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3 Ways My Childhood Pokémon Obsession Made Me A Better Husband And Father

The following was syndicated from Medium for the Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].

The world is alive with Pokémon. Childhood fantasies have been unleashed and even people you would least expect are catching ’em all.

This last week has been exactly as The Oatmeal portrayed. I opened my computer and this is what I saw.

Yes, I downloaded Pokémon GO.

I caught a Squirtle in my living room.

I then ventured outside in the rain to find more creatures. Twenty minutes later I realized it doesn’t work in my current country. I had been exploring in vain. But my short lived quest to catch ’em got me thinking about the huge role Pokémon once played in my life.

Everyday was an eager wait for that final bell to ring. I would then sprint home from primary school to watch the next episode of Pokémon. I wasn’t alone. Hundreds of kids raced down the hill with one single focus: get home before it starts.

I knew the “PokeRap” by heart. Shamelessly I’ll admit that I still know a couple of verses.

I used to collect Pokémon cards like a champion. Who knows how much money I dropped on cards.

My short lived quest to catch ’em got me thinking about the huge role Pokémon once played in my life.

One day I felt inspired. I begged and begged my parents for some money to buy a few booster packs. I pulled a Charizard, a Venasaur and a Blastoise. True story. For those who don’t much about Pokémon, let me tell you. Those were some of the rarest cards and getting all 3 in one go was a big deal.

Reflecting back on my Pokémon heydays, I was a little surprised to discover some timeless lessons that have helped me become a better husband, a better father, and overall, a better man.

Make A Choice And Then Love That Choice
For those who played the original Pokémon games on Game Boy you will remember the agonizing decision of having to choose your first Pokémon.

Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur?

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Who you choose says a lot about who you are. Your choice also influences how you will fare in your first battles. Newbies to Pokémon GO are faced with the same monumental decision.

Once you make your decision there is no going back (unless you want to restart the game from scratch). Instead, you press forward nurturing and levelling up your chosen Pokémon. There is no space for pining and regret.

Relationships are similar. We choose to be in them. We choose our partner.

I choose my wife everyday.

Set goals and aspire, but never at the expense of experiencing delight in what’s currently before you.

Sadly, some people halfway through the game start looking at other people’s choices and thinking “I should have chosen something different” or “I wish what I chose looked a little more like that.”

Commit to your choice. Don’t run around looking for new relationships in high grass or caves while half-heartedly keeping your foot in the door. Put your time and energy into building and strengthening the person you have chosen to be your partner.

Love and nurture your choice.

Don’t Wait To Experience Delight
I have every single Pokémon card. For years they have been buried with other almost forgotten possessions. Ironically, I never learned how to play the card game. Collecting them, however, was an obsession. Unsurprisingly, looking at them now doesn’t bring me the joy I once thought it would.

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On the other hand, I have many crazy and fun memories playing other card games with my friends (Yu-Gi-Oh, don’t judge me!). I didn’t collect; I played for fun.

We need to enjoy what we have now. Don’t dwell on the gap between what you have and what you want to have. Set goals and aspire, but never at the expense of experiencing delight in what’s currently before you.

I have been wanting to buy a car ever since I moved to Chile almost 4 years ago. At times it has been a source of frustration. I have a one-year old daughter and moving around with her has been challenging to say the least.

Who you choose says a lot about who you are.

As a family we chose to put buying a home first before buying a car. And you know what? I have learned to enjoy the process. I love pushing my little girl around in her stroller and seeing her face light up as we bounce off a large curb. Surely life would be more convenient with a car, but why should now be any less joyful?

Learn to enjoy the process of living now.

Don’t wait for material possessions to begin finding delight in your life. Such possessions will will never bring you the true joy you seek. You don’t want to find yourself with a binder brimming with shiny cards and realize that you temporarily sacrificed what truly makes you happy in order to obtain “things” that you thought would make you happy.

The Race To Evolve
Pokémon, like many games, is all about leveling up your creatures and getting them to evolve to higher and cooler forms as soon as possible. Unlike the Pokémon series, no one wants to keep their Pikachu a Pikachu. You want that Raichu (the next evolution) ASAP.

I see parents doing the same thing with their kids. I even do it. We put pressure on them to hit the next milestone, to grow, to progress. “You better learn to walk before Pedro!” My daughter turns one in a few weeks and I’ve caught myself saying to my wife “Why can’t she lie back down and cover herself? Come on, she’s almost one!”

As she evolves, so does my love for her. But I am already missing my baby in her former stages. I can never press reset and go back to enjoy those “first” moments.

Raising children is not a race. It is not a competition. Focus on long-term wins by building character and teaching true principles. Don’t go for the short-term wins. So put that Moon Stone away (an evolutionary stone that forced certain Pokémon to evolve).

Just like the Pokémon theme song says, “I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.”

I wanna be the very best husband and father ever. Thanks, Pokémon, for helping me on that journey.

Luke Ball is an entrepreneur and father from New Zealand.  Currently he resides in Chile with his family where he runs a cowork space and a digital marketing agency.