My 5-year-old stays at her aunt's house now and then but pretty infrequently (2 or 3 times a year). I recently heard that my sister has a new Wii video game that she's excited about and is interested to play it with my daughter the next time she stays over.
We are a household that prefers going out to play instead of virtual electronic play. I also would like to wait on video games until my daughter cares about them herself. I don't really want the adults in her life pushing them on her.
I'm debating about whether to say anything to my sister or not. After all, she stays infrequently and it could be a "treat" she gets to do at auntie's house. But at the same time, I am sure she will be overly exposed to video games throughout her life and would prefer she do so on her own time.
Am I over-reacting or should I say something before our next sleepover?
From: Wishing to stay unplugged, Boston
I absolutely love it when children are able to spend time with aunts and uncles and grandparents! It's so great for them to have independent relationships with family members and to develop that sense of independence and accomplishment that comes from sleeping out. So you're lucky, and so is your daughter, that she has an aunt who is anxious to be involved in her life.
BUT: You're the parents. You are the ones who set the values for your children. If this aunt was a smoker, would you consider overnights? I'm guessing not. I don't see this as any different. You're the parent. You're in charge.
You are absolutely right that there will come a time when your daughter is exposed to, aware of, and anxious to engage in Wii and all sorts of other electronics. Does it need to start when she's 5? At her aunt's house? I don't think so. There is plenty of time for that, including plenty of time for her to play with her aunt. Later. Years from now. One? Two? Three? Who knows.
These are your values and, frankly, I applaud you for them. Don't be afraid to tell your sister this matters to you. Don't be. If she doesn't get that you want to delay this part of your daughter's childhood -- and if she isn't willing to defer to your wishes -- it's her loss.
I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.
The author is solely responsible for the content.