"good" guys v. "bad" guys? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 12 Old 11-27-2006, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 3 yo loves spider man. Ugh. He's always been into "heroes". He used to pretend he was a firefighter and rescued babies from burning buildings. He does that now as spider man. Don't flame me too hard, but I let him watch the Spider man movie (with Tobey McGuire). : Something he's picked up on is how Spider man beats up bad guys and rescues the good people. I don't want ds to grow up with the mentality of good v. evil, us v. them. But maybe it's not a bad idea at his age to be leery of "bad" people. Then eventually I can teach him that everyone is good and bad (kwim?). I do that even now a little bit. Bad guys get out of jail when they're sorry and promise they'll never, ever, hurt anyone ever, ever again. Eveyone can be redeemed!

So what do you think?
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#2 of 12 Old 11-27-2006, 12:47 AM
 
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There is an interesting article in the most recent issue of "Mothering" which talks about the whole good vs bad and violent play with children, especially boys. I read it with interest yesterday. My four year old makes anything into a gun. Now he tells me that the gun shots water. For a while it would shoot lazers. I discourage all forms of weapons as playtoys. But he finds ways to makethem whether I provide him with them or not. He also has a need for good guys and bad guys. The good guys shoot the bad guys with water to knock them out.

This article said to ask them lots of questions about the toys they are playing with so you can understand their point of view. It also said not to discourage them from playing with them. I don't know if I agree of not. I don't want my son obsessed with war toys or superheroes. But I don't know how to get around it.

Kathi

:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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#3 of 12 Old 11-27-2006, 03:30 PM
 
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Developmentally, three year olds are starting to get to the age where they are concerned about the rules and people following them. In the next several years, your son will probably be very aware of who is breaking the rules and when and how. His ideas on morality will be pretty limited. Basically, to little kids, what is "right" is what is following the rules. That's why little kids often enjoy the superhero thing. It makes right and wrong very concrete: "right" is what "our guy" does and "wrong" is that the other ("bad") guy does.

I don't think that your son will always think of good and bad this way. I am Buddhist and so I teach my kids that all people are Buddhas, they just don't know it yet because they have too many obscurations to see the truth. However, the fact is that in this relative world, there are good and bad guys. There are people who do very good things and people who do very bad things. I believe that I understand the reasons for this, and I hope my kids do, too, but in the life we live there are "good guys" and "bad guys" and I don't mind my kids knowing that. I would not tell them that people get out of jail when they are sorry and promise to be good. That's not the way it works. I will tell my kids that some people, in this life, will accrue more negative karma than positive karma and they will not, in this life, move closer to enlightenment. Some of them will never, in this life, see the error of their ways. But maybe in the next life they will.

Namaste!
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#4 of 12 Old 11-27-2006, 10:39 PM
 
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This good guy bad guy play used to drive me insane. The world just isn't that black and white. The "bad" guys generally don't think they are the bad guys, KWIM? Everyone thinks they are the good guy. This play is so annoying to me because when we watch any sort of show or read a book, ds is always saying, "Well, are those the bad guys or the good guys?" and he doesn't like my answers. I find it interesting that most shows for toddlers have characters that are NOT clearly bad or good. There might be a character that is a trouble maker, but usually has redeming qualities (the beaver on Franklin, even Swiper on Dora has moments when they help him). It is the shows/books for older kids that has clear bad/good characters. I don't understand this at all. As they get older, they should be able to process more of the 'grey' area but media (even high quality/literature) seems to make this clear good/bad distinction.
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#5 of 12 Old 11-28-2006, 02:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies. I love getting responses from crunchy mamas. You definitely understand where I'm coming from.

Kathi, thanks for the reference. I'll have to go check that out. I'd be uncomfortable with gun play as well. I wonder if there's some positive lesson to be drawn from it. I am kind of approaching it the way the article suggests. I don't want to discourage the play or I feel I might make it bigger than it is.

Maybe it's just developmental like dharmamama is saying. I liked what you had to say about it being an outgrowth of their growing morality. I kind of feel that way too. Maybe young kids just process morality in black and white terms because it's simpler. Though I've noticed, like Flor, that toddler programs are quite good about representing "bad" characters in a full dimensional way. Maybe that's the best response. To encourage them to see the full aspects of the person/situation.

Hmmm. I see your point, Dharmamama that letting people out just cause they're sorry doesn't reflect real life. But it kind of reflects their narrow world. I have to think about that one. It could be something he grows out of, or maybe I should start now letting him know that people may not change their ways. But I can identify with your thoughts about karma. I'm a practitioner in the Vajrayana lineage. But I'm finding it really hard to convey that all people are essentially good when he sees that their behavior is not. For example, how do you explain to a 3 yo that a person who tries to hurt you (as in the movie...: ) is good deep down inside. Maybe those grey areas are for later.
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#6 of 12 Old 11-28-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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Hmmm. I see your point, Dharmamama that letting people out just cause they're sorry doesn't reflect real life.
Yeah. In real life people get out of jail because their sentences are up.

