Saturday, September 6, 2008

Children playing with guns (toy guns! yikes!)

I allow my children to play with guns. Toy guns only, however. Which puts me into a category of parents labeled, "terrible" but I do it anyway.

While they are allowed to play with guns, there are some rules. But different rules from some houses. Because of my pet peeve.

When my children are using a toy gun, they are usually playing the good guy. Soldier, police, whatever. So when they demand that someone surrender and put their hands up when that person is at gun point, they are not allowed to shoot them once that person has surrendered. Period.

Now, sometimes, when I'm told to surrender, I put my hands up. Sometimes I run away or run toward them. So they never know when they will be allowed to shoot.

But, when we're at a park, and we are playing with kids that I don't know, or might happen to be unsupervised (one of the unquestionable joys of being a football parent - not) - and they encourage my children to play with them and their toy gun and tell them that they are going to play "cops" while running around pointing a gun at all the other little kids, saying "Say your prayers" we walk away. We choose to not play with those kids. Well, really, I choose for them that they aren't playing with that child, in that manner.

So while so many parents reluctantly allow their children to play with guns but tell them not to point it at anyone, I rebel (surprise!). But we follow rules when we point that gun. Because lets face it - we have handguns in my house. They are locked up in a safe, high on a shelf in a closet the children have no business being in, BUT, chances of my children shooting a handgun in their lives is high.

So I will teach them. From the beginning. Instead of being scared and hiding our heads in the sand, we will embrace the danger and give them all the knowledge they need so that guns will be boring, a tool to be used in a specific setting. Kind of like a toilet brush.


Pocket said...

Good for you! The bottom line of parenting is RULES, and yours sound very sane. I recently started teaching fourth grade at an inner city school and never in my wildest dreams (I'm so naive) did I think I would have to deal with, what I call "gun hands." My boys like to look at each other across the room, glare at each other, and put their hands in a gun position and pretend to SHOOT each other in the middle of a lesson! What is THAT?? Lately, I've been taking this "no gun hands...guns are bad...only drug dealers and bad guys use guys are better than that" stance. But after reading your blog, it occurs to me that perhaps I need to sit down with my boys and really DISCUSS guns. When are they right? When are they wrong? Why would you pretend to use one when you should be learning science? The world of a nine year old in an inner city baffles me, so I can't pretend to know where they're coming from, but the bottom line in teaching is the same as parenting - ground rules....and productive conversations. Maybe I can show them all they are capable of being and steer them in the right direction. God willing!

Eternal Sunshine said...

I let my kids play with guns, too. We originally had the rule that they weren't to shoot at anything with more than 1 leg. (hee hee)

When it comes to their Nerf battles, however, they may shoot at each other (within reason) IF the other person has a gun, it is loaded, and is a willing participant. We also adhere to a strict time-out rule. If someone needs to relaod, or has asked not to be shot for a minute, then they must abide my the time out (And no calling time out and then shooting the other guy while he can't shoot you.) LOL!

They are also given a LOT of gun safety talks.