Connecting with Your Gamer
Every day, teenagers have to navigate a world where they have to prove themselves important: to their teachers, to their coaches, to their friends and yes, even to you. One of the most powerful things you can do as a parent, to communicate your child’s value, is by offering your presence. Finding ways to do this, however, can be tricky! Now that they’ve outgrown a lot of childhood activities, it may seem like there is not much to do together for fun. Especially when what your teen enjoys doing is the last place on earth you would choose to spend your time.
Video gaming may be one such activity. However, if it is something your child enjoys, consider the impact playing a game or two with them could have.
Video gaming with your teenager can open up unique windows of opportunity for conversation. You may have been experiencing frustration at your attempts at dialogue with your teenager; some teenagers do not feel comfortable with the head-on conversation, but will open up in a setting they are comfortable with. Sit side by side your teenager while you play a game or two, and let them direct the conversation. Don’t try and push it. Let conversation happen naturally. If it doesn’t, don’t be disappointed with the silence; your presence alone will speak volumes.
The next time your teenager has retreated into a video gaming session, ask if you can play with him or her for a while. As you enter in to their world, you are communicating to them that you accept them just as they are. Ultimately, communicating your teenager’s worth regardless of their performance gives them a picture of their worth to God.
Our world is steeped in the performance mentality, and your teenager is not immune! Teenagers can easily get caught up in a performance trap, and subconsciously may believe your love for them is bound up in whether they are performing good or bad, right or wrong. Take any opportunity to teach otherwise.
If your child enjoys playing video games, playing a game with your teenager even for a short time is one way to do this. Sitting alongside your teenager while playing a game or two will communicate they are what is most important to you, not what they do or how they perform. Your child needs to know they are your top priority, no matter what their school results are, or how they perform in sports or other extracurricular activities.
Have fun with it, even if you are terrible!
One side benefit is allowing your teenager to see how you handle something you are not good at. Part of strategic parenting is encouraging our children to try new things but to not be afraid fail. This is part of life! We try new things, stumble, pick ourselves back up again, and then try again until they’ve got it mastered. Playing video games with your teenager provides a simple but great opportunity for you to show them how this is done.
Have fun. Laugh at yourself as you mess up, and then try again. That’s a great response pattern for them to learn.
As the parent, you are continually in the position of instructing and teaching your child. Playing video games with your teenager provides a unique opportunity to let them teach you, and encourages in a small way the leader in them. Give your teenager a chance to shine with something they are good at and to experience the joy of sharing it with someone else.
Meeting your teenager where they are can be an amazing adventure. If this is through video gaming, don’t be afraid to give it a try!