Being a Parent vs. Being a Crazy Lady

It’s always fun when moms write advice columns about kids and guns – you know, the kind without any actual knowledge of guns. Take this one I came across today. Her initial suggestion is along the lines of Eddie Eagle training & focusing on how guns aren’t like toys. That’s reasonable, but it may not be something that sticks well without a more thought-out lesson like Eddie Eagle.

Then she turns to a parenting coach who she doesn’t cite as having any knowledge of firearms. I’ll say this, at least the coach admits that her advice is embracing the crazy.

Susan Epstein, a psychotherapist in New London who has coached parents for more than 20 years, believes it is our duty to tackle the tough questions.

“I would say it in a self-deprecating way, ‘I’m over the top, but I just want to know if there are guns in your house,'” she suggests saying. She thinks this humble, nonjudgmental “you might think I’m crazy” approach can defuse many difficult situations.

Because, let’s face it, if you tell me that you’re crazy and then want to know about my guns, I’m just going to line up to tell you! Even better, the columnist suggests not just asking about guns in the home, but asking detailed questions about where they are stored and how they are accessed. The questions she suggests seem more like casing a joint rather than actual concern about your child’s access. I guess that’s just part of embracing her crazy.

Of course, said advice columnist then cites a shooting incident that has absolutely nothing to do with the issue being discussed in the column other than there was a gun and a kid. I think that’s what pisses me off about these kinds of columns. It is reasonable if you’re sending your kid over to a new house to talk to parents about what’s going to happen during said visit and what kinds of concerns you might have for your child’s safety while they are in the other parent’s care. But throwing out sob stories that are off topic and citing people who have zero knowledge about actual risks kids might face doesn’t help others to be anything other than scared and crazy.

20 thoughts on “Being a Parent vs. Being a Crazy Lady”

  1. The NRA sticker on my front door is a dead giveaway! (Pun intended)

    I don’t do play dates, my kids go OUT to play. I don’t do sleep overs, my kids sleep in my house and your kids can sleep in yours.

  2. I think what annoys me about these columns is that there is a reasonable middle ground that addresses concerns about safety and doesn’t involve batshit crazy. For example, if my brother were to send his kids up here, it would be perfectly reasonable for him to ask if we plan to make sure that our guns and other possibly dangerous items aren’t available to little hands when they are here – especially because we’re a childless home that doesn’t currently have to worry about it. It would also be the same for addressing the issue of the stairs in the house if both of his kids weren’t already competent stair climbers.

    Of course, a bigger theme here would be supervision. It would be more useful and diffuse far more threats to safety if you discussed how much of an eye the host parents plan to keep on the kids. They don’t have to hover, but they should be aware.

  3. The “self-deprecating” “I know I’m over the top” thing wouldn’t “defuse” anything for me. It would sound either passive-aggressive or like a high-pressure salesman. Because it’s at least one of the two.

  4. I actually did have a mother ask me if I had guns in my home when she was dropping off her kid to play with mine. I simply looked her in the eye and said I would never have weapons around kids unsupervised. She seemed to think that meant no.

  5. If a mom asked me about where and how I store my guns, I’d reply by asking where and how her husband stores his pornography. That would be just as offensive and arbitrary.

    1. I disagree that it’s as arbitrary as porn. Porn won’t land kids in the hospital. Stairs without proper railing or baby gates, swimming pools without proper supervision or training, or even kitchen knives left out on the counter can all be hazards, just like firearms can be if not treated properly. What I think many gun owners react so negatively to is the attitude that the offending parent assumes you’re responsible enough to handle all of those other instances, but not the firearms. That’s an understandable reaction, but I think there’s a middle ground in both how to ask and how to respond.

      I think styrgwillidar’s response is a great one. The parents can take it how the want in their little world view, but it still gets the point across that you recognize the main issues that can cause trouble with kids and firearms – unsupervised access and use. Exactly how might one ask about any safety concern at another family’s house is going to vary based on the people and what you know about them. I’d just like to see columns like this not treat guns any differently than any other potential household hazard for unsupervised children who don’t know any better. Don’t demonize the guns, and don’t ignore other household objects that are actually a far greater risk to a child’s safety when thinking about approaching other parents if your kid is going to spend time at their house.

      I also think there’s an issue of asking the right questions. Let’s go to the issue of porn, even though it’s not a safety issue. It is still something that many parents would freak out about if their younger kids got into it. For a particularly religious family, it would be a huge transgression. In that case, it is reasonable for the parent to bring up concerns in a polite manner that isn’t too intrusive. “Hey, you got your stash of kinky sex magazines & crazy sex toys put out of sight, right?” That’s probably not the best way to open the subject. “I just wanted to let you know as another parent that what our children see in media is a particular concern to us. I don’t doubt your sensibility on the same issues, but I was just wondering if you use parental controls on your tv or computer. You know how kids can be extremely curious when backs are turned, and it’s just something that’s important to our family.” That’s a much better way of addressing the issue without it being accusatory. You still hit on the main themes that concern you (what your child can see) and address that your concern isn’t their judgement, but when they turn their backs – basically, unsupervised access. (Though, unlike guns, I’m not sure there’s too much good that comes from supervised access to the Playboy channel with a child…) :)

      I think these columns would be much more useful if they weren’t focused on how parents should assume the worst about others, but how to address serious concerns without being a douche. Which is remarkably similar to the conclusion I came to in the post about moms running a grandfather off a playground for taking pictures of the grandson he was watching at the time. Funny how the advice of “don’t be crazy” works in so many cases!

  6. Of course I wouldn’t really counter with the porn question. :) That’s no way to make friends with other parents.

    My real response would be to lie to her face and deflect to another topic with a cheery smile.

