Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Traditional families in the game of Life

Santa brought us the board game Life for Christmas. I hadn't played that game since I was a child, and I was genuinely surprised at the amount of changes to it: The careers are different, there are lots more action cards and it is much harder to go into debt.

I have fond memories of playing Life and ending up with lots of children. There was a particular round in which I had more children than there were spaces in my plastic car, and I had to lay my little pink and blue pegs down between the seats. In the old version of the game, you either landed on a baby space or you got one via a chance card - and I seemed to get them all.

The newest incarnation of the board game makes children a choice. The board design comes with a family path, so you can decide to try and have children or not. 

The entire game makes for some nice conversational openings: Stop on the marriage space and talk about how some people never get married or how some people fall in love with someone of the same gender. Stop on the family path, and talk about the way families looked different - not all children have both a mommy and a daddy; some children have lots of siblings and step families.

But it turns out, my son already knew about those topics. By talking with his classmates at school, my son has already determined what recent reports are showing: Less than half of U.S. kids live in a "traditional" family. (The report defines a traditional family as children living with heterosexual parents who are in their first marriage.) My son tells me about his friends who only have a mommy, or who live with their grandparents, or who live with their daddy only part time. He understands that every family is different.

I like the game of Life, and although I haven't been able to win it because my son keeps ending up with all the money somehow, we'll keep playing. And talking.

What's your favorite board game? Share with me in the comments.

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