The hardscrabble journalists who keep America informed by producing The Today Show — after what must have been an exhaustive search — found a couple of mothers who, in the aftermath of Newtown, decided they just couldn’t live with toy guns in their homes any more. So in an apparent tribute to the fallen of Sandy Hook, they’ve yanked the Nerf guns from their kids’ grubby little hands and tossed them in the garbage like last night’s Tater Tots. One mom they dug up (a former journalist: go figure!) is Anupy Singla of Chicago: “’It was just something that inside me really snapped,’ said Singla, 44, a cookbook author and food writer, and she threw the playthings away. ‘It’s me making a decision that this is not something that’s right in our house. We don’t believe in playing with something that represents something that could be potentially so dangerous.’” Good on you then, Anupy. We know your kids’ analysts will thank you for it some day, too. As for the current crop of child psychologists, though . . .
They’re not sold on the whole plastic gun disarmament thing. And by “plastic guns,” we don’t mean Glocks.
Toy guns are generally favored by boys, and wanting to play with one doesn’t mean a child is or will be violent, (Constance Katz, co-founder of the child and adolescent psychotherapy training program at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis & Psychology) said.
“Playing with a toy gun is not necessarily a worrisome sign,” Katz said. “The focus should not be on playing with guns, it should be on the total emotional life of the child.”
Katz said she would be concerned if a child plays with a toy gun to the exclusion of all other toys or becomes obsessed with gun play, or if the child shows signs of alienation, withdrawal, depression or a loss of control over aggression, adding: “Those are the real risk factors.”
While throwing out toy guns may make anxious parents feel better, Katz said it’s an ineffective, overly simplistic response.
“It’s not the issue,” she said. “The issue really is the big picture of the child’s adjustment to other people and the world.”
Do tell. So tossing the tots’ toy Tauruses in the trash does absolutely nothing for the rugrats’ budding psyches full of mush, but at least it makes their moms feel like they’re “doing something” in the wake of a tragedy.
Wonder what Anupy’s stance will be when her precious little Singlets go off to play with their friends who have moms like Shelley Dreizen, a former teacher and mother of three from (gasp!) Connecticut.
“I’d rather not make it taboo and forbidden but let him play with certain rules,” Dreizen said of her son, the only one of her kids who’s really interested in toy weapons.
She teaches him to be a good guy who leads people to safety, not a killer, so he’s not getting the message that using a gun is the only to way to get what he wants.
“You don’t let them pretend to shoot everyone in the room because heroes don’t do that,” Dreizen said. “Heroes protect. That’s what I’m teaching my son.”
There are just so many choices to make when you’re raising the next generation.