Weapons and Little Boys

Several months ago my 3-year-old little guy was exposed to toy guns and swords at a friend’s house, and it was love at first sight. Instantly, he began “shooting” his sister, mommy, and daddy. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought a lot about how we would handle weapons at our house, but I knew it was time to formulate a plan that would help us teach good virtues to our children.

We’re book-lovers in our house, so of course I turned to stories to help me teach my son about virtuous weapon-use. After much searching, I found some delightful books that have not only entertained us but have also taught us some wonderful lessons about bravery, duty, following wise counsel, etc.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to our new book-friends:

St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges: This is a Caldecott winner. Though the vocabulary is way out of my son’s range of understanding, the pictures are magnificent and keep him looking at this book over and over again.

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor by Patrick O’Brien: This story chronicles the life of a boy who desires to one day be a knight. After serving faithfully as a page and then a squire, his dream becomes a reality. This is a good book for learning the terminology (What is a lance? jousting? a squire? etc.). And the theme that James’s faithfulness in the little things led to his eventual knighting is a good lesson in faithfulness to responsibility.

Tales of King Arthur: Excalibur by Hudson Talbott: This is one of a series of books, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest, because this is my favorite of the three I’ve reviewed here, and my son loves it too. My 3-year-old son understands that King Arthur didn’t listen to wise counsel and behaved foolishly, which resulted in his precious sword being broken. But Arthur’s repentance brings a special blessing: the Excalibur sword. With this blessing comes a great responsibility to use it wisely.

And my son’s favorite weapon story is the story of David and Goliath. We tell this one over and over again. We have several different story Bibles that we use with our children, and I think that, in each, the “David and Goliath” pages open on their own by now!

What are your favorite “weapon” stories that teach good virtue? How have you handled this situation in your house?

Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 3:25 am  Comments (8)  

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  1. In all of our discussions on this topic, I think I’ve forgotten about the Apple and the Arrow, a story about William Tell from the eyes of his son. I just started reading it to David, and although it’s stretching him, the subject matter is compelling enough to keep his attention.

  2. Ooh! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

  3. Thank you so much for your book recommendations. I’ll have to put them on the Christmas list. This topic is something I struggle with in my mind continually. Being raised in a house with only a sister, we never “shot” one another, crashed trucks or made all kinds of destructive noises with our mouths. I’m trying to figure out where the line is between just being a boy and going too far with shooting, violence, etc.

    The kids never watch regular programming on the television and the videos they do watch are non-violent, like Mary Poppins! We have had limited exposure to pretend guns and, thankfully, my b/g twins aren’t drawn to them. They do however mention “kill” here and there and we’ve told them to not use the term. They don’t understand the severity of what they are saying. I want my son to be manly, but can we do so without having shooting and stabbing? I’m very curious to see if anyone else has any feedback.

    For now, we allow the crashing of my sons planes, trucks and trains, but I draw the line when he purposely runs over his stuffed animals. Ewwww! There’s no killing in our house. Am I being too strict? Where does “Be ye kind one to another” fit into imaginary play?

  4. Crystal,

    You bring up some interesting points–ones I’m still pondering. Perhaps some other readers will chime in…

    As far as not using the word “kill”…it does seem like they use it rather flippantly at this age, doesn’t it? But in a certain way, I think that’s a gift. I think their naivete’ about the severity of killing helps them accept, for example, that David killed Goliath. If they understood the severity of the concept, it would be too much for them to handle. (What do you think? Am I way off base here?)

    I definitely don’t let him “kill” his sister or parents, but if he says “I killed the dragon,” then I thank him for protecting us from the dangerous beast!

  5. I agree, Addy. God’s Word clearly makes a difference between “legitimate” violence and “illegitimate” violence, so I think that’s a good principle to follow in the pretend realm of children. I’m happy for my children to kill the dragons, but if they’re playing war, I don’t mind them shooting each other, either. We don’t expose our children to media violence, although I don’t mind violence in certain contexts (like watching a movie at a friend’s house, or playing war with cousins).

    Partly because we are a military family (with a husband going to be deployed to a war zone soon), my children are exposed to fighter jets and guns and war more than most kids. This exposure doesn’t keep me from teaching them to be peacemakers, but they know that sometimes, keeping the peace isn’t possible. (as much as lieth within you, live peaceably…) In those cases, they can defend themselves and their family, whether pretend or for real.

  6. Good comments, Michelle. Thanks!

  7. I’d love to say they only use the word “kill” when it comes to slaying the foe, but it’s not. It’s usually killing something just because they don’t like it.

    We definitely have had to deal with killing and wars in our family Bible time, but trying to get the kids to see the difference in play is a harder thing. Like I said before, we’re trying to find that balance.

  8. I know what you’re saying, Crystal, and I face the same thing. I sometimes have to say, “Oh no, let’s not ‘kill’ that. We need to protect it” or whatever. It is a tough balance sometimes. We don’t want them to love violence, but at the same time we don’t want to run off the other side of the road and deny the virtue of protecting and defending when necessary, either.

    This has been a good discussion. Thank you, Michelle and Crystal, for sharpening me!

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