19 responses

  1. Larissa
    May 19, 2014

    One point I would add is that there is a difference between a bad influence and the person just having different interests than you. In this case, she mentions role playing games. these in themselves are not bad. They are just considered strange by “normal” people.

    I learned this with my sister. She is now married to a guy who is completely different than everybody in our family. While there are things about him that have been a negative impact on her, a lot of the things about him that made us initially feel turned off of him were his interests and that they were strange to us. he could change his tune and keep his interests and he would be completely “acceptable” as a Christian and family member.

    • Sheila
      May 19, 2014

      Great point, Larissa! Thank you. And I totally agree. Sometimes it’s just that they’re different, not bad.

  2. anna
    May 19, 2014

    I agree with Larissa – I think Sheila did a good job of answering this question in a general sense that covers all possibilities, but the concern about role playing games is misplaced. RPGs are nothing more than a cross between a video game without screens and a choose your own adventure novel of sorts. Some people take them to a weird place but there are always those with every community (look at the extreme Harry Potter fans for instance).

    I think this ties into a larger theme of nerd hobbies being socially unacceptable, and even more unacceptable in the Christian community. For example, I’m a longtime World of Warcraft player but I would never dare mention that in any group bible study ever. I will get lectured about wasting time and bad influences, but then the same exact people will turn around and be like, “hey did you watch Mad Men last night?”. WoW is actually much much cleaner than most TV, part of the reason I play it. I think that Christians need to take a step back and rethink their dislike of nerd hobbies.

    • Butterflywings
      May 19, 2014

      Totally agree! Most of the best people I know are into RPGs. My husband’s great friends, my great friends. Most are christians, all are caring, upstanding citizens. It’s not really my thing, but I started playing with my husband and his friends and my sister’s friends when we go back to our hometown because it’s a great way to catch up and have fun. It’s better than the mindless gossip (at best) and drunken idiocy (at worst) that goes on at most non nerd parties I’ve been to.

      Perhaps the problem isn’t the boyfriend but the views of society that nerds/geeks are somehow deviant for being different.

    • Elizabeth
      May 19, 2014

      I agree 100%! I’m not super interested in most “nerd hobbies” but they do get a bad rap. A lot of the video games and card games out there are fine — it’s all what you do with them. Anything can become a crutch or soak up all of someone’s time. That doesn’t make the thing inherently bad.

      I’ve never understood RPGs (tried it, didn’t get it then, don’t get it now) but there are a lot of benefits to playing them. You get to work on a large project with people (teamwork), and you get to be pretty creative! If you’re doing a written one, then your writing skills get a workout (or should… unfortunately, the internet can be a cesspool of ignorance). Same with video games… you can choose the stupid ones OR you can choose the good ones.

      Also, apparently people aren’t allowed to like math/science these days, either. My husband is a TOTAL nerd that way (example… he spent yesterday morning figuring out what shape has the most area within given parameters… in his head) and he’s always super excited when he finds another one like him. :) But it’s not like you can just come up to someone and say “So, I was trying to prove a formula…” You get a lot of weird looks (and sometimes ignorant lectures about why math is stupid, and shouldn’t you be more worried about providing for your family with actual SKILLS?). So irritating.

      • anna
        May 19, 2014

        Same here – RPGs aren’t really my thing either (too boring) but part of what draws me to nerd culture is the good clean stimulating fun aspect of it. I think part of the social unacceptability is just being in the minority. For example, a few weeks ago a relative of mine was posting stuff on Facebook like, “Can you believe Friends went off the air 10 years ago? Oh the memories! I miss Ross and Rachel so much!” and she’s considered a fine upstanding pillar of the Christian community. I can’t stand Friends and can’t imagine being that emotionally attached to TV but I’m sure she would find my cabinet full of German board games equally weird. There are more of her in the world than there are of me, so she is considered ‘normal’ and I’m not.

        Although if the world were full of puzzle/game/lego enthusiasts, I’m sure the emotional TV watchers would look very out of place.

    • Becky
      May 19, 2014

      Definitely! The majority of my friends are Christians, and a bunch of us are also really big geeks. Myself included. My husband and I end up getting together with a group of good friends a couple of times a year for a weekend of board gaming, and RPG-based games are often on the table. (No pun intended.) Most of the inside jokes I share with my best friend are centered around various “fandoms”. We’re actually preparing for a girls’ weekend going to our first sci-fi convention. And one of the ways I realized that my husband was a great match for me was his willingness to embrace a lot of this– he’ll never like Lord of the Rings or Doctor Who as much as I do, for instance, but we still have a lot of fun watching the movies and the show together. And we love playing board games together. Honestly, I get kind of irritated with people that automatically assume that something is “bad” just because the main characters happen to be wizards or some other fantasy creature, and miss the bigger themes of the story. And, for me at least, I’ve found that the people who like these things in even small doses are more creative and generally more fun!
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    • Christine C.
      May 22, 2014

      I’d also like to chime in and say that role-playing games are a great way for a couple to have fun together and get to know each other (how does a partner react to in-game stress? How does he/she work in groups?) Maybe the mom can invite the daughter’s boyfriend to a game night at their house? That way she could join in their hobby and be around to supervise them at the same time.

