April 4, 2012

Awkward Parenting Decisions

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

One of the awkward parenting decisions that Linda and I made when our kids were young was that of outlawing video games in our home. Make no mistake: this did not make us too popular at times. And, it’s quite possible that many reading this column may not agree with our decision, either.

Having taught elementary school for 20 years, Linda has witnessed firsthand the distinct disadvantages that unrestrained access to video games can present to youngsters. We were certain that we didn’t want to intentionally disadvantage our own kids in this way.

Certainly, some of the video “games” on the market today are near to wholesome and potentially even educational in their content. Far too many others, somehow still considered “games,” are drenched in graphic violence and other inappropriate things to feed growing minds. At the very least, it seems, parents must carefully monitor the content of any “games” that are available to their kids!

One day, Evan, our oldest, came home from 5th grade and pleaded with me to let him have a video game system. He wailed, “I’m the ONLY one in my class who doesn’t have one!” So, I took him on a little field trip to one of the big stores in town, and we looked over all the titles together. Then I asked him this question: “Evan, how many of these games do you think your mom and I would let you have”?

After studying the titles for quite some time, he hung his head and muttered, “Probably only three.”

It was a challenging moment for both of us. We all want our kids to be “happy.” We all want our kids to feel like they fit in. And we all want our kids to like us. But as parents, we decided that our job is to do the right things for the right reasons when it comes to our kids.

So, we didn’t buy the video game system that day. And I wasn’t very popular for quite awhile. It was a chance I was willing to take. Not too long afterward, Evan picked up a guitar for the first time (thank you, Dan Doebel!), and a new passion literally ignited. Now a college junior, Evan is a worship leader for over 150 college students each week at a church in Cedar Falls, and has been actively involved in worship leading since he was 14 years old.

Among my most cherished things from Evan’s growing up years is a handwritten card that he wrote to me in junior high. In his own handwriting, he actually THANKED me for standing firm and not allowing him to have a video game system . . . because he recognized that he never would have pursued the guitar if he had been distracted by having his own video game system.

In the end, I’m pretty sure that I’m the one who learned the most valuable lesson: You can’t go wrong by doing the right things for the right reasons when it comes to your kids.

Remember Well.