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Is pretend-shooting acceptable play for kids?

Jul25

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I have been shot.

I also have also been blasted. Tasered. Stun-gunned. Vanquished. Laid low by a surprise shot from a laser cannon. Sent into unconsciousness by a sleep weapon that looked an awful lot like a pillow. I can’t talk about the mind-control ray that seized control of my brains, except that BLKELEHGJADHKADSJFH. See, I can’t talk about it.

The most horrible part of all these attacks is that they were perpetrated by my very own son. My son shot me. And I let him.
It wasn’t always this way. When my sweet-faced, gentle baby morphed into toddlerhood, I noticed him aiming his fingers at me and making pshoo pshoo noises. I didn’t know where he was getting this from—none of the public television programming we permitted contained any gunplay; we had no shooting toys in the house. As the lefty pacifist I am, I did not approve. Why would I encourage violence, after all? Could this kind of pretending lead anywhere good? At the local coffee shop I watched a woman steering her son from an old Galaga arcade game, insisting that “we don’t play shooting games.” This seemed about right to me. If you’re shooting asteroids in a game, what’s next? Shooting puppies in the gutter, that’s what. No gun play, I told Henry. Guns bad. Knitting good.

But as Henry grew, his natural inclination toward play that involved shooting grew. Everything turned into a gun: a shoe, a crayon, the remote, his knitting needles. (Please note: he didn’t really knit. I made that up.) He probably would have used the dog’s tail, if the dog had let him. We began imposing arbitrary rules that did nothing but confuse the issue. Scott insisted that Henry call his imaginary weapons “blasters” and not “guns,” putting them squarely in the realm of science fiction. You did not “shoot” someone, you “blasted” them. Because that was somehow more playful. Meanwhile, I insisted that he not aim his weapons at anyone’s face, for no good reason except that it was upsetting to get shot right in the face. Look, I don’t mind getting a few hits to the thigh, but not my valuable, valuable face. And when it came to talking of killing someone, my face got all pinched and serious and I would lecture him on the preciousness of life and he would zone out until I was finished.

Still, the shooting continued, and we noticed he wasn’t alone in this. His friends were into weapons as well, and none of them appeared to be psychopaths. (Yet. ) Henry remained just as gentle in demeanor as before—that is, when he wasn’t felling us with some kind of anti-matter beam. At the playground, we parents of boys would watch them taking aim at each other with their juice boxes, and we’d ask each other, “Where do they get it from?” (I hate to be gender typing, here, but in the interest of accuracy, I must. I have seen girls engaging in shoot’-em-ups, to be sure, but they could take it or leave it; meanwhile, I have never seen a boy not shoot at someone else. I’m sure Freud would have something to say about this.) The urge to shoot seems to have emerged from them unbidden, a developmental milestone as inevitable as using the pincer grasp or jumping on one foot. So why fight it?

Because it seemed socially inappropriate? Because kids really have been known to kill each other, with real weapons, at younger and younger ages? I asked Eden, whose son is a couple of years older than Henry, what she did when Jackson shot at her. Give him a stern talking to? Ignore? Redirect? She looked at me strangely and said she clutched her chest and fell over dead. Duh. Lighten up, Alice.

After a while, we did. After all, he was clearly getting something out of this form of play, and it wasn’t about aggression. I would play a bad guy and he would shoot me down, then run over and kiss me so that I might regain consciousness and continue playing. He certainly didn’t seem like he was being worked into an aggressive lather by this kind of playacting. According to this piece, it’s not about aggression, but figuring out one’s place in the universe. “A child participating in gunplay is usually yearning to understand power in relationships. By killing the ‘bad guys,’ he can, in his mind, exert some control over his world.” Control and power: the very things a preschooler doesn’t have. When it’s you against a huge, incomprehensible world, it’s no wonder arming yourself is so alluring.

So we’ve lightened up considerably when it comes to our child trying to defeat us or his friends with any one of his many play-weapons. I still draw the line, though, on purchasing pretend guns. I don’t see the need for a anything resembling a gun to be in our house, and the last thing I want is for Henry to associate guns with toys. The danger of him mistaking a real gun for a toy is something that can keep me up nights. Unless it’s candy-colored and shoots water, I don’t want any kind of pistol at my house.

About the author

Alice Bradley

http://www.finslippy.com
Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


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42 Responses to “Is pretend-shooting acceptable play for kids?”

