A peace-loving home

When I was cleaning out my basement the other day, I ran across one of my favorite toys from childhood:  a plastic army man on a parachute.  The kind that you throw up in the air, all bundled up, and the parachute billows out and helps him land gently by the time he reaches the ground.  Turned out I’d saved this guy all these years, and my kid is now just about old enough to really love playing with him.  Hooray!  Or … maybe not.

We committed long ago to being a gun-free home and a home in which even toy guns and other weapons would not be welcome.  But we didn’t plan on having two active little boys who like to make up stories and run around.  (Well, one at least, and another who will be ready to do so any day now.  Really!  At just over 4 months, Little Bear is 16 pounds and strong as a … well, a little bear.  He stands up holding on to our hands, sits up by himself, and lunges forward to try to play with Widget and the toddlers at playdate.  What a big baby he is!)

As much as I liked reading The Dangerous Book for Boys, I’m also committed to raising boys who are nice to play with.  You know what I mean:  kind to animals, gentle with babies, generous with peers… the kind of kid that will pick up a worm while gardening, but then place him gently back in the soil to wriggle away.

So how best can I raise this kind of gentle, but intellectually curious kid?

I think that a start is continuing our commitment to keeping toy guns and other weapons out of our home and out of our kids’ hands.  Violence begets violence, so why provide the tools?

And if we’re gun-free, shouldn’t we also be sword-free?  And light saber-free?  Pocket-knife free?

I thought so, and that’s the path that we’re on now.  But here’s where it gets tricky.  If I have a (mostly) TV-free home, and a gun-sword-and-weapon-free home, what’s left for a red-blooded preschooler to do? 

I want to encourage role-playing games, both indoors with figures and outdoors in wild, swashbuckling adventures.  But how do we introduce pirates without violence?  Even Richard Scarry’s story of “pie-rats” has pictures of the little guys with tiny swords and miniature guns hanging from their belts.  What about the Wild West?  Nope, those guys need guns or bows-and-arrows to hunt with, at the very least.  Star Wars?  Without pistols or light sabers?  Are you kidding?  Even a good alien yarn needs weapons or danger.

There are adventure stories like Tarzan, if I don’t mind my two year old trying to shimmy up trees and swing from ropes.  Or Robinson Caruso, as a vegetarian.  But really, what else is left?

Am I being overprotective? 

Do I really want to raise the “mediatot” who turns every game of War into a negotiation session?  Or the army “medic” who refuses to fight?  There are so many ways for kids to stand out as “different” in this world; I hate to add a burden to my kids’ social play.  But mostly, I’m not really sure it’s possible to raise kids today in both a TV-free and a gun-free home.

What do you think?

thinkingbaby

No pressure; it’s just my future we’re discussing.

11 Responses to A peace-loving home

  1. canape says:

    Grain of salt – non-mom weighing in here – but I love the idea of a peaceful home. I too have always assumed that there would be no gun play or violent games for my children.

    Then again, I look at myself and what I like to play on the xbox. I like to blow things up. I like to wreck cars. And my ps2? Let’s just not talk about the hijacking and shooting I’ve done there.

    You are right too, about it being nearly impossible to avoid. I hadn’t thought about pirates and aliens, Star Wars, even if you are going to learn about policemen, then guns come into the picture.

    I think there is probably a middle ground. Playing pirate is certainly different than playing Grand Theft Auto. I’ll be watching to see how you handle it, as you are my parenting handbook. No pressure though😉

  2. Ella says:

    I never wanted my children to have guns so they don’t but I have also found it hard to limit the other things. They have light sabres and swords and I honestly can’t now see that a gun would be any worse. I wish I could ban them all but all the other children (encouraged by the mothers!) seem to have them. And boys honestly seem to need that kind of play, although I think it is possible for them to be kind and gentle too. I have to remind them that they have guns/swords etc but the WAY they play with those things musn’t be violent.

    I’ll be interested to see how you manage with your boys and maybe I’ll have the courage to go weapon-free!

  3. Let me know what you figure out. With two girls and a boy, I am surprised at how, when in the right mood, my boy can make a weapon out of anything!!

