How to make others understand how we feel about superheros - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DH and I do not allow weapon play, no guns, swords etc. We also feel that superheros are not good for small kids. In the kids we are around introduction to superheros has resulted in LOTS of "fighting", hitting, kicking and other violent behavior. We also feel that modern superhero stories are not at ALL appropriate for small children.

People want to give DS batman and superman toys and we keep trying to explain our position but everyone keeps rolling their eyes and ignoring us.

In addition I am keeping a friends 4.5 year old who is totally obsessed with superheros and is CONSTANTLY trying to play fight with my 11 month and "shooting" at him. I have explained my position to the mother and asked her not to send super hero toys but she allows him to bring them anyway. I think I am going to have to stop keeping him since I do NOT want this around my child.

Am I REALLY the only person who thinks superheros/villains are NOT good for kids?
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#2 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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No, you're not the only one who feels like this. But you're also a few years from finding out on your own it's almost a force that's beyond your control.

I felt in a similar way. Our son had no idea was anything was... until last year. He was four and a halloween costume catalog came in the mail. I was innocent enough to let him flip through it in the car.... and THAT.WAS.IT. He saw a photo of a Darth Vadar costume and I swear the male cells in his little body were all switched on. He took one look, said "I want to be this... who is this?" and BAM... he was 100% addicted/interested in ANYTHING star wars. He now knows more about Star Wars than my husband.

I swear... it's in the DNA. Shrug. I've done my best to channel the energy as best we can, but I'm beyond trying to prohibit it. He plays light saber. We try enforce no shooting, especially at people.
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#3 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your response made me laugh! DH would secretly be thrilled if DS loved Star Wars LOL

The little boy I keep was so SWEET until he started watching all these adult superhero movies and TV shows to advanced for him...now it's all fighting and "killing"

I hate hearing "I'm going to KILL that guy" from a preschooler.
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#4 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ctdoula View Post
No, you're not the only one who feels like this. But you're also a few years from finding out on your own it's almost a force that's beyond your control.

I felt in a similar way. Our son had no idea was anything was... until last year. He was four and a halloween costume catalog came in the mail. I was innocent enough to let him flip through it in the car.... and THAT.WAS.IT. He saw a photo of a Darth Vadar costume and I swear the male cells in his little body were all switched on. He took one look, said "I want to be this... who is this?" and BAM... he was 100% addicted/interested in ANYTHING star wars. He now knows more about Star Wars than my husband.

I swear... it's in the DNA. Shrug. I've done my best to channel the energy as best we can, but I'm beyond trying to prohibit it. He plays light saber. We try enforce no shooting, especially at people.


My son was 3 when he decided to be Wolverine. He's never seen any X-Men movie. In fact, he's never seen any superhero movie at all. But he gravitates towards the Batmans and Spidermans in the toy section.
We've had to be creative on what to say about why Wolverine needs those claws.
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#5 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:46 PM
 
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I dunno. I think it's a good, albeit blunt, way about teaching morality, strength, wanting good to triumph over evil. I think that wearing a mask and personifying a person with strength and goodness is a good thing, as is playing the shadow side (the villain) and *knowing* that it's wrong.

In the land of childhood make-believe, we can't always be the 'good guys' if there are no 'baddies', and darnit...sometimes it's just *fun*.

My kids love imaginary play. They play weddings, pirates, fairies, astronauts, scientists, etc. etc. They've also played funeral, cops 'n robbers and war. It's sure opened up some great conversations. I can't imagine being so hypervigilant to shield them or divert their games to my agenda.

Sorry...I guess I don't agree with censoring imaginative play.
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#6 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I dunno. I think it's a good, albeit blunt, way about teaching morality, strength, wanting good to triumph over evil. I think that wearing a mask and personifying a person with strength and goodness is a good thing, as is playing the shadow side (the villain) and *knowing* that it's wrong.

In the land of childhood make-believe, we can't always be the 'good guys' if there are no 'baddies', and darnit...sometimes it's just *fun*.

My kids love imaginary play. They play weddings, pirates, fairies, astronauts, scientists, etc. etc. They've also played funeral, cops 'n robbers and war. It's sure opened up some great conversations. I can't imagine being so hypervigilant to shield them or divert their games to my agenda.

