I like to beat my children.
I wish I could beat them everyday, but I often don’t have the time. While I haven’t started beating my 2-year-old yet, I have beaten my older kids so much that they don’t even cry anymore. My wife begs me not to do it, but I beat them anyway. Sometimes I even beat her.
Checkers, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders. The game doesn’t matter. I want to win.
What?!?!?! Surely you didn’t think I meant something else. Shame on you.
You may think that it’s terrible, a grown man not letting his kids win. Maybe you think that I should loosen my standards and let my children beat me in board games. You may think it’s because you are worried about their self-esteem. More likely it’s because you’re a communist.
I’m just kidding, of course. Calling you a communist is not fair, but thinking I am a monster for my view isn’t fair either. I have my reasons for not letting my kids win. Here they are:
1. My dad never let me win. Ever. If I beat him at anything, I earned it. We had a ping-pong table when I was a kid and my dad would beat me mercilessly. Most of the time he would skunk me. If you don’t know what a “skunking” is, then it never happened to you. It stinks, just like the name implies. He would encourage me and teach me, but he never let me win until I really did win.
2. My grandmother never let me win, either. Nannie, as we called our paternal grandmother, was an expert at the game of checkers. I figure it was because when she was a kid the choices for entertainment were extremely limited. When she talked about the games she played as a child, she mentioned checkers and something called “kick the can.” Checkers seems more appealing and when she played me it seemed as if she was re-living a part of her childhood. Every time she beat me she would laugh loudly, and she beat me every single time. She passed away a few years ago, so unless we get to play checkers in Heaven her unbeaten streak against me will last forever. I’m okay with that.
3. Losing builds character. Perseverance is not something we are born with, it is something that we learn. And the sooner we learn it, the better. Learning how to lose gracefully is also vitally important because losing is something that happens and it happens a lot. We lose games, money, jobs, people that we love and so much more. I’ve heard it said that the Christian life is falling and getting back up over and over again all the way to Heaven. I want my kids to learn how to lose the right way and then get up and try again. Is there any better way to do this than to lose to your dad who loves you and will do his best to encourage and teach you in the process? I don’t think so.
4. Winning means more when you know you earned it. Kids aren’t stupid. Once they get past 4-years-old or so they know when an adult is patronizing them and letting them win. But when there seems to be no end to the losing in sight and they finally win the elation is amazing. I remember beating my dad at ping-pong after a string of close to a billion losses. I jumped up and down. I ran up the stairs. I told my mom and my brother. I even told people at school. You don’t feel the highest of highs unless you’ve truly experienced the lows. It was a good lesson to learn.
You may not agree with me and that is absolutely fine. I’ll keep beating my kids and you can keep thinking that I’m a horrible person because of it.
The beatings will continue until they can really beat me. And when after they get through jumping around and shouting, I’ll play them again.
And hopefully I’ll win.
(What are your thoughts? Do you let your children win, or not? Are there some reasons that I missed?)