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Toys For Boys

This weekend, the three of us were browsing through the toy store at the local mall, when I came upon a display of stuffed Transformers characters (they actually transformed, and were all fabric and velcro; pretty much what one would consider “baby safe”) and opined that one of them would be perfect for our yet-to-be-born son. My wife, on the other hand, expressed concern with introducing toys with guns at such a young age. I countered that these particular ones did not have guns.

This started a huge discussion about what toys were appropriate for a young boy. As a kid growing up, my parents made an unspoken distinction between replica guns for me, and action figures or other toys that had guns. The former was not OK, while the latter was not encouraged, but acceptable. My wife, on the other hand, leaned more towards the “anything with weapons is not OK” camp. I pointed out that certain comic heroes such as Spider-man and Superman did not use guns, but were still considered violent, and asked whether or not they were OK. She could not provide a definitive answer.

I tried to rationalize that no matter what rules we define for our son, that once he spends more time away from us (read: in school) that he would be subject to the lowest common denominator rule. In other words, whichever household has the most liberal views about violent toys or movies or content is the one who defines the level of acceptability in a social dynamic. For example, child A, B, and C are in a class together. Child A is only allowed to play with cars and dinosaurs. Child B is allowed cars, dinosaurs, and weaponless super heroes. Child C is allowed everything under the sun. Eventually (arguably almost instantly) Child A and Child B will be exposed to everything Child C has been, regardless of the efforts of their parents.

However, even to me, SciFi Dad, lover of all things comic and Star Wars, that argument sounded hollow. Sure, I wanted to share my love of Star Wars with my son, but at the same time I wondered whether I was doing something wrong if I gave him a Boba Fett action figure that had a blaster rifle. Ultimately, I really don’t know how I feel about it. I know I’m not as far entrenched in the anti-weapon camp as my wife, but I don’t know how far away from it I am.

For those of you with boys, or expecting boys, what are your thoughts on this subject? Has it come up with your partner yet? Do you differ in opinion? If so, how do you anticipate rectifying the difference? And what do you think of my lowest common denominator theory? Is it that of a realist, or a defeatist?

You can read more SciFi Dad at Tales From The Dad Side.

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