I am a #boymom. I have two sons (ages 6 & 2). They play with cars, action figures, and plenty of other things I don’t understand. And they pretend sticks are guns and swords.
I didn’t teach them how to do that. They don’t watch violent TV shows or play video games. And THEY FIGURED IT OUT ANYWAY! How do they do that?!
Because this is normal boy behavior. (I’m not saying that girls can’t or shouldn’t play with toy guns…but boys have more testosterone, and tend to be faster, stronger, more competitive, and engage in more hands-on play. So, it is more common to see boys engaging in weapon play than girls.) Pretending a stick is a gun has nothing to do with exposure to real weapons or the way toys are marketed to boys vs. girls. And discouraging a boy from being his “stereotypical boy” self, by making him think that what he’s doing is unacceptable and “bad”, may contribute to developmental issues.
In today’s society, if a boy wants to dress up like a girl, we encourage that behavior because he’s “expressing himself” (and no, we’re not going to get into a debate on that here.) But, if he’s engaging in normal boy behavior, all of the sudden he’s going to grow up to be a horrible human being who is obsessed with violence. That’s ridiculous! When did it become a problem to be masculine?
I understand the concern with kids engaging in weapon play, especially with all of the issues surrounding gun control. (This is not the place for a debate on that, either.) It’s important to teach your children that guns can be upsetting to others, and we should respect those feelings. Also, never point a gun (even a Nerf gun) at something you don’t want to hurt or kill. I always encourage my boys to be the “good guys” who use their weapons to protect, and that there is a time and place for that (like maybe don’t pretend a pencil is a gun and “shoot” your friend at school.)
A boy and a good human can be synonymous. A child who is born biologically male, wants to be a boy, and likes wrestling and playing with weapons can, in fact, BE A GOOD KIND-HEARTED HUMAN! I know because I have a boy like that. He wrestles with his dad. He pretends sticks are swords. But, he hates to kill bugs. He gets upset when a friend gets hurt. He cries when a beloved pet dies. He worries that he won’t get married and have kids of his own some day. He takes care of other people before himself.
He’s learning to stand up for himself, and take care of himself in a world where you can’t always count on other people to save you. Someday, a real bad guy (and there ARE real bad guys out there) might try to hurt him or someone he cares about. And maybe the fact that I didn’t discourage him from weapon play or roughhousing will prevent him or someone he loves from being a victim.
Most boys (at least the ones with any shred of conscious in them) want to grow up to be the hero, not the villain.