How Pokemon Helped Me to Become a Better Dad

by Franco Soldi

One of the things I enjoy the most in life is being a dad. I have three children: My first-born daughter that just turned 13 years old and has made her triumphal entrance to adolescence, my middle child – I call him the “ham in the sandwich”— that is 9 years old, and my little princess that is 2 and a half. So, I can affirm that I practice as a dad in three different categories. 

I love being a dad. As a matter of fact, everything I do in my professional life is focused on developing new strategies so I can spend more time with my children. I do not mean the time we spend asking about school, or asking them to do chores, or scolding them so they stop fighting with each other. And believe me, I do scold them! They call it, bringing “the Hulk” out.  I am talking about that important time, the fun time, the time to build “memories”. Three years ago, while doing shopping in Target, my son (he was six then) asked me for money to buy Pokémon cards. I said no, of course. I told him, “If you want them so much, use your own money”. My surprise was, he did. Next time we went to Target, he bought more. Five dollars per pack seemed like daylight robbery to me. I tried as hard as I could to convince him that he was wasting his money and that he should save for the future. Nothing worked.

I realized that no matter what I said, he would continue purchasing the Pokémon cards. I changed my strategy.  I did my own research about the product and I was surprised to discover that there was a complete “pop culture” around Pokémon since the early 90’s. These cards are collected all around the world, you can find leagues and tournaments, and the card market is vast. I got involved in the Pokémon world and learned as much as I could about it. Then I had a talk with my son. “If you are going to spend your money on Pokémon cards, you have to do it properly,” I said. He stared at me with curiosity. I told him my plan: We would start a collection together, and we would both invest our money evenly. We would have a monthly budget, but he would have to earn his own money and prepare himself accordingly to “defend the interests of our project”. The “revenues” would be reinvested and thus our collection would grow. All of this had a specific goal: “Your collection has to be worth enough so that you can sell it in 9 years and buy your first car for when you go to college”. His eyes shone, he hugged me, and we did business. I had to honor my part of the deal. I was in charge of “controlling” (for security purposes) the entire online search, purchase, and the different transactions on EBay, Amazon, and other websites. I also acted as his taxi, driving him around to trade at events and specialty stores. He was in charge of all the negotiations, classifications and strategies. At first, it was somewhat hard for him, he was timid and inexperienced, but he gained confidence. Defended every negotiation he had even with older kids and grownups. After three years, we have a collection of around 3,000 well-classified cards. He has purchased, exchanged, and sold cards in Japan, South Korea, US, Spain, Mexico, France, and Germany, among other countries. The collection is now worth around $2,500. My son has learned to negotiate, to rate and classify things, to research, and to sell. He has learned the concept of the stock market and the way the value of things may vary throughout the time. This lesson has been worthwhile, but do you want to know something? I have indelible memories of the time I have spent with my child working on this collection, and so does he. Quality time, that time for love and emotions is leverage  to a dad and to his son when it’s time to educate. Those memories will give the child confidence and love, enough to listen to his father when he is correcting a behavior or saying “no” for a good reason. Without leverage, being a dad becomes tough. 

What’s the formula? To give your children quality time from the child’s perspective instead of the parent’s one. You have to be at their level and let yourself go, truly enjoy the moment, become a child as they are and have the best time of your life. If you do this, you will not only create special moments for them, but for you too.

Franco Soldi is an entrepreneur, author and inspirational speaker giving lectures around the world. He is author of several books encouraging personal growth. As a father of 3, Franco also contributes writing for various newspapers and magazines. Twitter: @francosoldi  Facebook: francospeaker Web: