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Sex Education . . . & the “Nintendo Method”

parents_w_upset_teen_girlLet’s face it.

To your average teenager their parents are:

  • Uncool
  • Not with it
  • Mean, and (let’s face it)
  • Idiots.

Their friends, however, are:

  • Cool
  • Knowledgeable
  • With it
  • Smart

So, how do we, as parents, get our kids to listen to us on important topics, especially those related to sex and sexuality?

One way is an approach that I call “The Nintendo Method“.

In raising my own four kids it has always been a struggle to communicate things to them that they don’t fully understand, especially when it impacts the future.  I get the rolling eyes and “sheesh, not again” expressions.

I’ll bet you do, too.

It’s hard to get them to see that we not only want them to succeed in the life God has planned for them, but that we also have some of the information they need to attain that Godly, successful life.  So, how do we get them to even consider that we know what we’re talking about?

We Use The “Nintendo Method”

Boy w game pad MOD

Now, don’t worry.  I’m not suggesting you take on your kids at Guitar Hero, Donkey Kong, Project Gotham Racing, or Halo.

Let’s face it:  We would each be “greatly humbled!

No, what I’m talking about is an approach to discussing sex and sexuality, drugs, and other issues with kids, be they 10 or 18.  This approach uses the concepts of video games to get them to see our value as advisers.

Kids know about games. They do not know about life.  So, we want to relate lessons on life, whether they are about opportunities or boundaries, to their world, which includes video games.

Let’s start by re-capping how a lot of video games work:

  • They have many levels, which may include floors of a building, cities, missions, etc.
  • You advance to the next level by either finding an object, finding a “door” to the next level, or completing a task.
  • On each level you can earn points and “power-ups” which either heal you or give you more ammo, new weapons, new sensors, more lives, etc.
  • You can advance without getting ALL the points and power-ups available to you on a particular level.
  • You sometimes don’t know what matters on one level until you are many levels down the road. (And you can miss out, totally, on “bonus levels”!)

Kids understand this.  They LIVE it. (Now, if only there were a “clean your room and do your homework” power-up, but I digress . . . ).

So, let’s USE THEIR WORLD to reach them and see OUR value as advisors!

Here’s how.

Let’s take the case of a 12 year old that you need to discuss purity and sex with (for simplicity, we’ll say its a 12 y.o. boy, but this works with many girls, too).  His friends know it all.  You don’t know squat, even though you have been having sex and dealing with purity longer than he and his friends have been alive.  Those are just the cold hard facts.

Father and son MOD 1With this in mind you start the discussion talking about the perceived disparities between peers and parents.  Acknowledging the perception that he has you ask him this:

“Have you ever gotten to a level in a game only to find out that you needed to either have done something different or gathered something you didn’t pick up back at an earlier level in order to win or to maximize your score?  I mean, have you ever gotten to LEVEL 16 and wished that you had gotten a particular power-up on LEVEL 10 that you didn’t realize was important?”

The boy will probably agree that that has happened, if not to them, then “to a friend”.

You then follow up with:

“So, if you’re on LEVEL 10 and you want to win a game or maximize your score, who do you consult?  Someone else on LEVEL 10? Someone on just a little bit ahead of you on LEVEL 13?  OR, do you want to tap the knowledge and experience of someone who is on LEVEL 25, or who has completed the entire game?”

He will probably agree that the latter is better.

powerup starYou continue:

“You know, life is like that.  In the realm of sex, grades, drugs, and other matters, it’s like you are on LIFE LEVEL 10 right now.  Your friends may have a lot of knowledge, but that is about the LIFE LEVELS near you.  They don’t know what missions or “power-ups” are important when you get to LIFE LEVEL 18, 25, or even higher.  Your Mom and I have been through those levels and we  can help you do your best, and have the best ‘score’ in the game of life.  Bonus levels included!”

Here it comes:

But, the world is different now!

It’s not like when you were kids!

Yep!  That is a tough one to deal with.  But, the “Nintendo Method” gives you a framework you can build upon.

You respond:

Graphics Changes“A lot about the world is different.  Even computer games.  But, whether you play solitaire on a 12-year-old computer or on an X-BOX, it’s the  same game. It only looks different because technology has advanced.  The rules for winning haven’t changed. We want you to rack up a high score in life.  We’re on LEVEL 30.  Keep that in mind when you have questions or need help, because people haven’t changed. Don’t ask the guys on LEVEL 10 or 11 for help.  They’re in the same place you are!

Now, the “Nintendo Method” will probably need to be tweaked for each family and each child in the family, but I think that you can see the basic principal:

Find something in your child’s world and use it to relate parenting concepts and ideas in a way that they understand.

Coming soon:

“Why Making Out Is Like A Beer Party!!!”

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