Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Who needs "please" when we've got guns?

As most professional moms do ... I juggle A LOT! I've added one more task to my plate these days and that is blogging for "Chicago Moms Blog". I love to write and I love blogging because I don't necessarily have to tell a story - I can be opinionated, personal and even weird if I want to. The Moms Blog fits well with my lifestyle ... I work at home and most of my day is spent balancing my work load, my kids' schedule, my family's demands and lastly my own personal needs. My new found interest revolves around anything that helps me make this world a better place for my children.

I recently had my friend (and professional photographer), Rachel Hanel take these photos of my beautiful children wearing political tee shirts for one of my clients. I took it a step further and created a political family portrait. (**please note, my husband says he is not a republican but also note that he supports Bush so what should we call him? let's blame it on his military upbringing and move on.)

Thus my new found political expression spawned my first blog entry to Chicago Moms Blog. Coupled with a toy gun Jazper received as a gift ... I felt the need to read about how other moms felt about violence and at the same time try and justify my "no guns" policy.


Ralphie: “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time.”

Mom: “You’ll shoot your eye out.”

We all know Ralphie Parker, the quintessential toy gun owner from “A Christmas Story”. In the world of hot parenting topics, boys and imaginary gunplay ranks at the top. And I became personally affected when my four year old was recently given the gift of a toy gun; which I politely rejected. Even though I don’t allow it, my boys will go to great lengths to make a gun out of anything: their finger, a stack of legos, even a sandwich. In a culture already filled with toy soldiers, armed pirates, violent video games and images of real war, I find it unnerving to see an innocent child pretending to kill someone. I keep asking myself if I’m giving it far more power by forbidding it.

I think children see guns and weapons as “hero worship” and along with that they also witness the power they possess. Rarely, if ever do we see the hero defeating the villain by “talking”, more often we see the hero defeating the villain with violence. Sadly, our children see that violence works. Violence is power. It becomes stylized and children are more likely to look at the violent solutions they see as a “real” alternative. How can we allow this natural boyish behavior of playing with guns and still educate them that violence is not an answer? How can we explain the difference between their pretend play and the fact that real violence can not be retracted?

My grandparents argue that imaginary games of cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers did not turn them into violent adults. This may be true, but as children “real” violence was not pumped into homes with quite the regularity it is now. So, it is a stance I take to not encourage gun play and violence. I will not provide toy guns for them nor will I allow them to receive them as gifts. But on the other hand, I can not forbid their creative methods either. I will continue my crusade to make it clear that I do not approve of play that involves hurting others, even if it is only pretend play.

**thanks to Jack Johnson for this post's title ... inspiring and empowering my want for non-violence, peace and change.