Photo by The-Autism-Mom
One of the biggest challenges for CafeMoms of tweens and teens is how to get their child to talk. Moms know that a good way to connect and bond is finding something they both have in common, but ... um, not easy. We're talking tweens here.
But one mom has found a way -- through video games.
It's not every mom's way, but it has worked for delibcreate, mom of 10 year old David and a gamer herself before her son came along. "If you can't beat em, join em," is her philosophy.
I talked to delibcreate about why she feels the benefits of video games far outweigh the negatives, and how playing games with her son has strengthened their relationship:
When did your son get his first game system?
When he was 6 or 7. He's played plenty of computer games (PC) as well, some of them educational as I home-schooled him for awhile. David will play on anything, often asking for our cell phones to play on if he forgot to bring the DS or a book when we're out. We play non-electronic games as well, often taking cards, dice or traveling type games to restaurants for our evening time together or spread out on the floor.
What's a typical playing session together like?
I distinctly remember the discovery process in learning how to play together. David would play so much that he would get really good at his favorite games. He's partial to racing and obstacle type games, and there was no way to beat him. It would be frustrating to play because I just couldn't keep up, and it gets hard after awhile, when my eyes and reflexes just don't work as well as his. So we would argue and he'd take over the controller all the time -- but if I refused to play he'd beg after awhile just to have someone to play with. The best times we had with those games were when I could really just get over the win or lose issue and just enjoy being with him -- easier said than done!
How often do you play together?
Usually once a week or so, but now not as often, which saddens me. My son is totally into a game on the PC that has an interactive interface with other players who are online, so he doesn't require me so much.
We have all really been wanting a Wii. I think they have a selection of games and activities that could be fun for all of us to play together. He has enjoyed some of the sports games when he has played at friend's home. That might be on our Christmas wish list if it's in the budget this year.
What are the benefits to playing -- and enjoying! -- video games with your kids?
This is an electronic world we live in, and with an only child who hasn't always had great social skills, the lure of electronics is too strong to fight with sometimes. The most important thing to me is that we continue to interact over whatever it is he is into. Media of all sorts gives us fodder for discussion -- about values, ideas, social expectations, language usage, culture. We love Anime movies, which lead to lots of interest in Japan and Japanese culture. He sometimes experiences inappropriate language on the online game chats he sees. That gives us the opportunity to talk about what's polite to say and not, and why the words are considered "bad."
Of course the ability to talk about these things in this way has only come about as he has matured and can understand more subtleties. When we play games together that involve sharing a controller, responsibilities in the game, or dealing with winning or loosing, we get to talk about all that stuff. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we fight. But in my mind the important thing is we're interacting.
Do you play video games with your tween or teen? Does it help you to connect and talk about things you wouldn't ordinarily?