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May 02, 2005

Comments

Martha

Amy,

I have 2 sons, 5 and 7. They own no toy guns, watch very little tv (ours lives upstairs in the closet), etc. They have been totally sword/knight/pirate obsessed for YEARS. For All Saints Day, they have only chosen to dress up as St. George or St. Martin (since both carry swords). I thought all little boys were like this. I have a friend with an older boy who explained to me "We can't get rid of this obsession, so we try to channel it into protecting the innocent, and defending the good."

really -- they're not all this way??

lw

Our boys (4 & 7) are both "weapon" obsessed despite our prohibiting toy guns and toy knives and our sensitivity to the television that they are allowed to watch. I'll never forget when, despite all of this carefulness, that the younger one took a bite out of the side of a saltine cracker, held it in his hand like a pistol, and said . . . "I bang you Nicky!!"

My husband and I looked at each other and said . . . "Where did that come from?"

Patrick Sweeney

"Deus Vult", Amy.

Brigid

Amy, you sound like me two years ago. Exactly. My 6 1/2 year-old son is still into swords and fighting and such and it's now gone to Star Wars with lasers.. ugh. I dread the release of the new movie.

I have learned to just ignore him when he's into "swording and gunning." Oh yeah, he will discover the power of the gun, whether it's a stick or a tinker toy or a finger. I found it was an attention-getting device AND it was, dare I say, "forbidden fruit." I have made it very clear that guns are NOT toys and I will never buy him one, similar to what my mother did. The more I ignore (and at times it was worse around me because he knew it bothered me the most) the less "into" swording and gunning and fighting he has become.

I also went the historical route: we have pirate sets, viking sets, army sets, roman soldier sets and Star Wars lego sets. He spent two hours on Saturday putting together an entire battle scene with all these sets. It was quite creative but, alas, a bit disturbing to his peace-mongering mother.

I pray he gets into West Point or the Air Force Academy...

Zhou De-Ming

Dear Amy,

Ever since I first read on your blog, "I sword you!", I have loved it, and I remember you all and pray for your (and Joseph).

Have you considered signing him up for children's kendo, or maybe European fencing, when he gets to 6 years old? He might have a natural talent here, or he might decide that "I sword you!" is just too much work.

Woodeene

I, too, gave up trying to keep a son from finding weapons since everything--from toast to legos--was a new source. So I decided that he could have guns and swords but only those that didn't bear any resemblance to those he might encounter in reality. Knights or Star Wars only. It was a compromise, but sometimes compromises are the stuff of sanity.

Ambrose

At least it has some honor to it, the I sword you thing. Mine is inexplicably into MONSTER TRUCKS!!!!!!

Leslie

When my son was small (birth to about five years old), we didn't own a TV. We homeschooled in Yellow Springs, OH, the home of Antioch College, perhaps one of the most politically correct places in the country. He would eat his sandwiches into the shape of guns and shoot his friends with them. He's now 14, and I just returned yesterday from parents' weekend at Culver Academy, where he is a member of the drill team, an exhibition rifle squad. After the exhibition, which included setting off cannons, he took me up to his room, where he demonstrated some of the trickier techniques with the 10 pound rifle he keeps in a corner. The best I could do was to plead, "Not near the window, sweetie!"

He's also a fencer. Zhou's suggestion above was great. Fencing is an honorable, elegant, and intellectually stimulating sport. It also gives weapon-obsessed young men a real respect for sharp objects.

amy

Oh Leslie....how funny. I have thought about marital arts or something....And the suggestion about channelling for good - defending the weak, etc..is good, too.

but right now we're working on "Not around the baby, please!"

Nguoi Dang Chay

What's wrong with guns and swords?

I think parents should promote healthy views toward weapons rather than try to deny their existence. When they get old enough, put em through an NRA safety class for kids (Eddie Eagle says if you see a gun, Don't touch it, tell the nearest adult, etc).

But that Crusader idea is a really good one! I'll have to get that for my nephew, whose mother won't let him read Curious George or Each Peach Pear Plum because of the drinking, smoking, violence, yadda yadda yadda.

Leslie

Definitely not near the baby. "Swording" the baby would be a very bad idea! Martial arts is a very good one, though. In addition to the aspects of it that appeal to kids, it also teaches respect of others and self-control. And children as young as Joseph are welcome to begin.

Zhou De-Ming

Hey Amy, it looks like the "Hoffman" school in Fort Wayne has a kids program.

You could get your little swordster some training ("Don't sword your baby brother!"), and maybe a target to sword at home.

p.s. martial arts skills can be useful in married life. my wife has me punch through boards to make raw materials for her artworks--she paints on them. and i'm real good at breaking down boxes for the trash, or lifting heavy objects with good ergonomics.

Disclaimer: don't know nothing about the school, no financil interest; never even set foot in Indiana.

Dan

It's a small world, Zhou. The fellow who sits in the cube next to mine in my corporate life is the father of the owner of the Hoffmann school. They come from Quaker blood. :)

Cheryl

I have two sisters (no brothers) and gave birth to two daughters before my son (now five) was born. I had no frame of reference, as they say, for the "guy thing" with the weapons. Talk about a losing battle. Anything is fair game. All of the rolls of wrapping paper in the house have been trashed from swordplay.

I'll never let a toy AK-47 in the house, but we do have a Star Wars-style battery-operated light saber, which has been a huge hit, as is a collapsible type saber toy.

Roz

I don't know, but there's something about discouraging young boys from play fighting that makes me uncomfortable. I want young men to have a gallant desire to take off after the bad guys and protect what's good. I think it's part of what God wants men to do (figuratively, of course, when it's not appropriate for it to be literal). That doesn't translate into swordplay around the baby though, that's true.

George Will once wrote that if you give a young boy a rubber ducky, he will hold it upside down by the neck and yell "Bang, bang!" I think the man's right.

Julia A

Each year there is a big medieval festival at the park in our neighborhood. It includes demonstrations of various weapons, as well as a big joust at the end of the day. The playgrounds in the neighborhood are rife with little boys fighting with their swords or sticks for weeks afterwords. What has saved us many a bruise is a constant stream of comment along the lines of, "Wow, they must have practiced a long time to learn how to NOT hurt each other!"

Julia A

Tim F.

It's those un-PC Knights of Columbus with their swords. My now five year old asked when he was 3, where are the pirates? Ever since I joined (I'm only 3rd degree, 4th gets the hats,capes, and swords) my kids have been asking when I well get my sword and pirate hat.

