Eric Speir

Thrive In Your Faith and Family

Lessons I Learned From Crushing My 6 Year Old in Monopoly

I love the game of Monopoly. The first time I played with my 6 year old daughter I made her cry. I didn’t mean to, but I took all her money. I felt bad for a moment and then I started counting my money again. For some reason, my wife wasn’t very happy with me. I quickly realized we weren’t on the same page.

Are you playing for your children to win?

I guess she expected more from a Christian father. Maybe I should have tithed first. It probably didn’t help that I was wearing a cheap green visor that professional poker players wear. (Just kidding. I couldn’t find one.) I tried to explain to her it wasn’t personal, just business. For some reason she still wasn’t buying it.  The reason my wife and I discussed or argued about me winning the game was because of our difference in parenting philosophy. I wasn’t intentionally trying to be selfish. I just saw it as a game to win and as an opportunity to crush someone in Monopoly. However, my wife was thinking further down the road than I was at the time. She saw it as a good teaching moment for our daughter.

I was playing for myself to win, while my wife was playing for our daughter win. To be honest, she taught me a few lessons during this game.

1. As a parent, I need to set up my children to win in life.

It doesn’t mean giving them everything or making sure they have it easy, but it does mean teaching them the principles to succeed in life and to be independent. Monopoly is a good game to teach your children about business and personal finances. When you run out of money you can’t charge property or rent with your Mastercard.

2. As a parent, I need to be willing to sacrifice for my children to win in life.

It might mean sacrificing some of my personal time so I can help my children with something. It might mean driving a less expensive car or not buying the latest iPhone that came out last month so my children can be involved in a life building activity or sport. It might mean taking your child on a mission trip or involve them in a mission project.

3. As a parent, if my children win now, I win later.

If I take the time to teach my children and invest in their lives now, they will grow up to be responsible and respectable adults. This means eventually they won’t need to keep borrowing money from me and they will get off my payroll. It also means I can go and get the car I had been eying or the latest version of the iPhone I had wanted. Delayed gratification is a lesson we can’t afford for our children to fail.

The lessons learned in Monopoly are cheap and won’t cost you now, but you could receive dividends later for investing in your children.

What are some ways that we can help our children to win in life?

About Eric

I'm a pastor, writer and serial encourager. I like to help people to grow in their relationship with God. I live outside of Atlanta, GA. I've written a book, Stubborn Faith: 30 Day Devotional Guide For New Growth. It's available for download on Amazon. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @ericspeir

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18 Replies

  1. For me, it’s all about intentionally modelling the attitudes that I want my children to have. This requires a lot of thought and biting my tongue, but I hope that it’s worth it in the end.

    1. Eric

      I think you are definitely right by saying that parenting should be intentional. If we are going to teach our children good principles then we must be intentional about it. We get what we plan for!

  2. Chuck rawdin

    I struggle with the “Let them win” concept. I agree that as parents we should be teaching our kids to win at life. The real stuff that will make their lives Christian and healthy. Not the things that clutter so many people’s lives. At the same time the world is not going to just look the other way and let them win. They will have to actually win. So when I play with my kids I play to win and encourage them to do the same. When/if I defeat them I explain how I did it so they can play better the next time. Smack talk is only given when received (but that is part of the game too). That way when they win it is because they played a better game. Not because they cannot take the loss. Life is like that….play well and you win and there are rewards. Don’t play well and there are consequences. Sometimes you learn more from losing than winning….but you don’t hear that being said often. We all want to win but reality is that someone will not. You have to prepare your kids for that part of life too. 

    1. Eric

      I agree with you. I don’t think we help our children by letting them win. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned has come through failure and loss in my life. In fact, I tend to pay more attention to those lessons than others. Pain has a way of opening our eyes and being a good teacher. As parents it’s important that we teach our children these lessons and that they learn from their mistakes. We only fail when we don’t learn from our mistakes.

  3. jason

    Teach them to be responsible at a young age. Clean their rooms, make up beds, clean up behind themselves, get table ready for dinner, fold clothes ..the list goes on. This will teach independence and self sufficiency.

    1. Eric

      It is important for them to learn responsibility and to learn to “take” responsibility for their lives. I see too many college students who were never taught this and they spend their lives making excuses for everything. Most of it goes back to effective parenting.

  4. These are some great points. My wife and I are expecting our first child in Jan. so I’m trying to prepare my self as much as possible.

    1. Eric

      Congratulations on your first child! I don’t think I’m an expert by any means but I’ve learned a couple of things and I have a really smart wife!

      1. Roshelle

        We’ve both learned a few things . . . and thank you. Only am I smart through the wisdom God has granted me and the supporting husband I am blessed with;)

        1. Eric

          Great reply honey! Parenting is definitely a work in progress!

  5. Eric I remember when I first decided that I had to teach my daughter a lesson at the age of 3 and 5 months about losing. I would always let her win at Candy Land. I told myslef, I can’t let her think she will always win at everything she does in life. I wasn’t trying to be mean to my daughter. In the contrary I wanted to make sure that she was prepared for life. She just began to cry, ” I want to win”, “I want to win” when I beat her. I don’t regret. I believe it was good lesson. And often I reminder that it’s “ok” to fail or lose, just don’t ever quit.

    1. Eric

      That’s great Juan! I constantly remind my girls to not give up or to quit. They may not always win but they can try and they can work hard. I think it is too easy to teach our children to have an entitlement mentality by giving them everything. We don’t help them when we teach them to live this way. There are many adults running around who need to learn this lesson!

  6. Good read. As a parent I am always struggling with myself on how to be a proper role model. I want to give them the tools they need to be well rounded and able to succeed in life. Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Eric

      Thanks Blake. As a parent I am constantly looking for ways to be a good role model for my children. I want them to grow up in life to succeed and to be great adults. I feel like if I can do that then I can call myself a success.

  7. Hi Eric,
    It sounds like you learned a valuable lesson, too! Both you and your wife were right but in this situation the edge goes to her. If you’re playing Monopoly with a six year old it is an excellent opportunity to teach life lessons. Should she win at every game? No. But that lesson can come later.

    One of the great things about parenting is that you don’t have to sit down in a classroom to teach. There are many opportunities to teach life lessons to kids in every day life that will stick with them forever.
    Sherrie

    1. Eric

      Thanks Sherrie. As a parent I try to model life lessons whenever I can. Sometimes I do a good job at it and other times I miss a good opportunity. I’m glad that parenting is a team sport!

  8. I struggle with this. I want them (our four kids) to win fair, but they can’t win fair if they don’t have the experience of the game. The same goes for life. In order to succeed at life, they need to not only know the rules, but also how to play the game. They need to understand the dynamics of life, the give and take and the compromises. Once they’ve been taught those in life and in Monopoly, it’s ok to beat them every now and then. Wait until she’s a teenager. You’ll not want to play Monopoly anymore as she will have more experience than you and will beat you every time. There’s time to build up and at 6, she probably needs to win more often than not, otherwise you’ll crush her and she won’t want to play. The same in life. If life beats you down, you just don’t want to play anymore. You’ve got to have some successes in order to deal with the losses. Great reminder for all parents out there.

    1. Eric

      I struggle with this as well. I don’t want my children to always have it easy but I feel as a parent if I can teach them to avoid some of the same messes that I have found myself in then I should do that. It is important that we teach our children the rules of life and how to live by them as well. I have no doubts that she will beat me one day. In fact, I look forward to it because it means that I’ve done something right!

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