  1. Lisa T. Jul 25 at 6:51 pm Reply Reply

    I knew we were done for when my son started shooting at me with his toast over the breakfast table. My fight against guns was useless… we compromised by making him call them “shooters”. I’m sure Freud would say that made all the difference in his psyche…

  2. Liz C Jul 25 at 7:01 pm Reply Reply

    Boy, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Parents have been agonizing over this ever since I can remember, and I’m OLD. And the answer is still the same; pretty much what you said. It’s play.
    But every generation of moms agonizes over it all over again. That’s pretty much the way the parenting thing works. :)

  3. Cobwebs Jul 25 at 7:14 pm Reply Reply

    Dave Barry wrote once that you could take male babies, drop them on a desert island with no contact with civilization, and they would eventually make pretend guns out of driftwood. It’s something in the makeup.
    I think the answer is probably to make sure that the child understands the difference between “real” and “play,” and–crucially–understands that real guns are NOT toys. My dad kept guns in the house when my sister and I were growing up, and instead of forbidding us to have anything to do with them, he instead taught us to handle them safely. By not making them “forbidden fruit,” he took away our desire to sneak off and play with them when he wasn’t watching.
    I’ve run into parents who feel that the best way to handle guns is to not tell their child anything about them. I wonder what their kids will do someday when they’re at the house of a friend whose parents do keep guns.
    I think your approach is just fine, Alice. By not turning the issue into a big deal, you’re disarming it (so to speak).

  4. SuburbanCorrespondent Jul 25 at 7:25 pm Reply Reply

    Boys and girls are indeed hardwired differently, as I discussed in this post a few months ago. Parents today seem to enjoy working themselves up over things they can do nothing about (I blame having grown up with “Free To Be You And Me” as a bedtime story as the culprit here), while not paying enough attention to things that they can and should control. It is normal for boys to turn anything they can get their hands on into a gun (or, as you Freudians will have it, a penile extension), while it is also normal for a girl to be, well, all girly. My oldest (a boy) had a very nice wooden toy tool set that he would hammer and bang away with (when he wasn’t using the tools as guns, of course). His sister, upon seeing the set, placed all the thing-a-ma-bobbies with holes in them (nuts? bolts? washers?) on her fingers and pretended they were rings.
    It is not normal, however, for a kid to be sitting around staring at a screen (TV, computer, game) for numerous hours a day, whether or not it has shooting on it. He’s better off running around outside pretending to shoot his buddies.

  5. SuburbanCorrespondent Jul 25 at 7:26 pm Reply Reply

    Whoops – that last comment didn’t pick up my hyperlink. I’ve talked about this same subject here:
    http://suburbancorrespondent.blogspot.com/2008/03/fundamental-things-apply.html

  6. Mandee Jul 25 at 9:30 pm Reply Reply

    My nephew returned from a two week visit with his father (gah, it is hard to call that person his father) and older cousins and immediately began shooting us. Add to all of the above listed dilemmas the fact that his father is known to own guns. And to keep a gun with him in the car–under the seat. Not locked in any sort of safe box somewhere (he also thought my nephew’s nursery was a good place for a gun. One of many reasons we have tried to maintain supervised visitation). I’m all for role play, but my nephew’s totally innocent “I shooting you!” takes on a whole new meaning with that knowledge.

  7. clarabella Jul 26 at 2:33 am Reply Reply

    If we’re going to drop Freud, can we talk about Jung, because I think his philosophies are more at work here.
    How can a child who has not (that we know of) been exposed to gun play initiate “gun play”?
    Collective subconscious anyone? Strange if you want my point of view.
    I was raised in a house where we didn’t know anything about guns, but we pretended too, and who knows where we got it.
    My son is 15 months old, and he has no (and will not have any) exposure to gun culture, but if he starts pointing his fingers at me in the next couple months/years/etc., I’m going to have to dig up my old psychology textbooks about Jung and have a fresh reading.

  8. Holly Jul 26 at 8:24 am Reply Reply

    My son also turns everything into guns. Sticks, graham crackers, the pins from his outdoor bowling set (which have never actually been used for bowling). As an only child who grew up on a street full of girls, I found it hard to take-and sometimes still do. A friend of mine once read that this play is so natural for boys, that it can actually make them feel bad about themselves if you punish them for it. They feel that if doing it is bad then they must be bad because the urge to play this way is so strong.
    My compromise is that we don’t buy guns- toys or otherwise. Even though he turns everything into a gun. Somehow this makes me feel better.

