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Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy"?

Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy"?

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Active scribe
LombotRoss

Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy"?

!

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I need some parental advice.

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Due to a very early unpleasant childhood and some mistakes I made as a late teen that involve violence,

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I have been hammering into my two kids, pacifist (non-violent) values.

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I have always tried very hard not to be “That sort”  of Toxic Scary Alpha Male Dad.

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I have tried to be the exact opposite of my Genetic Father!

(Who even now I burningly ‘dislike intensely’)  

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But I am now worried this might have been a mistake.

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We live in a fairly rough far nth eat UK seaside town.

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(If  you are American then think the film Billy Elliot but by the sea, and you would not be that far wrong!)

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It is a slightly socially backward place (I can not think of a more polite way to put it!)  

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So obviously my son has always had some bullying, to an extent I always excepted that might happen.

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It has gotten so extreme that he has had suicidal thoughts and is needing counselling.

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In the last year, more and more often he has been getting more interested in sharps.

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I am NOT happy with that!

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I tried a two-prong approach,

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1)

Take away all the toy plastic swords and blade form him.

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2)

Buy him a proper wood knife for Christmas, that he can only use in the woods.

(I hide it from him the rest of the time)

At try and teach him to see it a practical woodsman's tool rather than a glamorised weapon

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I am worried that neither is working!

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I am starting to doubt my whole pacifist upbringing idea.

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Maybe I have let my own ‘personal demons’ make me make the wrong parental choice.

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Maybe I was asking too much of child to ‘shoehorn’ my own world view.

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Maybe (especially in this sort of area he is growing up in) Just having normal childhood punch ups, is actually far more healthy and win or lose would defuse the natural “Rising sap” in this system.

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This is starting to sound very much like the sort of “Boys will be Boys” bull**bleep** I actively hate!

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BUT!

I would much rather he got into more normal healthy fights even at the expense of school than him becoming the sort of loner that snaps!

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He will not be a mere child forever.

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I am not going to be able in any practical sense stop a 16-year-old from secretly getting and carrying a potential dangerous object.

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And by 18 Ill have even less practical option if any at all!

And that is only 4 years away!

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Violent crime is a major problem!

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People die!

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And I am not so delusional and self-possessed to think “That would never be my child”

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My wife is adamant that I am just being stupid, and that I am,

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a)

Overreacting.

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And

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b)

You should never teach or condone violence

< It is what attracted us to each other, >

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But although she is in a larger sense far smarter than I am, she is far less prone to think flexibly and consider all options as I am as well.

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I addition her childhood has been fairly idyllic and sheltered and I am not really convinced she really knows how ‘some’ of the real world works.

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Any thoughts or suggestions out there?

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Is my wife right or should I be worried?

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Should I be doubting myself like this?

(It’s hard not to when you see your son so upset so often.)

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!

PS 

(Update 22dn May) 

 

Just to clarify the age,

 

He is 14

 

Quote from my post.

"And by 18 Ill have even less practical option if any at all!

And that is only 4 years away!"

Parent/Carer Community Champion
JAKGR8

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

Oh man, Boys right?!!! It sounds like you're trying to set your boy up for success in a cruel world @LombotRoss which can be difficult when you don't have the full story or partner support.

 

Honestly, I believe boys naturally tend to show an interest in violence and weapons during their teens so your wife has a point, however, it can vary in extremes as well. Maybe your son is just experimenting but maybe he is scared as well. It sounds like you are trying to raise a man who has a strong mind and gentle heart. Lovely, we need more of those. 

 

Teaching him to use words and persuasion to succeed is wonderful. I wish all parents could do this. Maybe he would like to know he could defend himself, if necessary. It might give him the confidence to continue to use his words. He might like to start doing a weight lifting type thing that makes him feel stronger or a defense course. It could backfire though and give him confidence to use violence. Only you can judge that and what type of self protection you'd like him to use. My son is a 'walk away' type and his mates respect that but he lives a fairly 'safe' life'.

If he is just interested in knives maybe he could take up wood work or help a tradie who works in this way. Is there an older gentleman in the area who could teach him a few things. After all boys are known to respond to lots of male role models and descriptive praise. 

 

Good luck.

JA
Parent/Carer Community Champion
PapaBill

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

jhi @LombotRoss 

 

I definitely do NOT think you are over reacting to want to talk and consider why your son is developing an interest in knives.  Sounds like it is great time to be talking to your son.  

 

Unfortunately bullying is always going to happen to a certain extent in our world.  

You mention your fears of bullying .. what is actually happening to your son?

I was surprised to find out it had happened to my son and he had dealt with it himself when he got to high school.  Helping your son build resilience to bullying and the skills to deal with it are the ideal but this is not easy. 

 

I suggest the if you have not yet done so, find out what is happening and not to react based on your fears.

