20 answers

Guns - Westchester,IL

Ok, I know this is a hot topic. I don't want my son playing "guns" at such a young age (he is 3). I just don't think they can possibly understand the devastation guns can do, and someday I would like him to understand that. My son plays with a 6 year old neighbor a few times a week, who is REALLY into guns. He knows we don't play them at our house, but they play them at his house (because I cannot control what they do there). Can some of you give some insight as to how you've handled the issue? I've talked to my son and explained that I don't like guns, and I understand that his friend is allowed to play with them. For now, he accepts that, but I know a time will come when it will get more complicated.

Help!

Thanks,
T.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all of your input! I really appreciate it. I understand that boys play guns and grow up to live "normal" lives. I know most of us did this as kids. I also know we live in a different world today, and I want my child to take guns seriously. There may come a day when I will allow him to "play" guns, but I don't think 3 years old is the time. Not in my opinion.
Anyhow, I appreciate those of you that mentioned that I was not being consistent. You were right. I contacted the neighbor and asked if it were possible that they find other things to play when my son is at her house. I explained that I respect that her son plays with them, but asked that they play other things when my son is there. We will see what she says. I guess, as with all things, you have to trust what your gut tells you about the issues that affect your children.

Thanks to everyone.

Featured Answers

Am I the only one who does not think it is a big deal for boys to have toy guns??? I have never made a big deal about this and as a result they have pretty much NO interest in guns at all. They will phase in and out of playing with all of their nerf guns and they used to have a bunch of western guns they liked and they would also use their fingers as guns. But really no huge interest. I have to wonder if the kids of the moms who ban guns are more interested in them as a result...I bet that the answer is yes.

5 moms found this helpful

The rules for my boys are much like that of momofmany.
It seemed senseless in my house to say NO to guns when they all know that Daddy carries one for work. Daddy goes to war with a rifle and their big brother now has an excellent pistol qual on his own uniform. Guns are part of the military. That being said when they did play guns which my 9 year old still does, no shooting people, animals only if they are hunting, and bad guys if they are playing war.

4 moms found this helpful

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We are not anti-gun, but we are anti-violence and killing. :) Our children can play with toy guns, but in the context of noble things. They can hunt, they can protect, they can play war, they can take dominion. But, they cannot shoot innocents, women and girls, or just shoot 'em up for the thrill of it. If there is a clear bad guy who is doing harm, they can shoot. If someone is trying to hurt the girls, they can shoot. If they are in a war, they can shoot. If they are hungry, they can shoot the animal. Those sorts of things. I hope that makes sense. :)

7 moms found this helpful

Am I the only one who does not think it is a big deal for boys to have toy guns??? I have never made a big deal about this and as a result they have pretty much NO interest in guns at all. They will phase in and out of playing with all of their nerf guns and they used to have a bunch of western guns they liked and they would also use their fingers as guns. But really no huge interest. I have to wonder if the kids of the moms who ban guns are more interested in them as a result...I bet that the answer is yes.

5 moms found this helpful

The rules for my boys are much like that of momofmany.
It seemed senseless in my house to say NO to guns when they all know that Daddy carries one for work. Daddy goes to war with a rifle and their big brother now has an excellent pistol qual on his own uniform. Guns are part of the military. That being said when they did play guns which my 9 year old still does, no shooting people, animals only if they are hunting, and bad guys if they are playing war.

4 moms found this helpful

Boys love guns. I don't know if it's in their DNA or what, but they really do love their guns. I only have girls, but my cousins all have boys. They all have play guns in their houses, and I think one of my cousins' logic makes a lot of sense: if you forbid your child to play with something, it will only become more fascinating to them. You're better off allowing them to play with it as if it's just another toy, AND at the same time educating your child about the evils of playing with real guns, and what gun safety means. I was raised in a town where it seemed like all the men liked hunting and everyone (and I do mean everyone) had guns in their homes, and yet none of us grew up to be thugs. I think our parents talking to us all the time about gun safety (and knowing that our dads would unleash hell on us if we were ever caught playing with real guns) made us less fascinated with them.

4 moms found this helpful

Instances like this can be seen as an opporunity to teach a lesson. Teach him about proper gun safety and uses and of course how dangerous a gun can be when used improperly.

My 2 1/2 yr old son has a play rifle, but we are a hunting household. When he's 4, he will get his first real rifle. I haven't been through a hunter's safety course and my husband said he would like a refresher, so once our son it old enough to take the course, we're going to go through it together as a family.

