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#1 of 25 Old 03-05-2002, 01:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a SAHM mom to a 4 yr old girl and 6 mo boy. My nephew is 4 and is now pretending things are guns (he doesn't own any toy ones) he is also obsessed with superheroes. He does watch tv. I am really disturbed by this violence and do not want my son to act this way. Does anyone have boys who act kind and gentle and don't have a fascination with violence? I don't believe that just being male makes one that way. I think it is the culture and tv. Any thoughts or personal experiences?
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#2 of 25 Old 03-05-2002, 02:41 PM
 
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I do think our culture does have a lot to do with this. I have three sons. I never bought toy guns or allowed violent TV and cartoons. However, by school age, 4 or5, they were facsinated by them. Their friends at school played "gun games" all the time.
So, while I still didn't buy them toy guns, I didn't stop them from playing these games with their friends. I felt if I did I would only be making guns seem even more interesting. I tried to make subtle points here and there about our family's feelings about guns and violence in general.
They are 14, 21 and 24 now. Very peace loving and they now think guns are abhorent.

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#3 of 25 Old 03-05-2002, 03:08 PM
 
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My boys are young - 4yrs and 20 mos. We would never, ever, ever buy a gun as toy and they are only aloud to watch a very small amount of tv, definately nothing with violence that's for sure, so they never play gun/shooting games - b/c they have no idea what guns even are.

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#4 of 25 Old 03-05-2002, 09:24 PM
 
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I asked Dh (who grew up with non-violent buddhist parents) if he had toy guns. He said, "Nope, didn't need them". I asked what he meant and he said, "We just used Florida". Really puzzled, I asked him to explain. Apprently the state of Florida in those old wooden puzzles is the perfect shape for a pretend gun. So he and his friends just used these. I think kids play out what they are exposed to either through the media or other kids.
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#5 of 25 Old 03-05-2002, 09:44 PM
 
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My DS is 4 years old and began having an interest in guns and gun games at the age of 3 1/2 years. It mortified me, especially since DH and I had not allowed him to have any toy guns or watch violent t.v. Anyway, we talked to him about how dangerous guns are and his grandpa bought him a toy gun to play with at his house. We couldn't stand the thought and were convinced that somehow our sweet, sensitive little boy would grow up to be a serial killer. He now is not as interested in guns as he is swords which I am more comfortable with him playing with, we got him a sword and shield from Magic Cabin Dolls for Christmas along with the silk costume and they are one of his favorite toys to play with.

Back to the, "where in the world would a 3 year old develop an interest in guns". At the time I was working fulltime and he was in a daycare class of 3-5 year olds. I think he picked it up there listening to the older boys talk and play.

I have come to the conclusion that it is a phase and is only imaginatory play, as long as the child understands that if he is ever to see a gun he must ask permission from an adult before he touches or plays with it.
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#6 of 25 Old 03-06-2002, 01:47 AM
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I have an almost 7 yr. old boy who has never watched violent television and doesn't have friends who play guns either. I know it sounds really stereotypical or prejudice, but it does seem like little boys are naturally more intrigued by violence then girls. While my ds has never played guns, we down right would not have allowed it, (but it was never a real issue either)- he does love to play sword fights with everybody, and as a dinosaur he is always a meat eater eating something! So obviously he still likes to play sort of violent imaginary games. I feel okay with that though because its pretty unlikely he'll ever come across a sword under some friend's dad's bed and accidentally use it! - ya know? He knows that guns are real and they're deadly, in fact whenever he gets a little playmobile pirate or something as a gift he immediately gives me it's little guns to throw away - he knows how I feel about them and respects that.

Handmade dress shop owner and mama of five - our littlest just born in December! ♥

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#7 of 25 Old 03-06-2002, 12:11 PM
 
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It's already been mentioned, but showing strong emotion over guns will make them more intriguing. Plus, if your son has a concern or wants to discuss guns, he may be less likely to do so if he knows how taboo they are in his home.
We don't watch TV either, but when my son (3 y.o.) starting showing an interest in weapons, I steered him into what I consider challenging, which is mediaeval weaponry. If he wants to play "defender of the world" I feel better about it if he is pretending that his stick is a sword, slingshot, bow and arrow, etc. Of course he knows never to "attack" other people, animals, plants, etc.
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#8 of 25 Old 03-06-2002, 08:20 PM
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I don't necessarily think that letting your kids know that you feel gun play is not okay will make it intriguing to them. It depends on the child, the situation, etc. My son honestly is just not intrigued by guns, but he does love to sword fight! I also don't think he would ever hesitate to discuss guns with me, as we discuss everything - part of the reason he doesn't care about not playing guns is because we HAVE discussed them, and he agrees with my feelings about them!

