In the glow of new parenthood, when you are your child's world, It is easy to make every decision for him. But when your child grows up and it dawns on you (and him) he has a mind of his own, suddenly flexibility becomes a virtue and an ultimatum a two-edged sword.
I was one of those parents who swore my child would never have a toy gun, much less a real one. Being a city girl, I viewed guns as weapons you buy to kill people with. Not in my house. Not in my family.
Today I found myself defending my anti-gun stance in the hardware store checkout line with Son. For those of you living in the country, it will not come as a shock that pellet guns sit in the place reserved for candy in urban stores. I, however, was totally unprepared to discuss it. Afterall, I had come in to buy anti-slip strips for the bathtub, not a gun!
Now that the boys are entering the passage to manhood, guns are something my rural family members give their sons for Christmas. A tool (most definitly not a toy) used by fathers to teach their sons how to hunt.
And hunt they do. This summer the squirrel population was deemed annoying by the powers that be. Safety instructions and cautionary advice was doled out (you-must-remember-this-gun-can-kill-a-person-if-you-shoot-just-right) and the boys were sent out to dispatch some squirrels.
Yes, Son participated in the kill. The first squirrel died a slow death and I could not watch as Brother went to the boys' aid to help finish the job.
Why did I, an anti-gun advocate, allow my son to participate in something I find abhorrent? What happened to my standards? Am I sliding down that slippery slope to allow Son to get his way and ignore my rules? Have I betrayed my own moral convictions?
Whatever happened to the promises I made to my newborn son that I would raise him to be a peacemaker instead of warrior?
Turns out I didn't have enough experience or information to make that promise. How was I to foresee all of the people who would need to be involved in living this decision of mine?
No doubt you've heard the adage "it takes a village to raise a child". What that doesn't say is the villagers will have many ways of life different than my own.
Turns out the only way to raise my children to believe as I do is to isolate them from people who think differently from me and to rule my home without room for negotiation. That stance does not sit well with me.
If we are to raise children that are problem solvers and peacemakers, they must learn how to negotiate as well as experience different points of view. So perhaps I can find room for my son to learn gun safety and skills while I model compromise and negotiation.
Come to think of it, maybe guns really are peacemakers after all.