Posts Tagged ‘ gun violence ’

Responding to Stephanie Metz’s Viral Rant About Helicopter Parents

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I like to think I’m not a helicopter parent. I certainly worry but I try not to hover. And as much as I want Fia and Emmett to stay with me forever and never leave (kidding, but I do have my moments of wanting to bottle this time in my life with them) I consider it my duty to teach them independence from me.

I see friends who coddle their kids incessantly. I had a playdate once where Fia took a toy from a kid. She was 2. The mom kind of freaked. “Fia, give the toy back. You can’t take it from her,” she yelled. But the little girl wasn’t even playing with the toy. Nor did she care. Still, I instantly made sure Fia promptly returned the toy.  I want to teach my kids to share, and no, I don’t believe in the RIE movement of letting your kids work everything out on their own.  But sometimes we hover too much. Or not enough. Hard to say.

Sidenote: here is my favorite RIE moment: a mom brings her kid over and he finds a 4 foot long tree branch and starts waving it around, nearly pummeling Fia. Instead of taking the stick away she says, “I try not to get too involved because I want him to learn the space around him.” Um, okay, what about my child’s brain that almost got fractured? RIE parenting at its finest. Needless to say she never came over again.

So now I ask: who is aware of Stephanie Metz and the blog post she wrote, about helicopter parenting and bullying, that went viral? Who agrees and disagrees with what she is saying? On many points, I agree with her. But on others, I think she needs to realize that with bullying, we do live in a different world than the one she and I grew up in. There were not the Columbines and the Newtowns of the world. I’m guessing since she lives in North Dakota, she is pro-gun. Most people in that part of the country are. So her “world” is probably different from someone who is raising a kid in LA, Chicago or NYC.

Nevertheless, here are some of her points (and click here to read the entire blog):

Many years ago, there was a time where young boys could run around with their toy guns, killing the bad guys.  You could take the toy guns away from the little boys, and they’d find something else around them – a stick, their fingers, etc –  and pretend it was a gun.  Today, those little boys – if caught doing that – are labeled as threats, and immediate action is taken to remove that threat from the group.

I don’t totally buy that. I know plenty of little boys who run around playing pretend gun who don’t get removed from their group or school. But with gun violence at record numbers, shouldn’t gun-playing other than the Lone Ranger and Tonto, be, if not discouraged, at least not encouraged? And I do know that boys typically do display that behavior even if they grow up in an anti-gun house. They just pick it up somewhere, like preschool. I will say that I am not going to encourage Emmet to run around “playing gunfight” and I’m not going to buy him a toy gun. At least not now. Maybe when he’s 7 my perspective will change.

Your child, who you cater to every need, who you shelter from all things “evil.”  How will this child react when he or she grows into adulthood?  ”Debbie” graduates from high school and goes to college.  She writes her first paper and meets with her professor about that paper and the professor tells her that it’s junk and it will get a failing grade.  How will Debbie cope with that if she’s always been made to feel that no one should ever make her feel sad, or criticize anything she does?

I totally agree with her. That’s why I’m against giving rewards for every little accomplishment. Or when they play team sports and “everybody wins.” Kids need to learn how to lose. Just like they need to learn how to be bored (in regards to my technology post this week that frankly scared the crap out of me with the new research related to kids and boredom). And I do think technology has a lot to do with this as well.

Stephanie writes about how kids grow up and find rejection in the workplace and the real world. She writes about how they can’t handle it. I agree. Kids can’t learn coping skills on any level when they  grow up buried in their gadgets. They can’t learn proper socialization either. So for me, this is a combo of helicopter parenting and parenting with your iPad.  She seems on the mark with that too.

My children are all but ignored when they ask for something without using manners.  They understand that when someone addresses or speaks to them, they are to speak back.  When we go out to eat, we don’t take 5 electronic devices to keep them “entertained” for the 15 minutes we have to wait for our food.  If Hendrix is “bored” (and I use that term loosely), then he can put on his jacket and go play outside.

But where I don’t agree with her is in her stance on bullying.

There was a time – not too long ago – when bullying was defined as slamming someone up against a locker and stealing their lunch money.  There was a time when kids got called names and got picked on, and they brushed it off and worked through it (ask me how I know this).  Now, if Sally calls Susie a bitch (please excuse my language if that offends you), Susie’s whole world crumbles around her, she contemplates suicide, and this society encourages her to feel like her world truly has ended, and she should feel entitled to a world-wide pity party.  And Sally – phew!  She should be jailed!  She should be thrown in juvenile detention for acting like – gasp – a teenage girl acts.