I practice Vajrayana Buddhism as well. I actually have not found it too difficult to explain to my kids how we are all Buddhas even if we don't act like Buddhas. I tell my kids several different things. I say, "When you push your brother, do I still love you?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "Do I love you all the time no matter what you do?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "You are wonderful you even when you do things that are not so nice to other people, right?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "We are all wonderful people. We are all Buddhas. But just like sometimes the clouds cover the sun, sometimes our wrong ideas cover us up and so we act in not so nice ways. But someday we will become enlightened and we won't have anymore clouds." We have talked about this in many ways for a long time, so the kids have some idea of what I mean. But I also don't worry too much about them really grasping it at their ages. I mean, I know it to be true but sometimes I still have a hard to really feeling it, like when I read about people who commit violent crimes against children.

Namaste!
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#7 of 12 Old 11-28-2006, 01:50 PM
 
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I would not tell them that people get out of jail when they are sorry and promise to be good. That's not the way it works.
Namaste!
This is something I deal with all the time. MY DS thinks that he can do something wrong and then say "Sorry" and it makes it all better. Yesterday we were at Barnes & Noble. His biggest thrill in that store is to ride on the esculator. So when we were all finished shopping we were going over to the esculator. All of the sudden he ran up behind me and punched me in the middle of my back with his fist. When I told him he could not ride on the esculator if he was going to hit Mama, he started in with the "Sorry, sorry, sorry." But I said no. He had to deal with the consequences of his actions. As we were leaving the store he had a major meltdown between the double doors of the store. Threw himself down on the dirty carpet, kicking and screaming. People had to step over him to get in and out of the store. I was going to let it play out and then leave the store. Until some old man came up to me and started threatening to call the police if I didn't get him up out of all those germs and out of the way of the door right now. It turned into a really ugly scene. Another mama came up and was able to talk to my son and calm him down. She was really great. But he was in no way listening to me. To his mind "Sorry" should fix everything.

Helping kids to understand the consequences of their actions and the grey areas of good or bad can be really hard. I think they have to be much older to understand.

Kathi

:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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#8 of 12 Old 11-28-2006, 01:53 PM
 
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I actually have not found it too difficult to explain to my kids how we are all Buddhas even if we don't act like Buddhas. I tell my kids several different things. I say, "When you push your brother, do I still love you?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "Do I love you all the time no matter what you do?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "You are wonderful you even when you do things that are not so nice to other people, right?" The kids, of course, say yes. I say, "We are all wonderful people. We are all Buddhas. But just like sometimes the sun covers the clouds, sometimes our wrong ideas cover us up and so we act in not so nice ways. But someday we will become enlightened and we won't have anymore clouds." We have talked about this in many ways for a long time, so the kids have some idea of what I mean. But I also don't worry too much about them really grasping it at their ages. I mean, I know it to be true but sometimes I still have a hard to really feeling it, like when I read about people who commit violent crimes against children.

Namaste!
I love this anology. I talk to DS all thetime about I love you but I don't like what you're doing very much. I think your idea is a much better way to handle the situation.

I have just begun to study Buddhism. I think following the practices may be a way to bring me back tot he inner peace I used to have. Ifeel like I've lost all inner peace through all the years of abuse and living in a very violent world. I'm striving to bring that back into my life so that I can share it with my son.

Kathi

:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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#9 of 12 Old 11-29-2006, 12:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a good way to put it, dharmamama. I have to keep that in mind. Ds is a bit young still, but I do think it's a good idea to remind him that people are good even when their actions are not.

Kathi, omg. I would laugh if it wasn't such a stressful situation for you. Someone actually threatened to call the police? I would have had a lot of trouble trying to ignore him. That is just uncalled for. ITA that saying sorry is not enough. In time, I'm sure that message will hit home even if it may not be now.
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#10 of 12 Old 11-29-2006, 02:03 AM
 
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I'm afraid I didn't handlethe situation the best way by telling the man to mind is own business. When he kept it up aboutcalling the police I offered him my cell phone. But he just walked away at that. It was pretty funny after it was all over.

Kathi

:::Mom to 5 adult children and 8 year old, Dakota "Why do they call it homeschool, we're never at home?"
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#11 of 12 Old 11-29-2006, 02:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm afraid I didn't handlethe situation the best way by telling the man to mind is own business. When he kept it up aboutcalling the police I offered him my cell phone. But he just walked away at that. It was pretty funny after it was all over.

Kathi
That's an awesome response! What a loon he was.
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#12 of 12 Old 11-29-2006, 02:32 AM
 
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But maybe it's not a bad idea at his age to be leery of "bad" people
another side to that coin: i know a 3 year old who enjoyed comic books and the comic book movies (spiderman, etc.). When his father died unexpectedly, the boy was very upset, because only bad guys die, therefore his dad must have been a bad guy.

talking to that boy's mother (he's my daughter's schoolmate) has made me realize that the lessons we think we're teaching aren't necessarily the lessons being learned.
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