It hurts when your children don’t want to spend time with you, especially if you don’t see them very often. All week you look forward to spending quality time with them, but when you pick them up, they just want to “chill.” There are many reasons why children may not want to spend time with a parent, but the next time you see your kids, try meeting them where they are. If they like playing video games, then join them. It may not be that fun for you, but your kids will appreciate the effort.
And yes, I’m aware of the many evils of too much video gaming. Personally, I am not a big fan (except for Candy Crush). However, I’ve seen first-hand how video games, when played responsibly, can open up a whole new level of bonding.
Video Games Keep the Family Close
I once worked with a family whose father lived so far away that he only saw his kids every other summer. Somehow, they remained so close that when the kids entered high school, they chose to live with him.
The father mostly credited his exceptional parenting skills, but also admitted that on-line video games helped. It turns out that they played with him almost daily, during which time they’d talk about school, friends, and life in general. They played more than I would have liked, but for them it was a positive bonding experience because they used the time to actually get to know each other better. Their father became a trusted confidant.
It Isn’t Always Fun Meeting Kids Where They Are
It is quite natural for parents to want to do something that they enjoy, thinking their children will enjoy the same things. But many teens like YouTube, Tik Tok, and video games. Most parents do not share these interests, nor do they care to learn about them. The father in my example above was lucky because he and his kids shared a love of video games. Not all of us are that blessed.
When my kids were in preschool, I spent a fair amount of time trying to get them to behave at restaurants, hang out with my friends, and play games that I thought would be mentally stimulating. It was a struggle, but things got better when I started engaging with them at their own level, which unfortunately (for me) at the time meant watching The Wiggles, playing Go Fish!, and fiddling with Play Doh. Now that they are teenagers, I’m learning about Twitch (my screen name is Stacymom123), and I’m perfecting my ball shagging skills so my son can focus on shooting the ball, instead of chasing after it.
My next goal is to learn to play Minecraft with my daughter. To be honest, I’m not very excited, but I know it would mean a lot to her if I could be a part of her Minecraft world. Although, I suspect she will make me do all the dirty jobs like mining for gold, while she builds cool worlds.
Sometimes Your Kid’s Interests Don’t Align with Your Interests
You may be an avid sport fan and accomplished athlete with an uncoordinated, under-developed, book-wormy child. As tough as it is, you may have to accept that football or water polo probably isn’t a good fit. It’s sad, but like my kindergarten teacher said, “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.” In other words, instead of making them to do what you want to do, try meeting your kids where they are. Imagine how special a bookworm would feel if a parent took the time to read a book that they were interested in. It says a lot to a kid when parents stretch outside their comfort zone for no other reason than to make them happy.
Don’t Worry, You’re Not Spoiling Them!
Some parents feel like they are spoiling their kids by letting them choose the activity. They want their kids to be flexible and learn to do different things. But another way to look at it is that you are showing your kids that you took the time to do something they like to do. You can always compromise. Offer to let them choose an activity for 20 minutes, but then they have to do your activity for 20 minutes. You’re teaching them to reach outside their comfort zone as well.
Parents, do your children have interests that are vastly different than yours? How do you bond with your children—over your interests or theirs?
Great insights & suggestions Stacy & again a big mahalo for taking the time to share your perspectives with the rest of us.