Again, factor in the technology. Factor in that peers can totally f–k with you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. This is the first generation where this is happening. And it’s not good. Add that to the peer pressure of a teenage boy and girl and we’ve seen tragic results. I don’t think kids who are bullied become suicidal solely because they had helicopter parents. But once again, when kids aren’t taught to lose, cope or be bored, it’s a lethal combination on many levels.

So go read her post, weigh in and let me know your thoughts. Her post went from 8 readers to over a million, so it’s worth taking a look at.

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Why I Need A Bullet Proof Vest in Oklahoma…

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I was going to write again this morning about my anger at the gun lobby.

I was going to write about my anger at largely the GOP and how they are in bed with the NRA (though certainly the Democratic party needs a backbone as well to stand up to the gun lobby).

I was going to write about the mental health debate that is now at the forefront. I wanted to talk about the contradiction that the very same people who support the NRA agenda also don’t want their taxes raised. And guess what proper mental health facilities require? Money. From taxes. So we’re in a bit of a quandary aren’t we people?

I was going to ask you all to enlighten me. Democrats, republicans, survivalists (your end of the world comes tomorrow, right? I hope you’re snug in your bunker. Some of them now have televisions in them. Funny thinking about what television you’ll watch when the world ends, huh?), I’m all ears. I want to understand what you suggest we do about incidents like the Newtown massacre. If you say mental health, are you willing to have your tax dollars support it? I am. Not sure what we need, exactly…institutions? I am not sure some of these mass murderers would have been placed in one anyway. But I’m willing to try anything–and help pay for it. After all, we can’t expect someone else like Warren Buffett or Donald Trump to foot the bill (though Donald would certainly benefit from some mental health himself…)

But I digress. I was also going to write about video games. What is the correlation between these awful, violent games where kids learn to kill and become desensitized…and the violence in our society?

These are the things that have been running through my mind in the moments where I’m not grieving for the people of Newtown. I want to understand how this could have happened. And how to prevent another one.

But then I came across something that ignited even more rage. Oklahoma! Yes, the state made famous by Rodgers and Hammerstein has added more fame to its arsenal.  You ready for this? Back in October a law was passed allowing you to take your gun to yoga class! Or anywhere you want! Loaded and unconcealed! Yes, this requires many exclamation points of excitement!!!! Want to walk into a bank with a loaded weapon? No problem!  The only place you can’t carry is a government building, a school or a bar. Whew. But if you want to do downward dog with your gun next to you, you can. Breathe an extra Namaste while you’re at it. It may be your last.

This may be the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Well, almost.

You see, when the law went into effect, Oklahoma became the 15th state to allow people to openly carry firearms with a license. Huh? Fifteen states allow this?? Quoting from the New York Times article, here’s the skinny: “Those 15 states include Utah, Iowa, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several other states, including Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, have even more permissive laws that allow the carrying of unconcealed firearms without a license. All but six states and the District of Columbia allow some form of open carry, said John Pierce, founder of OpenCarry.org.”

But here is where Oklahoma is different than the East Coast states, including Connecticut. Again, quoting from the article:

“On the East Coast, open-carry laws generate little controversy because several states make it hard for average citizens to acquire the permits necessary to display unconcealed firearms.

Oklahoma is considered a “shall-issue” state, meaning that once a resident meets the legal requirements, officials must issue a license. Others states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, are known as “may-issue” states, meaning that even if a resident satisfies the requirements, officials may or may not issue the license because they have the discretion to consider other factors.”

I mean, are you kidding me? WTF?? The thing is, Oklahoma isn’t the only lenient state either. That’s why we need federal reform. From the top.  Speaking of… I love how no pro-gun rights senators (31 of them were asked) would appear on Meet the Press this weekend. Cowards I call them.

I applaud President Obama for saying he’ll propose something. Because something is better than nothing. But if he doesn’t, he loses my support (though I suspect the real problem will come from   the members of Congress who bend over to the NRA). I applaud Senator Dianne Feinstein for saying she’ll push for an assault weapons ban.  And I vow to never contribute to another politician unless he or she has actively pushed for gun reform.  It trumps everything else I believe in. Because none of it matters if you or your children are going to be gunned down.

