Jump to content

Would you let your son go to this party?


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#1 daviesjv

Posted 05 October 2010 - 02:25 PM

QUOTE
Am I being a helicopter parent? I’m not sure.

I have two boys, aged five and seven and my seven year old has just been invited to a birthday party for one of his classmates. The theme: “Wild West”. All well and good I thought – in my mind thinking along the lines of ‘Toy Story’.

But then at school today the Birthday-boy’s Mum starting telling me about all the preparations they’ve made, including the plan to transform their backyard into a battle zone, and a box of cap guns, spud shooters and water pistols for the boys to use. In other words, twelve small boys running around with guns for the afternoon.

The thing is though – our home has a very strict “no toy weapons” policy. Not just about not having them at home, but also not playing with them elsewhere, either. There are plenty of healthy, positive ways for kids to use up their energy without imitating violence. So my issue is – do I say: “Sorry, no, you can’t go to the party” or do I let him go, even though I know he will be doing something that we don’t allow at home? What would other parents do?

Kathleen.


Hi Kathleen,

Wow – that’s a real “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, isn’t it! It’s not something that I’ve ever had to deal with personally, so I have asked the advice of psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg.  Michael is a founding member of the National Centre Against Bullying. He is a columnist for Girlfriend Magazine, Australian Doctor and he is a regular on Radio 3AW.  This is his take on your situation:          

“It is certainly a vexed issue and it’s sad to think that there are families in 2010 who would be throwing that sort of party for their young children,” he says. “That said it is actually a great teaching situation for you and your son.”

Kathleen, Michael’s advice is to explain, not ban. “I definitely would not be banning your son from going to the party, because if all the kids in the class have been invited then it’s not worth risking his social alienation by not going,” he explains. “It is a good opportunity though to explain to your son that this is a values issue; that some families don’t mind their children playing violent games and that some families do. That doesn’t make families good or bad, it simply comes down to their personal values.”

That’s not a free-for-all invitation though; Michael stresses the importance of sticking to your own personal values no matter what the situation around you. “Give your child some strategies for participating in the games in a way that he can have fun, but without violent role playing,” says Michael. A peacekeeper role perhaps, or helping to set up the obstacle course? It could be a good opportunity for your son to learn how to say a confident “no, thanks”.

EB Readers: What would your strategy be in the same situation?


#2 coopersmum

Posted 06 October 2010 - 06:52 AM

We don't have a "gun free" house as being a military family guns have been something we have had to talk about since our children were very little. They know daddy has one when he goes overseas and uses one to train with at work.

What we have taught them is that like everything else in our world their is an appropriate time and place for "real" weapons of all sorts.
We have maybe 2 or 3 guns and i can honestly say they are like every other toy, played with for a couple days when they are "new" then relegated to the bottom of the toy-box when something else takes their attention.

I still don't really understand a complete ban on guns in a household. What are you worried it will teach them? It is no different to letting boys have matchbox cars and crashing them up or racing them up the hall, are we teaching them that as soon as they are old enough they can go and race a real car and crash it up??

I think we need to give kids more credit that they understand the boundaries we set, that is, its OK to play cops and robbers with toy guns but that will NOT be OK when you are 18!!

#3 3_for_me

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:18 AM

We are also a military family however despite this we do have a gun free policy in this house.  Guns are a serious thing and are not 'toys', they are used for hunting or when a horrible situation demands it, not as props at a childrens party.   We would probably organise a fabulous outing to do instead and decline under the pretence that we have other plans

#4 Pearson

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:25 AM

yep, i would allow it!

People kill people, not guns. - Flame me, I have put my fire proof suit on.



#5 Danielle20

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:25 AM

No way! We also have a no weapons policy in our home and My 4yo ds JUST learnt what they are called as we were at a birthday party and they had toy guns there he said mum look there's a pewing thing lolol. I would not allow my son to go to the party and if explain to him why of he gets upset

#6 Guest_missmeow_*

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:33 AM

My children are young so we haven't encountered this yet but I don't think I would allow them to attend. We don't have weapons as toys at home because they aren't toys & would not be happy to change my stance. I would take my children on a special outing so they were still doing something special.

edited for a typo

Edited by missmeow, 06 October 2010 - 07:33 AM.


