Do you remember asking your parents to play a game with you when you were young? We would play dominoes and card games, like Gin Rummy and War. The cousins would get together a play epic, marathon games of Monopoly and Risk. The parents and grandparents played Canasta. (That was the only game I ever heard my sweet, adorable grandmother cheat at).
My kids enjoy games as well. We play cribbage, chess, and Cranium games. We also play video games together. Recently, I’ve heard a few parents tell me they don’t play video games with their kids. I think they’re missing out. We’ve had some rousing games of Super Smash Brothers Brawl or Wii Sports and Wii Play. There are more times than I can count where we’ve had to pause the game because everyone is laughing so hard that we’re crying.
When I play, it gives them the chance to teach me something. As parents, we don’t need to be the experts on everything. As we reverse roles, they get to teach me about how to maneuver my character and they get to see how I deal with frustration and with being a good loser. (And I lose often and not on purpose.) It’s nice when I get a move down and they notice and say something like “Way to go, Mom! You’re getting better.”
By playing together, it creates a common ground and can make references to shared experiences. I can join in the conversations with their friends about games and ask intelligent questions about how to advance in a level. (Their friends either think I’m cool, or a bigger nerd than a normal parent, either way, I’m involved.)
I will research a game before they buy it, but once it’s purchased, I can also supervise their games. I can monitor their frustration level and intervene if it gets to be too much. By playing them or watching them play, I can decide who can play which games. (Is it an appropriate game for the youngest child?) I get to make and educated decision about what’s appropriate. The kids are much more receptive to my decisions because I’m not just banning them from a game, I can explain why I don’t think it’s appropriate according to my values and the values that I want to instill in my children.
Family game night can be fun and a great opportunity to bond. Alternating who gets to pick the game gets everyone involved. They can also help pick fun recipes for healthy snacks. So, maybe it’s time you asked your kids, “Shall we play a game?” (Hopefully they won’t suggest Global Thermonuclear War.)