Q: My husband and I love being parents. But with three kids in the house now, our marriage isn't as fun as it once was. Is that normal?
Jim: I'd say it's common, anyway. As newlyweds, you and your spouse were probably able to schedule your life around the time you spent with each other. Now you're parents, and your marriage has slid down the priority list. Every moment is busy with your children -- dirty diapers, sports practice, dentist appointments, school programs, etc.
Your home has likely become child-focused. A child-focused home seems like a good idea, because parenting is one of the most important jobs in your life. Children require a lot from Mom and Dad. They need your attention, your affection and your affirmation. They need you to be engaged in their lives.
But if everything -- including your marriage -- revolves around your children, your home is out of balance. The desire to be a great parent becomes counterproductive when it overshadows your desire to be a great spouse. A strong marriage is one of the greatest gifts you can offer your children. It's the foundation of their stability and confidence in life and will benefit them throughout their lives.
So my advice is: Protect your marriage. Love and serve one another. Make time for your spouse, even while you're working hard to raise your children together. Secure, confident children don't come from child-focused homes, but from marriage-focused homes.
Q: Do you think that "shooter" video games might have a contributing influence in some of the incidents of mass violence in our society? I'm heartbroken whenever I see a commercial for a war game or watch kids at a store demo screen blasting away.
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: There's a lot of discussion about the cause-and-effect relationship between playing violent video games and actual behavior and attitudes. For one thing, not all violent video games are created equal. Some shooter games revolve around eliminating space aliens. Some involve enemies during simulated war. But some revel in killing for killing's sake. Those games especially worry me.
I thought the argument was over in 2000 when the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and several other groups issued this joint declaration:
"(Media violence's) effects are measurable and long lasting. Moreover, prolonged viewing of media violence can lead to emotional desensitization toward violence in real life ... Viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children."
In 2015, the APA concluded that research had not yet proved a link between gaming and actual violence but pointed out: "(T)he link between violence in video games and increased aggression in players is one of the most studied and best established in the field."
Whatever "increased aggression in players" is, culturally we only seem to care when it makes the evening news. For instance, in 2003, Alabama teenager Devin Darnell Thompson killed three police department employees, claiming the "Grand Theft Auto" video game influenced these murders. Fortunately, incidents like these are rare.
Meanwhile, in 2017 Canadian researchers found that prolonged video game playing actually decreases the gray matter in the brain's hippocampus. Again, that can't be good.
I believe common sense dictates that games glamorizing the killing of innocent humans -- making it out to be "fun" and rewarding -- definitely have a negative side. Personally, I would err on the side of caution, allowing teens to play only (or mostly) the types of games that don't celebrate murder and mayhem. And should you make an exception -- if you notice a change in personality, it's definitely time to have a chat with your child about his or her gaming habits, beliefs and influences. That's always a great idea!
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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