I think its okay, even important, to let kids know when we feel strongly about something, as long as we let them know that we are always ready to discuss their feelings. I don't have any figures or anything, but I would think that kids who end up hurting themselves or others with guns are generally kids whose family or friends have guns in the house and they came across the gun and were messing around with it or playing with it. Teenagers who hurt themselves or others with guns usually have psychological problems of some sort, or else, again, grew up with guns. Either way, it wasn't from parents not letting their kids play guns.

I don't think parents should feel weird about not wanting their kids to play guns. I'm not saying anything against parents who let their kids play with pretend guns either. I think its every parent's responsibility to raise their children in whatever way feels true and right to them. I don't let my son pretend to punch his sister, and I'm not going to let him pretend to shoot her either - if they want to be meat eating dinosaurs, or have sword fights, fine. There are lots of ways for kids to work out energy and aggression that doesn't involve gunplay.

Handmade dress shop owner and mama of five - our littlest just born in December! ♥

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#9 of 25 Old 03-07-2002, 02:31 PM
 
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This is a concern that lies very close to my heart as well..

Painfully I have watched in the last few weeks my ds who is 5 turn towards gun play. We don't watch tv, he goes to a Waldorf kindergarten, we are vegetarian, etc.. But he 'caught' the virus (so it seems), from some other boys who I like but who also caught 'it' from other boys, and so on..

Before ds was playing with spears he made out of sticks and now that gun idea is in he has taken off with it. He still doesn't know that people kill each other, and that is a fact I would like to keep unknown for as long as possible. But how long, one can't know. This truth of humanity is a sad fact that I wish were not so, and I wish that he would continue for as long as possible believing in the goodness of all.

We will not provide him with guns, he makes them out of sticks. And 'outlawing' them is not our preference, since we believe as some others do here, that it just make it more interesting and he may do it in secret then. That is how he is.

We have laid some ground rules though. No words of killing others. And not in the house.

Funny.. I did not have a problem with his hunting with a spear. That seemed OK. Also, he loved to play at being a fierce meat eating dinosaur. And that is fine too.

And he is different than my dd who is not that interested. She does however love the doll we made originally for ds when he was 2, who is not interested!

So, I am still working through it all. I am trying to not put so much energy on it. I can overeact regarding it all.
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#10 of 25 Old 03-07-2002, 08:08 PM
 
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My almost 4yo ds has already been through his gun phase... he pretended alot of different things were guns and I never encouraged or discouraged his play... only said he was not allowed to point at people..
i strongly believe that my son should be allowed to explore this aspect of himself.... he has a healthy understanding of real and pretend.. and although I do not have guns in my home I plan on teaching him, at an age appropriate time, how guns work and what they can do. I don't believe that keeping him ignorant of violence will keep him safe from it and I would much rather that if the day came ( god forbid ) that he came across a gun.. he would do so with full knowledge of its danger... not full of innocent curiousity.( I know ... I posted the same thing a while back..)
btw.. his gun phase has passed ( for now ) .. it's swords right now.. who knows what will be next.. whatever it is I will do my best to allow him to explore his violent side with guidance and hopefully a clear understanding of whats real and whats play....
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#11 of 25 Old 03-08-2002, 12:02 PM
 
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'Keeping a child ignorant from violence', is for me important at this stage. I don't believe that it will keep him safe either. What will keep him safe is my awareness and grace. And when the time comes (I will let ds and life guide us in this..), I will certainly be forthright about how the world is etc..

I subscribe more to the Waldorf philosophy regarding maintaining children's innocence as long as possible. It is a special beautiful world they live in. And once broken, so hard to reclaim in the same way! There is plenty of time to figure out how the world is; ie; killing etc..

Of course, I am very much aware of ds and dd safety and know where they are etc.. I maintain that awareness for them.
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#12 of 25 Old 03-09-2002, 12:10 PM
 
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David Dellinger spoke about this same experience with
one of his boys. I think I remember all the details
correctly.

Despite having impeccable pacifist and good-dad
credidentials, Dellinger found his son making
guns out of anything he could find and then
proceeding to shoot anything he could see.

So Dellinger and his wife decided that if they
couldn't convince their son that guns and
killing were bad, they could at least use
his interest in guns to build some positive
relations. They all went out into the forest
and looked for suitable wood and then
designed, cut, sanded and basically produced
a fine-looking wooden gun. The boy still
used it to shoot everything down, but at
least they had spent time together, created
something.

Eventually the boy grew out of the phase
and became a pacifist as an adult--or at least
was when I heard Dellinger tell this story
a few years ago.
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#13 of 25 Old 03-09-2002, 01:03 PM
 
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What do you all think about allowing gun play, (no guns given, just whatever he makes), but putting limits on talk of 'killing' and pretending to shoot friends and others? Does this limit it to much, or are these workable limits?
Does this defeat the purpose of letting the phase work itself through?