Sorry...I guess I don't agree with censoring imaginative play.
I get what you are saying, I guess I just don't really feel like acting out fighting scene from movies over and over IS imaginative play. It sounds like your kids do engage in very imaginative play just like I did as a kid.
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#7 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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I agree that keeping superheroes and such away from your DS isn't really going to make a difference. Sorry, but little boys especially, love to play rough and will be action figure like characters while pretending whether or not they are exposed to them. They'll make guns out of anything - even their own hand will suffice - so while I get where you are coming from, it's likely that your extended family continues to try to give these gifts b/c they know little boys like them, and it's not going to be the one thing that makes your DS play a bit violently.

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#8 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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I get what you are saying, I guess I just don't really feel like acting out fighting scene from movies over and over IS imaginative play.
I know, I feel you, trust me. I don't like it either (the whole 'playing funeral' with someone playing the corpse really gave me the willies... ) BUT IME, they *will* play this stuff out. Kids process things through play or art, not just words or behaviours.

Better to start the conversation now as opposed to if/when he hits school. For example, my girls were really into playing and BEING princesses. We had a two year long conversation about what that meant, about being rich or poor, being beautiful on the outside and inside, and so on. They get it. I'm glad we were able to discuss it. Their way of playing princess has changed dramatically from before the convo. (They're now...a mix of princess/superheroes )
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#9 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LOL One of my neighbors little girls is always in boots, cape and tiara. She caller herself "Super Princess"
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#10 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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It's in the air they breath, as soon as they encounter other children, or, as pp pointed out, images (darth vadar) that we (as parents) don't necessarily create. AND, it's a basic part of their fantasy about being powerful, good v. evil, life & death, etc.

Less than one week in the preschool room at daycare (3yrs and up), my son was "shooting" us with his finger - "pkew pkew." Upon questioning, he had no idea what he was doing, or what his finger was, or what the play was about. It was just a sound and a motion he was doing. Later, I'm sure the concepts of kill, die, shoot...will enter his vocabulary and his awareness.

I highly recommend the first half of PBS' Raising Cain. It is chronological. Watch through the kindergarten vignette, at least.

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#11 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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Wait, your son is 11 months old and people want to give him superhero toys? But, do they even make age-appropriate superhero toys for that age? I can't see what play value there is in that sort of stuff for kids that age. Personally I would take that approach - and point out the types of toys that a baby/toddler would enjoy more.

My son is 6.5 and we just bought him a toy lightsaber (well, he paid for part of it!). He's into Star Wars Lego now too. Last year he had a big thing for Spiderman and chose a Spiderman costume for Halloween. He's never seen a Star Wars or Spiderman movie, or any superhero type movie that I can think of. But he sees stuff his friends have and it comes from there. He loves it! He loves play fighting but he doesn't act out fighting bits from movies because he's never seen any. It all comes from his imagination and play with friends, but sure it made me feel icky when he started 'killing' etc. But he loves it and I see no reason to try and stop it. But 11 months?!

Personally I can't wait until we watch the Star Wars films together, but I'm hoping to hold him off another year at least. I think he's too young for them and wouldnt' understand a lot of it and that he'd find some of it scary. I LOVE Star Wars (the *real* movies!) and don't want to 'waste' it on him before he's ready to appreciate them fully, lol!
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#12 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:24 PM
 
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Sorry...I guess I don't agree with censoring imaginative play.
This is how I feel too.

Kids don't just imagine and pretend happy things. Kids use play to explore all sorts of concepts and feelings.

The only real rule we have is that when kids play together it has to be fun for everybody who is playing. It's fair to not buy the props, but I'm not comfortable telling kids what they can and cannot pretend.

Julie - Mom to Elizabeth (Libby) age 6, Penelope (Penny) age 5, Elliott age 29 months, and Oscar who is 1 year old!
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#13 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:28 PM
 
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I know, I feel you, trust me. I don't like it either (the whole 'playing funeral' with someone playing the corpse really gave me the willies... ) BUT IME, they *will* play this stuff out. Kids process things through play or art, not just words or behaviours.

