The Company You Keep


Are you at the point where you begin to worry about the company your children keep?  I wasn’t until recently.  It seems to come much sooner than we thought.  I would say that sometimes the parents are the culprits.


To some extent, my son is quite popular in school being a computer and math whiz.  Playing computer games is his reward for finishing his daily 20-minute reading assignment from school and listening to his parents.  If he is willing to do some more math challenges provided by the school’s high potential program, he gets extra computer time.  The countless time he spent playing computer games turns him into a skilled video game player, with skill unmatched by any student in his school.  Many kids would circle around him to see him play the computer games during media time.  We have no control of what he does in school and we don’t really worry about it either. 


Lately one of his classmates keeps calling my son, almost once or twice a day.  Since the time he called usually fell during our dinner time, we didn’t pick up the phone.  One day, he was lucky to catch my son before we had dinner.  We finally realized the purpose of his call was to invite my son over to his house for a play date.  We usually let our kids attend the play date unless there is a time conflict.  Naturally, he went to the play date.  We later found out that all they did in those 3 hours was playing Xbox games which were rated Mature and Adult Only.  I was not happy to hear that.  In our house, even though we allow our kids to play Wii or computer games, they are all rated E for Everyone.  I can understand that his classmate has older siblings but it is rather inappropriate for the parents to allow his son at the age of 9 to play games rated Mature and Adult Only and to even invite his friends to play along.  That gave me a very bad impression on the family.  By the family is originally from Asia.  The mom is a housewife but apparently not a Tiger Mom. 


Anyway, after that play date, we continued to receive calls from that boy.  One day he was able to catch us again while we were watching TV on a Friday.  The purpose of the call was to invite my son to yet another play date.  We felt bad not to let our son attend the play date.  Maybe they would play something healthier than playing the rated Mature and Adult Only video games.  How wrong was I! 


After that, we decided to draw the line.  We can smell trouble from that boy.  No more play dates at that boy’s house since all they do was playing rated Mature and Adult Only video games.  Though we are pretty liberal parents, we do discipline our kids to ensure that they keep healthy habits and hobbies.  Whatever the kids have to talk between themselves, they have plenty of time to talk in school.  When we pick our kids up from the after school care program, it is already six o’clock in the evening.  Allowing my son to spend half an hour to an hour just listening to his friend chatting is depriving the limited valuable family time we have and the time he needs to spare for his math and reading assignment from school.


We are not unreasonable parents.  We will never set the limit if they are playing board games or sports.  Playing video games occasionally on a play date isn’t so bad as long as the games are not rated Mature or Adult Only, although we would prefer healthier games.       


Oh, something I found recently from my son.  That boy uses his dad’s cell phone to send text messages to his two other classmates.  Luckily, my son, at the age of nine, does not have a cell phone or have the luxury to use our cell phones or even have a text messaging plan to be able to text to or receive text from his friend.  Our cell phones are only for emergency purpose, all unnecessary functions are disabled.  You might have heard me saying that we are lazy parents and so we have adopted the laissez faire parenting style.  However, we are not without discipline. 


Written by Elisa English

On 12/22/2011

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