This week I set up parental controls on my son’s use of World of Warcraft. My son is fourteen years old and has become somewhat obsessive about playing it. I believe that setting up and recognizing boundaries by both the parent and child is an important part of instilling values into the child. I believe that a teenage boy needs some pretty large boundaries if he is to develop the right instincts of what it is to be a man. Part of the reason for the large boundaries is to “encourage” him to try stuff and make mistakes. The general idea is that he makes his mistakes when he is young. Hopefully, his mistakes will be small. The key boundary for me was for him to complete his homework on time and do well in classes. I want him to do well in class for his sake not mine. My wife has a slightly different opinion on this subject. She wanted him to complete his homework before nine o’clock and to be in bed asleep by ten o’clock. That is how she approached homework when she was younger. Well, her plan does not work for my son. He is a natural “night owl” and her natural desire to be control him has antagonized their relationship.
This week I finally had enough of the discussions. I had been encouraging him to find a middle ground with his mom for several weeks now but he had become more resolute in that he was “right”. The stubbornness of both of them being “right” left me very frustrated. When he missed an assignment at school this week and the teacher called us, I had my opportunity. I set up a schedule for when he could play the game. I had been discussing implementing parental controls for several days but he did not want to discuss it. I had my problems getting it set up and had to call the folks who support World of Warcraft for help. He was a little surprised when it kicked him off for the first time. He was even more surprised when he found out that he could not play the game during his free periods at school. He argued with me a bit about this schedule being so unfair but he knew he had lost. One friend at school tried to talk me out of parental controls but when I mentioned I thought I should call his Dad and offer to help him set up parental controls, he immediately became respectful and quiet. My son and I finally talked about him doing the little things to keep his mother from being a “crazy” woman. He complied and my wife was impressed. She thought he had all of a sudden become more sensitive and respectful to her wishes. As a good faith measure on my part I released parental controls on Friday. He is on spring break now. He knows that I can place parental controls on at any time so we will see if I need to put them on or threaten to put them on at the end of spring break.