  7. “If a mom asked me about where and how I store my guns, I’d reply by asking where and how her husband stores his pornography. That would be just as offensive and arbitrary.”

    Bad news: there are a lot of really bad parents out there, who leave loaded guns around the house where kids can get to them. And my daughter tells me that she was at another little girl’s house (when they were about ten) and found Mom’s porn collection and fur-lined manacles.

    There are a lot of things that people have in their homes that are not really appropriate for children, and need to be secured, both for physical and emotional safety reasons. I was a bit offended when a parent asked to make sure that all the guns were locked up, because of the implication that I wasn’t be responsible, but there are a LOT of irresponsible parents out there.

    Lighten up everyone. If someone asks the question politely, respond politely.

  8. Ok the numbers she throws out are very misleading. she states 5000 children are killed with guns each year. While true, what’s she’s more concerned with is the accidental shootings.
    what’s that number? oh from a 2006 report…. 154. Agreed its 154 too many. but its not the 5K she represents. A child is 8 times more likely to die of poisoning than an accidental gun shot. And lets not even talk about child fatality auto accidents.

  9. It is the same article, every single time. There is only one single article on this subject; it gets recycled yearly.

    Exactly like the magazine articles on losing 10 pounds, getting into the shape of your life, any particular diet, what chemicals are you being exposed to, is ___ safe for your kids, 50 techniques for better lovin’ tonight.

  10. I guess all those vintage, tastefully framed Smith and Wesson posters gives it away.

  11. Some numbers from the CDC’s Wiskars system for 1 to 14 yo – 2007 data:

    20 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths, United States
    2007, All Races, Both Sexes

    Unintentional MV Traffic 1,580
    Unintentional Drowning 682
    Unintentional Fire/burn 418
    Unintentional Suffocation 251
    Homicide Firearm 249
    Homicide Unspecified 199
    Unintentional Pedestrian, Other 173
    Unintentional Other Land Transport 136
    Suicide Suffocation 122
    Unintentional Poisoning 115
    Homicide Other Spec., classifiable 74
    Unintentional Struck by or Against 74
    Unintentional Fall 68
    Unintentional Firearm 64
    Homicide Suffocation 58
    Unintentional Natural/Environment 54
    Suicide Firearm 53
    Homicide Other Spec., NECN 47
    Adverse Effects 44
    Homicide Cut/pierce 43

    Firearm’s accidents happen a little bit more than Mother Gaia slaying little kids (unintentional natural/environment).

    Driving safe and wearing seatbelts, having fire alarms, and teaching your kids to swim, does more to keep them safe than obsessing over my gun collection by orders of magnitude.

    If a parent asked me if my guns were locked up, I’d tell them that my child isn’t allowed to play with the children of Libtards. As a terrorist Tea Party Hobbit, we got standards.

  12. Well, as a long time NRA instructor, CCW instructor, and 4H Shooting Sports instructor and club advisor to a county club that runs around 80 youth from ages 8-18 every year…

    I’ve got a very different view than that particular gal on teaching and introducing kids to firearms and firearm safety…

    You need to teach your kids because you may not know if there is a gun in a particular home or place, and you may not know if there is a gun that is supposedly secure, that due to human error, it was left out…

    You can teach your kid to stay away from the water, but you better also teach you kid to swim!

    You’ll see that reflected in my recent post:

    Dann in Ohio

  13. I’m with Dann. The absolute best defense against a firearm incident involving my kids is for my kids to know what a gun is and what to do if they run across one (don’t touch it or let anyone else touch it, tell an adult)

    I don’t go around asking neighbors if their prescription drugs (or other drugs) oven cleaner, fuel, paint, etc are under lock and key, and I don’t ask if they have a loaded gun sitting out.

  14. I would tell her that it’s none of her business, because it isn’t. It she wants to function as a communist block captain, that’s up to her, but it would be foolish to cooperate with her. If she doesn’t like that refusal to respond, then her kid can just stay home. I don’t have to answer to gabby, leftist loons who are so rude as to stick their noses into my security arrangements.
    Remember that whatever you tell her is no longer a secret and will be spread all over the neighborhood, if not phoned in to the police as a “matter of concern regarding child safety and guns in a home.” If you reveal that you have guns, be prepared for a police visit at any time in the future, and don’t be surprised if a SWAT team shows up with them because it’s a “gun call”.

  15. The proper response is, “I’m not going to discuss that”.
    You have no idea where the conversation is going to go if you get into it with her. She may be a veteran million mom marcher with a vicious anti-gun agenda who is determined to “out” every gun owner in the neighborhood.and punish them as much as she can. Her sister in Miami might have been murdered by someone with a gun last month, and now she is out for revenge against “the NRA”. She may have been put up to asking about guns by her meth addict boyfriend who is a full time burglar. She may only start out with vague questions, but end up demanding make, model and serial number of every gun you own, and demanding to see how they’re stored, and then threatening to “call the police to report you” if you don’t cooperate further.
    I don’t have to answer to the anti’s and I won’t. There are an awful lot of sob stories from people who acted foolishly and then regretted it. Don’t set yourself up to be one of them. You have a right to privacy – exercise it, or be prepared to pay a lawyer to get someone off your back who you foolishly put there in the first place.

  16. I would never have weapons around kids unsupervised.

    This. Admittedly a purely theoretical concern since I am open about my firearms ownership.

  17. @Clayton at comment #9: What a shocker! Some of teh wimminz are pervy, too? Oh, John Ringo No!

    I do agree that kids should not be introduced to the grown-up stuff until they are really ready for it. Kids vary, as do grownups. Some grow up faster than others, some grow up fast in some ways, and not in others.

Comments are closed.