Originally Posted by hopefulfaith
I'm having a hard time with this. Ds desperately wants a toy gun and a sword. He is four, and so many of his friends have these things.
He promises he will never point them at anyone, etc., and he overheard my dh talking with me a few weeks about it. I'm hesitant, and dh isn't opposed to them: "Playing with a toy gun would be a good start to teaching him about real guns..." ((we live in a northern, rural area where hunting is the norm & I should also mention that dh is a law enforcement officer and wears a duty belt with a gun every day to work...ds is fascinated...)). Since overhearing that, ds is actually using that to try to reason with me: "It would help me to learn about using a real gun safely, mom!"
I'm not entirely opposed to guns - we own a few, and I like to target-shoot with a .22 ----- but he is 4, and there's something about seeing a small child with a gun in his hands that just gives me the willies.
I find this topic very interesting because I went from never wanting to allow any sort of weapon toy to allowing many, with no change in behavior resulting from weapon play. I think that my one rule is I don't like play phrases like "I killed you or , your dead" That's just is my own thing it sounds yucky . My son has an aversion to screen violence. So violent video games is something we don't due here, not just because of his aversion but because I think that they are different then the toy weapons themselves.
I have done target shooting as well. I actually prefer him having some knowledge about guns as opposed to them being this mysterious thing. I think that sometimes boys are more likely to come into a situation later on where they are with a peer and a gun and the fascination gets to the both of them and they mess with it without having any knowledge about it, and tragedy strikes.
I don't own guns.But we have discussed gun safety and knife safety. I want him to be able to say with confidence to a peer that he has seen and knows about gun safety. I want as an adult to be the one to teach him about these things, not his first understanding of them to come from a possibly ignorant peer who happens to come into possession of a gun. Yikes.
Besides the safety issue and back to the play issue. I always joke that my son has a stockpile lol. My favorites are old western style metal cap paper blast guns and his natural wooden swords. The wooden swords are really lovely . They are unfinished and came in handy for a lovely halloween costume when he was a roman last year. He plays guns and sword fight with both boys and girls and they have an awesome time playing this way in a large group, forming teams etc . No one gets hurt! Lots of laughter.
They are all so careful for each others fingers for instance when they are play acting a sword fight.And they love the guns with the blasts for the noise or the ones with lasers, and forget about the NERF . Well I hate the nerf for the mess it makes but whatever.
I really feel that gentle play fighting like this is very natural. Kids often make swords out of sticks even. I think it is definitely a primal sort of activity and no one is intending to hurt the other. Kittens do it, apes do it and I think people in their childhood do it as well.
I think that violent games and viewing material are unnatural though. My son hates them, I hate them. I just don't approve and neither does he. With the former it is almost like a variation on tag, the whole sword/nerf thing. When it's video games there is a voyeuristic brutality to it that makes me very uncomfortable. A lot of people IRL are confused about my choices with this (allowing play weapons but no viewing violence). I just find there to be a huge difference.
If it were me I would allow very unrealistic looking weapons at this point. That is what I did. Mainly for safety and to cut down on the confusion between a real gun and a fake gun. If it's crazy purple and shaped like a space ray gun he won't confuse it with the real thing and think the real thing is a toy.