4 moms found this helpful

This is a complicated question, isn't it?

My husband and I are both former military. While my husband has firearms in the home, they are under lock and key, stored with safety locks, and separate from the ammunition. I would love to get rid of all of them, personally. I have never seen a gun do a *good* thing, and as I'm a vegetarian, it's not part of our food-gathering (while I do understand and respect families who hunt for food, respectful of the animals that give their life so that they might eat).

In regard to my 3.5 year old son, he's in preschool and there is no gun play allowed there. Neither do I allow it in my preschool; if I have a child intent on "shooting", it has to be something goofy and we pretend we are squirting jelly, or whipped cream or something yummy and gooey. And we only aim at things, not animals or people.

I also agree with Laurie, that 3 and 6 is a big age difference. Play together will work if supervised, true, and being clear with the neighbor mom about your family's values is important ("we don't allow violent play, and this includes guns"). There are plenty of other things to do. If her son 'only' wants to play guns, maybe it's time to find new friends for your son.

Most of us have conflict from time to time in regard to parenting styles/family rules with other adults. I am clear with my son that living things are not for hurting, period. (This includes not stripping/destroying plants, as some of our neighbor kids are allowed to do.) I expect that, if my son is with a family that doesn't have this same regard for life, it's my job to make the better choice and either redirect the play or find some new playmates. This only very occasionally causes conflict in my own family as we have plenty of older boy cousins, but this value--regard for the life of other sentient beings-- matters deeply to me. If everyone agreed not to hurt other living creatures, imagine how much better the world will be.

3 moms found this helpful

Maybe a 3-year old shouldn't be 6-year old because there is an age gap between the two. 6-year olds play a certain way and 3-year olds have thei own age appropriate type of play. When my children were 3, I always stayed around to supervise their playdates so I always had a lot of control over what they were exposed to and what they were doing on those playdates. Of course, each mom handles things differently and has their own playdate set ups going on. This is just the way that I handled ours.

2 moms found this helpful

How about "You aren't allowed to play with that, no matter where you are. Next time Joey says to play guns with him, you need to tell him "My mom won't let me play with that.""

I remember that my parents allowed us to watch the Simpsons when we were in Middle school. Our friends were not allowed, so when they came over, we were not supposed to watch it with them. It's just respectful to the other parents and their wishes. In your situation - let the other mom know your issue with it. Are there not about a million other toys that the two boys could play with together?

2 moms found this helpful

ugh...boys! mine is 4 and yes, it has become unavoidable. i did a pretty good job until he went to preschool. grr! he knows i don't like them and he knows that distinction that when he plays, he plays "PRETEND" guns. mostly just "shooting" (and by "shooting" i mean pointing and going "pew pew pew!" or whatever) randomly in the air, or at imaginary "bad guys". the minute i catch him pointing his "guns" at a person and making a shooting noise i'm going to snatch him up! it's an impossible battle - but i think that each of us moms of boys does our best. my family has a lot of gun-totin rednecks (haha) in it, people i love and respect and whom my son is around a lot, and i have come to the conclusion that GUN SAFETY and RESPECT are just going to have to be my mantra. because NO WAY is ANY little boy going to make it to adulthood without playing guns. we still don't have any in the house, but we do have a buzz lightyear with a "laser", and similar toys (oh, did you know, according to my 4 year old, that all helicopters have guns on them?), not counting the empty paper towel rolls and random sticks, ALL GUNS. sheesh. good luck. i feel your pain!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear Barefootmama-

I have not read all of your responses...BUT...before kids I was VERY anti gun...Then...when NO guns (toys or other) were allowed in the house...and my eldest son (then maybe 4) BIT a 'hunk' from a piece of toast and 'aimed' it at his younger sibs saying "POW"...I decided to 'review' the bidding so to speak...

LOL
michele/cat

1 mom found this helpful

When we tried to prevent our boys from playing with toy guns by not getting them any, they went outside and made them out of sticks. They also make their own bows and arrows. We now have the same rules as Momofmany :D

1 mom found this helpful

You have to admit that boys will take ANYTHING and turn it into a gun, with or without parent consent and what is taught in the home.

And, I'm most impressed with my son's sound effects for all guns, machines, equipment, aliens, explosions, airplanes, space ships, etc.