Better to start the conversation now as opposed to if/when he hits school. For example, my girls were really into playing and BEING princesses. We had a two year long conversation about what that meant, about being rich or poor, being beautiful on the outside and inside, and so on. They get it. I'm glad we were able to discuss it. Their way of playing princess has changed dramatically from before the convo. (They're now...a mix of princess/superheroes )
They do not need a movie to act out death or birth scenes......I have a few personal stories from my own childhood.

Many of these stories, ideas are not new. Look at folk tales, mythology.
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#14 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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If you are watching the kid, you have the right to set the rules on what he brings to your home. Tell the mother that if she continues to send him with it, you will be confiscating those toys for the duration of the time he is in your house. That's your right.

However, I agree about boys and this kind of thing. My son had no exposure at all to superheroes until he went to preschool. Suddenly he was pretending to cobber people with his "lifesaver" (lightsaber). Although, to be honest, he was never very interested in pretending to actually be batman or superman.

I wouldn't have wanted any kid pretending to shoot my 11mo, however. That sounds like it's less about superheroes per se than about appropriate behavior.

As for people wanting to give you batman toys etc. after you've expressed a preference not to get them, there is no need to make a big deal. Simply take the toy and donate it to goodwill.
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#15 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah mine is still a baby superheros are meaningless to him, I just see no reason to introduce them so soon. I guess part of what bothers be about the child I keep (whom I adore) is that he's actually allowed to SEE all these movies but the BioDad and his parents (though the Mom asked them not to, she has given in to all the toys). I also know it's normal for kids to have an "obsession" about dinosaurs or cars or superheros. I guess it's mostly the violence of superheros that gets to me.

My mother did not allow "weapons" play nor any toys or games where killing living things is a main theme. Did we all play that way with friends? Oh yeah we did but it was never a big thing for us. It was an occasional thing now an all day every day thing.

LOL I was totally unprepared to be the mother of a boy even though I am a total tomboy! The other day he managed to EAT half a beetle! EWWWWWWW I was so grossed out My MIL (with 3 boys) just laughed at that!

I am really enjoying all of your advice and stories! Thanks!
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#16 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 07:01 PM
 
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I think that you will find, as your son gets older, that the force of superheros is too great to resist. He will hear about them from other children even if you do not allow the characters in your home or him to watch the movies/shows. My son is running around now shooting out spiderwebs like Spiderman. Has he seen the movie or read any comics? No, he did see a preview and like 10 minutes of it but he started acting out Spiderman before that.

The superheros/princess concept, I think appeals to children especially 4-5 year olds as they try to process the world into good and bad. In the superhero/princess stories there are villains and the hero so it is very clear what/who is good/bad.

It also goes along with the gun/sword/lightsaber dillemma, we don't allow any toys like that but they are made out of legos, sticks, etc. I think the most important thing is to discuss what these things mean to our children.

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#17 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 07:09 PM
 
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My girls are obsessed with princesses, and fairies. I get to be the Evil Queen. Though it's not all bad - yesterday my two year old told me "I love you, Evil Queen!"

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#18 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 07:17 PM
 
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Yeah, just another vote for good luck limiting it. Its not gonna happen. I suppose you can be super restrictive and simply not "let" them play weapons/fighting/etc in your house... but then your stifilign their imagination. Do you really want to do that? No? Then don't.
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#19 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 07:18 PM
 
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You have every right to not have gun play directed toward your babe in your home. You could just tell him those are the house rules or get playful with it and say I'm shooting kisses, can you think of something nice to shoot at me?

My son was talking about Spiderman and Ironman long before he actually SAW them in front of him. I swear it's osmosis.
ETA: Oh, and by day 3 of preschool, he was shooting at me with his tinker toy. We went from "no gun play" to "no pretending to shoot me in the face". Sigh.
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#20 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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When people want to give him things with a superhero on them, just say no thanks.

But, my son was play fighting and shooting LONG before he discovered superheros. Superheros have actually been really good for his play since before he would take stuff (essentially be a "bad guy" but didn't know what that was.) Now he is a good guy, rescuing stuff (teddy bears, etc.) which makes me feel better at least.

Some kids play fight, some do not. IME, introduction to superheros doesn't cause every child to start fighting. Some kids are just more physical.

