Tip # 9 Set Rules That Both Parents Can Support

Jun 20

In celebration of Father’s Day, which we celebrated yesterday, I thought it an opportune time to emphasize the importance of Dad’s input in the family screen dynamic. Too often, I’ve been quick to dismiss my own husband’s ideas around video games and TV viewing, assuming he’d give them free reign over the controllers if it were up to him (as long as it did not overlap with his football game). Yet I’ve discovered over the years that without his wholehearted supported for “my” rules, enforcing them also becomes “my” job. And alongside laundry, cooking, washing dishes, helping with homework (just a small list of things that are “my” job), I realized that I preferred not to add daily arguments with  kids over screen time to my personal duties.

Besides all that, Dads know a thing or two about screens. As with many households, my husband dedicates a portion of most weekends to lying on the couch watching sports. Is his habit really so bad?According to my husband: not so much. Since we have three sons, I’ve learned to defer to my husband’s knowledge on this issue and accept that time spent with the TV is a valued aspect of the today’s “guy” culture. Who am I to fight it?

Several years back, when my oldest son started begging for a Wii, I was firmly opposed. Allow my kids play video games all hours of the day? No way. They were going to be raised as piano-playing, outdoor-loving, homework-completing robots – I mean, kids. Welcoming a video game console into our home would destroy all my plans! My husband, however, wasn’t as keen on raising total nerds. Bit by bit, he’d sneak in arguments supporting a Wii purchase. My resolve weakened. Not just because I was tired of preaching from my soap box about the evils of video games, or because I was battling ever more feebly one against four (my three sons and husband), but I respected that my husband deserved as much say as I did about how our kids spent their free time. I finally succumbed and before wrapping it up to set under the Christmas tree, we agreed to support one another in the rules – which, it turns out, would take a couple years to iron out.

After much experimenting, my husband and I have formed a harmonious and united front in how and when our kids can use the screens in our home. Still, I have a more say in this simply because I am with them a lot more than their father. (Which is also why I vetoed his recent push to eliminate the Monday to Thursday video game ban. I love that rule!)  Now that we share a middle ground for our kids’ video gaming and TV habits, we can support one another’s efforts to ensure they follow the rules. And, that gives us less to argue about. Or, at the very least, allows more time to argue other issues, right honey?

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