    We have no TV and no toy weapons of any kind, but that doesn’t stop him. At his non-violent Montessori school, the boys are always getting in trouble for picking up wood chips from the playground to use as “guns.” The teachers throw them over the fence hoping that all gun-shaped wood chips will eventually disappear.

    I don’t think that will stop it though. It seems to be innate and I will be very interested to see what solutions you come up with!

  4. I agree ^o^ Toy guns are ugly for child’s development. Cheers…

  5. spacemom says:

    From a mom of girls, who like to “fight with swords”.
    I have found that humans tend to have aggression that they need to “get out” in destructive manners. When I am frustrated, I want to break something. The fact that I don’t means I am an adult who knows how to control my impulses. Kids don’t and sometimes need to get out the raw emotions that they experience.

    I have told the girls that guns are out. No way. And we have already had discussions on not touching a real gun even if a friend says it is safe (and to leave the room and go to an adult if the friend touches a real gun).

    But.. but.. kids will play fights and pretend guns and other things.

    I may just be confusing the matter, but it is what I have seen just by observation

  6. Stimey says:

    Yes, you can have a weapon-free home. Your child will know about them, or maybe even play with toy weapons elsewhere, and he may make sticks into guns, but you DO NOT have to allow them in your house. Remember, it’s YOUR house. Regardless of the decision, I personally think it is important to teach them about weapons in one way or another so they know about the dangers, functions, etc…

    This, of course, from a mom who actually told her 4-year-old the other day, “Leave your weapons in the car. They don’t go into restaurants with us.”

    We have swords and light sabers, but have drawn the line at guns more than an inch big–those Playmobil toys are positively swimming with tiny guns. (Except for water guns…what about those?) But they have a special stick that is always the gun. And my oldest tells me he wants to be a soldier so he can have a gun (shudder).

    It’s a tricky situation.

  7. Colloquium says:

    Carnival of Family Life

    Everybody likes to talk about their family, especially if you have kids. Sit down, have a cup of coffee and enjoy the informative, funny and inspiring stories, insights and observations offered by the many gifted writers participating in this week’s …

  8. Pilgrim Mom says:

    I relate. With 3 boys in the home I wasn’t able to hold on to the gun-free ideal for very long. Pilgrim Dad grew up playing toy soldiers and thought it would be fun for the boys as well.

    http://pilgrimparent.wordpress.com/2007/01/21/having-a-blast-with-simple-toys/

    And here in Singapore, all boys have to go through a mandatory 2 years of military service. War is a brutish but real part of human history. I don’t like it, but better that they learn about guns from Daddy and Mommy than TV!

  9. Hi there–first time reader here. Love your thoughtful post.

    As a blogging Dad, and parent of a daughter, I’m not fond of the idea of weapons as playthings. It’s a strange notion, unless we’re preparing our children for military duty and a military approach. Then it might make sense.

    I think it may come down to what is the function of playing with weapons. If we are trying to encourage aggressive “preparation play” then weapons play makes sense. If we’re trying to teach the proper use of weapons, then playing with them makes sense.

    Maybe if we stopped seeing weapons play as “play” and really as preparation and reinforcement, we might approach it differently.

    OK, so let’s imagine that we don’t support the manufacturers of toy weapons and we don’t encourage our kids to “play” with weapons–there might actually be a next generation that sees other solutions to conflict. Maybe?

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you for sharing!

  10. My thoughts are seldom popular on the topic. I think balance is always better than extremes. One day we realize that we can’t protect our children from everything and if we’ve never taught them or given them experience we may be putting them at a great disadvantage. I’m not advocating supporting all the things that I want my kids to avoid or be involved with, but I am saying it’s more important to me that they learn about it in my home under my supervision rather than out in the world under someone else’s. Finding that balance of exposure and control is highly personal and individual but it’s my belief that’s the best tool and help we can give our kids. We simply can’t let them live in a bubble because they can’t stay there when they’re grown.

    Hugs,
    Holly
    Here via the Carnival of Family Life🙂

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