This is a hot political debate with millions of people on both sides of the issue. I'm not even going to recommend what you teach in your home on this site for fear of hate mail.

1 mom found this helpful

I would just emphasize the safety aspect. We don't have any toy guns and I don't really like my kids playing guns, but I do have a real one. (A, singular, sadly, but hopefully someday will have more--it takes a while to get a handgun permit in NY.) Whether or not you have guns in your home, it is an important subject for children to have safety knowledge of. If you just remind your child that guns are NOT toys, and make some basic rules for "if," such as "play guns are only for shooting monsters," etc., it might help. Worst case, let the older child's parents know that this is not okay for you and if they cannot stop that kind of play when your son is over you can just host the play in your home. I do respect other people's preferences for cartoons and action-oriented play when they visit us here (we have play swords and watch He-Man and sometimes the old TMNT). I take the initiative and ask before kids come over because I know it is important to a lot of people. My son knows that mom's rifle is only for grown-ups, that guns are not toys, and that when he is grown up he might learn to shoot targets and go hunting, but that is all.

When my boys were little we had a no guns rule at our house. no toy guns, no water guns, no guns made out of legos, sticks, tinker toys or cheese slices lol. no guns. I was rigid on the point. And my boys were fine with it. When my oldest son hit about 10 he started talking about the military prep school for high school. (he was in catholic grade school and marmion was the boys high school) I was ecstatic. My son was gearing up for a great education yada yada.... in reality he was planning at 10 to be on the rifle team. He shared that part when he was in 8th grade lol. He did make the rifle team. And I was fine with it as he was old enough to learn how and what they were for. He did make the team and in fact went on to the junior Olympics where he got gold medals. He is in college now and shoots at a club. However us being vigilant about it when he was a child made sure he knew that guns were not toys. not to be played with in any form. Good for you for sticking to your beliefs.

You can't control what goes on at someone else's house, but you can control if your son goes there!

The best thing to do is be informed. Give your son information as well. Check out the NRA's Eddie Eagle Safety Program here: http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/
Here's some info for parents: http://www.nrahq.org/safety/eddie/infoparents.asp

You should explain to the other mom that you dont like it, ask her nicely to not allow your son to do it over there. Everyones different, there are things i dont do with other kids around that i would do with my daughter, because all kids are different. I happily bend to make someone else feel comfortable having their child over.

Hi T.. Here's what my sister-in-law told us when she was dealing with this issue with her son. (I had not yet had kids at this point.) Her son was obsessing over other kids' guns. He made a gun out of pizza slices, I swear. Anything that could be imagined to be a gun was used for 'pow- pow, bang-bang'. The preschool he attended, which was Quaker run, asked if she could have a friend or family member actually give him one so that he would stop trying to make them. She asked her brothers to help out because she didn't want to change her views in front of her son.

This actually helped. He knew his mom wouldn't give him any, and understood her feelings, but having one from an uncle took away some of the pressure. I ended up doing the same thing with my boys. But Star Wars types of "laser guns" that made all the noises and flashed lights were okay with me - and yes, they used them as pow-pow toys as well, but didn't "look" like guns. I think that helped with them not acting obsessively.

Little boys are like this, T.. It doesn't have to be too complicated. If you make too much of a deal out of it, it makes things worse in the long run.

Btw, my nephew is going to finish college at Stanford this year and go on to graduate school, and has no interest in guns at this age.

All my best,
D.

Tough one. I am not a big fan of guns. I really don't understand boys fascination with them. I have finally accepted that it is part of their make up. To continue to tell them guns are bad, at some point you are telling them that they are bad. My boys know I don't like guns because of the damage they do to people. Any toy guns they have can not look like real guns, must be bright colors. If he plays guns at someone else's house - that's hard. The mother tell her boys that they can't play guns while your son is there, but she can't guarentee it. Boys can make a gun out of their fingers and you can't take those away. At this point if I had a mother who said that she didn't want her son playing guns at my house, I would tell her I would try, but not guarantee it wouldn't happen. Maybe she shouldn't let her son come to my house.

At our house guns and swords may only used if you are playing with someone in a game context. You can only aim at someone else who has a weapon to defend themselves as well. This is a really important rule and was established when the first weapon appeared. IF it is broken then all weapons are confiscated all the children that come her to play know this. I have only had a problem when the boys out number the guns so then it is on to something else.
Enjoy the boys!
J.

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