Do Parents Let Their Kids Play Violent Video Games?

Blame video games

Recently, I received a question from a mother who said her teenage kids wanted to watch violent video games and they claimed other parents allowed their kids to do so. They thought she was just being mean and ignorant of what was happening in the world. “I do not like the idea of them playing violent and sexist video games but I feel helpless”. Her idea was to design a questionnaire for parents and see if her teenagers were right. She asked me what I think of her idea. Here is what I wrote to her:

Your experience is quite normal and it is wonderful to read that there are people like you still out there, advocating for children to be engaging in healthy activities!

Feel free to set the rules in your house. Your teen is a teen. He does not set the rules. You do! He is welcome to make different rules in his house!

You don’t need a questionnaire to back up what you already know is right. You can be the captain of your own family ship, regardless of what other parents do.

Kids cannot buy their own games, computers, iPhones, etc. You have a lot more power than you think! I have clients who found amazing result when they put their kids on a technology diet for a week. Their kids were suddenly like new! If they can’t use your credit card and don’t know your PayPal password, you have nothing to worry about.

How to Save Your Kids from The Consumerism Trap

The Consumerism Trap

The world we live in promotes consumerism all the time. Sometimes, I feel like I need to take my kids to live in a hut or a cave, far away from civilization if I want to prevent them from falling into the consumerism trap. Just recently, the big shopping center closest to us was rebuilt. It is now more than doubled in size. I often have meetings there, in one of the cafes. I always look at all the people rushing past and wonder to myself, “Don’t they have anything better to do than just spend money here?” Of course, my excuse for being there is that I came there for work!

The scariest thing is going to the supermarket with my kids. We buy most of our groceries from two different supermarkets. To get from one to the other, we need to cross the entire shopping centered, which is shocking. Every window tells you why you must have that dress and that you are nothing without those shoes and that you are not cool if you don’t buy this and that you are fat if you don’t use that product. It is completely shocking and terrifying. People we know talk about how they do not have enough money for basic things, and yet their kids seem to have the latest iPhones and the latest brand name jeans that they bought for a bargain at $140 at a half price sale. They are totally over the moon that they can help their kids be considered cool for that price.

My main problem is that this excitement will last for a week at most. After that, the cycle of “buy me!” will start again, because we live in a society that teaches children to be consumers. We live in a society that convinces kids (and their parents) that they are inadequate and that they need to shop in order to survive! It is a trap because it turns desires and wants into needs. It is a very strong, well oiled and sophisticated machine. It gives us that idea that “I can only be happy when I have this item”. As parents, we want our children to be happy from every teeny tiny thing they possibly can enjoy. We are helpless before such a well rehearsed trap.

Social Media Reality: Look Up! What Are You Missing?

Mobile phones, the vehicle for social media

Technology and social media have become a significant part of our life. Recently, I learned some valuable lessons about just how they affect us and the opportunities they make us miss.

My 13-year-old daughter, Noff, is the youngest in our family. Lately, she has been struggling with not having a mobile phone to take to school. To her, mobile phones are very cool. Some kids need them to coordinate pick-up times or for safety on the bus.

Unfortunately for her, she does not need it for any of those things. She so much wants to be part of the mobile phone in-crowd that she uses our old phones to play games. She struggles with not being like everyone else and I struggle with my parenting.

I have some beliefs and rules about social media and I know I need to adjust them to suit the times. I have three kids and I cannot apply the same parenting rules regarding media with Noff that I did with my first two.

How to Feel Good: Get Enough Sleep

Polar bear asleep on the ice

Let’s continue with our tips on how to be happy and feel good in life. In the first post, I shared the science of endorphins – the “feel good” hormones. Chapter two was about the science of smiling. In the third chapter, I explained how taking time off can help us improve our mood, feelings and functioning. In this fourth chapter, I will explain how a good night’s sleep can improve our health and well-being and make us feel good.

Sleep is essential to our health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, many people do not get enough sleep or do not sleep well. A survey conducted in the years 1999 and 2004 found that 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders. When we are asleep, the brain goes through our impressions of the day in a process vital to memory formation.

Good sleep impacts our nervous system, cardiovascular system, metabolism and immune system. Imagine what impact bad sleep has!

This post is part 4 of 4 in the series How to Feel Good

Know Your Partner: Home, Food, Telecommunication & Pets

Man and Woman eating a meal in a vinyard

There are some more important questions to ask if you want to know your partner and our topics for today are home, food, telecommunication and pets. These questions will help you find out the things you and your partner find it hard to compromise on. A good way to tell is if you are very passionate about something. It may be something that is too important to you to give up.

