One temptation as parents is to make the 12 Tasks easier on their child by choosing an activity they are already achieving at and simply upping the accomplishment for that area. That can work but you need to be careful not to play into anything that might seem like a harmless addiction. Gaming is one area worthy of consideration.
With our children, we are attempting to raise well balanced individuals with healthy minds, bodies, emotions and spirits. Paying careful attention to how the tasks chosen will aid in this pursuit is worthy of some good reflection and conversation.
Before the age of 15 a child needs to be developing clear limits on their self-indulgence with regard to video or online gaming. A quick survey on our streets, in our classes, in our homes or even in our churches and you can see that the problem of gaming easily continues after the teen years. Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit but we sometimes overlook what appears to be harmless fun and thank God that at least they’re not getting into trouble.
If gaming has become a problem, so much so that you can’t get your child engaged in any of the 12 Tasks they agreed to participate in, then some significant investment of time and attention is needed by the parent. First, you will need to take the time to understand their perspective so the child realizes you are aware of what is happening for them. Gaming is not mindless entertainment. As Catherine Wilson says in her article ‘Easing Back on Your Teen’s Gaming,’ “Most are complex and challenging, and that’s a big part of their appeal. Some kids believe the mental workout and knowledge they gain from their games justifies all the time they’ve invested.”
In our Kijabe community in Kenya where we launched the 12 Tasks, the call of the outdoors, the lack of technology, and the cohesion of a strong community with like values, made the issue of gaming a minimal concern. Still there were other things that could pull a child into social isolation.
Kids use games to build friendships and they don’t want to be left out of their social connections. Games can be a great point of connection with your kids and might help you make decisions from an informed point of view. Wilson says “your relationship with your child can withstand their feelings of loss, but you want to avoid feelings of injustice.”
Purpose is a fundamental desire for teens but we don’t want them locked into pursuits without real meaning. Part of the 12 Tasks includes a design to help teens focus outward toward others and not internally toward their own needs and desires. Taking on a service project with a small group of their peers is a worthwhile pursuit during the 12 Tasks.
Wilson, again, says “As much as your teen may complain and resist your efforts, work to ensure your teen doesn’t slide away from feeling like part of the family. Your child’s memories of their last years in your home should include memories of meaningful family times – not simply memories of hours spent gaming.” Take the time to work out reasonable guidelines together.
Monitor your children but don’t smother them. Work with them to unleash hidden gifts, talents and strengths. Come alongside them with grace and strength so that you can navigate these delicate years with success. Keep us in touch with how its going for you on the journey.