#7 ironmanmum

Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:13 AM

This morning my two DSs (nearly 4, and 2.5yrs) were playing dragons with me (I was the dragon) and they were shooting me using rolled up placemats. Go figure. !

I thought i was against guns etc at an early age, but somehow it just happens, they use anything they can lay their hands on. And i too remember being at school and playing "cops and robbers" or "cowboys and Indians". (long before the eye rolling days of our current PC world)
I don't now, plan on shooting anyone, and have a healthy respect for what real guns can do.

I don't have an issue with it. Pretend is pretend.

IMM

#8 Buff Daddy

Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:16 AM

DW & I have not bought any weapon toys for DS.  There's no need, as he pretends to have weapons anyway!  Sticks, paper tubes, whatever his imagination let's hime see - all become guns or swords or cannons or rockets or missiles or.......

Buff   biggrin.gif

#9 FormallyMe

Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:26 AM

...

Edited by OneProudMum, 01 January 2011 - 10:42 PM.


#10 ballogo

Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:44 AM

QUOTE (coopersmum @ 06/10/2010, 07:52 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I still don't really understand a complete ban on guns in a household. What are you worried it will teach them? It is no different to letting boys have matchbox cars and crashing them up or racing them up the hall, are we teaching them that as soon as they are old enough they can go and race a real car and crash it up??

I think we need to give kids more credit that they understand the boundaries we set, that is, its OK to play cops and robbers with toy guns but that will NOT be OK when you are 18!!


The reason we have a ban on play guns or even play shooting each other, is that guns are weapons designed to kill or maim.  Cars have many other purposes, and sure the kids will play at crashing them, but as you said, we give children the credit and they learn how use cars responsibly when they get older.  We want to teach our children to play nice, so I tell my children (and students in my class when they "shoot" each other across the room) that killing is not nice, so why would we play it?  I'm so conservative that we don't even have play swords.  I'm not naiive enough to believe that my children won't be exposed to them or play with them elsewhere, or mime play them with their hands - although my children don't watch TV shows or play computer games which involve any type of violence.

QUOTE (3_for_me @ 06/10/2010, 08:18 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We are also a military family however despite this we do have a gun free policy in this house. Guns are a serious thing and are not 'toys', they are used for hunting or when a horrible situation demands it, not as props at a childrens party. We would probably organise a fabulous outing to do instead and decline under the pretence that we have other plans


I agree with 3_for_me - guns are a serious thing and used for hunting or some horrible situation.  They are not toys, we don't want our children to learn to kill and hurt each other.  I would either talk to my son about the party and guide him towards a decision or we would have some other activity on that day that he would probably prefer to attend.

#11 Musicveg

Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:56 AM

cool.gif Mmmm.....well as a freaked out vegan animal loving green enviromentally sustainable friendly person i would normally be against letting my son go....but its not my party is it? I have found its easier to let kids make their own choices with this sort of thing if he wants to go let him and let him have some fun...they don't look at it the same way as we do they are only happy with noise,success of hitting a target and laughing with friends. All i say keep informing why you don't approve of toy guns and leave it at that. Afterall the teasing he is likely to get at school if he doesn't go because of the reason for not going, is likely to leave him more damaged emotionally then anything else which given the research is more likely to lead to self abuse or abuse of others as a grown adult...go figure. And yes i find it very sad that people would choose this theme for a party....there are much better choices available, so show them by example and hold a counteracting party where they will question your choice,a nice enviromentally friendly green organic vegetarian animal loving party!!Peace to all! grin.gif

#12 fivelaughs

Posted 06 October 2010 - 12:08 PM

http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2010/...un-control.html


This blog post helped me get some perspective on the issue. Her feelings mirror mine.