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#21 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 08:02 PM
 
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Maybe you could create some opportunities for appropriate super hero play. If your family wants to get him super hero toys have them get him a cape and a mask. Play with the boys to create an imaginary super hero that is gentle and kind and helps people and animals. It won't last for ever. Regardless of if my kids are playing super hero, house, school, princesses there always seems to emerge a good guy and bad guy. it seems like something kids just to need to embrace. to work it out. Perhaps instead of banning super hero stuff (these are his comfort objects and entertainment) just worry about his behavior (no play fighting with the baby. we play gently). There is no reason super heros have to be violent or incite a riot.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#22 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 09:28 PM
 
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I'm completely not prepared to raise a boy either, but I'm trying to soak up as much info. as I can on the art of raising boys. FWIW, I enjoyed reading Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence.

Having said that, yeah, why is anyone giving a 1 year old superhero figures???
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#23 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:05 PM
 
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btdt-- all over the map on this one. DS1 never had nor wanted weapons/ superheroes (didn't even see Toy Story 'til he was like 7! bc I thought it was pretty competitive for a young child) Anyway, his first exposure to weapons was a disturbed child at pre school shouting KILL! KILL! KILL! and chopping the head off a stuffed animal with a plastic butter knife. Yeah, good times.

We still did no kill, no weapons play until the force could not be reckoned with, then we went to no shooting at living things, and finally no shooting at people. I still say this to children at church or the park-- "we don't kill PEOPLE!"

Anyway-- they're boys! Excess testosterone from before birth! My boys do now fish and hunt (like, for food, not sport; not that they've ever been uh, successful hunters, yet, LOL) DS1 now makes pocket money butchering smallish livestock for friends and tanning hides. (See, it could be worse, you could have 8 coyote hides drying in your carport, like I do right now )

They totally ream anyone among their friends who is careless w a weapon, even a bb gun or airsoft, even if the muzzle accidently points toward a person in an unloaded, half-disassembled weapon, so they get it. They value life and personal safety.

What bothers me the most is the slow shift in values on my part. Still not sure whether I changed my own values or caved, and THAT is where it's at for my peace of mind.

You are right, tho to insist on no weapons/ violent toys at your house, and never let the child pretend to kill people-- it's just not something young children should emulate or practice, IMO. You may be the only one in that child's life teaching him life is too sacred for that to be ok, even as a joke, even in play.

blessings

boys are a whole new kind of fun, eh?
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#24 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:06 PM
 
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I don't know any kids who play "named" superheroes who just reenact the movies over and over again. I know as a kid, when the neighborhood gang all started playing "Star Wars" all over the block, we weren't slavishly following the movie like a script at all -- in fact, in general we weren't reenacting the movie becuase, y'know, that had been done already.

Have you ever really watched a group of kids playing superhero play? They come up with their own scenarios and act them out. Generally, the characters shape the roles each participant is taking (bad guy, good guy, etc), but that's just the launching point.

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#25 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:08 PM
 
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http://www.askmoxie.org/2010/08/disc...th-others.html

This chapter in this book really surprised me--maybe it'll help you be ok with the exposure you can't control?

Mama to P. born at home 10/09, and W. born in the hospital 2/13

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#26 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:16 PM
 
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I just wanted to say I don't find superheroes at odds with my values much.

I mean yes, sure, the shows have violence and I'm not about to screen Dark Knight. I'm not rushing out to increase our plastic merch (although we have some) and if we do screen something it tends to be vintage stuff back when they didn't do much that was gory.

But standing up for what is right and even intervening with force if necessary to protect innocent people isn't something that bothers me. It's an archetypal story. I kind of prefer that to some of the kids stuff on the market that is sort of - chaotic and disorganized. I really prefer Mr. Rogers but even he has that witch puppet hanging out with him in the world of make believe.

That said our rule is all the play has to be consensual. 11 month olds can't consent so that would be a no go.

