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Q: Dear Mr. Man.
My children spend too much time playing video games. What can I do to get back our family time?
A: There are obvious answers that you are probably already familiar with. Find activities in which to get them involved (such as service projects, participate at the YMCA, or simply going outside to throw around the pigskin). There are many things that you can (and should) do to pull them away from the video games when they are played in excess. However, this will not be the focus of this post. Instead, let’s follow the old adage, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
About a week before Christmas I fractured my ankle in four places (another story for another day). I was stuck in the house and going absolutely bananas because I am accustomed to staying fairly active. I wasn’t able to exercise or go cycling (which is one of my favorite pastimes). My two kids were out of school and doing what kids do. My wife, Adi, was very supportive by making sure that I was well taken care of. She has gone through enough “man-colds” (I did not coin this phrase, but ladies, you know what I mean) with me to know what to do. Nonetheless, it seemed as though my family was spread apart and everyone was doing their own thing.
Fast forward to Christmas morning. Among the myriad of gifts that my children received from aunts, uncles, Nana, Grandma and Paw Paw, was a Nintendo Wii. Boy,were they excited!
“Dad, can we pleeeese go hook it up right now?”, asked my son, JC. “Dad! Can we? Huh?” I didn’t respond immediately because I wanted to continue to build upon his anticipation. My daughter and oldest child, Bae, was more restrained. However, I could see from the excitement in her eyes and smile that she wanted me to do the same. One look from Daddy’s Little Girl moved me from my comfy chair.
As I hobbled down the stairs behind my wife, I’m thinking to myself that hopefully this will not encourage the children to spend all of their time on this thing. I begin to formulate the ground rules in my mind.
I get the Wii set up and we watch the kids play the first few games of Mario Karts and Wii Sports. Looks like fun. We take turns playing and spend the morning together. We are having a blast! I realized that we need more game controllers (we only had two). We are driving on the walls and falling into Mushroom Pits. We are evading giant penguins and hitting homeruns. We are really enjoying this time…TOGETHER. This was my last thought before the pain medication begins to do its thing. Night-night, Gracie.
December 26th. Adi gets two more controllers. YES! It’s on!
Fast forward to present. Since Christmas, we regularly have a family night on the Wii. We have bowling tournaments, tennis matches, race car driving, and team baseball. When everyone goes to bed, I get my cardio excersise by boxing and using the Wii Fit. Or I will wind down by playing a round of golf and enjoying the beautiful digital scenery. All of this with a broken ankle.
This is not to suggest that the Wii could (or should) replace taking the family to the park or playing outside with your kids. No video game comes close to God’s playground. However, if you find that your family is separated within the four walls of your abode, this is yet another choice that enables parents to come into their kids’ world and spend more time together.