#13 sandi1

Posted 06 October 2010 - 12:08 PM

I think the debate is, not if you allow guns or not, but given the original situation where the family beliefs are already set, should the child be allowed to go to the party?

I think I disagree with Michael's suggestion that the child be sent to the party, but told to take a stand and  not to participate in the violent aspects. Quite frankly, I think he is too young to be faced with this level of peer pressure. It would be too much to ask of a child to set up the obstacle course instead of participating.

I would do what another reader suggested and provide a great alternative. I would explain why he is not going, tell him about the alternative plans we have made, then leave it up to him to decide what he tells his friends about his reasons for not going.

#14 engineerk

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:41 PM

Is say let him go.  It is a play activity, but at least you know and have some control over where he learnt about guns and can trust the people running the party.  Boys just learn stuff, like how to make fluffing noises by putting your hand under your armpit and pumping up and down, even if there is no male role model in the house to teach them.  Same with the guns.  He is going to pick it up and probably play it at school.  I played "cops and robbers" too, and I have no desire to shoot someone.

#15 3_for_me

Posted 06 October 2010 - 07:47 PM

QUOTE
I don't have an issue with it. Pretend is pretend.


I don't know about you but when I played cops and robbers as a kid we used our fingers to make a gun or a stick or something to that effect.  Today I was watching the little boys who live down the street playing with their toy guns, they were a full sized sub machine gun and a full sized assault rifle.  Now I don't know about you but that's a pretty big leap for me from pretending a roll up placemat is a laser or a gun.

#16 sophia7

Posted 07 October 2010 - 09:40 AM

I wouldn't let my little girls go to a stripper-themed party or let them play at being slaughterhouse workers - why is a party featuring guns any different?

There's appropriate modeling of adult behaviour... in my book, toy guns are not appropriate.

They are way too serious. Sometimes adults have to do serious or mature things that are not appropriate for innocent young children to imitate.

Organise an alternate activity.




#17 mnsr621

Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:03 PM

I think it is strange for someone to have a gun themed party these days, my boys do have toy guns but i wouldn't force them on others and respect that some families choose not to have them in their house.  What i dont understand is water guns,  I had water guns as a little girl, they are never going to kill anyone, can i ask why people have a problem with them?



#18 kotchiornok

Posted 07 October 2010 - 07:21 PM

We are meant to be a "weapon free" family, although DS got given a cap gun for his birthday (why would you give this to someone's child without asking first??) which I am hoping to remove as soon as he takes his eye of it.

I think there is a difference between kids playing with toy guns and kids pretending to play with toy guns using sticks or their fingers etc. A stick can be anything - one minute it is a gun, but the next it is a magic wand, or a walking stick or an umbrella. When you buy a child a toy gun there is not much else they can do with it except play shooting people. It sits there, in the toy box or on the shelf as a constant invitation to play violent games. All kids might play make believe with a stick or their hands occasionally (which doesn't mean you can't tell them you don't approve) but as soon as their mind wanders elsewhere and the game moves on the stick goes back to being just a stick and they can forget about it. A toy gun is constantly suggesting violent games to them.

A for the party though, I probably would let me son go, because it would be hard for him to be the only one left out. I also wouldn't expect him to "peace-keep" or organize obstacle courses - I think that is frankly a bit ambitious at that age. I would, however, tell him I didn't like the idea of the party and why. He already knows our family disproves of this sort of thing and one afternoon of being exposed to a different view is probably not going to weaken the message that is being passed on at home.

Of course, if he didn't want to go to the party (and that is possible, but unlikely) he would be welcome to stay home. But I wouldn't be organizing other out of the ordinary activities to tempt him. This only sends the message "playing with guns is so fun that we've decided to offer you an outing to X to tempt you away from it because we don't approve".

Edited by kotchiornok, 08 October 2010 - 12:54 PM.


