I just need some guidance on a situation that happened yesterday when I picked up DS from a weekend with his dad. While DS was in the house gathering up the last bit of his things (and Ex and I were outside), Ex asked me if it would be ok if he takes DS hunting and teaches him basic gun safety this fall. I replied that I would prefer DS to be older before handling guns (he is currently 6). This seemed to make Ex mad, and he went into the house to check on DS even though I was still trying to talk to him about it.
When they came back outside, I told Ex that I would be happy to discuss things further. He could call me sometime this week, or he could let me know a good time and I could call him. (Granted, I probably should have said nothing at that time, since DS was now present.) Ex said that since I didn't seem to respect his feelings about anything, there was no use. So I asked if anything had happened over the weekend that I needed to be aware of. Anyway...what I can piece together from Ex's grumbling and blaming, is that DS told Ex that he had seen a James Bond movie "with a car with bombs!", and that he played a video game where he "blows up army tanks." Ex was angry because he and I had a similar conversation about not exposing DS to violence around Christmas last year (violence meaning the equivalent of something like Cars 2), and now Ex thinks that I violated our agreement. Because of this and also the way DS likes to play spies and army, Ex apparently thinks DS is about to turn into a serial killer unless he teaches him about guns himself, thus the desire to take him hunting in the fall.
Sooo...after talking with my parents, who DS spends a lot of time with, I found out that my dad did in fact show DS a very small part of a James Bond movie before Christmas last year. DS was very interested in playing spy at the time, and my dad innocently talked to him a little about James Bond and showed him about a 2 minute clip of one of his "cool" cars. I watched the clip and didn't find anything that alarming about it, though I've asked my dad to please not show DS anything like that again. The video game DS mentioned to Ex was an app on my dad's Kindle...again this was back around Christmas and I have since asked him to remove. The game itself was basically about planes...you could look through a lot of different jets and military type planes, and you could also do a plane simulator where you tried to hit a moving target (like literally the red bulls-eye target symbol, not an actual object of any kind). In DS's mind, he is blowing up enemy tanks, but that is just his imagination talking.
Sorry this is turning into a book...but my question is mainly should I try to explain things further to Ex now that I know more details, or just let it go? I'm not sure it would make a difference because Ex really doesn't like me, even on a good day.
Mama to DS (7)
I'd send him an email explaining what you'd found out that your DS was talking about - similar to what you wrote here.
You can't do anything about your Ex's ideas about things but you can tell him the facts.
Robin~ single, work-at-home momma to my Wonderboys
BigKid (6/00) & LittleBoy (6/04)
I agree that you should update your ex on the situation. You might also want to reevaluate what you consider to be appropriate media for your son now, and what you will consider appropriate in future. A two minute clip of James Bond's car and some explosions should be fine for a six year-old, especially a six year-old with grandpa (sounds great for them), and he's very likely to be exposed to genuinely violent content in a variety of media because he spends time with other kids.
I agree with you that six is too young to handle real firearms, but I wonder if your ex is feeling like he missed a bonding opportunity that was inadvertently taken by your dad. It means something to introduce a kid to something like James Bond or Star Wars, or hunting, and Ex may feel that he is losing his chances at these things.
Since others have already addressed the video game misunderstanding, I'll focus on the hunting issue.
I am of the "teach kids early to respect firearms" mindset, so with that bias, if Ex has extensive experience and is willing to teach DS (with your help and possibly that of other experts as well) a healthy appreciation for guns--why they're dangerous, what he should do if he finds a gun by himself or with friends, what to do if he sees a friend playing with a gun, I think it is OK to start teaching him safety. That doesn't necessarily mean he should learn to handle guns now. I'm sure some 6-year-olds are mature (and strong) enough to be handling guns now, but that's the exception rather than the rule. Some basic gun safety skills--like if you have to touch a gun don't ever touch the trigger, always keep the barrel pointed to the ground and away from all people--may be helpful if you think he's ready for that. At any age a "guns do not make you cool or fix your problems" message may be appropriate.
One of the kids I used to babysit fatally shot his father in a hunting accident. He was 10. Even though it made the front page of the small-town newspaper ("Mpls. man killed in hunting mishap") near where the shooting happened, the phrasing used for the story minimizes the seriousness, imho. I went to the funeral and saw a boy who looked both confused and horribly guilty. I can't imagine living with that. Accidents do happen. They happen a lot more when children are not old enough or well-educated in handling firearms. There is a lot of cognitive reasoning that needs to occur in an instant--the most important of which is to know what lies beyond an intended target. I hope Ex can get over any "manly bonding" bologna, or fear that DS will become a serial killer (really?!), or payback for seeing video violence, or whatever else is driving this "need" to teach a SIX year old about guns. This is serious stuff. You know this; I hope Ex can figure that out too.
I would look up the laws in your state to find out if it's even legal for a 6-year-old to be in possession of a firearm. The laws vary by type of gun (handgun vs long-barrel). Very generally, long-barrel guns--that Ex should be planning to use for hunting purposes--are allowed at a younger age than handguns. Exceptions are often made when the child is under direct supervision of his parent or is engaged in the act of hunting. I first went along hunting when I was about 12 but I wasn't allowed to carry a gun for the hunt so I could learn how to be safe where guns were present--maybe Ex would agree to the same. This page <http://smartgunlaws.org/minimum-age-to-purchase-possess-firearms-policy-summary/> summarizes the basic rules by state, though you should follow up by investigating the specific exceptions for your state. If the law in your state doesn't buy you a time delay and you can't talk Ex out of it, perhaps you could find a school/program for Ex to take DS to so that at least someone who knows what they're talking about and is experienced in teaching firearm safety can deliver all the necessary lessons. Don't count on the state's hunter's safety classes to teach anything valuable--I've taken hunter's safety classes and it "taught" me almost nothing about gun safety. The class I signed up for in order to satisfy concealed carry permit requirements offered a bit of gun handling safety information though not targeted at all toward youngsters. I imagine there is something out there that actually instructs children. I've heard of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program but have no experience with it.
(DSD 10yo) - (29wks 2/2012) - (1/2013) - (7/2014) -
I can understand where your ex is coming from, with the limited info he had. Your son told him he'd been exposed to things that you were now telling Ex that he is too young for - it looked hypocritical. I don't see anything wrong with sending him a quick note, explaining that you've learned that your father showed him these things without your knowledge and that you've now corrected the situation and it won't be happening again. That way he knows that you weren't trying to be hypocritical, you just honestly weren't aware.
With that said, the hunting situation itself. I think gun safety is an important lesson to be taught. Even at six, it would be very good for him to know what to do if he sees a gun, how he shouldn't touch one if he finds it or how to properly handle a gun if he does have to touch it. But I don't know that he needs to be taught about hunting just yet. That is one of those things that is dependent on the child's maturity level. If you don't feel he's ready, then this would be a good time to try to have a discussion with ex about why you think he's not ready and why ex thinks he is. Maybe your ex sees something you don't. Or maybe, like others have mentioned, he feels he's missing out on some bonding moments.
If it's a matter of missing out on bonding moments, see if you can come up with some other ways they can bond. Maybe tell your ex some interests your son has that he might not be aware of, and suggest some ways he can use those interests to bond.
I would do all of this by email, so that *hopefully* you can both remain calm and have an actual discussion, rather than it turning into a situation like the one you just had.