Balancing ds' desire for gun play with pacifism - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-01-2011, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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At 10, my ds is suddenly really into the idea of getting a toy beebee gun. We just moved to the country so in a way the shift has become from wanting intensely violent popular video games (which are banned in our home) to this hunting focus.  I keep thinking of the red rider bb gun in that movie and how it seemed innocent enough compared to today's toys. these things are toy models of semi automatic weapons- which I'm pretty sure are designed for one purpose- to kill people.


I have always tried to balance our lives- like we have video games but not rated M ones which "all the 10 yr olds have"

-we've had a TV and have watched movies galore, just not cable

-he likes to eat meat so i've fed him meat, just selectively instead of a vegetarian diet



i feel like going back on my no gun policy would be a big mistake but at the same time, i want to let him be a boy.. do i have to get over the guilty feeling and just stand up to the pressure? I definitely do not want to see that type of object in my house or near me or my kids at any time.


I've suggested an archery set..


any other ideas or input?

I'm really glad to discover this preteen forum b/c I am just entering the frontier of "tween" parenting.

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#2 of 8 Old 12-01-2011, 07:36 AM
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A marshmellow gun might be ok.  They're fun.  And you can make them.  But our neighbor kid spray painted his black to look like a real gun... doesn't but he thinks it does.  Oh man, I feel for you. 

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#3 of 8 Old 12-01-2011, 07:56 AM
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You know, I did a big turn-around in this area. Before having kids, I was certain that gun play was bad and since my first was a girl who had no interest, I could stand by that belief. I wouldn't say we are full pacifists in that I do believe there is a time to fight (just tend not to agree with politicians as to when that time is.) We are a vegetarian family (me since age 9, DH since age 25 and the kids from birth.) DS came along and  at 15 months, put two duplos together and start shooting things. I don't know where he got it (no TV at that point) and I was very upset. However, I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people. My wonderful DH had 3 big sisters and a "no gun" policy. They always found him with their hair dryers pretending they were ray guns.  The kicker was finding a picture of my own father at about 8-years-old in full western gear... toy gun in each holster and a huge grin. He's the one who turned our family vegetarian all those years ago specifically because he felt in wrong to kill animals when there was no need to. That sort of relaxed me on the whole thing. I wish I could find this one article I read years ago that was so good. Basically, it laid out the problems of telling boys that even their imaginations were dangerous. That really struck a chord with me.


So, we decided to let DS play in whatever manner came naturally to him. We have rules. No realistic guns but water guns, nerf guns and light sabors are allowed. These items can't be used on animals period but with people in a mutual play setting, sure. We didn't have video games in the house until he was 9 and even then, just the Wii with family friendly games that they only play a couple times a month. At 11, he has no interest in realistic violent video games at all. He is huge into animal rights and can't fathom the idea of hunting them or eating them. He's almost a black belt in tae kwon do but very big on only using force in self-defense (which he's never done outside the sparring ring.) He still likes to go to the weapon rooms if we are at a local museum (though doesn't beg to go there for it) and enjoys Mythbuster episodes about weaponry (which usually are pretty interesting and also lay out the real dangers involved in such weapons.) He loves to go laser tagging with his buddies but there is no obsession and no desire in owning or using a real weapon. He hasn't even touched a water or nerf gun in a good year.


Personally, I'd make sure to allow some outlet. Boys are wired differently and while it's important to teach compassion and self-control, it's also important not to treat them as evil or "bad" because they have a few stereotypical interests (and I'm not accusing you of that... only that this is the vibe boys can get even when you don't mean it.) The more mystical weapons become, the more desirable and more obsession is encouraged. I'd probably not do the BB guns because they can still hurt animals and can break the skin in people but nerf/water guns? Sure. Laser tag? I admit... it's TOTALLY fun. Archery is fun (my DD got into it for awhile) but you really need good equipment and someone to teach you how to use it. If you give him some outlets like this, you might find his interest passes.

