Parenting Photography

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20

52 Weeks of Brotherhood

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20

52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20

When asked the question, I would answer, “No, my kids will not play with guns.”

Guns scared me. So of course I ended up marrying a soldier, a hunter, a member of a special team. Something about God having a sense of humor or Alanis’ version of irony or what have you. My husband happens to be one of the most responsible gun owners I’ve ever met. I never fear the kids can break into the gun case. I can’t even make the combination work.

But still, I balked when an uncle bought the boys a Nerf gun as a birthday present. Guns are not toys. We do not play with guns.

But then every stick turned into a gun. Every fork. Every straw. Every piece of grass. We don’t let our boys watch anything overtly violent, but they saw Buzz Lightyear lasering everyone, and they lasered everyone. And then we wanted to have a water gun fight, because what else are you supposed to do during the hottest days of summer… and I started to drop the ban on guns. The discussion changed, the words we used changed, and Nerf guns entered our house. Along with pirate swords, because pirate swords are awesome. And lightsabers. And laser guns. And a giant battle axe, because my brother has a lot to learn about toys and kids and, oh, he’ll get his when their first baby arrives this summer. And even when those toys aren’t around, like when we’re traveling or at the beach, the shovel turns into a gun or a cannon or anything that can destroy a brother’s castle or the remnants of someone else’s castle from the night before.

I keep the conversation going. I keep talking about good choices and safety and respecting others’ personal space, about respecting other people in general. I remind them about the difference between imagination play and real life. And then I pick up a Nerf gun, dart through the yard, hide behind the tree and shoot for dear life.

Because they’re only this young once. They’re only going to play these games of imagination, of fighting the bad guys as a good guy team, for so long. Someday their battles won’t be so easily solved, won’t be made better by a lightsaber duel in the backyard on a school night. I keep the conversation going, because I feel it’s necessary for future reference, but I also give thanks for the simple joys of roughhousing and active play with brothers and a dad and a mom. (And a dog.)

7 replies on “52 Weeks of Brotherhood, Week 20”

I totally didn’t want my boys to have guns. And now I have three little(ish) boys, 1 big boy (DH) and many, many variations of toy guns. And I am okay with it, at least it opens the door to some important conversations.

My mom only ever let us have dinky little water guns, not even the Supersoakers other kids were starting to get. (Supersoakers came out when I was in junior high/high school.)

I won’t get any guns that even try to pretend to be real guns. I don’t mind the Nerf guns that are all technicolor. I’d get Jackson a Supersoaker if I thought he’d actually use it enough to justify the price tag. That said, he’s not really into guns. We have a light saber and a sword that get far, far more use than the two Nerf guns. In fact, the baby loves the light saber too.

I remember being very self righteous about gun toys before I had a kid of my own…. and now I too hide behind doors and take great pleasure in shooting him with a Nerf dart.


Important discussions are important. While your family has serious and reasonable conversations about the items in the gun cabinet, and how there is a distinct difference between fantasy and reality, not everyone does, and I believe it is every parent’s responsibility to teach their kids to recognize a firearm, and what to do when one is encountered.

Don’t touch.
Leave the room.
Tell an adult.

I had a gun loaded with blanks aimed at me in my early teen years. Thanks to my grandfather’s insistence that I learn about guns (despite my parents desire for a ‘no guns, period.’ household) I knew that this was a supremely dangerous situation and my butt was out of that house faster than you can blink. I was made fun of by the perpetrator and his friends, but thankfully I had the confidence that some ridicule was a small sacrifice to learn that these people had little respect for human life.

I say all this as a gun-owning father of two little girls, who know the above basics as soon as they can talk.

I was the same way!! No guns, no how! Then I opted for the education over ignorance view. If they know the danger and it isn’t a big no-no, they are less likely to be interpreted if they ever come in contact with a gun out of an adult’s supervision. It’s a damn scary world out there!

My husband is recently retired after 33 years with our national Police force. When our children were small, the rule in our house was that you did not touch Dad’s guns. Period. We reinforced that by letting our son play with the gun and holster set that he got from a friend (also a police “son”) at his birthday party. And, we did not touch his guns ever. If they needed to be picked up and put away we called him to do it. We figured that if we never touched his gun and holster, then he would not touch Dad’s. Fair play and all that. It worked so well that his little sister, who had no interest in any kind of gun, would not touch his either. My husbands guns were always safely locked up, and we provided a case and “lock” for our son’s toy guns too. Our son now belongs to a shooting club, along with our daughter’s boyfriend, and has said many times that he appreciates the conversations and lessons on gun safety he was taught his whole life.

Man oh man does this ring home. It is a conflict in my psyche as well. I am also married to a hunter. I was raised by a hunter. My brother is a hunter. GUNS are not toys, yet Teen once turned a teddy bear into a gun. Tot currently turns sticks into guns and “fires” or “shots” things (namely imaginary deer or imaginary bad guys). We also talk about it constantly. It’s even MORE confusing because his childcare has a “no gun play” policy, which I completely understand. We do have water guns and other sabers among the playthings at our house. Thanks for the reminder to just keep the conversation going.

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