My children aren’t perfect. (Profound revelation, right?) Though I love them with every ounce of my being, oftentimes, I feel like they are intentionally conspiring to step on every toe, cross every line, and get on every last nerve. And I don’t know about you, but as an instructor, a parent, and a former child, I believe that children need boundaries, rules, and some good, old-fashioned tough love. Enough of all this “let them explore who they are” drivel and the “let’s approve of everything our kids choose” madness. To be productive, respectful contributors to society, our little ones need to be monitored, reprimanded, listened to…and taught. And sometimes those lessons need to be repeated—a lot—no matter what the topic is. From learning to save money, sharing toys, and showing empathy…to putting things away, giving their best effort, and leaving firearms alone, kids need direction.
That’s why one pro-gun meme I spotted not too long ago made me squirm a little. The image shows a father with his son, and both are safely and responsibly (except for the unmistakable absence of eye and ear protection, of course) using their long guns in a pastoral, outdoors setting. The meme boldly states: “Properly trained kids don’t have accidents.”
Now, at first, I wanted to nod my head, cheer out loud, and clap my hands with approval. I wanted to send this picture to every anti-gun friend and family member on my Facebook list. After all, it’s true—right? If we teach our children what to do and what not to do, they are more likely to stay out of trouble and to stay out of danger.
But this is no guarantee.
As we all well know, kids still make mistakes. And they still make bad choices. And teaching them about safety, especially firearms safety, never ends.
A very dear friend of mine agreed. She reiterated that whether you’ve taught your children how to shoot safely or how to drive safely, “Our kids are just kids…and they are very prone to do what they’ve been told NOT to do!”
That’s why we can never let our guards down. Our children are always watching us, always listening. They are always absorbing and observing our beliefs and our values, and they’re mimicking our actions. As parents who choose to have firearms in our homes (and in our lives), we need to never disregard the foundational safety rules. Never compromise them. Never believe it’s okay to skip a step or to bend or break a rule. We can’t get too complacent or too comfortable. We have to be vigilant. And we have to be committed to constant, consistent teaching.
As my friend stated, “Don’t ever become so complacent with the safety rules you’ve taught them that you forget that they’re KIDS who are inquisitive, boundary pushers…who do not fully understand the consequences of making the mistake to step outside what they’ve been taught.”