As many of you know, my wife and I are blessed with four boys. As of this writing their ages are 15, 14, 11, and 8. Ten years ago or so we had to make some decisions about how to manage video games while raising kids, and here is what we decided:
- We would not completely abstain from having video games as a strategy to shield / protect / prevent them from this activity. Rather, we would ration it like we ration so many other things – TV, cookies, Halloween candy, etc. I have seen so many young men lost in video games because they were never taught how to have them in balance with other parts of their life. Our job as parents is to set up boundaries that teach a healthy pattern of living. Total abstention sets young people up for failure, not effective self-management.
- Game play is permission-based until the teen years as they are expected to manage themselves more. It is not permissible on a school day or a school night (neither is watching TV). It is one of many recreational activities that can be engaged in at the appropriate time when school work, chores, music lessons, etc., have been taken care of.
- Games with explicit gore or violence are not okay. Cartoon-style fighting is fine, but no blood and guts – no chopping off limbs or blowing people away with virtual guns – even if they are zombies. It is fine to portray struggle without trying to realistically display injury and suffering. I have definitely preferred the Nintendo game systems because their game offerings tend to be more light-hearted fare than Xbox or Playstation.
- Encourage games that are multi-player. Not merely “online” multi-player with a headset on, but someone sitting in the room with you multi-player. It provides at least some social connection while gaming.
- We have one family TV in the house – and it is in a public place, not private. No TV’s or computers in their rooms behind closed doors.
- As much as possible, we want to keep them busy enough and provide enough alternatives so that video games are not the automatic recreational default. This is a challenge because video games are an immediate way for the kids to have some self-determined fun. I will say this though – give your kids piano lessons – any music lessons. You will be amazed at how often they spontaneously start playing. You will hear the same song over and over and OVER – but that’s okay because it is developing their brains! Bottom-line get those music lessons going.
- Exercise needs to be a part of the culture of your home. We’re not huge sports people, but each boy is in a sport. In the off-season we go to the park, walk the dog, go for hikes, etc. Being a couch potato is not an acceptable lifestyle.
Ultimately, I don’t think this should be that complicated, but it must be because I see young kids with no boundaries playing games that I’m not sure anyone should play. If we allow our young men to continuously lose themselves inside violent video games (for hours in the privacy of their own rooms!), let’s not be surprised when they are socially maladjusted misfits who are unproductive losers at best and violent crazies at worst. Parents need to be parents. Video games are not an evil in and of themselves, but they can be if left unmanaged.
I’m not sure why I feel the urge to write about this and probably make almost everyone I know upset with me, but I just can’t resist the opportunity to put some thoughts down about gun control and the 2nd Amendment in light of yesterday’s tragedy. Here’s what’s rolling through my head (and again, I don’t own a single gun for whatever that is worth):
- Thoughts for those who want to maintain the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment
- My reading of the 2nd Amendment is that the right to bear arms is directly connected to the need to have a milita(s) to secure a free state. An armed populace is supposed to protect the state from foreign invasion AND from the state itself should it become tyrannical. Here’s the deal though – our citizenry is so out-gunned by the state at this point that it renders this particular concept wholly useless. That horse has left the barn, if you will. There is no way for our citizenry to defend itself against the state, because the state has become too strong. Do you seriously think you could take on the state – even if you had a small armory in your home? Not a chance, my friend. I think the framers of the Constitution wanted to AVOID the situation we find ourselves in by having an armed citizenry and active militias, but how is that germane at this juncture? This cake has been baked for a long time. The 2nd Amendment is an example of a concept that has to be reconsidered in light of current realities.
- I understand the impulse to want and defend ourselves and our families against thugs. If I had been in that Colorado movie theater or around the school yesterday without access to a firearm or someone with one, I would have felt helpless and unprepared. However, I wonder if liberalizing gun laws and arming more citizens would really do much to stop this kind of violence. Gun advocates love to say that, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And I agree. What makes us think that these crazies wouldn’t just start bombing classrooms and such? How will an armed citizenry solve that problem? The fact that “guns don’t kill people” cuts both ways. It points out that guns are NEITHER the problem or a solution to the problem.
