Dear Dr. Bill,
I recently heard a radio commentary in which Dr. James Dobson discussed letting “Boys Be Boys.” I’ve always been against toy guns for my son, but he pointed out that boys can make anything into a gun — their fingers, a peanut butter sandwich, whatever. So is it safe to let him play with toy guns or not? What do you think?
Little boys are naturally drawn to games like cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and playing with toy soldiers. It’s just the way they are wired. Play that centers on themes of right and wrong and good and evil actually shows that a child is developing a moral compass.
For years, some so-called “experts” in our culture have been attempting to “feminize” boys…trying to get parents and society to get them to act more like girls. These efforts are misguided, because God has wired boys to be more competitive, more action-oriented, and more aggressive than girls.
Toy guns can be a part of that play, and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with them. My brother and I played with toy guns when we were growing up, and neither of us ended up committing violent crimes or going to federal prison.
That being said, if play becomes dangerous, destructive, or mean-spirited, parents need to step in and administer swift and firm consequences.
Also, since today’s movies, TV shows, music, and video games can be incredibly violent, parents need to be diligent and act as responsible guardians of their children’s media experience.
So, when it comes to toy guns, I think a balanced approach is best. By the way, Dr. Dobson addresses this issue in detail in his best-selling book “Bringing Up Boys.”
Thanks for writing, Selena. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.
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