Why You Should Play Video Games With Your Kids

In a few weeks, I have the privilege of speaking at an event where parents and children attend together. Quite frankly, I don’t really speak—I facilitate. I love these events because both parents and kids walk away with a deeper understanding of, and more respect for one another.

Here are some of the questions we discuss:

What could your mom or dad do better as a parent?

What one thing do you wish your parents understood about being you?

What one thing do you wish your kids understood about being a parent?

Not long ago, I was facilitating this type of conversation at a father/son gathering. Without prior knowledge of one another’s wishes, nearly every father in the room complained about his son playing video games.

After that, the sons read their wish. Nearly every one of them—of all ages—just wished their dads would play video games with them.

It was an eye-opening and very powerful experience for everyone present that day. Most of the dads admitted how they have neglected to sit down to learn what their sons are playing and why they enjoy it so much.

A few weeks later, a mom of a 13-year-old young man approached me. She expressed her concern about his passion for rap music and that he was beginning to write music and rap in his bedroom, and with his friends. After declaring her lack of knowledge of, and somewhat disdain for this genre of music, she asked my advice.

My response?

“Learn to rap.”

As parents, we cannot allow fear to alienate us from our kids.

When has anybody ever shamed you into changing your behavior, or turning from something you were interested in? I know we have pure intentions and, as parents, we do it out of the love we have for our children, but we often don’t realize the wall we’re building between our child’s heart and ours.

Do I believe video games can have a negative impact on the brain? Sure I do, particularly when they’re not monitored or controlled. But the reality is, you’ll never be able to influence your child’s behaviors if you don’t first win their heart. And one of the best ways to win their heart is to pursue their passions.

One father told me just yesterday, “I hate video games. But for my son’s sake, I learned everything there was to know about Minecraft when he was into it.”

Today, that father has his son’s heart—and because he has his son’s heart, he has incredible influence in his son’s upcoming university decisions.

The Bible says we’re to raise our children in the way they should go, NOT the way we want them to go.

Instead of stressing out over your child’s interest, become a student of it.

Instead of judging your child’s world, enter it.

Because the only thing that excites your child more than her passion, is when you join her in it.

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and president and co-founder of the Connextion Group, a company designed to empower parents and families. Josh speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today's family. He is the author of the newly released Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (Waterbrook Multnomah) and along with his wife, Christi, is the producer and co-author of the video curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st CenturyHe wakes up each day striving to love others better beginning with his wife, Christi, and their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy.

For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century, you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.