My son has the lightsaber that turns from blue to red and makes authentic lightsaber noises.
Cooooooool!!!

Anna Domini

We have 4 boys ranging in age from 9 1/2 to 3 1/2; swords and light sabers are a major fact of life in our house. One thing I have observed from the boys play is that they VERY rarely intentionally hurt each other with the toy swords, and when it does happen the boys sense of justice and fair play is deeply affronted. I watch them race into the "forest" (i.e., the maple stand at the back of the garden), dressed in all manner of capes, hockey equipment, toy armour, and they roar and shout and yell instructions at each other and I thank God for boys in all their boyishness. We also have a wonderful girl who holds her own in our very LOUD household. Two things: the boys love the BBC version of Prince Caspian on video, and they will sit through Shakespeare's Henry V (1990 Kenneth Brannagh) over and over again. The St. Crispian Day speech (before the battle of Agincourt) makes me weep every single time. Also, three of the boys have a deep love for chess. They take part in chess championships and as I watch all those guys play chess (a few girls, but not many), I think there is a connection between "swording" and the intricate battles which take place on the chess board.

Danielle

Click here to read a piece I wrote describing my take on the whole "boys and weapons" dilemma.

Toni

We never allowed our three older sons to have toy weapons. They seemed okay with it, I guess, until we succumbed and purchased a gun and holster set for son #4 who insisted on using his fingers, crackers, anything he could make into a gun. When two of the older boys saw the play guns on CHristmas morning, their faces lit up and they grabbed them and had a shootout between the living and dining rooms. These guys were in their mid-teens, mind you.

Who knew they had been so deprived?

Toni

We never allowed our three older sons to have toy weapons. They seemed okay with it, I guess, until we succumbed and purchased a gun and holster set for son #4 who insisted on using his fingers, crackers, anything he could make into a gun. When two of the older boys saw the play guns on CHristmas morning, their faces lit up and they grabbed them and had a shootout between the living and dining rooms. Who knew they had been so deprived?

Father Ethan

My favorite toy was the plastic M-16 my dad bought for me when I was a kid. My brother and I had the whole set: camos, helmets, boots, knives, pistols, and the M-16s. We had wars with the other boys in the neighborhood. My brother was a very good sniper. He could hide anywhere.

There is a reason why we had all these things. We came from several generations of U.S. Military (and Confederate) tradition. My dad is a retired Naval Captain. My brother became a Marine.

I think it is important for young boys to know about these things, however, I believe parents are the primary educators of their children and they should decide whether or not they should have plastic guns. Whatever you decide, of course, is appropiate.

Eileen R

I think you all would enjoy Saki's The Toys of Peace I think. A very funny little short story on this exact topic.

"We must try," interrupted his sister; "you are coming down to us at Easter, and you always bring the boys some toys, so that will be an excellent opportunity for you to inaugurate the new experiment. Go about in the shops and buy any little toys and models that have special bearing on civilian life in its more peaceful aspects. Of course you must explain the toys to the children and interest them in the new idea. I regret to say that the 'Siege of Adrianople' toy, that their Aunt Susan sent them, didn't need any explanation; they knew all the uniforms and flags, and even the names of the respective commanders, and when I heard them one day using what seemed to be the most objectionable language they said it was Bulgarian words of command; of course it may have been, but at any rate I took the toy away from them. Now I shall expect your Easter gifts to give quite a new impulse and direction to the children's minds; Eric is not eleven yet, and Bertie is only nine-and-a-half, so they are really at a most impressionable age."

Catherine


Those kids sound perfectly healthy to me. In fact, the ones I would worry about are the parents who are upset that their kids are not hewing to the politically correct party line.

Recall the movie SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON? Peter Pan?

What would be wrong if they grow up playing with make believe weapons? In what way does that lead them astray? In a world where Christians have for centuries had to resort to the sword, what then is the basis for those trying to pretend that the sword has no place in their lives. The kids are closer to reality, than their parents. It is REALLY the parents who are playing make believe, hoping that by "banishing" and "prohibiting" they are shielding their kids from a fallen world where violence obtains.

My grandchildren love Harry Potter. The oldest knew that Draco was bad, and whenever he appeared on the screen, he would say: "Draco Malfoy, you're not my friend!" And he would say it with a resolution that betrayed it came from his very soul. Now the boy is 6, and he loves to play computer games. Whenever he gets a new game, one of the first questions out of his mouth is: "Who are the good guys, who do we want to win?"

Already the boy is making a MORAL distinction, he doesn't know it of course. But he is already separating the wheat from the chaff, the saved from the damned.

An over concern with boys playing with weapons is part of the baggage of the '60s. Previous generations, who attended church far more than ours, and were not as morally clueless as ours, were not fixated on whether little kids were playing with weapons. Little Winston Churchill had a toy soldier set of over 5,000 strong. Complete with cannon, lancers, dragoons, hussars, infantry. This antagonism towards all things military, is ENTIRELY a modern fad. And like most modern fads, it ought to be jettisoned.

What would be wrong if the kid is fascinated with Knights, and later aspires to become a knight of the sky, a fighter pilot?

As our world embraces radical secularism, and opens the way for a reemergince of the neo-pagan, violence is going to become more prevailent. That's why scripture describes those times, where Christianity yields to apostasy, as days of "wars, and rumours of wars."

Catherine


Those kids sound perfectly healthy to me. In fact, the ones I would worry about are the parents who are upset that their kids are not hewing to the politically correct party line.

Recall the movie SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON? Peter Pan?

What would be wrong if they grow up playing with make believe weapons? In what way does that lead them astray? In a world where Christians have for centuries had to resort to the sword, what then is the basis for those trying to pretend that the sword has no place in their lives. The kids are closer to reality, than their parents. It is REALLY the parents who are playing make believe, hoping that by "banishing" and "prohibiting" they are shielding their kids from a fallen world where violence obtains.

My grandchildren love Harry Potter. The oldest knew that Draco was bad, and whenever he appeared on the screen, he would say: "Draco Malfoy, you're not my friend!" And he would say it with a resolution that betrayed it came from his very soul. Now the boy is 6, and he loves to play computer games. Whenever he gets a new game, one of the first questions out of his mouth is: "Who are the good guys, who do we want to win?"

Already the boy is making a MORAL distinction, he doesn't know it of course. But he is already separating the wheat from the chaff, the saved from the damned.

