• Gazette 2.0

Fighting to pass down the right things paid off as a parent


By J. Hogan


-Gains & Gleanings-


If my obsessive traits were passed on — and we’ve seen some evidence of that with healthy pastimes such as fishing well beyond the norm — being aware of it enough to ensure they didn’t indulge unhealthily in distractive or destructive things has paid off.

True story… I have an addict’s personality. I know this, and, of course, it’s told in my life’s tale, as I was a drug addict years ago. (26 years clean last month!)


I wasn’t only addicted to drugs. My tendency to dive into obsessions came into play when I got a guitar as a kid. I was so obsessed with it that, over a long time, and despite my not being naturally musically gifted in the least, I became an above-mediocre player.


That obsession turned out to be a blessing. Others, not so much.


In my teens, I obsessed over certain arcade video games to the point where I would steal my loved ones’ money to feed quarters into the machines at Future Games. I would dream at night about playing DigDug, Omega Race, and Super Mario Brothers II, and I would wake up stressed and unrested from my obsessive nightlong binary battles.


The Army helped me break free from that addiction because the games weren’t readily available and my time was occupied, but I have to be vigilant about addictions.


I know I’m free from drug addiction, and don’t identify, in the parlance of recovery, as “a recovering addict.” I’m cured, and I know that.


The Bible assures me that “If anyone is in Christ Jesus, they are a new creation in Christ, the old is gone, the new has come.”


Yet I don’t hang out with folks using narcotics.


I help them break free, but I won’t sit in a room where folks are indulging. I have been freed, but not made foolish.


The same tendencies which opened that door for me in the first place manifest in other, less toxic ways.


I see them and try not to indulge even those lesser things if only for the time it costs to do so.


My brother David, who recently moved to Georgia, was forever trying to interest me in whatever series he and his wife were currently binge-watching.


I gave in once… I watched an episode of “24” on Netflix. Then I watched 23 more over the next 38 hours. My addictive nature may be mostly dormant… but it’s because I don’t feed it much. This illustrates why.


As our kids grew up, knowing they’re my offspring, I was strict about not indulging their young minds in video games and virtual engagements.


I wouldn’t allow them a PS4 or GameCube, and Teressa and I only allowed certain games for certain times on the computer.


We encouraged reading books, learning music, spiritual growth, outdoor activities, and practical problem-solving type stuff like car and computer repair.


I can’t say they always enjoyed it. As parents, however, we felt the battle was worth fighting, and we stuck to our guns. And it was worth it.


We now have three well-rounded, hard-working sons who know how to do things and an amazing growing younger daughter. All are accomplished musicians who enjoy playing, and they’re socially adept, capable of interaction, and quite helpful to others.


If my obsessive traits were passed on — and we’ve seen some evidence of that with healthy pastimes such as fishing well beyond the norm — being aware of it enough to ensure they didn’t indulge unhealthily in distractive or destructive things has paid off.


It wasn’t the path of least resistance.


When we’re sitting in a restaurant as a family, laughing and sharing stories, teasing and testing the boys’ sister, and enjoying one another’s company while another family sits quietly at their table, all staring at their smartphones, I’m glad we fought through the tougher route.


Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.

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