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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?