The Sims’ new Game Pack, Parenthood, makes growing sims behave more like real life teens and children. While the new mechanics are fun, they’re also very stressful.
The aim of Parenthood is to add some dynamism to families. I was really looking forward to this one—in the base game, there’s not a lot going on for teen and child sims. Sure, they go to school and have to do homework, but it’s a bit boring. Teen sims also don’t feel that different from children, which is just not true to life.
Parenthood is definitely not boring. It seems like every moment there’s a new wild thing going with your teens and children. In a lot of ways this feels similar to January 12th’s free toddler update, wherein toddlers had wild mood swings and new interactions with their parents. Now you have to juggle the needs of your children and teens with regular ol’ sim needs like eating, sleeping and showering.
In this Game Pack, children and teens have to learn emotional control, conflict resolution, manners, empathy and responsibility as they grow up. Learning each of these skills is achieved through environmental tasks (writing in a journal teaches emotional control, doing the dishes teaches manners) or through their parents. As they learn these skills their autonomous behavior changes, which is very cool to see. When they age up, they gain a trait that reflects how much of a certain skill they learned. Parents also gain a new skill, Parenting, and as they level up they’re able to discipline and guide their children in different ways.
Children and teens also go through phases. So far Holden, my male teen sim, has gone through a mean streak, in which swearing and yelling at people made him happy. Then he became distant, and being around his family stressed him out. His younger sister, Esther, is clingy and becomes stressed if she’s not with her preferred parent. In addition all this, school has also changed somewhat: Teens and children can bring home school projects, which can be completed for extra credit.
As you might expect, my family has not known peace. Everyone is always tense and dirty. Esther is waking up her parents at night and demanding they check under the bed for monsters. Holden has a fun new habit of shouting swears at his parents. Both children are pretty responsible, but they both lack some aspect of the skills they need to grow up. Holden has low empathy, while Esther doesn’t have great conflict resolution. In a way, I’m marveling at how The Sims’ team has gamified the process of growing up and gaining the tools to become a full-fledged person. On the other hand, I wonder if this is fun to play.
If you throw together this Game Pack with other Game Packs, things can get messy. The family I played lived in City Living’s neighborhood, San Muyshuno, in an apartment building. Sometimes neighbors in apartment buildings will make noise at night. Almost every night at 11pm, after I’d wrangled the kids to sleep, the neighbors would start making a ton of noise. This family barely slept—I can’t imagine what this would be like with a toddler, who would throw tantrums all the time. I started to understand why my family settled down in a boring suburb. At least it’s fucking quiet.
I’m more stressed out than invigorated. I got what I wanted, but I want Parenthood to be at a 2 when it’s at a 10. It’s just a lot to keep track of! Maybe things will get easier once the kids learn a little more about how to take care of themselves, but at the moment I just can’t wait for them to age up.
As with every new Game Pack and Update, Parenthood causes my game to break in new and fun ways. I made a lovely new family with some of the new Create A Sim options (you can add acne and wispy facial hair to teen sims now!), but for some reason, the double beds wouldn’t work, and the parent sims wouldn’t sleep in the bed at the same time. I suspect that last one is my fault, as I’d forgotten to remove my mods folder before the update. But when I started a fresh save, I discovered that the game chugs every morning at 8am, when the kids go to school. All sims will freeze in place for about a half hour in-game, and then go to school. Sometimes they don’t make it all the way, and I need to cancel the action and send them to school again. The kids being late every day adds to the overall stress.
Parenthood is definitely a huge shake up to families, but it makes me want to take a Xanax. I’m hoping that the more I play the easier it will be to juggle everyone’s needs, but right now it’s just a whole lot. I do have to give it to The Sims’ team, however: They’ve really captured how tumultuous but rewarding growing up can be.