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Re: re:OT Should I allow...  Mary Ann Baclawski
 Oct 14, 2006 11:25 PDT 
" Apparently he needs to work it all through for himself,
needs to understand and to experience through play so that he can deal
with the information and the feelings."
"How much of children's gun/fighting play is coming from their need to play through
the world around them and our own natural agressive tendencies.
Do they need us to observe, listen and talk about it?"

    Thank you for expressing this so well- much better than what I would have managed. This describes the experience of our family. My son was strongly attracted to military play and themes from a very young age. We drew the line at "realistic" guns. His favorite "invented" gun was a bright green, Little Tykes golf club.
    He and his best friend spent much time in sword play. Probably not the best choice, safety-wise- one is more likely to poke out an eye with a stick than a plastic gun. In retrospect, this may have had the advantage of requiring extremely vigilant parents- "swords only touch swords, they never touch people", rather than allowing a laissez-faire attitude toward young child care. This interest has become, for my son, probably a life-long interest, as he's been fencing for years now.
    We've always tried to guide the military interest. He's never been exposed to really violent movies or video games. Instead, we've taken his interest in history and encouraged his military interest to intersect with his historical. He owned a few modern military toy soldiers, but he was more interested in his Civil War, Revolutionary War, etc., battle sets. We wouldn't watch fictional war movies on tv, but lots of PBS documentaries that would at least mention the high costs of war. I would always point out how sad these battles really were- how many people died, how did their families feel, how were the wounded cared for, etc.
    I don't know if it was a result of this, but my son had an appreciation for the difference between fantasy play and real war from a very early age. He always said that he had no interest in joining the military. He walked in his first peace march when he was nine and has been to many since. As he's gotten older, his interest in history has waned, though it still exists, and it's been replaced with an interest in politics and how that works. Both interests are/were ways of understanding and coming to grips with a world that includes violence, aggression and control.
    My son had a wonderful, experienced pre-school teacher. She, of course, would allow no violent play in school. But she had super-hero costumes in the dress-up section. She counseled parents that super-hero play was very normal for pre-schoolers. Some needed that way of making themselves feel powerful and in control, in a world in which they were neither. She also counseled me not to worry when my son enjoyed dressing up character as Princess Jasmine from Aladdin for a time. (This was at the same time period when he would go around in a Batman cape, a "George Washington" jacket (blue sweater with gold, cardboard epaulets), and a Three Musketeers cape.
    She was also a strong believer in the fact that every child is different, every parent will make mistakes, and most children will grow up to be fine adults. :)

Mary Ann
----- Original Message -----
From: Jane Stokes
To: quakerho-@topica.com
Sent: Saturday, October 14, 2006 8:22 AM
Subject: re:OT Should I allow...


I am really thankful for the depth of this discussion and must confess that I am surprised to find
I have some mixed feelings. We are raising two daughters and they have never shown interest in gun or
violent play. They accepted that we would not allow them to have gun tyoe water guns for water fights
and they have always come inside when the local boys got out cap guns etc.
They understand our commitment to pacifism (their Dad was a draft resister Viet Nam war).
They are aware of their pacifist heritage and that it extends outside of Quakers
(Doukohbor friends for example).

At work, where for years I ran hospital play programs, we had no guns, no violent
toys, were vey careful about video game/movie choices etc,
I never had complaints from parents about that.

So on one level I am very clear about my views on this subject...
However there is a young boy in our worship group with
fascination with all things military. It is what he wants to talk about,
what he draws and what he wants to read about.
This interest was increased a year ago after he spent a month in VietNam
with his family visiting members of his Dad's family and visiting a number
of extraordinary war museums in Viet Nam. He has a deep Quaker
pacifist heritage and he is aware of that. He knows of the impact of war on
his immediate family. Apparently he needs to work it all through for himself,
needs to understand and to experience through play so that he can deal
with the information and the feelings. As much as it bothers me I can
understand the need. You see at work I did "play with needles" everday.
Needleplay is a standard child life intervention for helping children to gain mastery and control
over the countless needles, iv's etc they would experience.
At some point in the play many children would use the needles in an agressive way on the dolls.
It was their working through in play. We used it to teach, to clear up misconceptions,
to listen to the children etc.

How much of children's gun/fighting play is coming from their need to play through
the world around them and our own natural agressive tendencies.
Do they need us to observe, listen and talk about it?

I also appreciated the comment about Quakers and "niceness".
We need to find ways to allow Friends to express strong emotions,
opinion and beliefs. Too often they are silenced because it is not "nice".
Fox, Woolman and many others would have had a hard time in the
current Quaker climate!

Jane in BC
	
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