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If life is a game, these are the rules.

We’ve been playing a family game of Monopoly. The game board sits in the middle of our kitchen table. After playing for a little while each evening, we tuck our property cards and money under the board. The next evening, after dinner, we pick up where we left off and continue to play. We have gone around and around the board, slowly accumulating properties, passing Go, getting stuck in jail. The girls are practicing their math skills as rotating bankers. The game progresses slowly. Each time, the roll of the dice determines our luck.

Things were fairly equal for a while, but that changed Tuesday night. That evening, I landed on Park Place and bought it. A few rolls later, I landed on Boardwalk and bought that, too. I added a house on each. Then added two more. It was then my husband’s turn. He rolled a seven. His playing piece (the hat) landed on Boardwalk. He counted every dollar he had, mortgaged all his properties, but he simply couldn’t make the payment. “I’m out!” he exclaimed.

The girls looked stunned. Their eyes welled with tears. Bedtime was hard that night. They felt for him deeply. Despite our reassuring them it was a game, they were sad.

The next day, I noticed there was a homemade card on top of the Community Chest pile. Efforts had been made with a blue crayon to create the Community Chest icon on the back. I resisted the urge to look at it all day. When Ella drew it a few rounds into the game that evening, she read it aloud: “Everyone please give Dad $500. If you don’t have $500, then just give whatever money you can. And please also share a property with him so we can all play together again.”

Monopoly has been played by the same rules for nearly 100 years. It’s easy to play the way we always have and accept the outcomes that have always been. But sometimes, like my daughters did last night, we have to reconsider the way the game is played and do what we think is right. In this instance, the girls found a way to rally around someone who needed our help. We don’t always have to accept things as they are. We can take steps to make sure the people who need our help can get back in the game.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.