GET A LIFE! FOR REAL.

By Aaron Welch, LMHC

Before I begin with my topic, let me just say that I am fully aware that I am about to sound like my father used to, telling me about how he had to walk several miles to school, in the snow, by foot, with wild packs of dogs chasing him all the way. Okay, he never said the last part but you know what I mean. Anyway, this is my official disclaimer that I realize that I am going to sound somewhat outdated by the reference to my own childhood that I am about to make. (Sigh).......I can’t help it! I’m bothered by this so I have to get it off of my chest. (I know.....get on with it, Aaron).
Here it is.....I remember that, as a young boy in rural Ohio, I would play and play outside until dark and then I would get really upset when I had to go inside. (dramatic pause to let this amazing truth sink in)..................................................................What? You don’t think that is such an interesting fact? Sheesh.........tough crowd. Seriously, we would play wiffle ball, cowboys and Indians (with chaps and everything), army/war, wrestle, super heroes, football, and basically make up other games to play. We would roll around in the grass and pretend that aliens were shooting at us from a hillside across the river. We would run through the woods pretending to be soldiers firing at one another. In the winter, we would construct snow forts and partake in arctic struggles for the salvation of mankind as we knew it. We dreamed. We imagined. We played hard. And our mothers had to force us to come inside.
Now, flash forward to 2007. Our kids have adventures, don’t they? Uh, yeah...........right. Well, they do. It’s true. They shoot alien androids with various weapons. They play strategy/role-playing games with other kids from all over the world. They play football.........Madden, that is. Our kids embark on many adventures. The problem is.........those adventures aren’t real. They are video adventures. They are only games. Sure, they’re exciting. Video games over-stimulate the adrenal system so our kids are definitely showing the signs of stress that an adventure would provoke. Our kids are competitive. They are skilled. And, many of them are lazy, obese, and have no clue how to use their imaginations. They live off of the imaginations of others..........the artists who make the games. Many of our kids now are trading real adventure for pseudo-adventures they find on X-box 360, World of Warcraft, and other systems and games. Look, I’m not against video games. I’m not! I promise. I play them. I like them. I have an X-box (although my wife swears it is not as nice as her Atari was). However, our kids are so out-of-balance that it is crazy! Why would a teen settle for sitting on a couch and using their thumbs to pretend they are a warrior from some other era? Why would he prefer this over experiencing real adventures himself? Perhaps because it is easier. It takes less physical exertion. It doesn’t make him sweat. And, the game adventure may be more creative and stimulating than the one he could find on his own. But..........it’s not real. You can’t smell nature on a game. You cannot learn things about our universe in front of a tv. You can’t exercise your brain when you’re simply reacting to the game play.
I’m not advocating the burning of video games while holding hands and singing Kumbayah. I’m really not trying to stifle anyone’s fun. But I am challenging parents and teens alike to strive for better balance in their lives. Parents, force your kids to balance their time between playing outside and inside. I know they want to stay in the house but it’s not healthy for them. And then we wonder why little Bobby has so much pent-up energy. Well, let’s see..........Bobby rarely exercises, stays in the house most of his free time, and builds up stored adrenaline by playing Halo. Huh??? How come he’s so hyper??? Parents, it’s up to you to be leaders in your home and teach your kids how to be healthier and more balanced. Teens, I know video games are addictive. It was only two years ago that I started playing a game on my computer right after dinner and, suddenly, my wife was asking me if I was ever coming to bed at 3am. I couldn’t believe how long it had been. But, I’m telling you. Get outside. Play with other kids. Ride a bike. Play a game of basketball. Whatever. Then, play some video games. Just balance your time. You’ll be healthier, have more energy, and you might find that you like the REAL adventures you find.
So, guys............girls.............get a REAL life. Why settle for living through a character in a game when there is a world of adventure out there if you just go and find it. Team up with some other teens and do fun things. I’m not saying you NEVER go out. But, I would encourage you to go out more. Balance is a key to life and it always will be. Try to learn it now so that you can.................oh.............hold on...............I hear my mom calling. I guess it’s time to go inside. It’s getting dark. (wink)

Some quick ideas for parents looking for adventure:

-go canoeing
-take your kids camping
-rent a cabin by a lake
-go to the beach regularly
-take horseback riding lessons as a family
-rent some wave runners
-go hiking
-go shark fishing
-have a picnic in your backyard
-invite neighborhood kids to your backyard for a big game of football and then a barbecue.
-for younger kids, build a fort
-set up a tent in your backyard and go camping with your younger children

Be creative and adventurous!

About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at the LifeWorks Group, Inc. in Winter Park, Florida. He has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together. To learn more about the LifeWorks Group, Inc. please visit, www.LifeWorksGroup.org.

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