  9. Dana Jul 26 at 1:41 pm Reply Reply

    Kids learn about life through play. Our kids have play guns and they “shoot” with them – so long as they’re the good guys bringing about an end to evil, blah, blah. There must be a positive outcome. However, in my house (we are NRA members and I’ve been around firearms since childhood) we do not point pretend firearms in someone’s face and we’ve educated our kids on firearm safety. We teach them that guns do not shoot people – other people do. What’s the point of teaching gun safety if we don’t also teach our children the value of someone else’s life and that of personal responsibility?

  10. Meagan Francis Jul 26 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    My oldest son, who’s going on 11 now, shocked me when he picked up a stick at the age of 11 months, pointed it at a passerby, and made that “pshoo!” noise. He hadn’t been exposed to gun violence on TV or video games…in fact, I wasn’t sure he’d ever seen a gun in use in any medium. I wondered if maybe he meant for the stick to be a magic wand that was supposed to transport the blastee into a mystical portal or something…but that seemed a little too sophisticated for his toddler mind. It became pretty clear in the months and years to come that imaginary violence–which I think is very different from the uber-detailed violence in some video games–is hard-wired in kids (I can’t speak for girls, only having parented four boys). I do think that games of “blasting”, “cops and robbers”, “Bad guys and good guys”, “I shoot you, now you shoot me” can be innocent and serve the purpose of helping kids work through the concepts of good vs bad. I liked this Washington Post essay on the subject: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/23/AR2007022301749.html
    Also, I remember playing endless games of laser tag, having shootouts with cap guns, and blasting my friends with water pistols as a kid. I have no desire to own, touch, or even see a real gun and never had. There is something inherently fun and exciting about the thrill of the hunt, and I think that can apply to both girls and boys (and adults–I still love laser tag!)

  11. feefifoto Jul 26 at 4:21 pm Reply Reply

    I grew up in a family of three girls with a father whose main weapon was a golf club. We played superhero, but it never prepared me for having a boy who made guns out of q-tips, pop tarts and wire twisties. I recited “We don’t shoot; we don’t hit” like a mantra and it never had any effect; eventually I switched my approach to pointing out that pretend was pretend but that didn’t make it okay in real life. Funny thing — my son’s 11 now and it’s been a while since we’ve seen any “shooters” or “blasters” or “lasers” in our house. I guess he put it away where it needed to be.

  12. Anne May Jul 27 at 4:10 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, totally a boy thing. It’s genetic. Comes with the X chromosome – after watching my then-3-year-old cousin with no knowledge of guns whatsoever turn a granola bar into a weapon of destruction.

  13. Abbie Jul 27 at 5:07 pm Reply Reply

    I work with a little boy whose preschool lets kids pretend to have guns, so long as they don’t shoot at anyone who doesn’t have a “weapon” and don’t try to scare the other kids.
    This seems to work well- the kids who are fascinated by this stuff are able to “play it out,” while still understanding that you can’t use even pretend weapons to hurt innocent people.

  14. Bethany Zabrosky Jul 27 at 6:04 pm Reply Reply

    We follow the rules that we don’t shoot people. (And no toy guns-we have real ones thst are well loked up.) All bad guys must be pretend with everyone on the same team. That team usually consists of a Luke Skywalker, a Transformer and Cinderella with Snow White’s shoes running after an invisible Darth Vader. It works for us. And when the gun/shooting play seems to be ALL they are playing, all “guns” are put away and we pull out the play doh, crayons and paint.

  15. Megan Jul 27 at 6:39 pm Reply Reply

    I have a good friend who pointed out to me that so many people worry about what gun play will turn our sons into as adults, but noone ever sees a small girl drop her doll on its head and go off to play something else and thinks she will grow up to be a bad mother.
    Let them play I say.

  16. theclevermom Jul 27 at 7:13 pm Reply Reply

    I wrote about a similar thing on my blog recently. I read a great article about “aggressive play” in boys and it’s purpose in guiding those boys into their kinder, gentler, more compassionate future selves. My comments, with a link to the article are here: http://theclevermom.com/?p=41

  17. We went through the same evolution in our house too.
    At first, I insisted, “no guns.” I wasn’t even going to have water guns in my house. We were not going to encourage violence and especially guns in our home. No siree. I would have had Jackson signed up for a knitting class along with Henry if the thought had occurred to me. Boys didn’t have to be violent. I would provide healthier ways for my son to play and express himself.
    Then I grew up, as we mothers must do when our babies become boys.
    Since I am not pumped full of testosterone, I didn’t know what it was to be a boy. Now, with a son entering grade one, I have a bit better of an idea. And it includes rough and tumble, get dirty, get crazy, and turn anything and everything into a gun, kind of play.
    I still hate it. I still make my lame and often arbitrary attempts to make the violence more palatable for my sensitive, mothering nature.
    But mostly I just pick up a sword, or a gun, or a light saber and defend myself.

