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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is mostly a vent more than anything else. But if you do have suggestions on how you deal with it, I'm all ears.

So the past week my boys (3 and 6) come home from camp saying they LOVE star wars, which means "playing shooting and having gun fights". They have no idea what Star Wars is, I just am not interested in it so it hasn't been something we've done. We're pretty strong pacifists so we don't do gun play or have toy weapons. Although I do understand that they will be exposed to it, and it's a phase kids go through, and outlawing it won't end the play, so when they do bring it up I just go with it and enter their imaginations, and ask them questions about their game. But I do have a rule, that we don't shoot at people and animals.

Yesterday after camp at the playground, I got to meet the famous friends who have taught them all about this, and frankly, I'm shocked. Everything my kids did, these boys would talk about wanting to kill it, hurt it, shoot it, blow it up. Like, my kids love bugs and every bug they found, they would say these things. Then the kid was blowing up everything in sight, saying "I wish I had a cannon so I could blow you all up".

It bothered me but they were playing happily, until the boy pretended to shoot my son in the face- so I loudly and firmly asked him to please not shoot people, that is really inappropriate and we don't play that way. The mom was sitting right there the whole time, never saying anything. After I said something, she did call him over and had a discussion, but I didn't hear what they talked about.

Of course, he immediately begins playing violently again and starts shooting my son and I again firmly told him, please do not shoot at other people. The mom never did say anything, just ineffectually wandered away and asked him to come on, let's go, about 50 times without ever making him leave, until we finally left b/c we had an appointment.

Anyway, I thought it was sad that a 4-5 yr old was that aggressive and into killing and the mom as apparently ok with it. I know my kids are going to pick up on that stuff just by living in the world, and I do deal with it and talk with them honestly about it. I just want them to know that there are real consequences to shooting and it's not just a fun game.
 

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I have a son too and here are my thoughts:

The best read on the topic is probably the section on guns and play in Playful Parenting (he talks a lot about how to turn the play around to things like a "love gun" etc.)

I'm not sure it's any more appropriate to expect a 5 year old to understand that guns KILL PEOPLE DEAD than it is to expect them to be sure that they operate their play cars safely so there are no accidents or pedestrians killed. I too started out trying to explain that kind of thing to my son until my husband pointed out that we don't worry excessively about train crashes, dropping baby dolls on their heads, or running Hot Wheels cars into each other. At first I thought maybe I should worry about those things too, but I actually decided that it would really wreck imaginative play if we tried to lower the reality boom on it like that.

That said we do have the rule that you don't shoot at people. Call it an aesthetic choice.


Finally I have absorbed this awesome wisdom from a parenting article the source of which is long gone: It was about a set of parents whose early-teen son really wanted to play a violent war video game. After much discussion they said he could - if he studied, memorized, and followed the Geneva Convention. I thought that was a pretty cool compromise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I'm not sure it's any more appropriate to expect a 5 year old to understand that guns KILL PEOPLE DEAD than it is to expect them to be sure that they operate their play cars safely so there are no accidents or pedestrians killed. I too started out trying to explain that kind of thing to my son until my husband pointed out that we don't worry excessively about train crashes, dropping baby dolls on their heads, or running Hot Wheels cars into each other. At first I thought maybe I should worry about those things too, but I actually decided that it would really wreck imaginative play if we tried to lower the reality boom on it like that.
Thanks, that is a really good point
Smart dh. I just have a sensitive spot about these kinds of things and it was hard to see a little kid playing so violently and my kids learning from it! Another life lesson, (for me and them) I suppose!
 

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I don't really know if there is anything you can do except remove your kiddos from the situation. This mom has a different tolerance level when it comes to play time and what she deems appropriate. If she doesn't mind her kid playing this way then there isn't much you can do except walk away.

I have my own rules for my kids - yes you can play with squirt guns, we don't squirt people in the face and if someone says to stop...you listen. Chasing and gun games are not encouraged or discouraged...but again...if someone doesn't want to play that way, you stop. But these are MY rules for my children. If another child was happily playing with mine and a parent stepped in, I would probably talk to my kid about how so and so's mom doesn't like that...why don't you take it down a notch. It wouldn't be a punishment issue for my kid though because I allow a certain level of play in this area.

I completely respect your point of view and I see nothing wrong with you stepping in, saying something, or taking your kids somewhere else. Another idea...bring up another idea for play. Try to talk the kids into another game
 

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I know a lot of MDC moms don't let their kids play violent games, but I've decided that I don't want to manage my dd's play like that. She plays some shoot-em-up games, including ones based on Star Wars, and I just let it go. She's still a sweet natured girl. It won't turn your kids into serial killers or anything, and you're having power struggles over something that really isn't that big of a deal IMO.