  3. julie
    May 19, 2014

    Sheila, love your advice about integrating the questionable boyfriend into the family. YES! Especially if she’s still close to her family, she can see how he does or doesn’t fit in. Is he polite and respectful to her family? Does he pitch in and help, or expect to be waited on? Does he enjoy anything outside of his own interests? What about her interests? I’d be very curious what KIND of role playing games he’s into and how much time he devotes to that.. Sure, they can just be an off-beat hobby, but I’d be curious if he’s kind of a Peter Pan (adultescent, whatever you want to call it). Is he functioning as an adult and those are his hobbies, or is his life all about his hobbies. Is he employed? Self-supporting? And you find out all of that by spending time with him. And hey! the more they’re with you, they more they’re chaperoned ;D

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    • Ticia
      May 19, 2014

      I’d agree those are much more important questions that his particular hobbies.

      I’d also ask, how’s his walk with God? Is he attending and actively involved in church?

      She brings up rolee-playing games and the music, but as has been mentioned that’s more because it’s considered socially unacceptable to have those hobbies, but I’ve seen just as many, if not more “grown” men who had a problem with sports and ignoring their wife and family because a baseball game was on.
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  4. Sheila
    May 19, 2014

    Great points here, everyone! As someone who married a nerd, I completely agree about nerd culture being seen as somehow aberrant (and we have a whole closet filled with German board games, too).

    And I’d agree that many marriages are wrecked over more “innocent” things like sports, etc.

    The key thing is seeing the heart. Like I said in the post, often we assume that all of our own cultural pinnings to Christianity are an essential part, when really they’re not. Just because someone isn’t like you doesn’t mean they’re not following God.

  5. Emily
    May 19, 2014

    I have a few years before this could be an issue in my home. But a lot of the advice is good for “my kid has a friend I don’t quite approve of”, too. Not a friend I feel the need to completely ban contact with (and I’m not sure that would work anyway) but one I want to keep a close eye on and be extra-aware of what the two of them are up to.

    I had to look up German board games, because I’d never heard of them. But most of the ones listed as examples are, in fact, on the shelf downstairs where we keep games.
    There wouldn’t be space in the living room, what with the pet cages and the spinning wheel and things.
    So maybe we’re nerds and didn’t even know it…. :)

  6. Ilka W. J.
    May 19, 2014

    Ok, sorry, I know that I am probably majoring on a minor here, but I stopped (briefly!) at, ” even if you don’t like this boy for your daughter, he is a child of God”. But then, he just might well not be, and that’s part of the problem? Or do we just have different definitions – as in, my understanding is that, while we all are _created by God_, a _child of God_ has made a decision to follow Christ and knows Him as his or her Savior, and others may call any human being a child of God?

    • julie
      May 20, 2014

      Ilka, that caught on my radar too. I don’t believe that everyone is a child of God, but all are made in His image, and I think that’s the point Sheila was making. We ought to treat these sometimes-hard-to-love people as God’s creation. I was assuming (maybe too much?) from the letter that the boyfriend was not a believer, and that was the root of the mother’s concern.

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  7. Ilka W. J.
    May 19, 2014

    Adding to say that I’m totally tucking this away (LOVE Pinterest!!) for future use. My oldest is almost eight… ;-)

  8. Jayne
    May 26, 2014

    My daughter is involved with a young man of another colour. Having being brought up to believe that mixed relationships/marriages are taboo, my husband and I are finding it very difficult to accept. My husband has almost rejected our daughter. Before she went into the relationship, he begged her not to and she promised him she would not, only to confront us a few weeks later to say that she had to give the relationship a chance. It is very hard for me too, but I love my daughter and am not prepared to lose her. My husband also loves her but will not/can not accept the relationship and also feels she betrayed him by breaking her promise to him. My daughter lives at home with us. Relations in our home are very strained and I am in the middle. I feel as you do, that we should accept this young man, invite him into our home and get to know him. My husband refuses to allow this. This has been going on for nine months. My husband refuses to stand down and I am stuck in the middle.

    • Sheila
      May 26, 2014

      Jayne, I’m a little unsure how to answer this. I understand that many people think mixed race marriages are wrong, but there is absolutely no biblical basis for that. In fact, the Bible says the exact opposite. In Christ there is no Jew nor Greek. Race doesn’t matter. What does matter is belief. It’s infinitely better to marry a Christian of a different race than to marry someone who doesn’t believe of the same race. It is Christ that matters.

      If your husband is a Christian, then he needs to be confronted on his sin of being racist and of judging this man and this relationship unfairly. I know that it can be culturally ingrained, and that is hard to stop, but a sin is a sin, and racism is simply wrong.

      If you do not want to lose your daughter, I would tell your husband very clearly, “I love you and respect you, but what you are doing is wrong and is contrary to God’s principles. I will not lose my daughter over this, and I will not see Jesus maligned by you refusing to welcome someone good into our home. You are free to stay in the bedroom when he comes over for dinner, but if you fight with our daughter over this, we will simply go and hang out elsewhere, leaving you alone, since that is what you are choosing. You will miss out on your daughter and your grandchildren, and I will enjoy having a relationship with them.”

      Your husband doesn’t need to have a relationship with her and her boyfriend, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t. And we are to stand up to sin and confront it; your husband is clearly sinning, and this should not be tolerated, whether it’s his culture or not.

      If the boy is not a Christian, that’s an entirely different story.

      I’m sorry you’re in the middle, and I would definitely try to love your husband and have a good time with him doing other things, but I would make it clear that you will not tolerate his exclusion of the boy, or his attitude towards him.

      I hope that helps!

      • Jenn T.
        May 30, 2014

        Thank you so much, Sheila, for speaking out against the ugly sin of racism. As the mother of a son who was adopted from another culture/race, I am so saddened, hurt and sickened that this attitude exists today, but to know that it exists within the Body of Christ is absolutely heartbreaking. Thank you, thank you for not staying silent!

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