Your thoughts: Is this dad crazy? Or genius?

Photo credit: Carl-Magnus Helgegren

Photo credit: Carl-Magnus Helgegren

When we saw this article, “A Dad Took His Sons to Israel and Syria to Show Them the Difference Between War and Video Games,” on RYOT News, we were flabbergasted and fascinated all at the same time.

Was it a genius move? Or was it just plain reckless? We asked ONE members on Twitter, Facebook and some of the best parents we know – our ONE Mom Blogger network – to weigh in with their thoughts.

Asha Dornfest

Asha Dornfest is the founder of Parent Hacks, a website devoted to sharing smart ideas for life + kids. She’s also the co-author (with fellow ONEMom Christine Koh) of Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More By Doing Less.

My son and me in an auto rickshaw in Bangalore.

My son and me in an auto rickshaw in Bangalore.

I applaud this father’s motivation and the bold action he was willing to take to give his sons context for violent video games. Of course he’s right — real war is complicated and tragic, and it certainly isn’t entertaining.

I don’t judge his choices; his experience as a journalist covering the Middle East is completely different than mine, and he knows what makes sense for his own family. But when I ask myself “would I teach my kids this lesson the same way?” the answer is no.

I have a 14 year-old son who loves to play combat video games. We draw the line on mature, realistic war games, but he plays a few sci-fi themed first-person shooters. I can’t stand these games, and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to play them. But I do recognize that they are games, and so does my son.

Separate from that, I travel with my kids as much as I can so they can see how the world operates beyond their middle-class, American horizon. Half of my family lives in India, and we took the kids to visit for the first time last year. Just walking down the street in Bangalore was an education.

I would never recommend violent video games for kids, especially those games that realistically portray war (or criminal violence, or misogyny). But I believe there is value in the conversation parents and kids can have about real war, real people, and real casualties as a result.

Karen Walrond

Karen Walrond is a nationally-recognized author and photographer who inspires others to find and celebrate their own uniqueness, through the power of storytelling. http://www.chookooloonks.com

Karen and her family.

Karen and her family.

My first, immediate reaction to this story is, “Dude, you took your kids to a war zone?! You’re INSANE.”  That said, assuming for a second that this father knew what he was doing, and had done enough research and had enough contacts in each country to ensure that his children were never in any real danger …

… I love this.  In our family, travel is incredibly high on our priority list as far as educating our daughter — possibly as high as ensuring that she attends a school that provides a strong academic education.

Further, because I wasn’t born in America (and for that matter, neither was my husband), coupled with the fact that my daughter and I are members of a racial minority in the United States, I know only too well the dangers of stereotypes:  I truly believe that stereotyping, and a lack of interest in determining the truth behind any difference or anomaly will be the downfall of humanity.

For this reason, my daughter attends a school with a highly international student body; in addition, we have ensured that she has traveled internationally since she was an infant.

As a photographer, whenever I travel to countries without her, I always return with stories and images that I share with her, and illustrate how they are different from the stories that she might see in the media in general.  I think that as a parent, it’s one of my duties to ensure that my daughter has as broad a world view as possible, if only for the reason that as time goes by and technology advances, the world gets smaller and smaller.

In other words, anything we can do to give our kids real life experiences to educate them, I’m all for.  (They just have to be absolutely safe in the process!)

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Your turn – what do you think? Tell us in a comment below.