Selma Blair Gave Her Son A Toy Gun — Here's Why That's A Good Thing

Photo: Katie Jones/WWD/REX USA.
Let me begin this post by saying that I am not a parent.

One of these days, I hope to join the club. But for now, I can only distantly relate to the choices that mothers, fathers, and guardians make to protect and educate their children. Which means that — without any actual parenting experience under my belt — I'm hardly in a position to make snap judgements on what it's like to raise kids.

Still, though: I'm trying to figure out how I feel about Selma Blair purchasing a cap gun for her 4-year-old son in the name of teaching him about gun safety. The actress told People that her little guy started expressing interest in gunplay a while back.

“He would take a flower and break it and turn it into a gun — bang bang," she explained. "I mean, that’s his thing. So whether I bought him a gun or not, he finds a way to do it.”

In the end, Blair did decide to indulge the curiosity — with some ground rules. “I bought him a cap gun and I talked about it with his dad, and it’s taken very seriously," she said, adding that he is not allowed to carry the gun outside or for Halloween.

Nor is he allowed to just get out the gun willy-nilly: "He only plays with this cap gun with Mom or Dad around, and he seems to respect it so far and understands that these are plastic toys and we don’t shoot people."

This line of reasoning makes a lot of sense: By demystifying the taboo and teaching her son about the safe way to wield a weapon — while also cultivating a certain level of respect for the power it has — she might ultimately be keeping him, and others, safer in the long run. (Probably even more than if the first time a child encountered a weapon was finding the real thing perched on the top shelf of someone else's closet, without any information or supervision.)

And frankly, Blair's decision is in line with the advice that most parents receive about kids and guns: Violent play during childhood is not typically directly correlated with becoming a violent adult. In fact, playing make-believe — even of the war games and cops-and-robbers kind — helps kids to develop symbolic reasoning skills, rule-based behaviors, and even impulse control.

Despite all this, there's still a feeling lodged somewhere between my heart and my gut that says giving a cap gun to a pre-schooler doesn't sound like a parenting decision I'd make myself.

Selma Blair can do whatever she likes, and more power to her for finding a method that works for her child's needs and interests. But if my hypothetical child wanted to pretend that a handful of flowers was a gun, I'd like to think I'd be cool with leaving it at that: I don't think I'd replace a bouquet with something that looks more realistic. Some weapons might be better off in our imaginations.

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