Pokemon Go taught me to be a better father
If you haven’t heard of Pokemon Go yet, just go outside. You’ll probably see hordes of teenagers roaming around looking for the pocket monsters on their phones around real world landmarks. Ok, you might see me as well. The game is good for more than just setting download records, inflating and then crashing Nintendo’s stock, and social ineptitude. There are many lessons to be learned about parenting from the game as well.
To actually find Pokemon in the game, you need to get outside and move around. To raise well adjusted, non-couch-potato children, you should get them outside as well. Get some fresh air and find that Pikachu. Or just get outside without the kids and take a mental break. The fresh air does wonders for the mind, body, and spirit.
It’s a grind
For every Pikachu, there are 50 Zubats. For every milestone like crawling, speaking, or walking, there are hundreds of diaper change and feedings. Though it may seem like these are endless, they add up and go fast. Try to take a second to enjoy each occurrence because they won’t last forever. Each Zubat may only get you 100 xp, but each time you’re getting a little bit better. Each diaper change gives you a little more opportunity for bonding. You can’t get to the next level without catching those hundreds of Pidgeys.
It’s worth the wait
The good things take a long time. Hatching the best eggs takes a 10K walk. Leveling up can take days. Finding a rare pokemon can be an incredibly rare occurrence. The big milestones in a child’s life are also worth the wait. It can seem like it is taking forever to reach a milestone, and you may have to resist the urge to keep checking the progess bar, but the payoff is always worth that wait.
Five more minutes
It can seem like you’re always waiting five more minutes. Pokestops take about five minutes to recharge, so if you are sitting at a bar, you have to keep checking back in and swiping often. The first few weeks can also seem like there’s something new every five minutes. It may also feel like you’re waking up to feed or comfort every five minutes as well. Sometimes though, that frequent check in is worthwhile as you’ll get a surprise like an egg or master ball, or you’ll encounter your child’s first ear to ear smile.
The wisdom and stupidity of crowds
Sometimes following the Pokemon playing hordes of teenagers is worthwhile, like when they lead you to a rare creature. Other times finding a crowd might lead you to a good lure spot. Other times, just joining the community to have a shared experience is rewarding. The same is true with children. Learning from others and just sharing their experiences is fun and helps you feel more connected and less alone. Sometimes crowds can lead you astray though. People have followed each other around in the vain hope of finding a rare Pokemon, just to find nothing at all. Worse, with children, others can give you faulty or just plain wrong advice. Don’t always listen to the crowds as things that worked for others may not work for you. Find your own way and what works best for you.
See what sticks
Sometimes you waste 25 balls on an Evee because you just can’t accept that you won’t catch it. Sometimes you catch a 1200 CP Snorelax on the first lucky throw. The only way to find out is to throw as many balls as possible and see what sticks. The best way to figure out an approach for your kids is to experiment and see what works best for you and them. This is also the best way to keep your sanity.
You can’t always win
In Pokemon Go, you can’t win because there is no end game. There is nothing to win. You just keep going and growing and hopefully getting better. The same is true with kids. You’re never done and you’ve never won. You can only do your best in each situation, try to plan ahead a little, and keep going forward. Maybe one day you catch them all, but then the next day the goalposts move because they add more Pokemon to the game. With kids, the goalposts are always moving too. Even in the small games within the game like gym battles, there are times you are so heavily outmatched you can’t possibly win. The best thing to do then is to choose your battles wisely and move past defeats.
You’ll never be the best
Though the motto of the game was to be the very best, in reality, someone will always be better. Someone can devote far more hours to the game than you. Someone has spent hours reading tips and tricks and knows how to game the system better than you. Some have even gone as far as reverse engineering and cracking the game to get ahead. The most you can do is acknowledge you’ll never beat them and take solace in playing by your own rules and moral code and ethics. You may not be the highest level trainer, but you can train your Pidgeys to play by the rules and respect others. With kids, someone else will always game the system and get ahead. All you can do is let them be their own worst enemy and do the best you can by your own measures.
Pokemon Go serves as a model for life and child rearing beyond the simple, if not nearly non-existent game mechanics it uses. You can learn a lot about patience and perseverance from it, as well as how to appreciate the little things. It can be easy to write it off as a silly game for kids, but there are certainly things to be learned from it. The next time you see someone stopping in the middle of a sidewalk or walking into a tree while playing the game, cut them a break. They may just be practicing parenting.