So yes, we’re playing it.
Actually, this was more my doing than theirs. I had seen the news. I knew it was out there. And then we began noticing clumps of teens hanging out on corners, all looking at their phones. And I was curious.
So I downloaded it and set up an account. I asked my 10-year-old if she wanted to play and she was non-committal. “Maybe,” she replied. Really? So here’s where I should have let go. Here’s where I, as a parent, should have taken responsibility and managed the situation. Here’s where I should have done NOTHING.
But I didn’t do nothing. I did something. I pushed. “Come on, try it,” I said, like I was selling the latest addiction. Which I was. She shrugged her shoulders and mumbled OK and reached out for my phone. Another parenting moment. Do I just hand her my phone? Just like that? Wouldn’t I be opening up a Pandora’s Box here? What was I doing?
10 minutes later and I realized what I had done. “Umm, Maddie, can I have my phone back?” “Just a minute, dad! There’s a poke stop right here!” So, yeah, we’re playing now. So’s her younger sister, Juliet. My wife’s phone and my phone now belong to them. This game has brought up the whole issue of when our daughters should own cell phones. At what age?
It’s sudden pressure, no doubt about it. From the game. From many of Maddie’s peers who own cell phones. From our own parental instincts of wanting to be in contact with them all of the time. What have I done?
Now, I know this would have come up eventually. It is the times we’re living in. But I can’t stop thinking that this game, Pokemon Go!, somehow accelerated the process. And I keep wondering why I was so keen to jump in.
After much reflection, I think I just broke one of those parenting rules. I spend so much time with my daughters that they have become very close friends. And like any good friends I like to play games with them, and this was no exception. It was me saying, “Come on, guys, let’s play!”
That’s our eternal struggle, as parents. You want to be their friend, and yet you really can’t be. Not really. You can be there for them. You can guide them and support them. But to be their friend means crossing an invisible line. It means entering their world on their terms, and when you do, you lose all parenting powers. You become less effective. Just like a teacher, if you become their friend, you lose their respect.
So yes, we’re playing it. Together. As a family. And we’ll see where it takes us. Oh, hold on, there’s a Diglett up ahead…