Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
While browsing my favorite video game blog, Kotaku, I came across the headline, “Playing with your children can save their mental health.”
My inner reaction to that was something along the lines of, “Well, no duh.”
The story was made relevant to gamers in the sense that if you let a game console “babysit” your child, rather than spending time with them yourself, you put the child at a much higher risk of developing a severe personality disorder. Obviously this applies to more than just video games, but it’s still a good example to make.
This news came to me shortly after reading a column that beloved children’s horror author R.L. Stine wrote for The New York Times shortly before Halloween titled “The scariest sight on Halloween? Grown-ups.”
Stine lamented over the fact that so much emphasis on the holiday today is being placed on adult parties, adult costumes and adult issues.
Whatever happened to Halloween being an event for children to dress up and get candy, rather than for adults to wear less clothing than ever in an attempt to get laid?
It strikes me that, more and more, adults are refusing to grow up – or maybe a better word would be “mature.”
Granted, I’m not necessarily the best person to talking about growing up and being an adult. At the moment, I make money playing video games as a freelance critic, and I aspire to write young adult fantasy novels at some point in the future. I hope to make a living on not really growing up at all, in that sense.
However, while I entirely support keeping your inner child and letting loose every now and then, you also need to accept the responsibilities that come with age. You cannot expect other adults or the government to take care of your responsibilities for you.
But that’s exactly what I see so many parents doing. Maybe it’s a simple matter of a parent not paying attention to the movies their child is watching or the games they’re playing. Maybe it’s parents not talking to their teenagers about sex and instead letting the schools do that bit of dirty work. Maybe it’s parents who pay so little attention to their child that they don’t realize they’re struggling in school, be it with academics or bullies or something else.
All of these can have a huge impact on a child, teenager, or even 20-something year old college student.
I’m 22. Over the weekend, I got a little upset with my mom over the phone about something extremely stupid. I texted her afterward to apologize, saying “Sorry, I’ve been weirdly emotional today.” Being the overprotective mother that she is, she immediately called me to make sure I was OK and to see if I needed to talk about anything.
I expected that from my mom, but what really got me was the next day, when my dad called to ask the same questions. He’s a great dad, but he’s not usually big on stuff like emotions, usually leaving that stuff to my mother. I was perfectly fine, but the mere fact that my father cared was nice to know.
Now, I don’t mean to brag or anything by saying that. I definitely don’t want to say, “It’s so nice to have good parents. A lot of you are probably screwed up because you aren’t lucky like me.” Far from it. I know there are plenty of families that are broken or at the very least flawed (well, all are flawed in at least some small way), and that sucks.
I say what I’m saying so that, if you’re in the shoes of someone with a bad parent or two, you should try to do a better job with your children than your parents did with you.
As I near the end of my college career, several friends of mine have gotten married. A couple of them have even had a child or have one on the way. I myself am engaged. Are we doing these things at too young an age? You could make that argument, sure. But regardless, it’s happening.
Are these young parents going to leave their son or daughter in front of the TV while they keep to themselves all day? Are they going to hire a babysitter every night so they can go out clubbing? Sure, a ton of families these days involve both the mother and father working full-time, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.
This shouldn’t just apply to those of you who have kids now or will in the near future, either. Whether or not you’ve spawned some offspring, you’re an adult, or at least very close to it. Please do society a favor and act like it once in awhile.