  18. Wa Jul 27 at 7:56 pm Reply Reply

    When I was a boy, I drew very elaborate drawings of armies blasting each other, until the whole page was black with penciled smoke. My parents were very concerned. And they should have been. I grew up to be a writer.
    You, as a parent, still have time to preempt this.

  19. Angel Funk Jul 27 at 10:17 pm Reply Reply

    I needed to read this! Same thing at our house with my 3 year old son. What a relief to laugh about it instead of freaking out.

  20. Shannon Jul 27 at 11:14 pm Reply Reply

    My sister and fellow peacenik was anti-television with her son and most certainly did not expose him to anything having to do with guns. He did not attend daycare and was watched by a sweet elderly couple who were well informed of my sister’s preferences. Still, around the age of 2 he started making things into guns and shooting them. She gave long lectures, no, no, no guns, whole route. She finally gave up when he bent his cousin’s barbie over one day and shot her with it. Me, I’ve been saved this particular dilemma as I have girls, but the fairies and the princesses – arrggghhhh!

  21. Sue Jul 28 at 12:32 am Reply Reply

    If I give my son a spoon, he will pretend it’s a gun. If I give my daughter a spoon, she’ll pretend it’s a baby.
    I used to think gender specific play was a learned thing, but now? Not so much.

  22. Brenda Jul 28 at 10:09 am Reply Reply

    I have a two year old who also likes guns, Spiderman and “shooting bad guys”. My parents had a strict no gun household (not even water guns), but my husband is a little more tolerant on the issue, and heaven knows you have to be on the same page. So when Grey shoots me, I don’t react and I tell him I don’t like guns. When Grey shoots his daddy, play ensues. Hopefully he’ll somehow figure out that guns aren’t perfectly ok (from my response), while still scratching that little-boy shooting itch. (His main “gun” is a pretend Black and Decker drill — you can’t win.)

  23. A Jul 28 at 10:11 am Reply Reply

    My parents were never one way or the other about toy guns, probably because, as you mentioned, I am a girl. My fascination with weapons pretty much revolved around the Power Rangers, and even then it was all about karate chops and giant machinery crashing down itty bitty cardboard cities.
    My little brothers, on the other hand, have a fascination with guns also. However, both of them (aged 12 and 5) know that real guns are for police men and they are not for little boys, and they are definietly not toys.
    My aunt does not encourage any gun play. No toys guns, not even water guns (though her little trouble maker Jack gets enough of the action at our house.) I think it comes down to personal parenting. If your little guy (or gal) understands that real guns are dangerous and reserved for professionals (cops, soldiers etc), then their imaginative gun play is relatively harmless. Children should know what guns are, unfortunately, because that is the world we live in.
    I agree with the no mock gun rule. Waterguns are fun and allow for that element of play, helping to establish a distinction between the real and the pretend.
    Role play is how children learn identity, both their own and of others around them. When the “shooting” is distinguished as a form of justice (“getting the bad guy”), then that is a pretty good indicator that psychopathy is not an issue…
    When I have children, I won’t be purchasing or allowing the purchase of things like cap guns, or fake pistols. But the space age blasters or water guns are fun to play with and as long as the moral is enforced, there is no harm and no foul.

  24. BOSSY Jul 28 at 10:36 am Reply Reply

    Bossy’s son was never allowed to watch violent things, including Disney movies. And yet one day he reached for a straggly stick and held it straight out in front of him and said, “Pshht pshht” and took aim at the family.
    It’s in the DNA, handed down from Cave Men and stuff.

  25. amy Jul 28 at 10:55 am Reply Reply

    My plans for making sure my son understands real guns are not toys? Take him to the range and enroll him in a kid’s gun safety class when he starts elementary school. They are fairly common down here in Texas. Kids that grow up knowing how real guns work tend to not accidentally shoot each other. Knowledge is power.

