I hate guns. Since my kids were born I have had a very strict no gun rule in my house (be it toy or otherwise). I have never bought toy guns for my kids, and have always asked family and friends not to give them as gifts. I simply don’t want them in my house, not even if they are only pretend. It’s frustrating when I get dismissive responses from people after hearing my feelings on the topic. An eye roll here, a snorting sound there… Occasionally someone will say something like “oh boys will be boys; if you don’t let them have toy guns, they’ll make guns out of anything they can find.” Why is it that people find it totally reasonable to question my ruling on this subject? My aversion toward guns is a strongly held conviction which I do not expect to disappear just because someone clucks her tongue at me.
I am disgusted by the fascination with violence and don’t understand why so many families, even ones with strict views against violent movies and games, so readily accept the prevalence of toy guns in their homes. Someone recently told me she didn’t think she wanted her 12-year-old to read or see The Hunger Games due to the violent themes in the story; however, this same child owns more than one toy gun, and this mother once gave a Nerf gun to my son as a gift. Am I the only one who sees a a disconnect between these policies?
But recently I have begun to reconsider my policy on the subject of toy guns. My son (now 13) asked me “why can’t I have a toy gun if I pay for it with my own money?” This is a regular argument in my house actually. “Why can’t I buy XYZ with my own money” is probably an argument I employed more than once in my own teenage years. Of course the ‘my house, my rules” counter-attack usually fends off these arguments with minimal tears and complaint, but honestly, at some point I need to be willing to let go a little with my kids. This has never been an easy task for me. My son is now 13 & my daughter will be 12 very soon herself, but my insides still clench up when they walk to their friends’ houses unaccompanied by an adult. At this point they are well beyond the ages when I should need to worry too much about the sort of games and toys they enjoy, right?
They play fantasy games like Magic: The Gathering, Bakugan, Beyblade, and Dungeons & Dragons but I have never been concerned this would lead to a fascination with the undead, trolls, etc. Nor have I any worry that they will try to become Jedi after watching Star Wars or run away to Hogwarts after reading Harry Potter. The difference of course is that all these things are make-believe and we all know it. Even if they wanted to learn how to cast spells like Harry Potter and his friends, no amount of wishing is going to make it happen. Guns, however, are very real. At these ages they surely understand the difference between a toy gun and a real one, so I shouldn’t be concerned that allowing them to play with Nerf guns would somehow translate to a fascination with real guns, should I?
I am torn between my own personal hatred of guns, and allowing my kids to grow up along with their friends. Am I the only person in the world who struggles with this subject? I would love to hear some feedback from other parents and caregivers; or anyone else for that matter. I’m not afraid to admit I’m a bit desperate for educated opinions from anyone other than my teenager.