There's been a lot of talk about gun laws and safety in the last month that has had me thinking. I have no idea how to approach the subject with my kids. I figured I had some time to mull it over, but as it turns out, something that my daughter said just last night has me scrambling for a plan.
Princess and my husband were playing and she wanted him to chase her. She said "I'm the bad guy and you have to shoot me with a gun." He and I both froze.
She's 4 and has very little exposure to adult topics like this. We don't even have water guns. Clearly she saw something somewhere that gave her this idea. We were caught so off guard that all we could say was that "guns are bad."
This response also surprised me because we support the right to own a firearm. We have rifles in our home from days when my husband like to hunt, but the kids have never seen them...we've never even talked about them.
I come from a long line of farmers and guns were present for hunting and protection. The adults simply made sure that they were kept safely away from children until they were old enough to learn the rules and how-to's. My grandfather was adamant that my brothers and I knowing how to shoot properly and were taught well before the age of 10. I can't say that I have held a gun since I was a kid though. I have thought that maybe I should refresh my skills just as a precaution.
My husband enjoys hunting, as does his father and friends. It has fallen to the way-side due to time and such, but that isn't to say that when time allows (and they are much older) he wouldn't want to take our kids on a hunting trip.
Guns scare me for obvious reasons, but what scares me more is a child coming across one and picking it up with no idea how or why it's used, or worse, thinking it is meant to be used on another human being out of anger and aggression. My only way to counter this fear is to be sure that my kids have an understanding of gun safety.
But at 3 and 4, I don't feel it is appropriate. I'm am at a loss as to what to tell my them.
I want to say " Guns can kill people. They aren't toys or something you pretend about. They are used as a way to hunt animals for food and to protect yourself in a dangerous situation." And if they were older I might say just that. But I don't want to tie this into scary things like home invasion and killing animals right now. My daughter is very sensitive, like me, and I know that those scenarios would haunt her.
Some say that I should not shield my children from the terrible things that happen in the world, that the sooner they have an understanding of it, the better.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
This time in there lives is meant to remain innocent, if not simply for the sake of saving them the fear we feel as adults, but to also allow them to grow and develop with a sense of safety, security and high self worth. If we impose things that will threaten this it will affect them for their entire lives.
So, what to do? Have you had to have this talk with your children? How did you approach it?
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