoy spending time at home and feel comfortable inviting their friends over. I also want them to experience life and be able to make hard choices away from me. I'm at a place right now though where I feel like they are both not possible at the same time. The more I enforce the gaming rule at our house the more he wants to be at his friends houses. If I say no to going to a friends house than he spends all day terrorizing his sisters and complaining about our strict rules. Help!
Am I overreacting? Is it just a phase? What would you do or what have you done with your own children?