An over concern with boys playing with weapons is part of the baggage of the '60s. Previous generations, who attended church far more than ours, and were not as morally clueless as ours, were not fixated on whether little kids were playing with weapons. Little Winston Churchill had a toy soldier set of over 5,000 strong. Complete with cannon, lancers, dragoons, hussars, infantry. This antagonism towards all things military, is ENTIRELY a modern fad. And like most modern fads, it ought to be jettisoned.

What would be wrong if the kid is fascinated with Knights, and later aspires to become a knight of the sky, a fighter pilot?

As our world embraces radical secularism, and opens the way for a reemergince of the neo-pagan, violence is going to become more prevailent. That's why scripture describes those times, where Christianity yields to apostasy, as days of "wars, and rumours of wars."

Catherine

"Toys of peace" ????????????

Now THAT is really the ULTIMATE in make believe.

St. Michael is always represented as carrying a sword. Now if a sword is required in the hereafter, what role do you think it is going to have here, in this world soaked with the blood of the innocent.

This faux horror about kids playing with weapons is just more evidence, if any were needed, of the extent to which pretentious liberalism has infected the West.

And it's NOT motivated by a genuine Christian ethos, but by the modern currents of political and cultural liberalism.

ANYTHING that the modern liberal advances, ought, for that very reason, be subjected to strict scrutiny.

Over the last 40 years, ask yourself what have they gotten right.

annabenedetti

Having raised three boys into teenagers and adults, I have to put in my two cents.

The boys have always had toy weapons of all kinds: rubber knives and daggers, cowboy-style cap guns, rifles, swords, light sabers, you name it.

They ran around in constumes appropriate to the weapon for years and years and had a blast - they knew the difference between real and make-believe, and never intentionally inflicted "real" injury, although the inevitable was bound to happen from time to time.

They never grew into bullies and never got into fights at school.

There is a dangerous amount of feminization of boys going on these days. Boys grow up to be men, not metrosexuals. Viva la difference!

amy

Those of you clucking at anti-gun parents might want to check your tone. Or not. I don't care. You're coming close to insulting other posters on this board.

Violence is real. You may or may not know it, but there's a substantial element of youth culture that glamorizes violence - in ways that are rather unprecedented. There is a way to channel this aggressiveness, as noted here, by taking it into space, keeping it historically-oriented, etc. But I really don't see how you can blame parents who are wary of the violent pop culture that's out there and want to do all they can to discourage their kids from buying into it at any level.

B Knotts

I have been shot with a magnetic number "7" by my two & 3/4-year-old (a while back...when he was probably closer to two).

This is a boy that does not watch a great deal of television, and at least to that point, mostly watched The Wiggles.

I wonder what little boys did before guns were invented. There seems to be a genetic need for firearm-like objects.

On another topic, I showed him a card we got of the Holy Father from our parish, and he correctly identified him as the "Poke." (that's what he calls the Pope).

I asked him what the Pope does, and he initially replied, "he do the robot." (he likes that Geico commercial)

Asked again, he correctly informed me that "he say the Amen."

Zhou De-Ming

Dear B Knotts, you asked, "I wonder what little boys did before guns were invented."
They played swords.
Before swords were invented, they threw rocks.
Hmmmm....reminds me of David and Goliath.

Now a sling-shot is a thing that most mothers should prohibit, in my opinion!

On the topic of violence and children, how many have seen the great Korean Buddhist film "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring?" It begins with a little boy monk, looking to be about five, tormenting little animals--a frog, a snake, a turtle (this is from memory). His master observes this cruelty, and, while the boy is sleeping, ties a rock to him. He does not like it, and cries. Master explains that those animals which he died to rocks in the forest also do not like it, and he should release them. Unfortunately, some had died. Thus begins the theme of karmic retribution that runs through the entire film.

Boys need their "fighting/killing" energies and interest trained to be used in virtuous ways, in ways that may, eventually, train their character even accept self-sacrifice, not in ways that will damage themselves or others. Learning about suffering and self-sacrifice is also good prepartion for marriage, thinking of those other threads today.

Mike Petrik

I agree with Zhou's last post. 100%.
I also agree with Amy that there is no place for insulting those with whom we disagree, but I honestly must have missed those posts.

Leslie

Zhou,

That movie is wonderful. More people should know about it, and now more do.

Therese Z

My dad was a policeman, and we had REAL handguns around the house. My parents did some smart things:

1. My brother could have all the guns he wanted and could sword and gun any which way (this was the 60's, also), BUT none of those guns looked very real.

2. We knew where my dad's guns were, although they were really hard to reach, and I think they weren't loaded and the safeties were on. We were impressed with the fact that they were for police work, and maybe we could be police when we were older. But no touching, or they would KNOW.

3. Here's the important one: when each of us turned about 7, my dad took us to the firing range, let us hold his big-ass service revolver and, without explanation, bracing us from behind, let us shoot at a target. We were blown back into him by the recoil and scared to DEATH.

That third one is what I remember, with respect.

Zhou De-Ming

Hi Therese,

My dad was a gangster. Sort of like a policeman, but "unofficial."

I, too, grew up around real guns, loaded with real bullets. I really can't remember when I started firing a real gun, but I must have been really, really young. Of course, I preferred small caliber weapons as a child, .22 or .45 Didn't much care for shotguns, as a double barrel 12 guage knocked me on my little butt.

Dad was packing under his coat the first time my wife met him, and she almost called off our wedding. But I explained that I gave up my life of junior thugdom when I had my conversion experience at 17, and I have no interest in guns.

But I still enjoys swords and sticks and unarmed fighting. Its so much more personal that way.

Donald R. McClarey

When I was growing up my favorite game was war. We would gather together 20 or so boys in the neighborhood, divide up into two fire teams, and manuevere around the block staging ambushes, assaults on machine gun positions, defending against imaginary planes, tanks, etc. This of course was when the old Combat show was first being broadcast and we were emulating the squad tactics we watched on that show. Many a summer day it kept a lot of boys between 8 and 12 out of mischief and getting a lot of exercise outdoors. The mothers tended to be bemused by our antics, while the dads, often World War II and Korean War veterans, thought it was good fun and would often yell out advice. They were also quite good about explaining the differences between playing war and real war, which they emphasized was a dirty, dangerous business. I thought then, and still do today, that it was a harmless way to work off a lot of pent-up energy.

