I’m the mother of three boys. I won’t speak for all boys, but family gatherings with my husband’s family (my husband is also one of three boys) are often replete with scatalogical humor and fart jokes. Indeed, I’ve had to send a child to the bathroom during meals on more than one occasion for their ‘bathroom talk.’ My boys even have their own poop song (I can say poop whenever I want/’cuz I’m in the bath-room). Perfect audience for the card game, Not Parent Approved.
And yet, the very child who had authored that song grew tired of the game’s reliance on crass humor. I’ve raised my kids not to swear, not because it’s inappropriate and ‘wrong’ (as long as it’s used grammatically correctly and they’re not corrupting others, it really doesn’t bother me), but because frankly, it’s unimaginative.
So I expected not to love this game—its very name beckoned my non-approval—but really, I was more interested in how my kids would take to it.
You see, I’m always on the lookout for games for my kids to play. Or for us all to play together. Now that they’re older (15, 12, 10), we’ve outgrown plenty of activities. Even picking movies to watch as a family can be difficult with divergent interests. So I jumped at the chance to try out Not Parent Approved, which was described, on their website, as “Inspired by Cards for Humanity…minus the Rated R content.”
Not Parent Approved is recommended for ages eight and up, and I figured this would be a fun activity for the whole family to play together. I packed it in our travel bag over Spring Break, and while it didn’t come out on the plane, we did pull it out on vacation.
Confession: I’ve never played Cards for Humanity. I think I’ve played Apples to Apples a couple times, or maybe I’ve just heard my kids tell me about it enough that I pretty much understand it and feel like I’ve played it. In any case, Not Parent Approved is played just like both these games.
455 cards, divided into Fill-in-the-Blank Question Cards and Blank-Filler Answer Cards.
How to Play
The game starts with a burp-off. As in, whoever burps the loudest is the burp master and is the first Reader.
The first time we played, in India, with my husband’s relatives, we did not have 100% participation. Honestly, I’m happy to forego the honor of being the first Reader if winning means I have to belch in front of my in-laws. So yeah, I didn’t win. That honor went to my 10-year-old, who took great pleasure in competing (as he generally does anyhow, to the point that even his birthday parties are competitive events).
Everyone gets seven answer cards. The Reader picks up a question card and reads it aloud. Then everyone else picks an answer to that question and gives it, face down, to the Reader. The Reader then shuffles the answers, reads out the question and each answer (reads the entire sentence each time), then picks the best one. Whoever wins gets the question card. Everyone gets another answer card (so they have seven to choose from next time).
The position of Reader rotates in a clockwise position, so someone new asks each turn.
As in other games of this sort, doing well really depends on the cards you’re dealt. And in knowing what sort of answer the Reader is likely to go for. I’ve played rounds where my ‘funniest’ card ended up being just like all the other answers people chose so that it didn’t stand out and thus didn’t win. I’ve played others where the answer would be perfect–if someone else had been the Reader. So success in this game really depends on knowing the other players. Which I’d say is a good skill to develop.
Yes, it is not R-rated. But it’s not exactly G either. Which, I suppose, is why it’s ages 8+ (and not 6+). But still, there are some cards which would lead to conversations I was not really keen on having when we’re supposed to be having some good wholesome fun.
To be honest, my twelve-year-old’s assessment probably describes it best: “It’s like Apples to Apples with fart jokes.”
And while they haven’t chosen to get it out and play it with their friends (the 10-year-old can’t possibly sit still when his friends are around, and the 12-year-old plays Magic), I believe we hit upon the perfect audience for this game: kids and their grandparents. Not the super uptight variety of grandparent who believe children should be seen but not heard, but the kind who are cherishing the fact that they’re not responsible for raising the children, and who take seriously only their duty to indulge their grandchildren. This is a great way, round after round, to revel in getting to know each other and to laugh at jokes that both generations know would make those in the middle (us poor parents) feel rather uncomfortable.
And without the responsibility of having to explain phrases like “the birds and the bees,” both sides can feign ignorance and just enjoy the game.
Be aware that this is definitely an American game, with certain phrases that are hard to understand for foreigners. And since any joke you have to explain loses its funny, that can be bad.
My husband and I added a ‘rule’ that we can discard any cards that we wouldn’t feel comfortable playing. That helped a lot.
What I’d say, then, is that this game can be fun. But only with the right crowd in the right mood. It can help to get reserved kids to loosen up, or for uptight parents to lighten up. But if you’re in a family with unreserved kids and parents already surrounded by fart jokes, it’ll just feel like your typical Tuesday dinner.
If you’re interested, this game is available exclusively through Amazon.
Disclaimer: I received a sample copy of this game for review purposes. However, all opinions are entirely my own (except those of my kids; those are theirs).