This month’s question: How to connect together as a family?

Shocking News

My wife shocked me a few months ago.  After 21-years of marriage we sat down at the kitchen table and she leveled with me.  “Honey,” she said, “I want to join the Fantasy Football league at my work.”  I was speechless.  It was like a toupee flew off Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump on national television.  My wife has (or had?) an open disdain for football.  She was “one of those types” that only watched the Super Bowl for its commercials.  Eight weeks into the season, I’m now convinced she’s doing it all for me, as I’m passionate about football both real and fantasy.  Until this season we were divided on football, but now we connect weekly over her new team and talk about match-ups and starting lineups.  I love it, and she seems to be enjoying it too (I do feel compelled to mention that her team is in first place at work).

Family Connections

With the exception of food, few things create interpersonal connections like similar interests.  But, if your family is like my family, each individual has their own unique likes, dislikes and pet peeves, especially when it comes to entertainment.  We can spend 45-minutes trying to find a movie everybody actually wants to watch.  I will also be honest and say that as parents, my wife and I are most concerned about finding a movie with the right rating and content that’s age appropriate.  That’s the perspective of my wife and I, but our kids’ priorities mostly seem driven by some mysterious “coolness factor” with an affinity for things like The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or Divergent.

As you can imagine, the entertainment dynamic doesn’t stop with just movies.  Nowadays it’s everything: books (yes, I said books), television shows, social media, video games, hanging with which friends, and the list goes on.  As our kids have matured, controversy and disagreement seems to have shifted from eating vegetables to cellphones and computers.  Early on my response to these technological invaders was easy – NO, now finish your vegetables.

Kids Mature

Spoiler alert for all the parents out there.  At some point, kids no longer light up at the prospect of an evening featuring Mary Poppins or Mario Party with Mom and Dad.  The reality is that kids mature and their interests change too (I hear some even go off to college).  Would you like to know something that doesn’t change?  Regardless of how technology advances and whatever else changes in the world around my wife and I, our job description as parents remains a constant.  Everyday show and tell each kid they’re loved and raise them right.

Would you like to know what else hasn’t changed for our family?  My approach to entertainment and technology.  I’m willing to invest time in finding the right movie because I like movies.  Why should I resist investing time in finding the right video game if my kids are showing interest in them?  Being informed has never been easier, whether it’s talking to trusted friends, finding information on-line or checking ratings.  Like most of us, I desire a strong, tight knit family that actually likes spending time together.

Stick Together

When it comes to family entertainment most times there’s a clear choice we all prefer.  We are going to see Star Wars: Episode VII (as of a week ago, we already have our tickets) in the theater and we’re going to play FIVE: Guardians of David on the computer.  Apart from the clear choices there are some occasions where spending time together as a family requires some compromise.  I’m talking about being willing to engage the interests of someone you care deeply about, and not compromising your core beliefs of what’s healthy or appropriate.  My wife had no natural inclination towards fantasy football whatsoever, but because she’s interested in me, she took a step and ventured into my world – which is filled with coursing testosterone, roaring noises and gut wrenching competition.

As a parent it’s far more important to me that our family regularly connects together.  I’m not into Broadway musicals, but was blown away by Phantom of the Opera and a magical night with my wife. Soccer is not my favorite sport, but I’ll get on the pitch or grab a controller and play FIFA with my daughter.  Fast action combat games with lots of buttons aren’t my first choice either, but I’ve found some Teen rated ones (Destiny: The Taken King) that are fantastic fun to play with my son.

I guess the old cliché might be true, “A family that plays together, stays together.”

Further Reading:

Playing Action Games Boosts Learning

Entertainment Software Association

ESRB Ratings Process


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