Why to play ‘The Game of Life’ with your children? And the dialogue with my inner voice

Last weekend, I played ‘The game of Life’, one of the oldest American board games, with my children and their friends. It was my first time playing this game, so my eight years old taught me the rules of Life. It was a sweet moment wherein my child was teaching me the ropes of life.:-)

He said-

The winner of the Life is the person who has the maximum money in the end.

What! Hell no! How can riches alone be the yardstick to decide the winner or the loser of life! My kids need to learn better.

Overpowered by thoughts and the parent instinct to share my 2 cents on life, I stated—

“This is all wrong!”

My inside voice warned me, “Spoiler Alert! This is just a game”, but at that moment I chose to ignore it. After all, kids develop their perspectives through games and observation. So I had to do the right thing by sharing my wisdom.

Continuing with my lecture, I said, “In reality, money is necessary to live a comfortable life, but it cannot be a measure of a successful life. The true measure is happiness, and the relationships built along the way. It is easier to keep a score of money than to count your blessings, so the reason this game uses money as the winning goal.”

Giving advise took some weight off my chest, and we started the game.

I was impressed the way this game mapped the entire life on a linear coarse.The players take turns spinning the wheel, and they move ahead the number of spaces indicated on the wheel. In the start of the game, the players have to select between the college path or the career path. I was satisfied to know that my kid had already discovered that choosing the college path meant delaying the payday rewards for later in life. Pretty cool and mature, I thought! But, my satisfaction was short lived! Despite his understanding, he chose the ‘Career path.’ The voice inside me said, “Studies comes first! Do not bypass college. Choose college <pretty please!>, and career will follow, kiddo!” This time, I pinched myself on time to not let these words out of my mouth, and we continued the game…in peace.

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The  ‘stop’ sign where the life changing events happen. This one says ‘Get married’, and the player adds one more peg to their car.

 

Throughout the game I was charmed to see the little kids make choices based on their personalities, and their rationale.

My six-year-old stopped in the space to buy a house. He had a choice between a luxury apartment or the beach hut. My son chose the luxury apartment. He said, “Beach hut would be messy.”

Later my kiddo had to choose between two career cards, Doctor or a Teacher. He chose the profession of Teacher. His reason, “It pays more to be a Doctor.”

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Career Cards

My inside voice started talking again, Son, Ask yourself twice before deciding. Is this the profession you want to embrace? Will it inspire you enough to wake up every morning and start your day?

“Shut up, will you!” I calmed my inner voice. “Keep your thoughts to yourself as this is just a game.”

Coming back to the game, the play also introduced kids to the business of lawsuit. My son got a card—Sue someone for squashing your tomatoes, and receive 50K!

img_3808He asked, “What does lawsuit mean?”. Once I explained, he was hesitant to sue any player. Then he said, “Mommy, can I please sue you?”’

“This is an outrage,” I thought. I teach my children to be kind and forgiving, while this game lets them sue. I signaled my thoughts to take a back seat.

The game ended when all the players reached the goal of retirement. Two of the children decided to retire in a  millionaire mansion, and the other two selected the countryside acres. And the reasons for the selections-

“I chose countryside because I like trees and mountains.”

“I need rooms for my whole family, so I will retire in millionaire mansion.”

“I want to be with my friend because I like him. I will go wherever he goes.”

This  board game took couple hours to finish, and introduced the children to real life events such as paying taxes, college debt, getting laid off from work, paying bank loans and collecting salaries on paydays. You may argue that all these events relate to some form of monetary exchanges, and also the real life does not follow the linear path this game follows, but what cannot be contested is the engrossment of the young minds, and the willingness to play by the rules even when life seems unfair.

Where I am concerned, the game lent me plenty of opportunities to have constructive dialogues with children, and also a sneak peek into their young minds. As a bonus, it taught me to keep my wisdom to myself, and patiently wait for the opportune time to share life lessons with my children. And most importantly, the board game gave me priceless moments with friends and family.

Readers, do you have a favorite board game that you like to play with your children?


Here are some links that share more information about this game-

http://boardgames.lovetoknow.com/The_Game_of_Life_Instructions

http://theweek.com/articles/446078/what-game-life-teach-about-success

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