Sydney Carton

I grew up with three other brothers and no sisters. We all played with star wars lightsabers and had snowball fights. We also played war with our neighbors, and had lots of fun. Cops and Robbers, GI Joe, toy wars with Lego spacemen, and Transformers - it was great fun.

Of course, then there's the computer games. My brother just got done playing "Call of Duty." I like strategic games like Civilization 3, and the Star Wars flight simulator games like Xwing Alliance, or Xwing v. Tie Fighter.

I think that boys need a healthy respect for weapons and need to understand that it's not a weapon which may be bad, but the person holding it. I was in boy scouts and had a pocket knife, and a carving knife, and used knives for cooking. I never once considered them scary or special or anything other than mere tools. I also fired rifles while in the scouts and a bow & arrow (I sucked at both).

When I was in middle school, the local drug gang robbed me and stuck a knife in my face. My next door neighbor also did that once. Later, when I was a senior in high school, as I was walking home one of the new freshmen (imported from the inner city of Trenton) pulled what looked like a 9mm gun on me to impress his friends. He waved it in my face and ran off. I never once thought that the problem was the weapon. I always thought the problem was with the person.

I fired a handgun for the first time 2 years ago, when a friend of mine invited me to the range. I shot his AR-15, and 2 of his handguns (one was a BIG 45 calibur). It was really fun.

Zhou De-Ming

Hmmmm....computer games are outside of my experience. Heck, I took a whole summer course on slide rule in high school, and was required to use slide rule in college science classes (calculators were not permitted). I have no idea how violent computer games affect boys, becuase they never have the "real" feelings of getting smacked in play, or smacking another real friend (accidentally), or shooting a real gun (both the sensation of the recoil, and the understanding of the impacts). When you see what a .22 round does to a lizard, for example, or a frog, your understand that you don't point that thing at a person. I'm not sure such lessons are learned from computer games.

Marjorie

I've always admired warrior boys, and the mothers who teach them how to use this great gift of courage and aggression in service of God ... just as we teach our girls how to employ their beauty within God's plan. The image of the warrior boy always brings to mind one of my favorite prayers.


Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Amen.

Sydney Carton

Zhou,

I've played Doom 3, which is a VERY violent computer game. But in that game, you're shooting at zombies and demons. I've also played 1st person war games, such as Wolfenstein, Jedi Knight, and others, where the target is a "person." Those games are certainly not for kids, no matter what. And teens and adults treat them as they are: just games. It's no different, in my mind, when a knight "takes" another knight in chess.

Robert Wooten

Zhou,

That movie (Spring etc.) you mentioned is just one of the many great movies from the that director, includes 3 Iron and the Isle. From what I understand the director is a Catholic. I am not sure if this is certain but I have heard it mentioned in discussions about him.

Andrea Harris

Apropos of nothing, when I was a kid my sister and I had cap guns, which used strips with dots of something similar to whatever is on match heads to make a loud "bang!" and a bit of spark and smoke. We'd play cowboys and indians -- since she was really an Indian (we were both adopted, my sister was from Wisconsin and mostly Menominee, I was just white whatever) she always got "killed," which made her scream and complain. We were like the most unPC house ever.

In any case, play violence and wanting to "sword" and "gun" and everything at a certain age seems to be natural to boys. They have a lot more energy than most girls, in general (despite my fun with toy guns my favorite activity was sitting in a corner reading, away from my more tomboy sister), and it disturbs me to see more and more people simply drugging their sons up for what looks to be normal boy behavior. (Which I am sure that no one on this blog does unless it really is needed.) Maybe what I thought was normal boy behavior of other boys years ago -- I had no brothers, this was observing neighbors and classmates -- was actually ADHD, what do I know. Still, I find it disturbing. I wonder if what is happening, or has happened, is that our increasingly complex society has less and less place for normal human behavior, and males, since they tend to be louder and more physical and have more noticeable -- as in outward-directed -- egos than women aren't getting it in the teeth first. In a way, that way, they are still "protecting" the female, but women aren't getting much better on their end. I see women, on the other hand, getting pushed into being more "masculine" (not really, but I have no better way of saying it right now) -- that is, having to be more outward-directed, ego-driven, and physically available than most women are capable of handling.

Bleh, excuse my rambling thoughts. All I can say is, maybe the solution isn't to avoid all violent tv but to avoid it altogether; I can tell you I deliberately quit watching the box in the mid-seventies, when I was in junior high, with the excuse that my sister's taste in tv was so awful that I couldn't bear it. (Love Boat, Happy Days, The Dukes of Hazzard... Anyway, it so affected me that to this day I can't simply sit down and watch hours and hours of tv like other people can -- I can hardly watch it at all. I don't know that it's made me a nicer person, though.

Zhou De-Ming

Dear Robert,

Thank you! I did know that Kim Ki-Duk was Catholic. Now I do.

A devout Catholic _ Kim at one point in his life seriously considered priesthood _ the director says the film in part was driven by his relationship between his own religious values and the culture around him.

``All Koreans have lived surrounded by Buddhism and Buddhist culture is the foundation, which we acknowledge and accept,’’ he says.

And though the changing of the seasons in the film is to show the life of one monk, Kim says it reflects the cycle of life in general.

``If we were able to remember life’s lesson from spring we wouldn’t repeat them,’’ Kim says, ``but like winter which rots away the leaves and freezes over everything, like the seasons’ patterns, our patterns in life will make us forget and repeat our past mistakes.

``This is not only a Buddhist idea but one of the facts of life.’’

Ref.

Kim has a philosophy and fine arts background and a Catholic upbringing which shows in this story about sin, absolution and redemption. The movie [Samaritan Girl] should make Kim a strong candidate for a Silver Bear at the upcoming Berlin Film Festival.
Ref.

Interesting.

frank sales

My boys, 5 and 6, have a small armoury that, like most of their toys, will go unoticed for weeks at a time. They are also constantly wrestling which they both enjoy immensely although it often ends in tears.

I think my comfort level with all of this comes from the fact that I grew up the same way and, examining myself as honestly as possible, a tendency to violence is not among my many faults. What I may have, from all the rough and tumble, is a latent capacity for violence, which I don't think is an intrinsically bad thing, although not that useful for lawyer.

Rachel

The St. Michael Prayer is one of our faves, too, Marjorie (we have four boys, ages 3-8). I'm always intrigued watching the boys thrust the sword as they pray..."DEFEND us in the battle, be our SAFEGUARD against the WICKEDNESS..." wielding their weapons with every word.

