” It doesn’t make violence go away when we always tell boys, “Put that stick down.” Instead, it’s making a world where people, boys and girls alike, have no idea what to do about unjust violence.”
So says Simcha Fisher at the blog Patheos. She is responding to a piece (quoted below) in the Globe and Mail (Canada) where Dionne Lapointe-Bakota, while unapologetic for the fact that she has a wild and imaginative little boy, is expressing doubt:
“I have heard many open-minded parents declare: “If my son wants to play with dolls or dress up in girls’ clothes, I’m totally fine with that.” But what if your son wants to play with sticks and do battle? Are we so afraid of the power of violence to overtake us that we are uncomfortable with its harmless expression in children’s play?”
Hoplophobia is just one manifestation of the war on masculinity. If we teach boys (and girls) to use tools responsibly, they might grow up into rugged individuals and not be docile and dependent on the State.
Ms. Fisher continues:
“Boys playing with sticks is not a meaningless game. It’s something that little boys absolutely must be allowed to do, if that’s how they want to play. A boy who wants to pick up a stick needs to know that he can, and he may, and that his affinity for sticks is not a bad thing. He needs to know that a stick is a powerful thing, and that the world needs men who know how to use their sticks.
Boys who are never allowed to be wild are boys who never learn how to control that wildness. Boys who are not allowed to whack and be whacked with sticks never learn what fighting is like. What’s so bad about that? Well, they may end up hitting someone weak, with no idea how much it hurts to be hit. Or they may end up standing by while the strong go after the weak – and have no idea that it’s their job to put a stop to it.
Either way, the weak suffer. The whole world suffers.
Boys aren’t a problem to be fixed. Parent should correct the little details when the way they play really hurts someone else, but we should let the main energy of our children go the way it wants to go. If that means finding shapes in clouds or writing stories, that’s fine. Don’t push our sons to be fighters if they doesn’t naturally run that way.
But if they naturally want to turn everything they touch into a weapon, then that’s fine, too — as long as they know there are rules. If your boys wants weapons, then keep weapons in your house. Make a place for them. Give your boys permission to be who they are, and encourage whatever good impulses you see in them.”
Let your kids play with sticks. Imaginative play is critical for development, as is the responsibility learned when those imaginary tools give way to real ones. “Let your son play with knives” . Daughters too. I have ordered a Leatherman Leap for Thing 1’s birthday. As I have been teaching her knife safety already, and letting her practice basic use, I don’t think it will be long before she gets the blade to use unsupervised. She is ready for that step.