The other day, frankly out of nowhere, I had a little talk with my six year old daughter.
At the time, she was running around the house playing with her cousin; and I happen to be watching the news. As usual, the debate over gun control was replacing the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I guess I couldn’t contain my frustration because the kids heard me raise my voice to the talking heads on the screen and scuffled into the kitchen to see what all the commotion was about.
My nephew, disinterested, went back to playing; but my daughter, seeing the look of discontent in my eyes, knew better and innocently asked me what was wrong… “What did they say mommy”…
I thought, no better time to have the “talk.”
I shut off the television and took my daughter in my arms, hugged her tightly, and lifted her on the counter so I could look her in the eye and try to get her undivided attention.
No small task for a six year old, I might add…
She knew little about the details of that day but understood that something bad had happened; children had died, and guns were used.
Some might be surprised at what I began to say, others possibly angry; but it’s a conversation that I felt must be had, and now seemed a good a time as any.
I gently, but in a serious tone, explained to my six year old daughter that sometimes people do bad things, not everyone is perfect, and the world isn’t always as safe as we would like it to be and that we need to remember that.
I had her attention for such a brief time and needed to get to the point before she was distracted again…
I held her hands and said “I need you to understand that no matter what you may hear at school or with your friends or even on television, I need you to know that guns are not bad. I need you to understand that they are just objects, and the people who choose to use them need to be responsible for their own actions.”
At this point, I wasn’t sure if she knew where I was going with the conversation, but I pressed on…
I told her that God has blessed us all with the power to make our own choices in life. I told her that God helps us decide whether to do something good or bad. I told her that the decisions we make come from inside of us and that God expects us to make good choices. But sometimes people do make bad choices, and sometimes those bad choices can be dangerous (and sometimes they can even hurt others.)
Now my daughter attends a catholic school, and I know that she understands all of this. So I knew she was able to comprehend what I was telling her thus far, and I continued…
I explained that regardless of what she may hear, guns are not bad. Many people use and have guns for all different reasons. I told her that many people we know have them, and they use them responsibly. I told her that police officers have them to protect us and that hunters use them to gather food for their families to eat. I told her that having a gun was not a bad thing, that many people have them to protect their families as well as all the special things they own.
I think the most important point I was trying to get across to her was how it is up to us to make good choices. God has blessed us with free will, which allows us to choose how we will act; and He expects us to respect life and to make the right choices.
Now my daughter might only be six; but I know she understands this because in our home, we talk about God, we pray to God, we talk about politics, and we talk about the dangers in our society. I do not shield her from everything. I believe that our children need to know that there is good and evil in our sights because it will help shape their views and help them make their own good choices later in life.
I refuse to teach my daughter that guns are bad or that guns only exist to kill people.
I believe and have no shame in explaining that it is people who choose to use guns to hurt people and that it is our duty to God and the rest of our society to make the right decisions and choose to do good and love one another.
The most important job any parent has is to raise our children to be loving, respectful, and responsible citizens. We cannot just tell our children how to act and expect them to do so. It is our duty as citizens of this great nation to raise children with values. It is our moral obligation to instill in them the ideas that will shape their actions and, by doing so, teach them that all life is important, that God expects us to be kind to others, and that our actions now and in the future will be judged. This is far more effective than merely taking toy guns away, limiting television time, or banning video games altogether.
None of this will stop the violence. There is no law, written or not, that will take the place of God in our hearts and minds.
God bless the families of Sandy Hook, and may God continue to bless America. We need it more than ever now.
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