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#4 of 8 Old 12-01-2011, 06:51 PM - Thread Starter
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so, i think you clarified my own feeling too that there is something fun about aiming/shooting and that it is natural for boys to want this play. what you're saying makes sense- a limit on the types of guns and what they should be used for. i can definitely use this advice, thank you so much whatsnextmom!

maybe its time to get that big bag of (handed down)  nerf guns out of the basement and turn  them over to the kids as outside toys only.  i had forgotten about them and after the thought of this bb gun that he has shown me online, they do seem like fun, not-so-violent choices!

the funny thing is that after a few days to think it over, i broke it to him that i couldnt agree to buy him or let anyone else buy him this toy and he got a little upset but hasn't mentioned it since, sigh.

thanks again..


as for marshmallow guns, then it'd be all about the corn syrup and preservatives- man, am i waayy too uptight?  ;)


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#5 of 8 Old 12-02-2011, 10:08 AM
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I don't consider guns that shoot projectiles that can easily cause physical harm to be good toys.  Period.  Sure, it's unlikely, but there are a lot of injuries from even b.b. guns.


If DS is interested in guns, we will have him go shooting with a specific friend of ours.  He trains SWAT teams and collects guns.  The point is, though, that he sees guns as a tool and would instill the proper respect for guns in DS.


I never wanted Nerf guns, but DS has *tons* of them.  I do encourage him to wear protective glasses (Nerf sells them but sun glasses are fine too) and he does not have permission to shoot *me.*



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#6 of 8 Old 12-02-2011, 10:35 AM
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I don't consider guns that are for shooting targets violent.  I wouldn't allow hunting, or shooting anything alive...but, I'd buy my son a gun and give him a chance with it.  If I caught him shooting animals, I'd take it away.



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#7 of 8 Old 12-18-2011, 10:28 PM
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My son was never allowed to play with guns, even water guns ( I got him the tubes that squirt water) when he was little. He's 12 now, probably when he was around 9 we started letting him have nerf guns and a target thing to hang on his wall. I think at that point he was old enough to appreciate the difference and we could talk about guns and gun violence. I hate seeing little kids shooting guns at each other. It makes me sad. Last year our neighbor got an airsoft pellet gun which shoots plastic pellets. My son came home and asked i he could play with it. I was so torn. My gut reaction was NO. I hate that they're so realistic looking. But I thought about it and decided as long as they were shooting targets and not people or animals it was ok. I felt confident that he had a good grasp on guns and safety and I was glad he came home to ask me instead if just doing it, It was the super coolest thing ever to them for like a week. and then they moved on to something else. haha. You could always get the old nintendo duck hunt too :)

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#8 of 8 Old 12-21-2011, 10:45 AM
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I grew up in a hunting family, and there have always been guns in the house. In the same way that a child who grows up around animals learns not to pull tails and bite ears, we learned that guns are NOT toys; they are always treated as if they are going off; they are never pointed at anything we don't intend to shoot. Gun safety was as natural to us as seat belt use, even as young kids.


And I agree that the inclination to turn anything and everything into a gun is natural. Legos, bananas, fingers - andything can turn into a "point and shoot". As someone else mentioned, imagination is not harmful - any more than pretending to cut things with a pretend knife when you're playing kitchen is harmful. This applies to little girls as well as little boys! I'm surprised to see such a sexist attitude on this board!


I know lots of people who enjoy shooting, who do not hunt. My niece started in a bow league when she was 4 years old. I first shot a .22 when I was 9 or 10 (under close supervision). Shooting a bow, a rifle, a shotgun or a BB gun requires skill and concentration. I've never been bird hunting, but I love to shoot clay pigeons at the range.


I do not believe that every kid who plays with toy guns then wants to go out and shoot animals. I also believe that kids can learn gun safety at a young age - with toy guns. Nerf guns, squirt guns - those are safe to shoot at people. Anything else is targets only.


My sons asked for an Airsoft gun when they were about 10. I didn't know what it was, so I looked it up. They are guns that shoot compressed air, but are made to look like real guns, and shoot at other kids. I simply said no - and reminded them that if they wanted to shoot, I would take them to the range any time, and they could shoot real guns. It didn't come up again - until 2 years later. We were driving home from their first night of Firearms Safety class, and were talking about the 10 Commandments of gun safety, and how important it is to develop safe habits. One of my sons said "I can see why Airsoft guns are a bad idea". He realized that a toy that looked a lot like a real rifle, aimed at people, was not consistent with his training to never point a gun at anyone - without anyone having to explain it to him.


When my kids took firearm safety, there were a number of kids in the class who had no interest in hunting, but babysat for people who had guns in the house (I live in an area where hunting is very popular). They were taking the class to become more knowledgable, and eliminate a bit of fear of the unknown.

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