Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My husband and I limit our son’s exposure to violent video games, but I know he plays them when he goes to his friend’s house. How should I go about asking the parents who host the play date to not expose my kid to it without coming across like a control freak?
Apache Helicopter Mom
Dear Apache Helicopter Mom,
First of all, if your son is old enough to have friends who play violent video games, he probably wouldn’t want you to call it a play date. It’s called “hanging out.” Geez. Whatevs. [Exaggerated eyeroll]
I hate to break it to you, but the parents hosting the hang out will not only think you’re a control freak, they will also likely take offense to what they perceive as your judgment of them as bad parents for letting their kid play those violent video games. The fact is (and trust me, as the parent of an 11 year old boy, I am struggling to come to grips with this myself), as our children get older, we have less and less control over what they do when they are out of our supervision. It sucks, doesn’t it? Want to be even more horrified? Today it’s violent video games, and tomorrow it will be his first glimpse of internet porn when he’s over at his friend’s house. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
I suggest having frequent one on one conversations with your son, letting him know specifically what it is that you think is awful about the violent video games, asking him how he feels when he plays them, what he finds fun about them, and telling him that you would really rather not he play them at all. Tell him that you know you can’t control everything he does, but that you hope that he will make good decisions when you’re not around. You could try and limit his time with this friend, but I think any kind of ban tends to backfire on us.
There is also the less sanctioned passive-aggressive route, in which you casually mention to the kid’s mom that you overheard her son telling yours how excited he gets every time he kills someone when he plays that game. All depends on how comfortable you are with subterfuge.