Reflection: Protecting Our Sons From Violence

Two brothers. Two boys who became men. Two brothers.

According to the FBI, two brothers were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.

Two sons.

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?

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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?

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Reflection: Protecting Our Sons From Violence

  1. Evie—I really enjoy your posts….I think you say a lot of what we (meaning me) are feeling. I struggle with this too, but I have (had) a brother who was raised in the most peaceful of households, raised with love, compassion, and parents who always shared their feelings. He chose a different path…one that did not end well. Parents do the best they can…we raise kids with our beliefs, values, and we raise them to grow up to be amazing, beautiful human beings. There’s only so much we can do. I get so mad when people comment that kids who “go wrong” must have been raised “wrong”…that’s not always the case. We pray, we hope, we try, we hope, we hope, we hope. We hope we’ve done the best we could. That’s all we can do. You are a good mom. That’s all your sons need—a good mom.

    • Jessica, thank you for this comment. Before Facebook, we lost touch a bit since HS, but it means a lot to me to have you as a reader. I think you’re right that it’s not always the parenting that sends people down the wrong paths. This is the tough part about being a parent. We let them go, out there in the world, and so much can influence them, and they are really only under our immediate influence for such a short time. It’s crazy to think about, sad and wonderful at the same time.

  2. As a mother, this whole ordeal with the two brothers makes me sad. Their crime sickens me, yet I can’t help but feel sorry for the mom and the younger brother. To have lived 19 years of life only to have it go down the drain. His life is over. Does it deserve to be? Yes, but I think of all the efforts the mom put in and how much she loves her son and it breaks my heart for both of them. (Though I do think she has some issues) I just look at everything that happens in society and I think to myself, “What if Matthew turns out that way?”

    That said, I don’t think you have to worry so much about your boys. I was raised in a house with guns. My father is a hunter. Guns were very visible throughout my childhood (though we had no idea where they were hidden in the house). I shot guns. I went hunting with my dad. I have such fond memories of lining up empty pop and beer cans on a log while camping in the state parks and shooting a BB gun to knock ’em over. Great times! And the friends we went camping with all had boys that did the same. Not one of us has committed a crime or a violent act. The thing is, and I don’t want this to get into a gun debate, I truly believe that it’s not the fact that guns are so prevalent in our society. I’m sure you’ve heard that “guns don’t kill, people do” or whatever it is. I truly believe that. It’s parenting. That’s where we’ve gone wrong. If a parent takes the time to teach a child and to instill good values, that child most likely won’t be setting off bombs at the Boston Marathon. I think it would be hard to find a murderer who wasn’t mentally ill or had a bad childhood in some way, shape, or form.

    So, the fact that you care so much and are cognizant of the fact that guns can be a problem, makes me believe that your boys will be just fine! Just keep loving them like you do!

    • Thanks, Lynne. What I don’t mention in this post is that I grew up in a house with guns, too. My dad is a hunter as well. I completely respect the sport, and watching a hunting dog — as Belle was — hunt is one of the most incredible things to witness. I lived in a house where rifles weren’t locked up and it was never an issue. So I hear you on that!

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