Parenting is challenging. We were never given a good intro to how to parent, we just played along. Which in hindsight is a bad idea in my opinion. A bit of research, even better if there was a pre-natal prep program on the do's and don't. I have two children, a boy and a girl who is 9 and 6 years old respectively. It's almost been a decade since I entered parenthood. But, it is still all new to me. I come from Sri Lanka, where the role of the father is very different. This is true for most families (with exceptions). The children grow up close to the mother because she is easy to communicate with and they bond naturally. It's the case for us even today, most of our communication with my father is usually proxies through my mother. We would mostly just avoid conversations completely.
When I became a parent, I didn't want to have a relationship like that with my children. I wanted to ensure that there were no walls between me and them and that they can talk to me about anything, especially when they screw up. I know a lot of people who got into more trouble because they were scared of or uncertain to speak to their parents when they stuffed up or when they wanted some guidance.
For me, I've noticed that relationships are built over the activities that you do together. Ad-hoc chats you have with them about schoolwork or even silly little jokes. It was important for me to accept that, this is a learning process for me as well, and it's always trial and error. But time spent together will never go to waste.
Both my children love playing games. They have a dedicated time daily for video games between 4pm-6pm daily. I even encourage my daughter to play games (which is culturally foreign to me), and it helps bring out their creativity. I've listed out a few games that worked well for us, both board games and video games.
Bluey Board Games
Bluey is a really fun cartoon, it's available on the ABC network. And both my children, wife and I enjoy watching Bluey. Some of the struggles as parents and so real and relatable. And there has been plenty of episodes that made us reflect on the way we parent our kids.
Two of our favorite games from the Bluey franchise are Shadowlands and Charades. Both of these games are easy to play. Similar to most traditional games around the same ideas. And best of all, they have a corresponding Bluey episode which makes your young kids immediately aware of how the game works.
The only drawback of the Shadowlands game was spinning the palm tree. It's a bit hard at times to spin and make sure the board is in balance. But overall both games are pretty much fun and would take you around between 30min to an hour to end the games on a good note.
Logic and Programming
Well, this is not everyone's cup of tea. The game is pretty straightforward. The parent/adult pretends to be the computer that processes instructions. And the kids will play with each step that moves the Turtle. The game works like a simple computer program where you list out a set of instructions for the computer and the computer executes it. The difference between code.org and ScratchJr is that you are involved in the game, and the game setup is dynamic. You get to come up with different challenges and take part in the game with them as the Computer.
Now, if you are super keen on your kids doing these kinds of games, there are a lot of games on both the iOS and Android Play Store. There is also code.org which is a really good resource and my 9-year-old loves it. Spends hours on code.org programming Minecraft / Angry Birds characters making dance videos etc. Also for younger kids, ScratchJr is a subset of the Scratch programming language but comes in a small package that is easy for kids to use. They can make animation videos and their own games using ScratchJr.
Here, I am going to talk about the co-op games which you can play together. I am going to drop the obvious ones, like Minecraft, Roblox and Mario Cart, etc where you can join the simulation using your own device or extra controllers and play along with your kids.
Cat Quest II
We have a Nintendo Switch Console at home, and I was shopping for recommendations Cat Quest was something recommended by one of my colleagues at work. This game has a 2 player co-op, and there is a bit of violence where the game characters attack using swords. I only own Cat Quest II and I love the gameplay. Not sure about "Cat Quest I" though. Nintendo regularly runs free-demo periods where you can play the game before purchasing.
Moving out is one comical and fun game. It can co-op up to 4 players, so in our case, the whole family can play in one go. This game is really good because it forces you to communicate and work together to finish the goals. Basically, moving stuff from the house to the truck is hard. But not too hard if you work together.
PS: You can slap other characters. This is a good one to prank your kids or partner while playing. It annoys the hell out of my daughter.
Brawhalla is a bit of a violent game. It's a multiplayer game, with up to 4 controllers connected. The game involves, fighting each other with weapons and general moves. It's a little difficult, in terms of gameplay, but there is no gore or blood violence. The violence is similar to slaying a Zombie in Minecraft. We play this often and found it to be interesting when it's two players vs two players over the internet. Then it is more of a co-op game.
This is a free download from Nintendo.
Stick Fight: The Game
Similar theme to Brawhalla, a fighting game. You can call it a bit violent based on the types of weapons included in the game. It's super fun for my 9-year-old. I play against him and sometimes we let others join so its a free for all fight to the death. The game is pretty intense, but so much fun.
These video games aren't the only ones available that are fun, but these are the ones we are playing now. I would love to hear more recommendations. Please ping me @hewadotme
Now, playing a game is not the only way to bond with your children. This is just one way I bond with my kids apart from the obvious outdoor activities.
PS: Links to Amazon, are affiliate links and you can search for the game by name without clicking on them if you don't want amazon adding cookies and stuff to your browser.
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