  26. ozma Jul 28 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter is a girl.
    I did once have someone try to insist that girls will not use random objects as pretend weapons but I’m afraid that is not so in her case. I admit she is more drawn to swords, knives and stabbing then guns but if there was a box of toys with a toy gun in it that would absolutely be the thing she’d go for.
    She takes after her mama. As a child, I asked for a BB gun every year for Christmas for about 6 or so years. It may have been longer. I had dozens of guns–cap guns, pop guns but my parents refused to give me a weapon that shot actual projectiles and I’m still a bit peeved about it.
    I think if the idea behind not letting your kid pretend shoot is that (a) they won’t realize the horror that is a real weapon or a real shooting or (b) they will grow up and want to shoot people then you really don’t have to worry about (a) or (b). To say I did not approve of the latest Supreme Court Ruling on the 2nd Amendment would be an understatement. I’d be happy if they confiscated every weapon, everywhere.
    The gulf between pretend and real is hard for us to understand but it is enormous, really. I don’t know why kids need to pretend to do things we’d deplore in real life but they seem to and as hard as it is, I think sometimes maybe it’s better for us not to moralize over their pretend lives except in those cases where it involves risk of real injury. Think of them as screenplay writers and this is easier. It’s not like you’d want your Jr. Hitchcock not to write Psycho, would you? Does every screenplay have to be “The Notebook”?

  27. Amy J Jul 28 at 12:35 pm Reply Reply

    This was a hard (and emotional) issue to tackle for my husband and me. We settled on the same commonsense approach you did.
    The preschool my almost-5 y.o. son attends is more strict and does not allow ANY gun play, drawing of weapons, discussion of weapons, etc. My son has become very skilled at devising superheros who only KIND OF have a weapon: Glow Stick Man and Bone Man are two of my recent favorites.

  28. Fairly Odd Mother Jul 28 at 2:11 pm Reply Reply

    I find this interesting mostly because my son does NOT turn everything into a gun. He is almost 4 and while he can’t get his hand onto a water gun fast enough, he doesn’t pick up sticks or blocks or his fingers and ‘shoot’ anything. Believe me, I don’t take this as a sign of anything other than he’s been around less boys his own age (he has two older sisters and doesn’t attend day care or preschool).
    If/when he does initiate ‘gun play’, I’ll have some rules (no face; don’t try to ‘kill’ anyone) but won’t agonize too much over it unless he seems hell bent on inflicting pain on those he shoots. Then I may have to hide the cat.

  29. Little Read Hen Jul 28 at 2:32 pm Reply Reply

    One of the reasons I am so relieved to have a girl…of course, we do have the stroller wars. (She wants one for her dolls, Mama says no…play with blocks.) Sigh.

  30. miep Jul 28 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    well, if i think about anatomy, it would make sense to me that a young human being equipped with something that they are learning to aim and shoot successfully (into the potty, we hope and pray!) would be drawn to opportunities to play out that pointing and shooting in a slightly more socially acceptable way. we try not to pee on one another, but we can shoot at bad guys in our play…

  31. rachel beto Jul 28 at 4:51 pm Reply Reply

    I know! I have no idea where my son learned to do such things as stick noodles on the ends of his fingers then jab me yelling, “FIGHT! FIGHT!” There’s me, with noodles on my fingers, yelling back, “HUG! LOVE!” But I do remember reading an article that explained pretend war/guns are not such a bad thing–they are as important in boys’ development as playing house is in girls’.

  32. anna w Jul 28 at 5:35 pm Reply Reply

    All this hoopla about guns seems to beg the question – what on earth did little boys do before guns were invented? I imagine they had pretend sword-fights (Which, while just as lethal, seem so much cuter than gun-fights somehow. Maybe because sword-play is interactive, while a gun is not. Or maybe that’s just because I haven’t heard horror stories of schools getting terrorized by folks waving swords…Anyhow.) This leads to the next question – before guns were invented did moms obsess over their son’s imaginary swordplay? You have to admit, it does make one wonder…
    I don’t have any boys yet – it’s just my baby girlie – but if little boys are making pretend guns out of everything, it seems like they’re saving you money – why buy a fake gun look-alike when they seem to have that base covered already?
    I do sympathize, though. If I have a little guy running around someday, I’ll definitely be steeling myself for the inevitable “Bang! You’re dead.” Sigh.

  33. Stephanie Jul 28 at 8:55 pm Reply Reply

    Good luck. I once got ‘shot’ by my then-3-year old son with his modified triangle cut peanut butter and jelly sandwich .