Anyway, that's my perspective. I'm sure you'll get the other side of this whole thing here too.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
Thanks, that is a really good point
Smart dh. I just have a sensitive spot about these kinds of things and it was hard to see a little kid playing so violently and my kids learning from it! Another life lesson, (for me and them) I suppose!
Oh I hear you on that! It is a shock. And as a pp said, consent and those kinds of things are really important.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Awaken View Post

So the past week my boys (3 and 6) come home from camp saying they LOVE star wars, which means "playing shooting and having gun fights".

Wow! My 5 year-old ds is a HUGE Star Wars fan. (He seems to have some comic book/sci-fi geek in him, like his dad.:LOL) There aren't actually many guns in Star Wars. A few laser guns here and there, but not many. Ds is into light sabers. He frequently draws his own on paper, colors it, cuts it out and fights Darth Vader. We've also told ds about the true Jedi philosophy, which mirrors our own spiritual beliefs. Yep, we really are that geeky, I guess. But, if you're a practitioner of nonviolence, as we are, you may want to educate your little Jedi knights on the real philosophies. Ds has never engaged in what I consider to be truly violent imaginary play, and if he did we'd have some serious conversations about it.

So, if you don't want to restrict your kids playing the more violent games with these kids, you may want to tell your kids about the Jedi philosophy. They can then tell the other kids, and maybe turn it into more positive Star Wars play.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Doodlebugsmom View Post
Wow! My 5 year-old ds is a HUGE Star Wars fan. (He seems to have some comic book/sci-fi geek in him, like his dad.:LOL) There aren't actually many guns in Star Wars. A few laser guns here and there, but not many. Ds is into light sabers. He frequently draws his own on paper, colors it, cuts it out and fights Darth Vader. We've also told ds about the true Jedi philosophy, which mirrors our own spiritual beliefs. Yep, we really are that geeky, I guess. But, if you're a practitioner of nonviolence, as we are, you may want to educate your little Jedi knights on the real philosophies. Ds has never engaged in what I consider to be truly violent imaginary play, and if he did we'd have some serious conversations about it.

So, if you don't want to restrict your kids playing the more violent games with these kids, you may want to tell your kids about the Jedi philosophy. They can then tell the other kids, and maybe turn it into more positive Star Wars play.
Wow! I wish your ds lived next door! Making little light sabers out of paper is my ds's very favorite thing to do, too. Except he always wants to be Darth Vader, which is somewhat disconcerting. I'm hoping it's because he's still a little young to understand what's actually going on.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post
Wow! I wish your ds lived next door! Making little light sabers out of paper is my ds's very favorite thing to do, too. Except he always wants to be Darth Vader, which is somewhat disconcerting. I'm hoping it's because he's still a little young to understand what's actually going on.
Oh, they would have so much fun! Sometimes ds likes to breathe like Darth Vader. I guess dh has told ds this, because ds told me: "Darth Vader has good in him too. He would never hurt Luke because he knows Luke is his son."
 

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Oh honey, you need to rewatch Star Wars and share it with your boys. There's a lot of good modern mythology out there. Including the Force.
We've always discouraged gun play, and it's always come back, fiercest, at the times when they are having a hard time processing relationships with other kids. I think playing around the idea of fighting and hurting and not fighting and not hurting helps when they're having a really hard time getting on with someone.
 

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Oh, wow, I'm sorry. This is why I don't send my kids to those camps. I've seen them in action. Lots of unsupervised play with people I don't know doesn't seem to be necessary at this point.
 

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Originally Posted by webjefita View Post
Oh, wow, I'm sorry. This is why I don't send my kids to those camps. I've seen them in action. Lots of unsupervised play with people I don't know doesn't seem to be necessary at this point.
I hear ya! I'm also choosy about the unsupervised activities my children participate in for that reason. That's because I'm a SAHM. Some people don't make that choice or have that privilege, though.
 

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I started out banning all guns. Then my older son would find a stick and pick it up and use it as a gun. This is when he was about 5yo, before he even knew the word gun - he used to call it a shooter. I tried banning even the stick gun, and then one day he shaped his hand as a gun and pointed it at me. I realized that day that banning gun play was not a realistic solution, and also that I was giving gun play real power. Like another poster pointed out, banning gun play really does nothing to instill a sense of responsibility or respect for the danger of guns. Swords kill people, but we let the kids swordfight. Car accidents kill people, but we still let them pretend to crash their cards without thinking twice about it.