I am hesitant to just say OK, go play guns. My heart still hurts so about it.
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#14 of 25 Old 03-09-2002, 03:28 PM
 
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I don't yet have any sons, just a baby girl, so I don't have any first hand advice on that level. However, I will share a bit about my own childhood with you. My father shoots guns competitively, mostly air guns (super accurate beebee guns, basically). When I was six he took me to a shooting range for the first time, and taught me how to shoot an air rifle. He taught me that it was not a toy, but something very dangerous. He taught me all the correct safety precautions to use while loading, unloading, shooting, and changing targets. It goes without saying that we never, even jokingly, pointed guns at anyone else. My dad always kept all of his guns in locked cases in a closet. They would never be used in self defense, or any purpose but sport shooting. I can't remember ever playing gun games, or pretending to shoot others. I'm not saying to go out and teach your kids to shoot guns, I'm not planning on it, but I think you should teach your childrens about how guns work, and why they are dangerous. As a teenager I volunteered with the Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp, working with kids in wheelchairs. There were always kids who were paralyzed because of accidents with guns, usually at a friend's house. A friend of my husband's in high school shot his brother to death by accident. They were fighting, and he picked up a shotgun in his parent's bedroom, thinking it wasn't loaded. It was. These things never would have crossed my mind, because I knew how to handle guns, and that they were not toys. Kids who only encounter pretend guns, toy guns, and guns in the media will not have this knowledge. Remember that you will not always be with your son, and if he is out somewhere, and he or a friend finds a gun, he has to know that it is not something to play with. Unfortunately, all too many kids make this mistake.
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#15 of 25 Old 03-09-2002, 09:20 PM
 
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Thanks Katrina,
Your point is well taken. Next time we are out at my friends's house in the country, I will have him give a demonstration of gun use.

So, even if he continues to play pretend gun, he will know what not to do if he finds one. Still, I have to think about the whole pretend shooting thing with the kids at each other..
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#16 of 25 Old 03-10-2002, 01:25 PM
 
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I have been greatly offended by my son's newfound interest in guns. He does not watch T.V. and has no gun toys to play with. Lately, however, everything has become a gun. He shoots and makes gun noises constantly. Otherwise, he is a very loving child who does not demonstrate violence in his behavior. He'll be four in May.

I have thought about this a lot. Where does it come from? I'm relieved to see that this seems to become an issue for parents right around this age of three-ish. Anyway:

1) His dad teaches martial arts and has practice weapons, in the form of nunchucks and swords, literally lying around his house. Noah sees him practice forms with them. I have no problem with this, as I feel martial arts is a noble discipline. His dad is also well-trained in using guns (but does not keep them in the house) so I know Noah will learn to respect safety issues, etc. None of this seems detrimental. (Incidentally, lives with his dad part of the time, but does not watch violent tv or play violent computer games there.)

2) Preschool! Even at the fine Montessori school he attends, it still leaves me awestruck to watch groups of children at play outside. There's a tribal energy underlying it, a species-level of behavior which reminds me of the potential for violence, even if it's not being illustrated. Is this my imagination?

3) Boy-ness? I am beginning to think boys tend toward more violent play than girls. If I saw him torturing animals or even just being mean, I'd really worry about it. But I'm slowly starting to become more tolerant of the play because he's such a darn nice kid otherwise. My husband, who is a dedicated pacifist, reminds me that he spent many years playing GI Joes and would now happily dodge the draft. So....

How to deal? Sometimes, I snap at him to stop making those darn gun noises around me. I just don't like them. And he is never allowed to shoot at people or even stuffed animals. But I'm trying to be tolerant otherwise.

Sigh.

Love,
Min
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#17 of 25 Old 03-11-2002, 02:23 PM
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My 22mo picked up the garden hose spray gun thingie the other day and 'shot' me. I know he's just pretending to spray water but it reminded me that we would be facing the gun issue soon. My husband and I have had many discussions on this issue, it's the biggest difference of opinion in our marriage. He was raised on a farm with guns. He was trained in their use at a young age and was never allowed to use them frivolously. But he still has a boyish fascination with them (and tractors, motorcycles, etc. for that matter). I was raised in the city and taught that guns were bad and anybody who thought otherwise was a red neck. I now agree with my husband that our son should be trained in their use but I don't want him to 'catch' the fascination that my husband has. It's not really rational but in my gut I still have less respect for my husband because he likes guns and I don't want to feel that way about my own son.

