Kids and Toy Guns

What's your perspective on boys playing with plastic rifles and pistols and other make-believe firearms? I've always been against toy guns because I think they encourage a tendency toward violent behavior later in life. Some of my friends don't agree. What do you think?

Though the radical feminists don’t want us to believe it, males and females are different from one another in a number of profound and fundamental ways. These differences are basic to God’s plan for the human race, and they begin to emerge very early in childhood. To a certain extent, this is the issue that lies at the heart of your question.

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’re wired. When a child engages in play that centers around themes of right and wrong and good versus evil, his actions demonstrate that he’s in the process of developing an inward moral compass. For years the feminist movement has been attempting to “feminize” boys in other words, trying to influence parents and society to get boys to act more like girls. These efforts are misguided and foolish because, as indicated above, God has designed boys to be more competitive, more action-oriented, and more aggressive than girls. For the most part toy guns are simply a part of this kind of play.

Dr. James Dobson has addressed this topic several times, most notably in his best-selling book Bringing Up Boys (which is available via our Online Store). On one occasion he expressed his views on the subject in the following terms:

I’ll tell you what, you do have some things to worry about when dealing with young boys, but going ‘bang-bang’ with a gun is not one of them. I think we’ve turned this into a bigger problem than it really is. The violence occurring on school campuses today does not come from playing with toy guns. It comes out of anger, frustration, and a sense of rejection. It’s a response to bullying. It may reflect all kinds of things, but it most certainly does not come from giving a five-, six-, or seven-year-old a toy gun. In any case, if you don’t give your boy a gun, he will probably eat a peanut butter sandwich or a cucumber or a carrot into the shape of a gun and play with that. That’s because boys are fascinated with guns. There’s no emotion to it. The thought of killing has almost nothing to do with it. This is just the way boys are made. Their interest in guns is like their interest in trucks and footballs and every form of competition. It’s not something we need to spend a lot of time worrying about.

There can be exceptions to this rule, of course. If play becomes dangerous, destructive, or mean-spirited, parents need to step in and administer swift and firm consequences. This is a possibility which is actually becoming a more serious problem since today’s movies, TV shows, music, and video games can be incredibly violent. It goes without saying that mom and dad need to act as diligent and responsible guardians of their children’s media experiences.

If you have further questions about this issue or any of the other challenges you face as a parent, we hope you will feel free to call our Counseling staff.


Bringing Up Boys

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity & Femininity

Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood

Nurturing a Healthy Gender Identity in Your Child

Preparing the Next Generation of Men

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