One book I read that helped me understand the nature of boys (big and small) is Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge. It talks about the need for a man/boy to have a battle to fight, a beauty to defend, an adventure to live. Reading it has helped me understand a little better my world (i.e. a husband and four sons).

On another note, being raised by peace-lovin' hippies, I too have issues with guns. When the boys started using everything as a gun (pretzel sticks, fingers, etc), I taught them to shoot only at the bad guys feet. Then my friend who is married to a police officer told us police shoot to kill, not maim. It reminded me that knowledge is power -- we talk about the dangers/seriousness of guns and how the police use them to get bad guys.

Fortunately, right now light sabers are the weapon du jour.

MelanieS

"I want young men to have a gallant desire to take off after the bad guys and protect what's good. I think it's part of what God wants men to do"

Roz,
Your comment made me think of last night's lesson with our confirmation class at our parish. We were reading Genesis and looking at the story of the fall. What was Adam's big fault? He didn't step in to protect his bride from the serpent. He just stood by while she took the fruit and ate it. He didn't lay down his life to protect her. What did Christ do to repair Adam's sin? He lay down his life for his bride, the Church.

Yes, I think protecting the innocent is definitely in God's plan for men.

(though I also heartily agree with Amy's aversion to violence.)

On the martial arts note, my sister, not my brothers, took martial arts classes and they were one of the best things to happen to her. She was always the awkward kid, always picked on. After she took classes her whole demeanor changed.

Sandra Miesel

I loved to play cowboys and Indians as a kid. My teddy bears were knights armed with pearl-handled manicure tools. My "lady" doll was a Valkyrie. And of course I had a sword that my father carved out of wood for me. Now my adult daughters own swords. It isn't just the boys who like non-contemporary adventure play.

Sherry Weddell

I'm a twin and my partner in conception was a boy. We marched through life in unison until we reach puberty. We had his and hers home-made wooden swords at 5, as well as GI Joes, fishing poles, bikes, and tonsilectomies. We even "went forward" on the same night of the same revival in the same in the same little Baptist Church and were baptized that evening together.

Anyway, aside from pushing my brother through a plate glass window once (by accident, of course after he had whacked me with a golf club on a careless backswing and knocked out a tooth!) I seem to have escaped my sword-bearing warrior Queen youth with no noticable tendency toward violence. For that matter, so has my brother, which is mighty good thing since he stands 6'8" and has massive shoulders and hands to match.

ambrose

Dear Amy:
For the second time today--
Amen, sister.

Father Ethan

Do you think "war movies" are bad for 12, 13, 14 year old boys?

pw

Not like you need me to tell you that you're a good enough parent - (because no one is perfect) - but I like your idea, and I admire your patience with the little one. Just wanted to give you a congrats and two points for creativity in refocusing the energy - again not like you need it from me.

Andrea Harris

Just an observation: "aversion to violence" doesn't really mean anything. I mean yeah, I'm averse to violence when I'm eating my lunch or working at my desk or shopping... but there are times when violence is necessary. I think the problem we have today (she spaketh grandly) is that kids aren't really taught to channel and discipline their violent impulses, they are (in general) simply taught to suppress them, that they are in and of themselves "bad." Thus, kids aren't taught basic gun use and safety as a normal part of their upbringing -- instead, guns are "bad" across the board, unless you are a policeman or a soldier or... but most middle class kids at least (warning: this is a general, sweeping statement) see gun-wielding policemen or soldiers only on television or in the movies, and the violence is both ratcheted up and cleaned up for entertainment purposes... But their criminal or enemy opponents also have guns, engage in violence, and we also get to see/hear their point of view along with the heroes. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but when so many tv shows and movies glorify the criminal or enemy by making him glamorous, or victimized by circumstance, or both, I don't wonder that kids are getting a very confused and mixed up message from all sides.

Jeanne Schmelzer

Not to fear. I had a son who was shooting it up with everything he could get his hands on, even the broom. What I did was tell him about good and evil later in teen years so he could understand what he was fighting. Now he's a medical ethicist.

Dan M

It's pretty safe to say, that the kids of those who post on this website, are not vulnerible to the siren song of pop culture violence. Simply because it is not the message getting preached in their home, or allowed to enter their home, Those that are vulnerible however, are quaintly referred to as members of the "inner city." How helpfull!

The lead post referred to knights, and the discussion broadened out to vikings, pirates and soldiers. Introducing rap and pop violence into the equation alters the discussion.

How is the fixation of rap gangsters with guns, and their groupies with drive bys, somehow involved in kids who are playing at being knights? Answer, they're not. Pop culture violence is a problem, and a huge one at that. But the answer to that problem is not prohibiting little kids playing with their swords, or playing at war. The answer to pop culture violence is the fierce denunciation of its misoyginism, its glorification of criminality, its degradation of the King's English, and its fascination with all things gang, thug and punk related.

Knights were bound by the duties of chivalry. Modern pop culture violence scorns chivalry.

It's not the weapon that kills, but all those things that emerge from man to make him unclean. In the old west, there was a sharp and known distinction between the gunman, and the gunfighter. The former was a brute, a thug, a killer. Whereas the latter was respected, necessary, and accepted.

Wyatt Earp was a gunfighter, for instance.

This demarcation has been lost to the modern mind, infected with liberalism. Even those that are NOT liberals, are not immune to its influences.
Violence cannot be wished away, and these little boys, who are playing at violence now, may be the ones upon whom all our lives, our liberty and our honour ride, in those momentous confrontations between men and nations. Catholic parents who have boys need to make sure they raise them to fulfill their duties as men and citizens, and for the Catholic, that rules out Conscientious objector status. Ours is a fighting faith, we do not glorify pacifism.

ZHAO is right about the computer games. They are different than playing with swords outside, because of the level of MENTAL involvement in the action. Shooting a human target is conditioning you for the real thing. Shooting a lot of human targets, is providing you with A LOT of conditioning for the real thing.

The military now has recruits train on lifelike targets, instead of the old bullseye. Previous war studies on the number of soldiers who ACTUALLY kill their enemies surprisingly revealed that many soldiers shoot their weapons, but did so in a manner that almost made sure they didn't hit anybody. There is a book out titled ON KILLING, which is very informative on the issue. This reluctance to shoot to kill frequently manifested itself in firing squads, which were sometimes notorious for bullets hitting everything BUT vital areas. This led to the creation of the coup de grace, which was usually the actually killing shot.