On another note, I have a friend who is an ardent feminist - we all are, i'm sure, but she has made it her life work. She was just as horrified as all of you when her daughter became fascinated by make up, fashion, and all things pink and frilly. She grew out of it and so will our boys. We just have to keep being honest and model, model, model.
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#18 of 25 Old 03-12-2002, 09:35 PM
 
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I so badly want to do the right thing as a parent in this oncoming stage. My ds is nearing three and has just started using objects as weapons (no gun noises yet, mostly sword-like actions) or drum sticks (which can lead to quite a headache for me, but so be it).

For those parents whose kids sword fight, how do you explain the word 'fight'? Is it more like a dance or sport?

Like many people have written, we, too, are trying to hold on the the magic innocence of childhood for as long as we can.
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#19 of 25 Old 03-13-2002, 12:30 PM
 
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I have 3 boys and I think guns are part of our american culture. We never bought them any toy weapon until last yr. They weren't allowed to watch even a remotely violent movie or show. Even when we didn't have any they'd use their fingers or a stick etc. I realize now that it's okay for them to pretend. We talk about how dangerous guns and weapons are often. We talk about violence they see on TV, movies, etc.. They know we don't like violence. However they need to be able to differentiate between reality and pretend. They've been to friends homes where I know there are guns (due to jobs). They've been told if they've ever seen a gun they are to go the a parent immediately. I think boys have a need to act out in violent fashion occasionally. I don't thinks its wrong anymore. There are some great books about how boys think.
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#20 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 01:19 AM
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This is definitely just one of THOSE topics that people generally feel strongly about one way or the other. I grew up in a house, like many kids, where we were not allowed to play guns. I didn't have a problem with it, and I don't remember my brother caring much either, but maybe I'm wrong. We were allowed to sword fight, which we did with eachother and my dad all the time and loved. We DID have real guns in our lives. We grew up in Alaska and my mom and dad slept with a shotgun hanging over their bed - I'm serious! It was for bears, which had gotten into the house before. My dad also hunts and he taught my brother and I how to shoot and to use guns safely. We each got a 22 for our 12th birthdays. STILL - my parents didn't let us "play" guns because they felt that they were not something you played at.

I guess I feel the same way. I have a 7 yr. old boy who has never had a problem with our not allowing gun play. I'm just not comfortable with kids pretending to shoot and kill. Its just way too real in everyday life. People go into preschools and highschools and shoot children - even though my kids don't know that, I don't want them pretending to shoot people. I DO feel that all kids, boys often especially, have aggression and energy to work out, but like I've said before I just let them channel that into other play - such as sword fights, meat eating dinosaurs, etc. Yes, gun play is common, but it isn't necessary, there are lots of other ways to get out aggression.

And mamadub - I don't explain sword "fights" as anything else - I don't have a problem with kids letting out healthy aggression, I just don't like gun play.

Handmade dress shop owner and mama of five - our littlest just born in December! ♥

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#21 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 01:37 PM
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But what's the difference between sword play and gun play? They are still pretending to hurt each other. Oi this is a tough one!
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#22 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 01:53 PM
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Actually with sword play my kids are usually just getting out energy - they're trying to hit eachother's swords - they know they aren't allowed to hit eachother's bodies. Its more like a sport, taking out their aggression on a "thing" through physical activity, which seems a lot healthier *to me*.

And again, if people in our society went around chopping eachother's heads off with swords, and misusing them on a regular basis - I wouldn't let my kids sword fight either!

Handmade dress shop owner and mama of five - our littlest just born in December! ♥

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#23 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 05:34 PM
 
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I suppose that I should elaborate. Yes we let them play with toy weapons but my boys are not allowed to shoot each other or hit each other with anything. HOWEVER, I have found that other children do not make this distinction when acting out. I do find that disturbing.
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#24 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 06:22 PM
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My husband will have my son chopping wood and cutting down trees by the time he's four. Maybe that'll satisfy his aggressive urges. We shall see . . .

Something just occurred to me. My brother and I weren't allowed weapons of any kind when we were kids. My brother beat me up all the time. Do you think there was a connection? I'll ask him what he thinks.

(By "beating me" I mean play fighting but he was bigger and I got hurt sometimes. He's a great guy, honest)
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#25 of 25 Old 03-14-2002, 08:18 PM
 
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This is such a tough one for me, too! I am appalled that my sweet son, in our peace-loving, pacifist family, could love guns as he does. I know that he gets it from preschool, and there was no avoiding it. We've taken the approach that disallowing gun play would be counterproductive, so instead we explain (repeatedly) what guns are and what they do, and otherwise don't intervene too much. I think that eventually he will outgrow it, like everyone says. My dh has 4 brothers and he says that the 5 of them all played with "guns" that they made since they weren't allowed to have any, and now all 5 of them are very nonviolent types of men.

BTW, Dot.mom, I *love* that Florida story!

Eve
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