Hello, PATH Parents!
Perhaps I’m dating myself, but I have vivid memories of old movies featuring pioneer families surviving on the frontier in simple log cabins, the father’s rifle hanging in the open, at the ready, over the fireplace. For a number of time periods in the United States, hunting and shooting were regular Americana activities, families being very used to being around firearms. Fast forward now to 2022, and many U.S. families are not used to being around firearms. In fact, many citizens have zero experience with them or at least have a limited understanding on how to properly use, care for, or store them. Hence the creation of National SAFE Day in June (https://nationaltoday.com/national-safe-day/), when parents are encouraged to:
“ S- Secure all firearms in the home
A- Ask the question about unsecured firearms in the homes your child visits
F- Frequently talk to your children about the dangers of firearms
E- Educate and Empower others to be SAFE ”
Like so many areas for parents in today’s world, firearm safety is one that can have life-changing consequences should parents not set their children’s understanding properly. I myself remember being nine years old, playing at a neighborhood friend’s house and having her excitedly offer to show me something as she led me over to her father’s bedside dresser. She gleefully pulled open the top drawer to reveal a firearm that her father kept there, no doubt for home security should an intruder enter the home at night. It shocked me to see a gun for the first time, and my father’s words of, “Never touch or play with guns at anyone’s house,” rang in my ears. I instantly cried, “I have to go home now,” running out of the room and straight home to tell my parents (who no doubt made an immediate phone call to our neighbors). I have often reflected on that experience, how important my dad’s cautionary words proved to be, how things might have gone differently that day had I been blindsided without instruction, and how curiosity in the minds of two nine-year-olds could have ended badly.
When I married my husband, who was from a military family, we found ourselves in our first major clash of opposite views: whether or not we would have a gun in our new home together. In time I came to understand my husband’s desire and reasoning to do so, and he also understood my need for very clear boundaries (i.e, training and a gun safe). When our children were at an appropriate age, my husband also trained them at an indoor range to respect both the power of a firearm and the immense responsibility it is to operate, clean, and store one.
Whether or not your family has any desire to engage with firearms, we all have the responsibility to be SAFE (see above) and prepare our children to know the basics to guard their own safety. As with all our conversations with our teens, we tailor them to their stage of life and level of maturity.
The more we initiate important discussions, the more our teens have a chance to think through things that they haven’t considered previously and to learn strategies for successfully navigating life in their current season. Our teens are still developing those amazing brains of theirs, learning how life’s dynamics work, and we never know the difference that a simple conversation could make in their lives, especially when an unexpected situation arises.
June is already upon us, so I wish you a wonderful start to an epic summer with your family (in a SAFE way)!
Parenting teens just like you,