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My husband’s family is great. They are nice, caring and good people. They are also gun owners. I am generally okay with the concept, as long as it doesn’t affect me, however now that my oldest son is getting old enough to shoot a gun, they have been putting in a plug to get him on the gun range with them. It really freaks me out and I hope my son never picks up a gun. My husband doesn’t think it’s a big deal and believes it would be helpful for him to learn how to handle a gun. Am I going overboard on this or am I right to want my so to stay away from the gun range?
-Gun Range In Laws
Dear Gun Range In Laws,
I get it. Guns freak me out too. You are not alone here and I am sure many people reading can relate to a similar situation or recent discussion around guns, whatever side they are on. With mass shootings becoming a frequent occurrence across American cities, we should all be talking, parents or not.
Has your son expressed any interest in going to the shooting range with your inlaws? I encourage you and your spouse to get on the same page about how you are going to discuss this with your son and greater family. You and your husband may have differences in opinion when it comes to gun policy, but this is a situation that is in need of a united front. I would also encourage discussing this with your in-laws before the next time your son goes to visit. It may be uncomfortable, but it is certainly necessary.
…it is your right and responsibility as a parent to ask questions and be aware of situations that surround your child, even when it comes to your in-laws best intentions.
They may not understand that inviting your son to the gun range is making you feel uncomfortable. More importantly, it is your right and responsibility as a parent to ask questions and be aware of situations that surround your child, even when it comes to your in-laws best intentions.
Whatever stance your in-laws take on guns, whether it be for self protection or hunting, it is their legal right to own those guns and it is your right to believe that your kid is safer not being around them.
Dear Gun Range In Laws,
You are quite fortunate to have supportive in-laws in your life. They really care for you and for your children. It sounds like they are pretty involved in their grandchild’s life and want to involve him in the hobbies that they value. These are all good things. The problem here is that they value something that it somewhat at odds with your values as a parent.
While their involvement and influence are all valuable things, ultimately, you and your husband are the parents. Any decisions for your children should foremost reflect your values and depending on age, your children’s values. This decision should start with a longer conversation with your husband about concerns that you have while also hearing his side of things. It seems like he was raised with guns in the home and may be able to shed some light on how this influenced him.
While their involvement and influence are all valuable things, ultimately, you and your husband are the parents.
With that being said, I’m curious what it is about your son going to the gun range that concerns you? While it sounds like you may have some practical concerns for his safety, your larger concerns seem to be about the moral implications of gun usage and ownership; that perhaps by even learning how to use a gun he will develop an unhealthy relationship with guns. However, I believe that if you and your husband decide to allow guns into your son’s life at this time, a larger conversation around gun usage and what that means could empower your son to make his own conscious and informed choice when the time is right.
Lastly, it sounds like although you have a good relationship with your in-laws and appreciate what they do for your son, there is also some tension there. If you and your husband are not already discussing this challenge, this could be a good time to start. Having a firm understanding of your values as parents and how that may work or not work for his parents (and yours) can make these tensions easier to navigate in the future.