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Rules and Nintendo

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"If we don't teach our kids to follow the rules, are we not teaching them to choose to break them?" Truth is one of the many things out there that constantly merits our attention. Some time the truth might be horrible or restrictive. But Ravi Zacharias says "Truth, by definition is exclusive." I was always taught that truth sets people free.

Recently our house dealt with a monster. Many of you have encountered it, and dealt with it your own way. Some time back I mentioned I'd become a co-conspirator with a lot of other parents. I hated myself for succumbing to the pressure, but sometimes mom's insistence and our children cherubic pleas can melt even the cold heart of an old cranky man called dad. The monster? Nintendo. Yes, we invested in Nintendo. Unfortunately, my good friend Steve didn't get a chance to save me before I was sucked into this maelstrom. When I told him, he had that "you too?" look many dads have that indicate you have entered a new level. Or was it a ‘you poor thing' sympathy look in his eyes I saw, as we became kindred souls.

Mom and I had heard all the stories. But we were different! We could handle it! However, every time we came up with a rule, it seemed our kids found a way around it. Finally, I had a sure-fire way to assert my will over my Nintendo playing sons. Having already limited them to weekends, I further edicted that they could only play Nintendo on Saturday mornings from 8 – 11 a.m. That got them up. I allowed Myles (the early riser) to play 2 hours, and Jeremy had only 1. It got them up. There was evidence of deliberative thought, as mom acknowledged it as one of my better whimsical plans. Sundays offered them another 3 hours, from 3 – 6 p.m. Jeremy got 2 hours this day. If they didn't play during these hours--too bad. They had to decide which was important, playing outside, watching TV, looking at us, or Nintendo.

It worked because rules were there. Children learn rules from their parents. Nevertheless, one small dent surfaced in this otherwise perfect plan. Some of the damage had been done. Mom noticed how aggressive, the boys seemed, as if they were constantly wanting to pummel each other. Now before any of you think I would allow either boy to bruise each other, rest easily. Child protective services didn't need to visit our house. However, what we did to Nintendo, is worthy of mention. Banned it! Removed it. That's right, the boys were forced to go cold turkey. Of course I had to play bad cop here. It was my role to yank it out of the wall. And tell them they had to find some other way to amuse themselves. How traumatic! For me, not them!

What are they going to do? I wondered, as I listened to mom's pent-up frustrations. I also managed to get my three-cents worth in. "I never wanted it in the house anyway," I said as I mentioned (again) what scholars had said about video games causing overly aggressive behavior. (Maybe that last sentence I mentioned in my sleep!) Still, we managed.

They're resilient. They rediscovered educational games on the computer. That weekend, Jeremy's friend came over. Jeremy told him what I had done the night before. They accepted it, and found other things to do. Thanks again to mom's suggestive abilities, we (the boys and I) rode bikes around the neighborhood for 30 - 45 minutes. I guess I needed the exercise anyway. The boys didn't hibernate and sulk in their room. They enjoyed being outside. And I survived the ‘boys will be boys' mental imaging by realizing part of growing up is accepting that rules have a place in our lives. Sometimes we parents have to lay down the law before the law lays down one of our kids. We set the code they have to learn to follow, not cops.

We had a president whose arguments over semantics allowed the proliferation of an old Army adage, "It's not that we'd lied to you, it's just the truth changed."

‘Truth, by definition is exclusive.' If you know the truth, and you don't abide by it, lies will shackle you, and that's a burden we cannot afford to pass to our children. Our kids will suffer if we don't realize the truth frees us, as we accept what we know is best, and follow through. Nintendo may be fine in your house, but not in ours right now! That's truth freed us! Don't expect it to change anytime soon.

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