Saturday, April 24, 2010

Parenting is no game ...

We picked up my seventh grade son from a math competition where he placed second for individual and third for the group. I asked him to what he attributes his success and he said he didn't know. I asked him if he stuck his fingers in his nose to keep the thoughts from escaping and, wisely, he did not answer.

I think I have a fairly good idea of how he spends his time. He attends school and performs pretty well in terms of grades, test scores, behavior and citizenship; does chores, watches television, reads a great deal outside of school requirements and spends about thirty hours playing online computer games. For the past few months, it has been League of Legends. Before that, it was Team Fortress 2. Next, I think it will be Monster Hunter Tri. He had an opportunity to play that at the Nintendo booth of the comics convention we attended last weekend.

Most parents would think that this is too much time for computer gaming for children, one of which would be my wife. My thoughts are that he is not hanging out, tying up a phone or burning up minutes or bringing over hoodlums to eat up the food and tear up the place. Most of the time, I sit right next to him, on my computer, writing, surfing, working or playing while we talk, joke and interact throughout the evening.

We have an adult son as well and I am still trying to figure out this parenting thing. But I continue to follow certain principles. I provide structure so they know where the boundaries lie, what they are allowed to do and warnings that certain choices they make can place them outside of my ability to help. I give them support to do the things they want to do after they've done what they have to do first and provide whatever resources I have or sacrifices I need to make to support them. And they get supervision as I inform them what they can do, make certain that they are able to do it and watch them as they do it. It is no easy task.

Children, especially young black males, need to be surrounded by many layers of protective factors. As a student of my surroundings, I watch and listen and see that most of the time, we are the architects of our own chaos and engineers to our own destruction. Early on, I learned that engagement in technology would keep me out of a lot of trouble and, so far, it's done OK by me and mine.

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