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The one thing I was insistent about when my eldest was two was that there be no guns. Unlike the other kids, even water guns and the kind you make extending your thumb and pointing your finger were not allowed. My son is now five and guns have made their way into his play. He sees them in the cartoons he watches, on the news, other kids, comic books and the regular kind – Everywhere!

In hindsight, my decision to ban all gun play was irrational and harmful. Keeping my son from a “bad thing” did not prepare him for what to do when that “bad thing” was all around him. I’m jumping the gun here (pun intended), but how is he going to handle a situation where he is 15 and the kids around him are all smoking pot or just cigarettes? In hindsight, my banning the “bad thing” from his life left him unprepared to deal with other “bad things” later on. In my ban I destroyed any opportunities for “teachable moments.”

In hindsight, it was not so much the guns that bothered me. It was where he was pointing the weapon at that concerned me. I hate to sound like an NRA goon, but in this case it was “people that kill people,” not the gun. My ban on guns did not stop him from pointing his imaginary web shooters, iron palms, Ultraman ray (made by simply bending your arm in a 90 degree angle), etc. at the “evil” object or person.

There has been a lot written about little boys and aggression. Some years ago, my wife and I swore by a documentary we saw on PBS called Raising Cain. It addressed aggression issues in boys and talked about the “boy pysche” in the modern world. It made the claim that aggression was natural in boys and that ignoring it or suppressing it could be harmful.

When I read a recent Parental Advisory on Babble, it reminded me of my snap decision to ban gun play and being hit with the consequences of being wrong.

Guns and aggression are inevitable in the life of a 21st Century boy. I have lifted my unenforceable ban on gun play for my boys. I have replaced the ban with talks of proper gun play conduct and appropriateness.

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