Dear Harlan: What advice do you have for parents of a 14-year-old son who plays Fortnite with a group of friends from school? At one point, we limited his game-playing time, but his argument is that he plays with his friends online. They all get together after school or at night and will play as a team. He is very upset that he doesn’t get to participate.
After hearing this, my wife and I caved and let him play with these friends. It’s becoming a nuisance. It interferes with weekend plans and distracts him from his homework. We are the ones who are responsible for setting rules, but it seems the rules we set make it hard for him to be part of the group. Do you have any suggestions? — Battling With Kid
Dear Battling With Kid: For those unfamiliar with Fortnite, it’s an online role-playing game with a huge tween, teen and adult following. As for an answer, limit his gaming. It’s not going to make him lose friends. It just means he won’t participate in everything these friends do that compete with his homework and other responsibilities.
If he is worrying about losing friends, he needs more friends. I’m serious. All kids should have at least three groups of friends. He can have his gaming friends, athletic friends, spiritual friends, etc. If you want to make your life easier and help your son, set limits. Tell your son to blame you if his friends give him a hard time.
When it comes to managing his time, set a limit on how often he can play and when he can play. Make it structured and predictable. For example, on the weekends he can play 90 minutes, but he can’t start before 10 a.m. Restrict video-game playing on weeknights.
When there is a set time and limit, you will avoid getting into debates and arguments. Your son can make plans according to his schedule. Oh, and setting a starting time in the morning will avoid him getting up early to play. See how this goes and evaluate how it’s working every few weeks. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to set limits. Kids need them.
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Thanks for years of good advice in my St. Paul Pioneer Press. I offer you my support in response to RJ’s criticism of your advice to “Forbidden Boyfriend.” RJ mistakenly assumes “the majority” of Christians are not supportive of our LGBTQ loved ones to date. RJ erroneously thinks identifying oneself as Christian equates with being “spiritual” ... spiritual is not the same as religious, as many intelligent followers of Christ’s teachings recognize. RJ missed the most important feature of Jesus’ message and ministry: love and service.
As a 65-years-long practicing Catholic, I suggest RJ watch the documentary movie “For the Bible Tells Me So,” and then look hard at who in our world has been denied understanding, support, love and service — in God’s name. The old adage “What would Jesus do?” still and forever applies to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. FYI, RJ: my Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, as well as Buddhist and Jewish friends would second this.
Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate your note. Love contributing to life in the Twin Cities. My goal in this column is to give everyone a voice and a safe place to communicate. This is and will always be a safe place for people who identify as LGBTQ. Clearly, your community is a safe place, too. There is always a safe place. Thanks for making this clear.