- What is the whole fascination with assault weapons about, anyway? Power? Manliness? Glorified violence? What is it? Yes, I know – hunting is a legitimate recreational activity, but let’s get real. A lot of the gun owners I know are more into blowing things up out in the desert and doing glorified military-style games than simply trying to get some venison. I really think there is some unhealthy link between glorified violence / power and many of the guns that people own or aspire to own. 2nd Amendment advocates would do well to seriously consider some of the very real concerns many people have about a culture of violence and militarism that has become an acceptable part of our culture. Guns may not be THE problem, but they have become a symbol of it. Try to stop and be sensitive to that.
- Thoughts for those who want tighter gun control
- Please don’t make guns the focus when they cannot be the ROOT issue of violence – that is just so unhelpful to the discussion. None of these murderers are incited to murder simply because they access to guns. Guns may make their bizarre decisions easier to carry out, but guns in and of themselves are not the main issue. We have fostered a culture where bloody violence and gore is standard entertainment for our children, for goodness sakes. Kids choose to be “goths” and we think it is just a phase they will grow out of, instead of understanding that it is a destructive grasping for personal significance. The nuclear family is derided as old-fashioned while we let our children be raised by TV and strangers. There are larger cultural forces at work than merely targeting a particular kind of weapon. Just think about the Middle East, where bombings and IED’s reign. If people want to kill, they will find a way. We have to stop and think about root causes, not merely superficial means.
- I know it is hard to understand, but for many people, guns are a symbol of personal liberty… precisely because of our nation’s history and the intent of the 2nd Amendment. We live in a day where many people, myself included, believe our state has severely over-reached its boundaries into the life of its citizens. For most people, guns will never be used for violence or for starting a militia. For most people, it is a recreational sport – and again, a SYMBOL of what it means to live in a “free” country. It is one of those things – even if you don’t resonate to it – you can try to understand why it is so emotional for gun owners. They feel like it is yet another attack on the liberties our nation was founded to provide. You like your symbols, other people like theirs too. Don’t forget that.
- There is legitimate concern that gun laws only disarm law-abiding citizens, not the nut-jobs who want to murder others. Just like the “war on drugs,” anti-gun legislation will just create another black market… causing thugs to find work-arounds to the system. Will outlawing guns mean less crime or murder in Chicago? As much as I would like to believe it, I don’t see it. Gangs and twisted individuals will simply find another way to get guns or other weapons outside of the law.
My hope is that we will put our disintegrating culture at the center of these tragedies, and not something else. When we disagree with one another over the 2nd Amendment let’s try and understand where the other person is coming from instead of demonizing them as either violent or naive.
6 pork chops
4 chopped slices of bacon
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbl honey
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp curry powder
- Preheat 12 inch dutch oven to about 350 degrees.
- Cook chops for 6 minutes on each side. Place chops on a plate and cover. Pour grease from dutch oven.
- Saute bacon, onion, and garlic in dutch oven for 5 minutes.
- Mix soy sauce, honey, chili, and curry in a bowl, then stir into dutch oven.
- Place chops back in dutch oven, coating them with sauce.
- Put lid on dutch oven and cook 20 minutes.
- Serve with rice
9″/10″ deep dish pastry shell
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup leeks (2-3 leeks) thinly sliced
1/2 lb. hot italian sausage – cooked, drained, chopped
2, 6 oz. jars marinated artichoke hearts – drained and chopped
4 eggs slightly beaten
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
dash of hot sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 lb. grayed Gruyere cheese, reserve 1/2 cup for top
- Preheat over to 350 degrees F
- Line pastry crust with parchment paper and will with pie weights. Bake for 8 minutes and allow to cool.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a 12 inch skillet. Add sliced leeks and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes until soft and starting to brown
- Add cooked sausage, warm through. Add chopped artichokes, still well and remove from heat to cool.
- In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, pepper, mustard powder, hot sauce, and Italian seasoning.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the prepared crust.
- Gently pour the well mixed egg custard mix over the cheese and quiche filling. Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until filling is puffed, set, and golden. Let rest for 5 minutes.
This is better, easier, and healthier than eggs Benedict!!!
1 piece of toast (a rustic bread is best)
1 slice of prosciutto (put on shortly after bread is toasted)
1 poached egg
Drizzle with basil oil (below)
Pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh basil
1 cup of olive oil (not virgin)
Blend until smooth
Simmer for 45 seconds at medium heat
Drain off the basil solids in a sieve
Allow to cool