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Choose Your (Video Game) Battles

Since you have been a parent, have you heard the phrase “choose your battles”?  This phrase has helped me survive some trying times as a parent.  It was what helped me decide what battles were worth fighting to win when it came to our kids.  This phrase was key in how we chose the battle over video games (among many other things).

If you haven’t read my blog about our son and how I thought he would live with us forever due to his love of gaming you should.  I’m here to tell you there is a light at the end of the tunnel!  

Our son is a natural gamer.  He easily picked up on all types of games and mastered them.  Then it happened – he found his perfect game.  He spent hours “practicing”; that’s what he called it.  To us it was hours of wasting time, and the path to living with us forever.  (I really did think he would live with us forever!)  

We tried everything to get him to cut back his “practice” time; from threatening to disconnect the internet to screaming at him while playing.  Friends – there was so much screaming that it embarrasses me to even think about what we put him through, when he was doing something he excelled at and was proud of.  

One night he came out of his room and asked us to watch him play his game with his teammates, (yes he was on a team), in a small competition that was being live streamed on a small internet gaming site.  What?!?  He wanted us to watch him play something we spent hours yelling at him for??  We were a little shocked but agreed as he handed us his laptop that was already set up and ready for us.  

Imagine our shock as we watched him play and could see everything from what the players were talking about, to how the game was played.  We were shocked because watching him play and what we imagined were completely different. We still didn’t quite understand his “obsession” with this game but we had a better understanding of how it worked.  We also got to see how the other players react when there is a mom in the background screaming at her kid to stop playing. Reading the players reactions to that mom screaming was heartbreaking, because many nights that was ME.  

It was after that night we changed how we approached the “ending the game” subject.  Instead of yelling, nagging or threatening we would ask “how long do you think you will be?”, then wait for an answer; then say “when you’re done turn everything off”. 

Ya’ll!  Those small changes made a big difference. We were victorious!!  We won the video game battle! Of course our son probably felt the same way.  We stopped nagging and he actually cut his playing time.  

Did you read that??  We stopped nagging and he changed his playing routine. 

We ended up taking both kids to a gaming competition to watch teams from around the world compete for millions of dollars.  That vacation was one of the best we had been on with the kids. We learned that the gaming world had teams, coaches, team psychologists, & sponsors much like the sporting world.  We learned that it was a magical world that taught kids to become team players, learn strategy, critical thinking, planning, time management and sportsmanship. What? It was like an actual sport?  Yes – it was very similar to physical sports except it was online.   

Parenting is one big war.  It’s not about winning the war daily but winning the small battles that happen daily.  Are you fighting a battle right now?  Is it worth winning?  If not, stop battling and figure out a solution.  You know there will be another battle tomorrow and you get to start all over again.  

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