No Xbox. Not Now. Never.

As a parent, I know that it is risky to say the word “never.” Never is undeniably a long time from now. When I say “never” now, I mean “never” now. But somehow, “now” has a way of changing into “then” and with “then” comes a time when “never” doesn’t mean “never,” but instead means, “I was wrong.” It’s a word I try to avoid.

But last weekend, while hiking with friends in the Sawtooth Range of Southwestern Colorado, I said, “never.” And, just to back me up, my husband said “never,” too. The topic? An Xbox. While hiking down the trail from the summit of Courthouse Mountain (look for a post on this amazing family trail later this month), our 12 year-old son looked at us and said, “If I save the money, can I buy an Xbox?” To which we answered, “No, not now, never.” Or, something to that effect.

Video Games=Grumpy

To lessen the sting, I pointed out to him that all of his friends, including his hiking partner Tommy, have an Xbox (or the equivalent) that he can play whenever he goes to their homes. He was beginning to object, to develop an alternative line of argument, when Tommy piped up, “Yeah, you can play at my house, but the Xbox really makes me grumpy.” Precisely. Point made, point taken. There wasn’t much left to say.

For two years, we have told our son that video games, even when played on the tiny screen of his iPod Touch, make him grumpy. The perfect example would be going skiing. We would leave in the morning, everyone feeling bright and excited, only to arrive at the mountain with one of our party now in a dark, exhausted and apathetic mood from playing games on his Touch.  At first we thought it was car sickness. The road is windy, he’s been staring at a screen and now he feels lousy, we told ourselves. Then we noticed it happening at home. He’d play. He’d be grumpy. It didn’t really matter if he was playing a war game or Fruit Ninja. He’d be grumpy.

But It’s My Money…

Still, while I didn’t have any problem telling our son “never” on the acquisition of an Xbox, part of me did feel bad telling him he couldn’t save his money for the purchase of his choosing. Saving money and having goals are good things. I love it when our boys have a goal in mind, because suddenly they want to do all of the extra chores around the house: Cleaning the patio, mowing the grass, pulling weeds, shining shoes. They do these things and more enthusiastically when they’ve got a payoff in mind. And really, I am generally pretty lax about what they can buy.

Here are some examples of purchases they’ve made in the past year: Lots of gum? No problem. Fat powder skis? Now we’re talking. An airsoft gun? Well, that one gave me pause for a moment, but unlike the Xbox didn’t elicit an immediate “never.” But the Xbox? No way.

Stay inside, burn out your eyes, and be grumpy? Sorry, this mom isn’t signing up for that punishment. Not now. Not then.


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  1. says

    Good for you! (Says the dad who isn’t nearly as strong and wanted one in the house so he could play, too).

    My wife and I have drawn the line at no DVD player in the car. Her current car came with one, but the kids haven’t even figured out it is there, and we will NEVER turn it on.

    • says

      That’s funny! I just hope you model good video game behavior and don’t get grumpy! We tried the DVD in the car one time….result? Two car sick boys. Not worth it. Thanks.

  2. Angie says

    Good for you! We are ‘nevers’ also in this area. Since I have daughters, they aren’t interested in the war-type games.; however, the dance games have popular songs with some R-rated lyrics and pole dancer-inspired moves. Watching my 9 yo niece mouth “I’m talking about everybody getting crunk, crunk/Boys tryin’ to touch my junk, junk/
    Gonna smack him if he getting too drunk, drunk.” Why, oh why, would I ever want that in my house?

  3. Mel says

    I can totally see your point on this, and I grew up in a household with no video games and I survived. However, we own the Wii now and I have to say, as a family we enjoy it. I have very strict rules regarding time spent playing video games and they are not even allowed Mon-Thurs in my house. I would much rather be out hiking with the family but this Labor Day was a VERY rainy day and we enjoyed playing Wii sports, carnival games, and Just Dance together as a family. We also threw in some good old fashioned board games too. I think as with anything, as long as it is in moderation and monitored by parents, even video games can be good for the family.

    • says

      I think you make a great point. Moderation and Monitored by parents (the two “M”s of video games?). I can totally see how it would be fun for the entire family. Thanks!

  4. says

    I was having the same issue by letting the kids watch television! I guess it is a little easier to take things away when they are toddlers though. No more tv or DVDs and we love the extra family time and time spent outdoors.

    • says

      Actually, it’s not too hard to take stuff away! One son recently lost his TV and computer privileges and just like you say, we love the extra family time and time spent outdoors! Thanks!