Weapons as toys: is it acceptable to pretend to shoot, stab, etc?
Faith Mellinger, local business owner and mother of two boys (plus one on the way!) writes:
I grew up in a weapon-free house--not even squirt guns were allowed--and I would have been more than happy to raise my boys the same way. Then one day I came home to a Nerf gun. Harmless plastic pellets (until you get one to the side of the head) made me realize my "house of boys" was going to be much different than the girl one I grew up in.
The amount of toys that come with guns, swords or other weapons concerns me, yet we still buy them. During a recent share day at preschool my son chose to take a LEGO guy and I thought nothing of it. Later he said, “You don't bring weapons to school.” After some conversation we realized the LEGO guy had a gun (most of the new ones--Star Wars, Ninja, etc.--have weapons). I felt guilty that I let him take it, but later realized that it was good that I didn't keep him from sharing the toy. I could have kept him from taking the Lego person with the weapon, but I don't think it would have had the same impact as the message that he brought home with him from his preschool teacher.
I’m still not completely comfortable with the weapons, but I realize I can’t shelter my kids from the realities of the world. I think we need to teach our kids the dangers of weapons--toys and the real things--and showing them the appropriate way to play is one way to do that.
Jenny Shepard, full-time working mom of three boys, writes:
We are a non-weapon household. My children are not allowed to use the words gun, kill, shoot or hate. They are also not allowed to play with anything that closely resembles a weapon. We don't let them watch the news because those words unfortunately are used too often. We know they will get an earful when they are old enough to understand the damage and pain those words cause.
They learn these words and gestures from school, television, and video games. We talk to them (really it’s just the 6 and 4-year-old so far) about how they are not to use those words because they hurt people. It’s always funny over the summer to listen to them correct each other from using "squirt guns" to "water squirters" so they don’t get busted by mom and dad. I know we can’t shield them forever but I feel like the longer we can protect them around this subject, the better.
Jaime Townzen, Monrovia Mom and mother of two young daughters, writes:
I really don’t like encouraging any sort of violence, and would prefer my kids never play with a toy weapon of any sort. But, they have friends. Dani goes to preschool and Kara goes to daycare, and so they interact with kids who have toy weapons, make toy weapons, and even pretend to shoot with their finger if nothing else is available. I never played this way growing up, and neither did my brother or closest friends, but I can watch Peter Pan and see the boys playing with cardboard swords and understand the fun in it for some children.
In reality, Disney movies tend to have violence, and all too often that includes a weapon. Dani gets extremely upset by the villains in these movies. In the recent Rapunzel movie, she was nearly in tears when old Mother Gothel stabbed the hero with a dagger. This lead to a lot of discussion.
Our stance is to consistently tell the girls not to be mean, and especially not hurt other people in any way. I regularly explain that even pretending to hurt someone is not nice and could hurt their feelings. Whether with words or actions, the girls know that anything they do to hurt another person will have a significant and immediate punishment. And we tie all of it into discussions of our faith. But that is another topic for another day.