Should Parents Allow Children To Play With Toys Guns?
This is a question I used to ask myself before I had children…before our son came along. When our son was a toddler, I decided I would not encourage him to have toy guns, but as he got older he made his own choices. Being an unschooling family means we respect our children’s right to explore their interests.
The day came when our son asked for his first gun – a Nerf Gun. I am sure many parents reading this will be acquainted with Nerf Guns. These guns actually fire bullets, soft spongy ones, but still bullets. As we drove our son to the store I felt a bit uneasy, but I took a deep breath and decided to trust our son’s own journey. He was excited as he surveyed the shelves, inspecting all the Nerf Guns available – there were many!
Two years on and all is just fine. Our son has not become violent or aggressive. He has recently developed an interest in the military, but he wants to explore the mechanics of the vehicles and ships rather than the guns. And he is only 9 yrs old, so won’t be enlisting any time soon. He is just a little boy playing soldiers, having fun and learning a lot along the way.
So, what have I learnt about boys and toy guns?
My husband reminded me that he was once a small boy who played with guns and army figures. Now, he works with orphaned children in Africa. My own brother also played with guns and light sabres when he was growing up. He now teaches science at a secondary school in New Zealand and believes in teaching children about protecting the planet and every living creature on it.
If I had said “No” to that first Nerf Gun, I would have been forcing my own beliefs and philosophy onto our son. I want our children to grow up knowing their own minds, not brain washed by me or anyone else. I want them to be able to make choices based on their own experiences, not on mine.
Our son is a gentle and kind person. He cares about other people’s feelings and gets upset if someone is hurt or sad. Often, as I pass his bedroom door, my arms full of folded washing, our son will look up from his iPad or latest Lego build and say, “Mum, I Love You!”. Sometimes I ask him “Why?” and he will reply, “Because you’re the best”. Hmmm….I think I can stop worrying about the gun thing now.