So like most of the PS4 owning world, I have bought into the hype and started playing the new God of War. I’m loving the adventures of beardy Kratos and his young son Atreus, but like all the best art, it has made me reevaluate my own life and most importantly, the way I parent.
Essentially, what God of War is teaching me is that I need to toughen up and be harder on my kids if they want to survive and kill monsters.
Throughout the game, as I’ve played it (no spoilers, don’t worry), Kratos is a demanding father. He constantly tells his son he is ‘not ready’ for the perils of their mystical journey. He wants him to hunt better, fight better, learn to control his anger and direct it at his enemies. If Atreus fails, he reprimands him and demands more of him. Technically, Kratos is at least part God and by that I assume his biceps and beard, which means Atreus probably is a little bit magical. Again, no spoilers here. So it is reasonable that Kratos expects a lot of him.
I feel that this is a parenting style that has gone out of fashion in recent times and I’m as guilty of it as anyone. If my kids do OK, I praise them regardless of outcome. I praise them for taking part. If they trip over and clearly aren’t hurt but pretend they are for attention, I give it to them. If they do hurt themselves, I rush to their aid. If a massive dog were to try and go for them, I’d (probably) throw myself into its path.
Kratos has showed me that this is not best for the child. If they try and don’t succeed they have failed and they need to realise they must do better. If they fall, they have to get up and join back in without any sign of emotion, or at worst, just a grunt. If a big dog were to attack, they shouldn’t be hiding behind their unfit and wavering father but leaping on its back, wrangling it to the ground and bashing its brains out on the pavement.
I realise I’m failing my kids. I mentioned monsters earlier, and I’m not suggesting that any of my kids will ever encounter a giant troll or some tree thing that spits flames from a distance. That would be crazy. BUT there are REAL monsters out there. When they grow up, there are going to be porn obsessed teenagers trying to get at them as well as bullies and weirdos. They need to be taught how to deal with these threats. Not by understanding or hugs but by shooting them in the face with an arrow and following up with a shift stab to the goolies using their dead mothers knife. That nice old Mr. Humphreys from down the road might just be a nice old man who says hello when they cycle past but they shouldn’t chance it. I should be teaching them to leap from their bikes, knife in mouth, wrestle him to the ground and beat him to a bloody mess until he spill the beans about what he really wants. If a bully asks for their lunch money, they should leap on his or hers shoulders, put a knife into their brain and use it to control them like a joystick, bashing all the other school bullies out of the way. They won’t be doing that again in the playground.
To conclude, I think it is great when something you enjoy makes you realise more about the world around you. To that end, I’m shaving my head, growing a beard and going topless the next time I go out to play with my kids. Then the real training for adulthood begins. Thank you Kratos.
P.S – Just to confirm, their mother is fine. I just thought it would add to the pathos if they had their dead mothers knife. Context is important.