#19 tootsieaus

Posted 08 October 2010 - 01:52 PM

My son is only 4 months old so I guess I will have to face a similar situation in the future. It seems young boys are drawn to toy guns and shooting (my 9 year old nephew has liked playing with them for some time) and, like I have read in some replies, "cowboys and indians" and "cops and robbers" are very old role play games that I think even our grandparents were playing.
I wonder if using your hand or non gun item to simulate shooting is any different to using a toy gun?
I am still undecided about whether I would let my son own toy guns but I certainly wouldn't keep him from going to a party. I intend to delay the introduction of soft drink for as long as possible and I am sure my son will be invited to parties where there is soft drink. I will just be sure that my son understands our rules.

#20 cuddlymumof4

Posted 08 October 2010 - 07:18 PM

We are also a no gun/violence household & if my boy was given an invite to a party like that i would make other plans for the day & just tell the family, sorry we already had other plans.

Am sure this would not effect him as there are lots of kids that get invited to parties but can't go for this same reason or other reasons too.

#21 mummamia02

Posted 09 October 2010 - 07:38 AM

I agree with Michael Carr-Gregg (fantastic mind, I have heard him speak, he is very knowledgable on these issues).  Being a kindy teacher, I see the effects of media violence every day.  I agree with a previous poster, it is very different today to what it was when we were kids, the media is much more violent, and realistic, not only on TV, but computer games, internet etc.  Our children are surrounded by it.  
The thing that bothers me, is not the toy guns so much, but the actual behaviour associated.  I have seen children role play quite violent situations (now this is at kindy, where a child may pick up a stick and use it as a gun,), and it's like the violent tv shows and computer games are taking over their minds.
I have even done a research assignment on this issue, and I found that children who watched a lot violent cartoons (Ben 10, transformers, spiderman movies etc) and played violent playstation games were definitely more aggressive in their play and often had social problems with other children.
THe children that weren't exposed to these types of media, were much more interested in their environment and were more creative, and played a lot more peacefully!

Just my thoughts, which is why I don't allow my son to have guns either.

#22 mumandboys

Posted 09 October 2010 - 07:44 AM

Yes my sons would be allowed to go to that party.

We started out with a strict no guns policy, only to discover that anything can be a gun - a stick, a peg, your hand....

My boys discovered fighting games without my encouragement.  It's part of who they are, and they enjoy it.

I agree with the PP who said "people kill, not guns".

My boys would love that party!!

#23 lisengingee

Posted 09 October 2010 - 09:20 AM

i laughed alot at this blog!  Especially at the peacekeeper suggestion - I see future UN role for junior! btw he'll need to learn french/spanish.  The thing is, junior isn't getting to choose and therefore learn about saying 'no'. mum is saying it for him, which is fine of course, I'm just saying I don't think it teaches him anything. Plus I don't see what the big deal is.



#24 fivelaughs

Posted 10 October 2010 - 03:05 PM

QUOTE (lis @ 09/10/2010, 07:38 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have even done a research assignment on this issue, and I found that children who watched a lot violent cartoons (Ben 10, transformers, spiderman movies etc) and played violent playstation games were definitely more aggressive in their play and often had social problems with other children.
THe children that weren't exposed to these types of media, were much more interested in their environment and were more creative, and played a lot more peacefully!



By "I found" do you mean you actually conducted a controlled, research study on a large, diverse group of children on the effects of violent cartoons on the children's behaviour, or did you just hit up JSTOR and get corroborating articles for your argument?

#25 Kapoochin

Posted 10 October 2010 - 03:08 PM

Absolutely I would let my son go, that's my sons idea of party heaven!

In my experience, boys especially will turn any toy into a toy gun or any other weapon. My son is very much interested in war and all that it entails and has very good historical knowledge of WW2 and current situation in Middle East. He is 8, almost 9. To him it's not just about shooting someone and going bang bang you're dead, it's the strategic planning that goes into a battle that he loves.

And I agree, its people that kill, not guns. War games don't have to be bad, my son has learned alot about why wars have started etc and the horrible things that humans are capable of and how these can be avoided in the future. I feel it can be strong learning opportunity.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

 
 
Advertisement
 

Top 5 Viewed Articles

 
Advertisement
 
 
 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.