My parents didn’t frequently play board games with us five kids growing up.
But when they did, it was awesome!
Our favorite board games were the classics – Clue, Monopoly, Life, Sorry, Careers, Pay Day and Stop Thief…to name a few.
Sometimes my parents would win, sometimes one of us kids would win.
However, depending on the “family dynamic” of any given game night (e.g. which kid blamed who for breaking a living room lamp…etc.) an acute case of Sore Loseritis would most likely develop.
As everyone knows, Sore Loseritis is Latin (perhaps that’s a lie) for the inflammation of the hubris or pride region of the heart and typically results in accusations of cheating, shouting, crying or game-board flipping in extreme instances (at least that’s how I remember it in our household).
To avoid the passage of this hereditary malady to our daughters, my wife and I have a few ground rules when we all play games together.
During game nights when I grew up, it was like a verbal Battle Royal with blistering zingers and verbal pokes to really drive home the fact that I owned two hotels on Park Avenue and that I would demand property in lieu of play money payment.
Aside from being a tyrannical property owner, I was certainly the worst offender in this taunting regard and would mercilessly provoke my siblings at times until tears. I’m not proud of that but it’s true. So there’s no taunting at the current Constantino game night table.
Play Your Best, but Play Fair
Nobody lets anybody win in our family; however, me make sure to play enough prep rounds (e.g. all cards up, one adult on each team, lengthy strategy discussions…etc.) so that everyone has an equal chance to win – not whine. We also tend to pick games that have a significant element of chance to ensure maximum fun – not frustration.
We’re huge fans of virtually every iteration of Cranium-type games including Scibblish, Feed the Kitty and Brain Breaks. These games are fun, fast-paced with little opportunity to game the game.
Focus on the Fun
We are always gracious in victory and defeat – we never rub in a win and we never pout if we lose. We really strive to model and encourage good sportsmanship to our girls because later in life there will be times when they will win and lose. We always make sure to congratulate the winner and everybody shakes hands regardless of the outcome. And we all have to say, “Good game everyone!”
But make no mistake – there is always a winner, because that’s a reality of life and we want them to be prepared for those times when they’re not first.
Everyone Helps Clean Up the Game
In my family growing up the “loser” always had to clean up and put everything away – in other words you were punished for losing, kind of like those crazy Spartans who send 10 year old boys naked out in the cold to survive for a week (ok, maybe not quite that bad).
Regardless, loser-game-cleanup-detail blew tuna chunks! So in our family, the “loser” never cleans up because we all do our equal share. We think that helps keep the games fun and not a punishment.
Question: How about you, what house game rules did you have? What was your favorite board game growing up?