We have a rule that you don't play ANY game with another child that the other child isn't into. We don't specify shooting. My goal is that they learn to respect other people's boundaries, regardless of what it is about. If another child doesn't want to play tag, my kid needs to stop chasing them. If another child doesn't want to draw, my kid needs to stop trying to shove crayons and paper in front of them. If another kid doesn't want to play shooting, then my kid stops shooting at them. But I make it about respect for the person in general, not about shooting. And we have talked about real guns, and how dangerous they are, and basic safety rules like always get out of the room immediately if someone else finds or has a gun, if a kid shows you a gun go find an adult, never touch a gun without me or daddy present, never point a gun at anyone including yourself, etc. When they are older I have thought about taking them to a shooting range and letting them hold a gun, and see and hear how intense and lethal they really are.

Do I love the violent play? No. But it seems to be a very normal, healthy part of childhood play, especially for boys. We are very careful about what we let the kids watch, especially when it comes to violence. We did let ds1 see Star Wars when he was 7.5yo, but only because he kept asking to see it, and because it's not gory or over the top violent like most of the more modern movies. But he never played Star Wars after seeing the movie. He has light sabers he's gotten for gifts and he will play with those, but his play seems unconnected to the actual movie. (I still won't buy water guns that look like oozies, though.)

I know it's shocking - I was shocked when it came up for us. But my older son is now 8yo, and very little of his play is violent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all your responses - it is good to hear some perspective on this, since I have never been around little boys in my whole life, so parenting 2 of them is a new thing for me!! It is good to hear what is normal and what you all experience!

I do want to clarify- I 'm totally not against star wars! There may be great stuff in it! I'm just completely not into it personally, have never seen the movies and don't know the first thing about it! So I'm not at all upset that they think they like it (although they have no actual idea what it is other than these kids telling them it's about shooting!)

I guess what bothered me was 1) the boys' (to me) extreme focus on killing everything and the forcefulness of how they were doing it. It was disturbing to me. 2) the mother's lack of concern that I was obviously uncomfortable with how her son was violently shooting mine, and was not backing me up as I asked her son directly to do something else.

I agree with the pp's, even if my kids are doing something that *I* think is fine, if other kids or parents are bothered by it or asking them to stop, I do step in and ask them not to play it with those kids.

Also, I agree that banning gun play is neither feasible nor beneficial- like the above poster, I have heard from many friends, when my son was a baby so long before we even thought about this type of thing, that no matter how peace-loving and anti weapons they were, the kids still make guns out of sticks and their hands! The Mothering article that was published a while back has also been helpful to me as we approach this stage. So I know it's a normal thing...but I do have limits, esp. when it comes to pretending to kill people and animals.

anyway- I know it's an issue we'll face many times in life. They are still going to the camp, and we will still play at the playground afterwards so I'm sure it'll come up again! And if it weren't in this situation, it will certainly come up in other situations with other kids so there's no running from it, only a learning process for all of us as we figure out the best way for us to handle it.
 

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Withholding gun play from kids will lead to them making guns out of carrots or fish sticks or their fingers. The forbidden fruit is always more enticing than the permitted fruit.

Boys will be boys. It doesn't make for a violent teenager, it doesn't harm them or anyone else, and like someone noted, it's absolutely 100% normal.

I, at the risk of sounding harsh, think a mom is naive if she is removing a kid from gun play then believing that kid isn't in his bedroom shooting out his window...

And gun play doesn't make a boy grow up to be a school shooter. Really.


JMO, of course.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by WannaBeAMamaMia View Post
something to think about.
i watched this show and they said that "violent play" is psychologically normal for boys and actually helps them develop compassion.
Then B will be the most compassionate human being on the face of the planet


He turns everything into a weapon. My ex is the one who banned "gun play" even though I grew up around it. Our boys know what guns are and they know that guns shouldn't be played with and they kill people (my kids are really obsessed with ways that ppl can die and I have no idea why). We talk all the time about what we do if we find a gun or see someone playing with a gun. My mom says we take it too far but my kids live in the city. We have seen weapons on the street; knives, bloody bats, etc. We teach them to not touch anything that is truly dangerous.

B just can't stay away from the weapons. The other day they were playing with plastic swords and T says "We must go through the portal to get to our lair. We must prepare to go to the tower of Darkness!!!" (the portal is a hula hoop
)

Oh, and if we are out and the boys are playing with other kids I don't allow them to pretend to shoot other kids and don't allow others to pretend to shoot them.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
Sandra, I'm agreeing with you for the most part
See my above post!
That's what I get for starting to type a strong opinion before I read others... LOL!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mamazee View Post
I know a lot of MDC moms don't let their kids play violent games, but I've decided that I don't want to manage my dd's play like that. She plays some shoot-em-up games, including ones based on Star Wars, and I just let it go. She's still a sweet natured girl. It won't turn your kids into serial killers or anything, and you're having power struggles over something that really isn't that big of a deal IMO.

Anyway, that's my perspective. I'm sure you'll get the other side of this whole thing here too.
I agree with you.
 
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