It is important to remember that some of the answers will change over time. We are searching for the things you think are “musts” or that you must have and are not willing to let go of. These are the issues that may become a conflict later on.

This post is part 5 of 8 in the series Know Your Partner

My Anti -TV campaign

TV with X over it

As an advocate of emotional intelligence, I object to kids watching TV. Everything I try to give them, the TV is destroying. I think bringing a TV home is like bringing the opposition into your living room, to tell your kids that you, the parent is wrong. Why would you do that?

When Eden was young and we were a young couple, we did not have a TV at home. My grandmother, who wanted to buy a new TV, suggested we take hers and we refused. We worked and when we were home, there were better things to do with our time than watch TV. Some family members and friends thought we were nuts and that we were not preparing our daughter to live in the real world. 24 years later, I can tell you, she is prepared for the real world, maybe even better than many other kids her age.

A month ago, Brisbane experienced a huge storm and trees were up rooted not far from us (it was really scary). Many houses experienced major damage and were without electricity for days (Many difficulties pop up when you do not have electricity for 3 days. We depend on electricity so much). We were the lucky ones. The only thing that happened to us was that our 20 year old 25 inch TV shorted (even though it had a surge protector). Tsoof and Gal were very happy because they have been wanting to buy a new TV for a year. Eden and I were not very happy. We ended up buying a huge TV with the promise to only watch videos and minimize watching TV.

How to Change Habits: Flexibility of the Mind

Weird portrait

This is your self-help guide to changing habits. Now that you know about types of habits and how they are formed and you know how habits affect your life, it is time to take control of your life by breaking limiting habits and creating new, empowering ones, instead.

Write down 10 recurring situations or outcomes in your life that you are not happy with.

Decide which category they are in
Ask yourself what is you think, feel, say or do that brings you into each situation or gets you each outcome.

Check if the items on your list have anything in common.

Take yourself into one of those events in your mind and experience it again. Look around and try to discover the exact circumstances in that situation. Are you tired? Worried? Has something else happened that day? The day before? Are you hungry? Write as many details as you can. If you do it for the 10 items, you will find a pattern.

Take yourself to the one of those events again. This time, pay attention to the way you feel.
What scares you about what happened? Stay in that situation until you find out what you are afraid of. When this fear first formed, it made you develop the habit to overcome it or manage it.
We all develop habits to help us cope better. Sometimes the habits are not updated. They were appropriate 30, 20, 10 years ago, but may not be appropriate under different circumstance. We are just not the same people.

This post is part 3 of 3 in the series How to Change Habits

What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?

Sad little boy hugging a doll

If I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games movie poster

This week, Ronit and I watched The Hunger Games. We knew the general plot when we entered the cinema, but we came out feeling sick, not only because the film was excessively violent, not only because those who were violent in it were teenage children, but mostly because it was such a strong portrayal of modern life.

Both Ronit and I slept very badly that night and had very scary dreams.

In the movie, there are 12 districts full of poor workers who can barely get enough food to eat. Their life is mud (literally), they are dressed in light-blue working uniforms and live in fear. These districts are ruled by “the capitol”, a magnificent and decadent city, where people spend their time dressing to impress and trying to find things to entertain themselves. There is police/army force, dressed in white, which swiftly handles any disruptions.

But the main instrument of power is TV and there is one particular show in TV everyone must watch to remember their place in this futuristic society – The Hunger Games.

There were many similarities between The Hunger Games and our life, which I wanted to share with you. This will be depressing, so after that, I will also share with you how you, me and other parents can make reality different, for us and for our kids.

Family Policy

Teen girl looking defiant

Last Sunday, Ronit ran a parenting workshop and I came in the afternoon to help her pack. When I arrived, she was still talking to the parents about rules and boundaries and mentioned the way she used “family rules” to avoid conflicts with the kids.

That reminded me of the time when I wanted to register for a software engineering course at the local university. The course I wanted was popular and all the places were taken, so I rang during my lunch break to ask to be put on the waiting list.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but you’ll have to come in person and fill out the waiting list form”, the administrator told me.

“Can you please just take my details and put me on the list?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s university policy”, she said.

Boy, was I pissed off at this. I was spewing for weeks afterwards. It may have even contributed to my later stomach ulcer. Or not.

Over the years that followed, more and more companies structured their operations in such a way that clients could not get their way. Not easily, anyway. When I rang Customer Service, I would bump into First Line staff who were basically trained parrots. The term “company policy” rang in my ears more and more often. It was infuriating.

But at some point, Ronit and I learned how to use the same trick to our advantage as parents. Oh, sweet revenge!