Two brothers. Two boys who became men. Two brothers.
According to the FBI, two brothers were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.
As a mother of two sons, stories like this scare me. I sympathize with their mother who incredulously said,”It’s impossible, impossible for them to, for both of them to do such things.” Because what mother would believe her sons could commit such a violent crime?
As a mother of boys, I worry about protecting my sons from violence — in sports, in video games, on TV, out there everywhere. Violence is acceptable for boys. Swords and guns are toys that boys play with at young ages. If you don’t allow toy guns in your house, someone else goes. It’s impossible to escape the toy gun; even if it’s a water or Nerf gun, it’s still a gun. And guns — real guns — as we know, can kill.
According to the Chicago Tribune, seven people were shot last night in Chicago — one person was shot in Wrigleyville, less than two miles from where I live. I don’t know what more it takes for the Senate to pass stricter guns laws. I don’t know what more it takes for businesses and Hollywood and game creators to stop making guns seem so cool to young boys and men.
I hate the word gun. It’s not a word Noah, my oldest who is almost 4, has been exposed to yet, but maybe he knows it. If he does, it’s not because he’s been exposed to the word at home. That’s just it, we let our boys out into the world — how do we avoid the violence when it’s so omnipresent in our society?
How do we teach our sons to be compassionate and peaceful?
I cry in front of Noah often. I probably shouldn’t, but I want him to see tears and feel emotions. When he cries, I try not to shut down his feelings immediately. “Why are you crying,” I like to say (if I’m not too annoyed). On our drive home from school, I ask, “How was your day? Let’s talk about it.” I’ve said “Let’s talk about it” enough now that Noah says it back to me. Sometimes he only tells my what he ate for lunch, but I still ask every day.
I want my boys to talk about their feelings — to know it’s okay to cry. I hope they aren’t deemed sissies for it, but I believe it’s important for boys to have a way to express their emotions other than on the field or on the couch with a remote control on their hands.
I will encourage them to write or draw or bake if they can’t talk about it. I don’t believe all boys need to act violently to let out their emotions. This is not to say that I will ban all sports or video games or TV shows other than PBS Kids. But I will monitor the amount of violence they are exposed to in my home.
Why are people always shocked when we hear about young men committing violent crimes on the news? It seems as if some young men are immune to the violence. And can we blame them when we put violent images and toys and video games in front of them at such young ages? Who’s fault is it?
Mothers and fathers, how do we protect our sons? Can we?