- How much and what kind of video games should I allow my child to play?
- What if I go through all this trouble to limit my child’s exposure, and then he gets to play it at someone else’s house?
Sometimes children get agitated when they have too much time with screens in general. If they have trouble responding to the limits we set, that may be another sign they are a bit too invested in it. And of course, ADHD plays into it too, complicating things for certain children even more. All games, movies and music have ratings, and I find them very helpful as a guide in what is appropriate for kids. Ratings are useful in "backing me up" as a parent. The ratings alone, however, are not enough to make a good decision. That being said, I have found the values that set the ratings scale are not always reflective of what I think is appropriate for my children. There is no substitute for actually viewing things yourself and using your own judgment.
And therein lies the right vs. right dilemma. It is right to stand by our values and hold fast to that which we believe in. Our common values within our family hold us together and give us purpose. Our common values guide our every decision in parenting. We invest a great deal of time and energy sorting through what we believe in and how that will influence the way our families will conduct their lives. This includes careful discussions with our partner and other loved ones as we defend the position for our family on many subjects.
It is also right to respect that each family works through this process uniquely. And each family’s values are just as important to them as mine is to me. Where one family places a high value in avoiding all possible risk, other families believe in allowing their children to experience some risk as they grow and mature. This can build resilience and problem-solving skills. Too much risk is certainly dangerous. But I have yet to meet a parent who intentionally exposes a child to what they think will result in danger.
It seems easy at first to respect the two rights; we can all have different opinions, I get that. But what do we do when our child is exposed to things we don’t approve of at the neighbor’s house? Again, a right vs. right. It is right to protect and it is right to respect.
So what do I do? Sometimes I politely say no to an invitation. As my kids get older I see this is not always feasible (I am in the phase of picking my battles very carefully). Other times I know that the small amounts of exposure to higher risk environments outside my home could actually be a good thing. A time for my children to learn and practice how to navigate a world beyond the boundaries of my home. So that leaves me thankful for the different values evident in the families of my community. Hmmm…..it IS a good thing we all don’t think alike.
Michelle Bostian, Lower School Counselor