To those of you who say there’s a .000001% chance that it will ever happen to you or your kid, I use the old adage, yeah, until it does. Then it’s a 100% chance.

Once again I reiterate what I said in my Newtown piece: no one is saying to make guns illegal. No one is saying to get rid of the Second Amendment. But what does need to be amended is the right to carry assault style weapons. That should no more be a part of the Second Amendment than the right to carry around a nuclear bomb.

I know people who hunt. People in my own family. Whom I love. But if you’re a hunter who requires an assault weapon to kill your prey then a) you’re not a real hunter and b) find another hobby. Like knitting.

Lastly, I will say, it’s a helluva lot easier to write from a place of anger than sadness. And right now I don’t feel like being sad. I don’t want to look at the pictures of those murdered children. I don’t want to imagine how those parents feel.

I’m now going to sign off and play with Emmett. I’m going to pick Fia up from school. I’ll probably hit Target, maybe even the grocery store. A typical day for me. Any one of those Newtown parents would kill for a day like mine. Sadly, for them, someone killed that typical day. Forever.

By the way, before you comment on my blog, consider the following from Nicholas Kristof’s latest column. He is responding to comments (in italics) made after his incredibly, fact-driven piece that was published last weekend. (read that one here). 

What happened in Newtown, Conn., was heartbreaking, but gun laws are feel-good measures that don’t make a difference. Norway has very restrictive gun laws, but it had its own massacre of 77 people.

It’s true that the 1994 assault weapons ban was not very effective, even before it expired (partly because it had trouble defining assault weapons, and partly because handguns kill more people than assault rifles). But if that law’s ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines had still been in effect, Adam Lanza, the gunman in Newtown, might have had to reload three times as often.

As for Norway, its laws did not prevent the massacre therelast year. But, in a typical year, Norway has 10 or fewer gun murders. The United States has more than that in eight hours.

If people want to kill, you can’t stop them. Even a fork can be deadly. On the same day as the Connecticut tragedy, a man attacked 23 schoolchildren in China with a knife.

But, in the attack in China, not one of those children died. What makes guns different is their lethality. That’s why the military doesn’t arm our troops with forks.

Gun suicides (nearly 19,000 a year in the U.S.) outnumber gun murders (more than 11,000), and a gun in the home increases the risk that someone in the home will commit suicide. The reason is that suicide attempts with pills or razors often fail; with guns, they succeed. When Israel moved to have many soldiers store guns on base rather than at home, its military suicide rates plunged.

We have the Second Amendment, which protects our right to bear arms. So don’t talk about gun control!

There’s a reasonable argument that the Second Amendment confers an individual right — to bear a musket. Beyond that, it’s more complicated. Everybody agrees on a ban on fully automatic machine guns. The question isn’t whether to limit the right to bear arms, but where to draw the line.

I’d like to see us take a public health approach that reduces the harm that guns cause. We could limit gun purchases to one a month to impede traffickers, make serial numbers harder to file off, ban high-capacity magazines, finance gun buybacks, require solid background checks even for private gun sales, require microstamping so that bullet casings can be traced back to a particular gun and mandate that guns be stored in gun safes or with trigger locks.

And if you need to enter a code to operate your cellphone, why not to fire your gun?

If you were at home at night and heard creaking downstairs, wouldn’t you want a Glock in your night stand?

Frankly, at that moment, I might. And then I might creep downstairs and fire at a furtive figure in the darkened kitchen — perhaps my son returning from college to surprise the family. Or, God forbid, somebody who lives in the house might use the Glock to commit suicide.

The gun lobby often cites the work of John Lott, who argued that more guns mean less crime, but scholars have since thoroughly debunked Lott’s arguments. Published research makes it clear that having a gun in the home simply makes it more likely that you will be shot — by your partner or by yourself. Americans are safer if they rely on 911 for protection rather than on a gun.

Nancy Lanza is a case in point. She perhaps thought that her guns would keep her safe. But they were used to kill her and then schoolchildren.

As children were being rushed out of Sandy Hook Elementary School, they were told to cover their eyes. I hope we don’t do the same and blind ourselves to the lessons of this tragedy.

 

Picture of Oklahoma courtesy of Shutterstock

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