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#27 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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The "super heros" are worships for some sort of super power that allows them to save people or something. I don't think they are harmful. But all the super hero movies like Batman and Spiderman are disgusting and over the top for kids. I could not believe it when my son was the only child in kindergarten to not see Indiana Jones. That movie was completely inappropriate for children. I don't know why these adults movies are being advertised targeted at children. I don't allow my children to see those movies, or any movie that I feel is inappropriate. I don't think just the general idea of super heros will hurt your children, but I think there are issues with not wanting your children to see the movies. I think that there is a lot of out of date advice out there regarding to how harmful these things can be to kids. The movies are so intense and gross and ...ok.....I have to go, sorry, wish I could add more. Children calling.
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#28 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:18 PM
 
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My 4.5 year old LOVES superheroes
It all started when he was 3 years old at a thrift store when he found a Superman stuffie with cape and HAD TO HAVE IT! He didn't know who it was and as far as I knew had never seen anything like it. But it all began that day.
From then on, I was on the lookout for 'appropriate' hero play, as in, Early Reader comics that were more appropriate for a younger child, or just some hero toys, or costumes. I actually found that his imaginative play has flourished since loving heroes. He makes up his own stories surrounding his hero toys and his dress-ups, as well as he incorporates the stories from the Early Reader comics.
We allow weapon play and rough play in our house but we also have strict rules about it too. Everyone involved has to be having fun during the play. We have to be respectful of boundaries, and when someone says 'no or stop', then we have to listen to them.
We don't involve babies in the play usually since 'they don't understand what the game is' yet.
If someone shots at me and I don't want to play then I just tell them, no thank you I don't want to play, and they listen to that.

In your situation though, you son is so young. It is strange that people are giving you toys for him concerning superheroes already. I'd probably just put them away for when he is older. Don't most of them have a 3+ on them anyway.

I would be setting some rules about when and how the older boy can be playing at your house. I would have a 'no involving the baby' rule for sure. Maybe tell him he needs to protect the baby...that sometimes helps

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#29 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 10:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks all! I am checking all the links out and have put Raising Cain in my Netflix Queue.

I will surely try to steer him towards more "rescue" type play rather than killing play. Perhaps he would enjoy "rescuing" the baby instead of ambushing the baby.

In my Mother's house weapons were a big NO but my grandfather hunted and taught all of us about guns. I am pretty proficient in handling weapons though it has been quite a while since I handled more than a bb gun LOL. I am just against play killing and DH is with me on this one. It's not so much that I expect my son to never engage in this type of play, I just want to control the exposure more. Sooner or later he'll want to know what that blue light saber hanging above his door is for LOL!
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#30 of 91 Old 10-07-2010, 11:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post
The "super heros" are worships for some sort of super power that allows them to save people or something. I don't think they are harmful. But all the super hero movies like Batman and Spiderman are disgusting and over the top for kids.
I didn't know they were aimed at kids. I never saw much of the advertising for those movies, except for trailers once or twice, but they didn't seem particularly kid focused to me.

Part of the problem with the movies is that they're drawn from the current renditions of the superheroes. Comics like Batman and Spider-Man have changed a lot over the last 20-25 years, and they've become much, much darker than they used to be (although the original Batman, of the 30s, was hardcore). So, those heroes are straddling two very different kinds of worlds...the modern, dark universe which is definitely not meant for kids, and the older one, which was much more kid friendly.

My kids have seen the Spider-Man movies. They haven't seen Dark Knight. I couldn't even stomach Dark Knight, and I'm a Batman fan from waaaayyyy back.

Quote:
I could not believe it when my son was the only child in kindergarten to not see Indiana Jones. That movie was completely inappropriate for children.
Different people draw the lines in different places, and for different reasons. My kids have all seen the Star Wars trilogy (the original one - the prequels suck, and I have no interest in renting them to see again), all four Indiana Jones movies, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Lots of people wouldn't be okay with that for their children, and that's fine. I don't have a problem with it.


OP: I can't help you with the superhero issue, as I have no problem with superheroes. But, as far as toys coming to your house, you definitely have the right to just say "no", and not allow it. If the mom sends it, anyway, put it up and don't let the boy play with it until he leaves. The mom will get the message. If you really don't like the way he plays with your son, then it's probably best to stop watching him.

And, I have to agree with those who wonder why your baby is getting superhero toys. That seems odd.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
Loving my amazing dh, James & forever missing ribbonpb.gif Aaron Ambrose ribboncesarean.gif (11/07) ribbonpb.gif

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