To solve the problem of not all soldiers actually trying to kill their enemy, the American military started training with lifelike targets, to condition the men to actually aim at a human like figure, and be comfortable pulling the trigger.

Recent reports from Iraq indicate the new training succeeded magnificiently. Ollie North reported following a Marine unit, in the wake of their advance, and along the sides of the road were many enemy dead, most of which were head shots.

Our guys are not just ready to kill, but highly accurate as well.

My nephews don't play shooter games. They are under 6.

I would be careful about the amount of time spent on shooter games. Flight simulation is different, as are strategy games, like Total Rome. But shooter games, are very much like those used by our military, and the military is doing its best to make men killers, {for their own good of course, a soldier that can't kill, is a soldier apt to be killed}.

Dan M

It's pretty safe to say, that the kids of those who post on this website, are not vulnerible to the siren song of pop culture violence. Simply because it is not the message getting preached in their home, or allowed to enter their home, Those that are vulnerible however, are quaintly referred to as members of the "inner city." How helpfull!

The lead post referred to knights, and the discussion broadened out to vikings, pirates and soldiers. Introducing rap and pop violence into the equation alters the discussion.

How is the fixation of rap gangsters with guns, and their groupies with drive bys, somehow involved in kids who are playing at being knights? Answer, they're not. Pop culture violence is a problem, and a huge one at that. But the answer to that problem is not prohibiting little kids playing with their swords, or playing at war. The answer to pop culture violence is the fierce denunciation of its misoyginism, its glorification of criminality, its degradation of the King's English, and its fascination with all things gang, thug and punk related.

Knights were bound by the duties of chivalry. Modern pop culture violence scorns chivalry.

It's not the weapon that kills, but all those things that emerge from man to make him unclean. In the old west, there was a sharp and known distinction between the gunman, and the gunfighter. The former was a brute, a thug, a killer. Whereas the latter was respected, necessary, and accepted.

Wyatt Earp was a gunfighter, for instance.

This demarcation has been lost to the modern mind, infected with liberalism. Even those that are NOT liberals, are not immune to its influences.
Violence cannot be wished away, and these little boys, who are playing at violence now, may be the ones upon whom all our lives, our liberty and our honour ride, in those momentous confrontations between men and nations. Catholic parents who have boys need to make sure they raise them to fulfill their duties as men and citizens, and for the Catholic, that rules out Conscientious objector status. Ours is a fighting faith, we do not glorify pacifism.

ZHAO is right about the computer games. They are different than playing with swords outside, because of the level of MENTAL involvement in the action. Shooting a human target is conditioning you for the real thing. Shooting a lot of human targets, is providing you with A LOT of conditioning for the real thing.

The military now has recruits train on lifelike targets, instead of the old bullseye. Previous war studies on the number of soldiers who ACTUALLY kill their enemies surprisingly revealed that many soldiers shoot their weapons, but did so in a manner that almost made sure they didn't hit anybody. There is a book out titled ON KILLING, which is very informative on the issue. This reluctance to shoot to kill frequently manifested itself in firing squads, which were sometimes notorious for bullets hitting everything BUT vital areas. This led to the creation of the coup de grace, which was usually the actually killing shot.

To solve the problem of not all soldiers actually trying to kill their enemy, the American military started training with lifelike targets, to condition the men to actually aim at a human like figure, and be comfortable pulling the trigger.

Recent reports from Iraq indicate the new training succeeded magnificiently. Ollie North reported following a Marine unit, in the wake of their advance, and along the sides of the road were many enemy dead, most of which were head shots.

Our guys are not just ready to kill, but highly accurate as well.

My nephews don't play shooter games. They are under 6.

I would be careful about the amount of time spent on shooter games. Flight simulation is different, as are strategy games, like Total Rome. But shooter games, are very much like those used by our military, and the military is doing its best to make men killers, {for their own good of course, a soldier that can't kill, is a soldier apt to be killed}.

Dan M

Father Ethan raised a very interesting question.

I would answer with other questions.

Do you think it is "bad" for priests to be trained in exorcism, to be taught to be able to identify the signs of possession?

Is it bad for teenagers to view footage of the Concentration camps, when being instructed on the Holacaust?

Is it bad for kids to watch war movies? Is it bad for kids to be educated in history? How can they possibly savour their freedom, in the absence of a rough knowledge of all that was sacrificed to procure and long maintain that freedom?

Recall St. Paul, where he admonishes the Faithful to be mindful at what "cost" their salvation was "purchased." It was "purchased" by the precious blood of the Savior. Was it bad for teenagers to watch the Passion of the Christ, knowing how graphic that Passion was? Doesn't the genuine brutality of the visual imagery drive deeper the message of our Christian Faith. To wit, that one man became sin, to absolve us of all of ours.

Kids today desperately need to be jolted out of their modern complacency, by a robust and visual examination of what it cost other men to procure their liberty. And the fact that it was MEN in battle, and not women casts a healthy light upon this other modern error, gender blending. I haven't met a woman who could hold her own in a bar room brawl. But we are now supposed to believe that modern times have effected some change in the nature, mentality and physique of women. This bit of nonsense too, many will suffer for. Wait and watch.

A movie like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, works wonders at instilling a proper, healthy and very seemly devotion to this country.

The Israelis have a line fed to their recruits: "Know what you are fighting for, and love what you know." American kids need a greater DEPTH of knowledge about WHAT this country is, what it has done, what it has meant for the cause of liberty.

And they need to cherish the sacrifice of men who climbed down the cargo netting, as they prepared to hit the beach. They need to try to put themselves in the aircraft heading for the drop zones. Kids need to ask themselves if they would have held firm at Little Round Top.

Since the resurrection of Christ, the best thing that happend to man was the creation of the United States. Kids need to be taught that, and war movies and documentaries are DEFINITELY a part of that education.

Dan M

Father Ethan raised a very interesting question.

I would answer with other questions.

Do you think it is "bad" for priests to be trained in exorcism, to be taught to be able to identify the signs of possession?

Is it bad for teenagers to view footage of the Concentration camps, when being instructed on the Holacaust?

Is it bad for kids to watch war movies? Is it bad for kids to be educated in history? How can they possibly savour their freedom, in the absence of a rough knowledge of all that was sacrificed to procure and long maintain that freedom?

