Boys Will Be Boys? Or is it Something Bigger?

One Mom's struggle with allowing her child to pretend play cops and robbers, with guns, all while remaining politically correct in a world arguing over gun control.

There is a lot of talk and debate these-days about gun control. Some argue we need to remove military assault weapons from the hands of ordinary citizens, some argue for more stringent background checks, and others argue we should do nothing and that gun ownership is a right given to us by our own Constitution. No matter your stance, what creates gun violence? Where does it start? Is it a mental illness brought on by chemicals in ones own brain? Is it something deep rooted from childhood? We could speculate all day.

I have an almost five year old son and my son has been obsessed with all things police, military and Star Wars for a couple of years now. He loves to dress up and "play" cops, and with that comes handcuffs and guns. In almost all toy stores, dress up kits for boys contain things like handcuffs, body armor and yes, pretend guns. Even his favorite Star Wars characters have laser guns. I'm constantly "being shot" or pretending to be the bad guy getting arrested. My son, like other boys his age I know, have been pretending like this for decades. I remember my now 30 year old brother doing the same thing as a little boy. One thing we have had to instill in in him is that it's okay to play at home, but in these times, it is not okay to play like this in school. We worry about the perception of his teachers and others and often wonder how accepting they would be if our son, or any other child, brought his imagination to school and it turned into pretend gun play.  With policies being set from school districts, an innocent and forgetful child could easily use their hand or fingers to pretend to shoot a friend at recess, all in good fun, but unlike playground play of yesteryear, it comes with consequences.

A part of me wishes to take these toys away or try and redirect his play to something else when he chooses to play cops, but the other part of me, as a parent, and teacher, knows that it's not a 24/7 obsession and that there are plenty of other toys and exciting things my son can choose to do, when he is in the mood. I don't want to interfere with his own thoughts and imagination or make him feel that playing certain things is bad or not right. What message does that send to him or any other child?

As I write this, I wonder what brings on these interests and where do we cross the line? For us, we know that having a Poppie who is a police officer was a big influence. Also, I have watched many cartoons with my son, and we still have some of the same cartoons we had years ago. GI Joe, Star Wars, and other cartoons that show or depict action heroes with weapons, and yes, guns. Some say that spending years watching cartoons or shows that depict violence sends a message that using force or a weapon is the way to combat (pardon the pun) a situation one might be angry about.  Is watching these shows turning children into future offenders? No, at least I don't think so! What is the line of appropriate play for boys who will be boys?

In reality, people who grow up to be violent offenders usually have background history and indications of a life that may have contributed to mental distress or even mental illness. There are signs that are ignored. None of us are fortune tellers or able to predict the future, because if we were able to do that, the world would be a very different place. In the angry debate over gun control, and as a parent of a young boy who is growing up in these times, I have to ask myself and you, can we still let little boys be boys? Or do we have to keep them shut in when they act out their pretend missions and gun battles?

It's my hope that innocence can reign superior for little boys imaginations and that the violence that has ensued in this country can be squelched with not just new policies for gun control, but also will new awareness and watchful protection over those we feel have the capabilities of doing harm. I want my son (and future son due in just 10 weeks or so) to be able to play cops and robbers, cowboy, GI Joe or action hero and not feel like their pretend play is something that is taboo.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tia Durning January 18, 2013 at 03:03 PM
The media constantly reports and reminds us of tragic daily events, they are like a dog with a bone..I understand that's its important to make awareness of the gun issues but the constant attention apparently is not working and in the minds of the unstable, I feel and believe its adding fuel to a fire! Report it, discuss it and find a way to fix it instead of fixating on the tragic events....Any sugguestions that will end this madness.
Stacey Friedlander January 18, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Thanks for the comment Tia...I too believe that it's only more recently that we've begun to hear MORE and MORE in the media about gun violence. There are still so many we don't hear about...let's hope the new generation of law makers coming up the ranks, can help federal and state governments with solutions.
Karen Janes January 19, 2013 at 12:26 AM
Frankly, I did not know in which direction you were heading. Garrett was very similar to Jack. Today, he is employed at the Morris County 911 Dispatch Precinct with a double major in history and criminal justice from Rutgers. I could not be more proud of the patriot he is. Having said that, I grew up in a family of hunters, fishermen, and general outdoorsmen. We had compound bows and guns. I never saw them. More legislation and bigger government is NOT what this country needs. You can't control the "crazies." However, I believe, there are a lot of "red flags" that we turn a blind eye to.
Stacey Friedlander January 19, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Thanks for the comment Karen!!!! Yes, I totally agree - I really hope that Jack, just like Garrett, uses his imagination, guns or not, and turns into a real future career he believes in - he often says he wants to be a police man or secret agent! I don't know why, but often times now, we feel almost ashamed or pushed to judgement about his choices of pretend play. It's wrong to feel that way, but I believe it's society that has put this on us and brought this into the spotlight. I too grew up in a house with guns, but never saw them. I never once imagined that boys today would be looked at and scrutinized for their choice of play, with guns. What's next? Banning those toys?
Linda January 22, 2013 at 08:33 PM
I have to point out the second sentence, you refer to "remove military assault weapons from the hands of ordinary citizens". This is a huge misconception that has been force fed to the public, especially those who are uneducated about guns. Firearms for use by the military are able to shoot continuously with one pull of the trigger, machine-gun style. Civilian firearms, on the other hand, only allow one shot per trigger pull. The so called assault rifles (which the expired ban from 94 added even more confusion) which the media and politicians etc not at all familiar with guns refer to, are DESIGNED for CIVILIAN use. The cosmetic features that make them no more lethal. The demonized AR-15 can have many uses from competitive to defensive. Also, the weapon itself does not cause assault, only a person can do that. That can happen with knives, rocks, bombs, etc. It can also be referred to as a "defensive weapon".
Stacey Friedlander January 22, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Thanks for the info Linda, it's a good clarification, however, this entry is not about that, it's about the impact of the gun control debate on children and how it affects the imaginative play many boys participate in.
Linda January 22, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Well there should be none. There should be no effect and people should stop micromanaging normal child play and stifling their imaginations because od their own irrational fears. Both tha and Schools suspending young children for it are doing way more harm.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »