I am not a parent. However, due to brain weirdness, I remember my childhood from 2 1/2 years onward with nigh crystal clarity. And I can tell you
Mentally normal children actually have a pretty good grasp on what is real and what isn't, the line between fantasy and reality. They are consummate
actors, but they know when they are pretending and when they are not. Some slip-ups may occur, of course, they're only human just like the rest of us,
and the world is a shiny, new place full of learning experiences to them. Most parents, fortunately, don't give their children Real guns to learn from
their mistakes the hardest way.
Children are also pretty well determined to do what they want to do, whether or not you, as a parent, approve of it. As another poster said, he and
his friends made gun analogues from things as basic as sticks on the ground, and another indicated that his father had done the same thing. I know my
brothers and I did as well when we didn't have enough bright orange plastic guns to go around between us. And, even in the face of significant
parental disapproval, we played stick swords religiously and occasionally did injure ourselves. But it was fun, it was part of what being a kid is
about, defying orders and getting the gnarly scars to prove it.
The best course of action if you are worried about your son's grasp on reality is to ask him about it. Have a conversation. You are allowed to talk
with your children, even in this day and age. It isn't as if they are some strange experiment you are only allowed to modify from afar, they're your
flesh and blood and they are people. Explaining to him that there is a big difference between pretend violence with toy weapons and real violence with
real weapons, and then having him look at you like he wasn't born yesterday and why are you telling me this with an exasperated "I knowww
daaaadddd"... might take a load off your mind.
ETA: how my brothers and I have turned out so far:
I am a starving artist who cries when she reads about people dying in the news. I am moderately proficient with real weapons, and my boyfriend and I
enjoy shooting as a pastime. Anti-war despite the fantasy battles that rage in my imagination.
Brother 1 is in the Navy, was on the boat that dumped OBL in the ocean, has been active duty since 2010 and is doing very well for himself, wants to
be a career military man. Is still in general a man of peace. The irony isn't lost on him.
Brother 2 is a recent high school graduate, and after a year of self-discovery has decided that he wishes to pursue an education in theoretical
physics. Is afraid of real guns, but doesn't think much about war and violence.
Brother 3 is gunning (lol_puns) to be the youngest manager of the grocery store where he works, wants to pursue business and finance when he gets to
college, enjoys collecting and playing with swords, and goes paintballing regularly.
edit on 15-4-2012 by nithaiah because: (no reason