Recall St. Paul, where he admonishes the Faithful to be mindful at what "cost" their salvation was "purchased." It was "purchased" by the precious blood of the Savior. Was it bad for teenagers to watch the Passion of the Christ, knowing how graphic that Passion was? Doesn't the genuine brutality of the visual imagery drive deeper the message of our Christian Faith. To wit, that one man became sin, to absolve us of all of ours.

Kids today desperately need to be jolted out of their modern complacency, by a robust and visual examination of what it cost other men to procure their liberty. And the fact that it was MEN in battle, and not women casts a healthy light upon this other modern error, gender blending. I haven't met a woman who could hold her own in a bar room brawl. But we are now supposed to believe that modern times have effected some change in the nature, mentality and physique of women. This bit of nonsense too, many will suffer for. Wait and watch.

A movie like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, works wonders at instilling a proper, healthy and very seemly devotion to this country.

The Israelis have a line fed to their recruits: "Know what you are fighting for, and love what you know." American kids need a greater DEPTH of knowledge about WHAT this country is, what it has done, what it has meant for the cause of liberty.

And they need to cherish the sacrifice of men who climbed down the cargo netting, as they prepared to hit the beach. They need to try to put themselves in the aircraft heading for the drop zones. Kids need to ask themselves if they would have held firm at Little Round Top.

Since the resurrection of Christ, the best thing that happend to man was the creation of the United States. Kids need to be taught that, and war movies and documentaries are DEFINITELY a part of that education.

Dan M

I don't know why the posts are repeated.

tom

Sometimes I think every mother secretly wants her son to be a mamma's boy. It is truly frightening to hear obviously caring mothers in this thread obsessing over the fact that boys like weapons. 'oh no, I tried everything...' For the sake of your sons I hope each one of you wakes up and decides to let little boys be boys (NOTE: boys are NOT girls. train them to act like girls and they usually a)don't and end up driving you crazy or b) end up liking other boys).
Please, for your sons' sake, let them learn how to camp and shoot in the boy scouts. Let them play sports, including football. Let them stand up for themself if someone attacks them. And in short, let them develop a normal, healthy, MALE self confidence that comes from ACTING LIKE A MALE.

Cheryl

I honestly think a lot of this involves good old common sense on the part of parents. It's clear my Kindergarten son is wired differently from his sisters and has a need to engage in play battles of one kind or another. For the most part, I'm not going to rain on his parade. He can have his light sabers and have fun, but the things I can and do control are the violent TV, video games, etc. I know it when I see it.

Someone mentioned toy wooden swords. We got one at at local Renaissance festival and my son has loved it ever since (he was a knight last Halloween). Honestly, it was the only redeeming part of the Renaissance fest, which was our first and last. Turned out to be a mostly bizarre mix of new agey, pagan vendors with some jousting thrown in (of course my son loved the jousting part :-)

Brigid

Wow! Great food for thought here... Here are some of my further thoughts.

In one of the many posts above, someone mentioned that this "sword and gun" obsession is really about the age-old question about good vs. evil. I would very much agree..

My six-year-old this morning informed me (with no prompting from me) that there's a "good God and a bad God" and that the "bad guys" worship the "bad God." This led to an interesting discussion about the devil and Satan and evil here on earth. The first time I have ever had a discussion about the devil or Satan with him. It was really quite amazing how much he understood.

I have no problems discussing evil and sin and good and bad with my son BUT I do have a problem with the extreme violence found in many of the toys and games in the aisles of Toys R Us. I totally AVOID those aisles when with my son. I really fight the violent video game culture. You would be SHOCKED at the violent video games many parents allow their children to play with in the basements of their homes...I challenge the parents who "grew up with this stuff" to look at what is marketed to children today. It's a struggle that my husband and I have vowed we will fight because we believe it does contribute to aggressive behavior. Children need constructive outlets for any sort of aggression they possess. Constructive.

AND, I have no problems "teaching him" about "battles and wars." [Of course, I often hum "I ain't gonna study war no more.." while doing it but that's another discussion...] We also encourage him to play all sorts of sports (although football won't happen until he's 10). He climbs trees, rides a bike and he plays a great game of chess with his grandpa who lives near us. Grandpa fought in WWII and still has his uniform and has filled our 6-year-old in about his "army days." This child is NOT being raised without some sort of understanding about war. You can't avoid the topic since the U.S. invaded Iraq!

It truly is a challenge and, as with most things in the world of parenting, BALANCE is what is needed.

My main point to Amy was I found that a total prohibition or frustration with it by me, his MOM, seemed to FUEL a fire in my son to want more of it: a "forbidden fruit" in a sense.

I have found that walking out of the room and removing myself when he is "swording and gunning" allows me to communicate "don't do this around me."

Just trying to give her some advice for "swording and gunning" around the new baby.

God bless us all as we raise our sons in this NEW and DIFFERENT culture of violence and war...

(Oh, and please don't berate me with "it's no different now." It is. Just turn on the T.V. and watch the Cartoon Network after 9 p.m. Or cruise through a video game store. Or look at what passes for a "water gun" these days...)

Jay Anderson

I will allow my sons to have toy guns, knives, swords, when they are age appropriate (the boys are only 3 and 1, and I feel too young at this point).

When they are much older, I plan to introduce my sons (and daughters if I have any) to hunting and fishing, which necessarily involve guns and knives.

I will absolutely not, however, allow violent video games (indeed, video games of any sort) into my home.

Ed the Roman

Many years ago, when Joan and Redfern had their son on Doonesbury, Joan was chatting on the phone about how they only got peaceful toys for him, a cooking set and a clown doll, and half the reason little boys were so aggressive was that their parents armed them to the teeth.

The boy appears, saucepan on head, clown doll firmly held longitudinally between the hands, and the boy shouts, "Budda-budda-budda-POW! You're DEAD, She-Ra, you're DEAD!!!"

Joan closes the strip with, "Of course, I could be wrong."

Jennifer

"It's pretty safe to say, that the kids of those who post on this website, are not vulnerable to the siren song of pop culture violence."

But how do you know who hasn't been a victim of pop culture violence? I have a friend at work whose son was shot while he was standing on his own front porch. He was not involved in gangs, just an unfortunate victim of this culture of violence. As Amy said, violence is real, and I don't see anything wrong with forbidding toy guns in the house, as a way of saying "guns are not toys." I don't see that this, as Tom suggests, will lead them into being homosexuals. If Catholicism is a manly, fighting faith, are Mennonite and Quaker men girly men? To characterize masculinity this way (willingness to fight or do violence) seems to be missing something.