  34. Butterfly Mama Jul 29 at 12:28 am Reply Reply

    We are going through this right now. I’m laughing because Duh. fall over and play dead has never occurred to me. We are still doing the “don’t point your fingers at my face” thing. I guess maybe tomorrow we’ll play cops and robbers! Yeah, I’ve got to lighten up too.

  35. Ellen Jul 29 at 9:05 am Reply Reply

    We weren’t going to have toy guns until I saw my son running with a stick, going “pow, pow”. I figured he’d be safer running with a plastic gun. You know what your mom always said: “don’t run with that stick, you’ll fall and put your eye out”

  36. Jenny Jul 30 at 12:04 pm Reply Reply

    I wonder what little kids played before the invention of the gun.

  37. Anne Jul 30 at 8:55 pm Reply Reply

    Jenny, that’s where the turning sticks into guns came from – sticks were there first! It’s a whole chicken/egg thing.

  38. Karin Jul 31 at 12:16 pm Reply Reply

    LMAO….You described my life to a T…..Seriously. While we were pregnant, my best frend and I talked endlessly (and quite smugly I might add) about how we would never let a gun or gun like object darken our doorway……….fast forward 7 years…and we say “screw it. give ‘em their guns.” Short of handing them a loaded pistol, I don’t care anymore. It’s futile to try to stop the enivitable…..shooting things.

  39. Katie Aug 01 at 10:12 pm Reply Reply

    Shooting pretend guns (guns made with hands, etc) isn’t any different than playing with pretend swords or any other weapon for that matter. It is make believe, because it hardly resembles the object.
    However, realistic looking fake guns are a terrible thing, because guns ARE NOT toys, and toy guns send the wrong message.
    If you want your kids to respect guns, keep them away from the fake ones with fake bullets.
    Real guns have real bullets that really hurt. It’s ok to teach your kids to shoot guns, because you will probably want them to be safe while they’re learning, so they will likewise learn respect for them. Guns are weapons that are sometimes tools. They’re not toys. End of story.

  40. ModernGearTV Aug 02 at 3:08 pm Reply Reply

    This is just amazing to me – because I thought my nephew was the only small boy who did this. I am not a Mom yet so I don’t have personal, daily experience with it but it always shocked me how he’d “blast” me and others around and it wouldn’t faze my sister. I guess that’s because all of his peers do it too, and seems to be a somewhat normal, current, rite of passage. What a sign of the times. What did caveboys do?

  41. I suspect that before guns were invented boys pretended to shoot each other with bows and arrows, and blow guns and dart guns.
    I wonder if it hearkens back to a hunter instinct?
    I used to have quite smug rules about guns myself. And MY dad’s family are from strong pacifist backgrounds. And then we let the Boy play at shooting things, but he wasn’t allowed to point them at people or I took the gun like object away. I too was afraid of what would happen if he got his hands on a real gun. And then other little boys came along and I’ve let that rule too fall by the wayside.
    The thing is, if you hold a real gun in your hand, there is no mistaking it for a plastic toy gun. The weight of it alone would clue you in to the difference in it’s nature.
    My husband has real guns. We don’t keep them in the house. Sometimes he lets the Boy watch when he cleans it. Once he let him hold it. He accompanied each time with a graphic description of the kind of hole that a bullet can tear through flesh and what it can do.
    I venture that perhaps the real problem is not guns, but the visceral insulation that our society has created around itself and how little real death is seen. We on purpose let our kids watch when we butcher goats. We want them to see death and understand it, something kids used to be acquainted with all the time in more rural and primitive cultures and now no one sees. Death is something that happens in the other room, behind closed doors, with professionals in attendance. We shield ourselves from seeing the death of our food, of pets, of people we love. Children who understand that death is real and that bodies die are, I think, a great deal less likely to accidentally shoot each other than children who think that death is a game, something that happens when you fail a level but then you have two more lives.
    That’s just something we have thought about and concluded as parents anyhow. Out goal is to have them ultimately more well adjusted to the realities of life instead of shocked and undone by them later on.

  42. Jenni/mom2nji Jun 13 at 10:52 am Reply Reply

    When I was pregnant I also had the lofty plan to ban all types of gun play. Now, three boys later, I have learned there is no fighting it. All three will make a gun out of anything and run through the house squealing as they shoot each other. I love it when mothers of girls, or even worse people w/o kids say the very same things I did before, it just cracks me up

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