Fortnite’s gaming-widows turn to drink

Family life is not just in chaos with children addicted to ‘Fortnite' the latest video game craze, but their Dad’s are spending their evenings glued to video games too. It’s happening with such regularity that their partners are checking out most evenings self-medicating with copious amounts of wine to swallow down their frustration.

Fortnite made recent headlines when children were reportedly so addicted to playing the multiplayer online shooter game that they would rather sit in their urine soaked underwear than take a comfort break.

Parents collectively wrung their hands together at the school gates helpless in the face of constant family arguments caused by their children's compulsive game playing. And if the children, some as young as seven, are not playing they want to endlessly watch Fortnite battle sequences shared by their friends on YouTube.

Has no-one heard of the off-switch? And why is it so hard for the adults in the house to say no?

It is often said we live in interesting times, but nothing can beat the huge social experiment underway at present as Gen-X raise their children by attempting to be their kid’s best friend. And, from what I see in my therapy room the experiment is failing for everyone involved.

Many factors have coalesced in the last few years to make home life more challenging than ever.

My therapy client base for the last twenty years has mainly been the thirty to fifty-year-old age group. Professional men and women for whom stress is practically mandatory in their job description. It has never been easy for those over-stretched and overwrought execs to balance the competing demands of work and home but the rewards of recognition and achievement were often enough to offset their grinding fatigue.

What is different now is that those very same execs and middle-managers are faced with the treachery of the workplace.

What was once an arena for them to excel and demonstrate their ability has become a place of heightened anxiety and uncertainty and the self-doubt and insecurity they feel at work show up in how they interact with and parent their children.

Gen-X parents rarely feel powerful or in control about anything very much, and in fact, as I have recognised in my work many of my clients, both mothers and fathers have given up trying to juggle the needs of work and the competing needs of their children. They are feeling too overwhelmed and ridden with self-doubt to consider anyone else's needs other than their own.

As work pressure intensified something had to give and more often than not it was the softer option of forfeiting being a committed parent. Hence a climate develops that favours allowing children to do whatever they want in exchange for some respite to open another bottle of wine or increasingly amongst the metropolitan middle classes to rack up another line of coke with their fellow-parents.

It’s not unusual for sets of parents or more often than not just mums on their own at the end of another gruelling week to get together at one or another’s house and despatch the kids upstairs with junk food and fizzy drinks. Corralled indoors the children are free to do whatever they want either plugged into the net or interacting with the latest video game while the adults have their ways of relaxing and winding down.

The media furore over Fortnite is misplaced. This game is just the latest shiny new distraction, and next month there will be another to take its place. The elephant in the room is that parents are reluctant to make a stand with their children on anything that breaks the fragile equilibrium of their home life and where they have to step up from being their child’s ‘friend.’

To some degree or another parents' have always used the latest media as an electronic babysitter to gain some peace while their children sit captivated by CBeebies or the like. Except for this time the offering is not benign and is potentially damaging to the developing minds of children whose willing suspension of disbelieve is total in the face of a multi-million dollar immersive experience focussed on killing or maiming.

In my work, I often help clients put in place boundaries around their behaviour with alcohol, drugs and electronics and to explore with them clear expectations of what kind of family life they want for themselves, their partner and their offspring.

The work focusses on building self-esteem and empowerment for those who have been hiding their fears and anxiety about who they are and how well they are doing in the outside world. Once they have increased clarity and confidence in themselves, they have created the all-important resilience to say no to what is unacceptable to them in their home life and the commitment to enforce some basic rules for their family.

Rest assured that nothing is carved in stone. The genie may be out of the bottle, but it can be made to return. It just takes trust in one's judgment together with the creation of a solid core of resilience to find the courage to address the elephant in the room and make a stand.

If you feel ready to face the elephant in your room and get some focus and perspective to transform how you feel and think about yourself, you can book an obligation free call with me via the link on this page.





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