Father Todd Reitmeyer

Tom hits the nail on the head with his post. Emasculating males ia a national sport these days.

Boys are different than girls psychologically. The desire to do battle isn't a bad thing. You should want to fight evil and oppose it. Isn't one of the things many people complain about the fact that our Shepherds don't defend the flock from the wolves.

I don't have time to do a lengthy argument here but this tendency will come out in little boys. It should be formed in the correct direction like was suggested earlier. But if the tendency is suppressed and boys are taught this is a bad impulse then I think it does a violence to them psychologically and will end up harming them later.

Men are different and they want to do battle agaisnt evil and I think that is a God given difference between men and women. Promisekeepers is popular for a reason. There is a reason men prefer the battle songs when they have mens group gatherings.

Let's respect it and channel it for the good of the church.... especially the church militant.

Cathleen

I'm late to this discussion, but in case anyone's still reading...

My oldest son absolutely loved all manner of weapons. He walked around with a holster around his waist for more years than I care to remember, always at the ready to rescue some poor damsel or take care of the bad guys. He liked to call himself "GoodMan" (ok, so he wasn't the most original kid around). I think the title is telling, though, as so many have alluded to here...boys are wired to fight evil. Nothing wrong with that.

Of all my kids, his obsession with weapons was the most intense, but his sense of right and wrong, good and evil, was also the most highly developed. At a very shy, timid 5 years old (this was a kid we couldn't take to the circus because he was afraid of the band...he's now a professional percussionist...go figure), he had no problem at all marching up to older kids (8 or 9), who were teasing his little brother at the playground, and demanding that they "leave my little brother alone!" At 26, his sense of honor and duty still amaze me. Not sure if there's a connection, but it always intrigued me.

Sandra--one of my daughters also has swords displayed proudly above her bureau. I kind of like them myself.

Anne-Marie

I'm late too, but here's my two cents:

Violence--breaking or destroying objects, hurting or killing people--is not an absolute evil. All other things being equal, of course, it's to be avoided, but other things aren't always equal, and sometimes violence is the correct path. Our job as parents is to help our kids learn how to figure those times out, and a big factor is the good-vs-evil theme. Hence (partly) the importance of knights in shining armour.

I think the question of toy guns is different from the swords, spears, and even bows and arrows, for two reasons. The first is that in the contemporary USA, a child is much more likely to have or to get access to a real gun than to a real sword, spear, or bow and arrow, especially without responsible adult supervision. The second is that what you do with a toy gun is very close to what you do with a real gun (aim, fire), but the effects of the real gun are far more serious. Most children, even if they came upon a real sword unattended, wouldn't be able to handle it in a deadly way. For this combination of reasons, it seems to me more dangerous for a child to develop a habit of playing with guns.

Anne-Marie

Anne-Marie

Last year, my then 4- and 2-year-old boys were obsessed with St George and St Michael--in fact, the younger one refused to answer to his own name for weeks. (Part of it was due to having seen a monumental carving of a very implacable St Michael about 40 feet tall.) My sister overheard the 4-year-old saying to the 2-year-old, "First you flap your wings, then you stab him with your sword."

Dan M

Mennonites are able to exist in our society, because Catholics and Protestants have taken beacheads in their behalf.

They are getting a free ride.

And lets not kid ourselves otherwise.

Masculinity is not SOLELY defined as the ability to do violence on behalf of the right. But there is something sadly deficient in a man who would stand idly by, while his country and kin are attacked, and do nothing but engage in moral posturing and preening.

And the Catholic Church has always so held. The Cathecism states as much, when it enjoins the Catholic to fully perform the obligations of his citizenship. Sometimes citizenship can be demanding, ask Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne.

"Render unto Caesar" entails far more than just taxation.

The Mennonites are a sect, broken away from the fullness of the truth possessed by the Catholic Church. It comes as no surprise to me, that they are heretical when it comes to just war doctrine, and the licitness of violence on behalf of the right.

Heresy being defined here as an over emphasis on one part of a truth, that in reality, is far greater.

The Turks were thrown back from the gates and walls of Vienna by Polish Lancers. Tours was a victory for Christendom because Christian infantry held firm.

War has a role in our existence. This is a consequence of the fall. Any attempt to get beyond that, is borderline utopic. To the extent that the motivation for that attempt flows from modern liberalism, instead of Christian realism, is the extent that one is motivated by false political messianism.

JAY,

computer games are not all shooter or overly violent. Check out the Harry Potter computer games for intance. Or war STRATEGY games, like TOTAL ROME, or AGE OF SAIL.

Total Rome is a fine game.

Dan M

I live near Philadelphia. And Philly has two of the best fencing academies in the nation. So when my nephews get older, I will pay for fencing instructions.

Kendo looks interesting too, but often the martial arts carry eastern mystical overtones. I don't want to get a kid into eastern meditation.

Don't want him to end up like Merton, more of a Buddahist, than a Catholic.

One of them was enough.

Zhou De-Ming

Dear Dan M,

Don't be scared off from kendo because it comes from Japan. So do Toyota and Honda cars, Kawasaki motorcycles, Sony electronics, etc.

Your normal kendo enthusiast is no more into Buddhism than your normal Irish boxer is into Catholicism. Its just a cultural background.

Be not afraid.

(Also, in regard to Merton, I think he would be horrified by kendo, or any martial art. So maybe this is a very non-Mertonesque way to explore the East.)

Jay Anderson

Dan M:
"computer games are not all shooter or overly violent. Check out the Harry Potter computer games for intance. Or war STRATEGY games, like TOTAL ROME, or AGE OF SAIL."

I just think kids have better things to do than sit around getting fat playing video games. I'd rather them be outside playing or reading a book. I didn't have video games when I was a kid, and I don't plan to introduce my kids to them either.

As for guns and knives, my 3-year-old will pick up a stick outside and pretend he has a gun or a knife. That's just being a boy. And I, like others on here have said, see no reason to stifle that natural display of masculinity.

Anna Domini

Jay,

Like most things in life computer games can be an enjoyable pastime in moderation. When my children and I sit down to two hours of Scrabble I do not consider that we are sitting "around getting fat," similarly when I allow my son to play a strategy game on the computer. Are there abuses of the medium? Of course. Some people spend too much time scanning the blogosphere!

Dan,

Total Rome for what age? What do you think of Age of Empire?

Jay Anderson

Some people spend too much time scanning the blogosphere!

Like me! ;)

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