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The XBox Debate

As a mother of two boys, I am beyond familiar with electronic devices.  I have found over the years that my boys become deeply engrossed in the games, spending hour upon hour playing.  They’ll even forego eating to continue playing a game.  I have watched as the two of them argue relentlessy about who’s turn it is to play, timing each other down to the second.  I have been involved in conversations with them during which “Call of Duty” was in some way used as a life comparison to something – “well, in Call of Duty, blah, blah, blah” or “you know, that reminds me of blah blah blah in Call of Duty”.

After some particularly questionable grades a year or so ago, the XBox found a new permanent home at their father’s house.  They get to play it every other weekend, IF they aren’t doing something else.

This of course has meant I’ve had to endure begging on and off to bring it home.  “We don’t fight over it anymore”, “we won’t play it all the time”, “you can limit our time on it”.  I won’t cave.  The peace in our home now without that damn thing is unbelievable.  Honest to God, neither of my boys (ages 12 & 16) have cried over a game controller  (to my knowledge) in over a year.  SUCCESS!

Or so you’d think.  Enter – their older sister.  As a new mom, she now thinks she has all the answers to every parenting situation that might arise.  Her child will be a month old tomorrow.

I made the mistake of letting the 16 year old stay with her this weekend.  He pleaded his case to her (her husband has an XBox).  He told me he only got 3 hours of sleep while he was there because he was so engrossed in playing, he forgot to go to bed.  THIS is my point.

Now I know that not every child has these issues nor does every parent feel the way I do about it.  And thats ok.  I’m not here to debate what you should or shouldn’t allow your child to do.  I’d be happy to let my kids have it if they had some sort of self control but they don’t.

So my daughter is now pleading her brothers case.  She thinks I’m being horrifically cruel to them – they should be able to have the things they want; they shouldn’t feel different from their friends; it will give them something to do.  All reasonable arguments.  But I don’t believe they should have everything they want simply because they want it or because their friends have it.

And trust me, they’ve found other things to do in the past year.

For example, they’ve learned to ice skate, they’ve been playing AirSoft.  Yes, I bought them “guns” – they aren’t real guns but when you get hit, you feel it.  Much more real than a game and honestly, an important life lesson.  Now I’m not saying I want them to get shot – I want them to have an understanding of what it means to be shot – there’s no reset button.  They now know that.

We went out and purchased about 10 board games.  They regularly play them and we have family game nights.  They ride bikes, they kayak, they swim and climb trees.

I am a mean mother and I’m ok with that.  I want these children to use their imaginations and move their bodies.  I want them to be able to converse with actual living human beings – not a voice over XBox live.

I think my daughter has forgotten how I canceled our internet service after she, her older sister and a bunch of other girls started arguing over AIM.  Shockingly, they all survived.

So, there won’t be a reappearance of any electronic games at our house.  If I get an “I’m bored” (which rarely happens) there are always chores to do or the option to go entertain yourself (which is what does happen).

Tell me, are you a mean mom?

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5 Things I’ve Learned as a Parent

Now that you’re a “seasoned” parent, how do you respond to the young, non-parent who makes the comment “MY child will never…..(fill in the blank)”?

I’ve learned over the years that the best response is no response.  Those people will never fully understand until they have children of their own.  Even then, they still might not get it.

~ I’VE LEARNED that each child, while somewhat similar, can be extremely different from each of their siblings. What worked with one, may not – and probably WILL NOT – work with the others.  Take the time to find what works with each child.   You will make their (and your) life so much simpler.

For example, my oldest daughter could have cared less about “things”.  She would not, no matter what I did, clean up her toys.  I could threaten to take them, ground her, etc.  What worked with her was having me bring a chair into her room, park my butt and point to each item and make her pick it up (or else I’d be in her room FOREVER).
Her younger sister, however, would frantically run around picking up her toys at the meer mention of them being taken (because I actually emptied her room one time).

~ I’VE LEARNED that kids are going to hurt your feelings.  They are going to say things when they’re angry at you (which will be frequently) that sting.  DO NOT, under any circumstances, let that deter you.  You certainly have a right to let them know they hurt your feelings or that what they said was inappropriate, but don’t gimp out or they’ll keep doing it.

~ I’VE LEARNED that its important to spend individual time with each child – even if its only a few times a year.  Take them to a movie or to lunch.  These will be the moments they will cherish – not a clean house.

~I’VE LEARNED that you need to accept your child for who they are – not who you wanted them to be.  This was difficult for my kids father and was ultimately what drove us apart.

I know that when I first set eyes on my daughter after she was born, I never once thought “I hope you have your first child when you’re 19”.  Hell no……I was angry.  So I get it.  You have dreams for your kids; you want them to have a better life than you did and you don’t understand why they can’t just listen to you.

Once I got over it and accepted my daughter for who she truly is rather than who I wanted her to be, I felt more at peace and so did she.

The simple fact is, they’re individuals and they’re going to do and be what and who they want.  It’s more important for me to have my daughter in my life than for me to be upset over something I can’t change.  And by the way, who she is, is pretty great.  She may not be living the life I had envisioned for her, but she’s happy, healthy and is a great mom and a contributing member of society – isn’t that all we ultimately want?

~I’VE LEARNED that even when we think they don’t hear us, they do.  They’re not going to admit it – at least not until they have kids of their own (if you’re lucky).  I still smile to myself when I hear my kids repeat something I’ve said that I SWEAR they completely ignored.  They’re listening – trust me.

~I’VE LEARNED that I have just as much to learn from them as they do from me!  They’re pretty wonderful people!

 

Have a wonderful, family filled, fabulous weekend!