This week’s topic comes from a reader who sent along the following questions:
Do you let your kids play with squirt guns?
Yes. In fact, on some summer afternoons it’s a required activity, as in “Go outside and burn off all that pent up energy. Now.”
I have 3 boys with tons and tons and tons of energy. But the world seems so dark now that I don’t let them “play shoot” each other even with their fingers.
This strikes me as a rule that would be frustratingly impossible to enforce.
I went through WalMart today and they had those huge guns that hold a gallon of water. They just looked like fun.
They are fun.
Anyway, am I going overboard and should the NRA be concerned about me?
I don’t know much about the NRA, but I think your concerns are valid. We do live in a dark world, and all kidding aside, the decision of whether or not to allow your kids to play with weapons can be a difficult and important one.
I used to be an outlaw-all-weapons kind of mother myself. Nothing seemed fun or playful to me about pretending to shoot your brother, especially with the kind of horrible violence that exists in our world today. But my boys’ natural inclination toward weaponry and their dogged insistence upon inventing various forms of play violence despite my best efforts made me re-think my own stubborn stance. My kids don’t watch violent television or play violent video games, so their attraction toward play fighting was coming from within them, it seemed.
I wrote a column about my struggle with this dilemma once in which I said:
I realized I had largely misunderstood their boyish passions. Play battles aren’t so much about the violence as they are about the eternal struggle between good and evil. I may witness an occasional dramatic death scene in which one of my sons lies writhing on the floor gasping his last breath, but for the most part their imagination centers on the triumph of good over evil, and that is not a bad thing.
Ultimately, I think that boys’ play fighting with guns or other toy weapons really is a matter of “Boys will be boys.” I have come to believe males of all ages do indeed have a natural inclination toward combat which females might easily misunderstand. This inclination can be distorted and perverted by exposure to negative influences but it can also be guided toward the good by loving parents and a healthy family life.
Now this happens to be an issue that I have seen turn ugly in some circles, even faith-filled Catholic circles. But I do think it is a discussion well worth having. I just encourage commenters to please share their views on this topic in a way that respects others’ different opinions.
So what do you say? How do you handle the weapons question? Do you allow your children to play with toy guns or other weapons, checking the airsoft review already? What are the reasons for your decision?