 

Like @JAKGR8 from my experiences many boys develop an interest in weapons.  An interest in knives should be discussed with your son.  (I still have a hunting knife I got as a teen)

I cant see if you said how old your son is?  I suggest your response has to be age appropriate so it makes a difference.

 

With respect to "Take away all the toy plastic swords and blade form him" I have always thought this doesn't make sense.  The world is full of sticks and boys have been using sticks as pretend swords since the bronze age.

 

As to getting him a knife that he can use in the woods.. (Again for a younger teen) I would suggest you get a knife and allow him to use your knife when you are both together in the woods.  Once he has proved he is responsible you can get him his own in a year or two.   

 

There is nothing wrong with both going into the woods as novices and learning together how to make a shelter.. build a raft etc.  You dont have to know it all.. just be willing to spend time together.. You might be surprised how much he shares with you when you are both working together.  And it will help with the confidence to deal with bullying.. Win Win!

 

 

 

 

 

On a personal note:  

I know I have had to come to terms with my father who was believed as long as he put food on the table and hurt the kids regularly that made a good father.  I like to try and be charitable in my thoughts and attribute a failed attempt to be a good father to his motivations.   

Mod
Jess1-RO

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

Hi @LombotRoss,

There have been some really great responses here from @JAKGR8 and @PapaBill- What are your thoughts so far?

One thing I did want to add is being mindful of local legislation related to carrying dangerous objects. We are an Australian based service, so my knowledge is of Australian based legislation. Here we have age restrictions on buying and possessings knives of 18+. We also have a number of laws are possession and carrying weapons, it can be a criminal offence- definitely worth having a look to see what your local legislation is too so that you can make an informed decision about having this conversation with your son.

That being said, it sounds like you have done a great job of role modelling for your children what peaceful and compassionate behaviour looks like- having that strong foundation and values base will help your son into the future. A few parents here have mentioned some strategies to steer his interest in sharps towards something practical that you can do together such as a trade, or camping/hunting/survival skills. What do you think about these ideas? Is this something that would work for you both?

It sounds like you have really good instincts about how to address this- trust your instincts Smiley Happy
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Active scribe
LombotRoss

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

Just to clarify the age,

 

He is 14

 

Quote from my post.

"And by 18 Ill have even less practical option if any at all!

And that is only 4 years away!"

 

Active scribe
LombotRoss

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

 

From yourself

"I cant see if you said how old your son is?"

 

To Clarify,

He is 14

Active scribe
LombotRoss

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

 

I want to address a few elements of you nice people comments

 

BUT

I also want this post stream to stay on the subject rather than deviate too far!

 

Once these points have been addressed lets please return to the original topic!

And stick to that original question!

 

Replies to certain aspects of people's advice.

 

From Papa Bill
“With respect to "Take away all the toy plastic swords and blade form him" I have always thought this doesn't make sense.  The world is full of sticks and boys have been using sticks as pretend swords since the bronze age.”

 

My Reply

An imagined stick can be anything from one moment to the next,

In general have no problems with children imagining a sword to play with.

I draw a distinct difference between playing at having a sword created from a personal imagination,

And a toy that is clearly a sword and nothing else.

Normally I have no issue with toy swords, but in my son's case, I have made an exception.

 

Because he is not using the plastic sword to pretend to slay dragons and orcs.

(The way he uses too)

 

He is was

(I might secretly still be)

Using knives and pretend knife to stab bits of scrap and cardboard boxes over and over again in an enraged negative way!

 

 

From Papa Bill

Unfortunately, bullying is always going to happen to a certain extent in our world.  

You mention your fears of bullying .. what is actually happening to your son?

 

We are talking about a level of bullying that has made my son make Video Suicide notes!

(That we accidentally found!)

<It might be worth also noting that we are Roman Catholic. I am not saying suicide is any less painful for other families in any way. But it is still worth mentioning for those who might want to consider that if such a thing ever happened, we would not be permitted certain religious rites for our son and that would not make the situation any easier for us!>

 

We are not talking just run of the mill schoolyard stuff.

He is being isolated and systematically targeted by a large group.

I strongly suspect this started in earnest when he innocently mentions pacifism as a family lifestyle choice.

 

Obviously, the school is been made fully aware,

So have the police and social services.

 

He is receiving counselling regularly.

 

But guess what,

 

Surprise! Surprise! The system is failing us,

(As it usually does in these sorts of cases)

And official options are limited.

 

I do not want to resort to homeschooling because I think both his educational social skill development would suffer as a result.

 

But that is a whole different topic altogether!

 

But I want this post stream to stay on the subject rather than deviate too far!

 

SO let’s please stay on topic and stick the original question!

 

 

From Papa Bill

I know I have had to come to terms with my father who was believed as long as he put food on the table and hurt the kids regularly that made a good father.

 

Reply

My personal experience is, unfortunately, a bit darker.

My genetic father

(NOT nice man who later married my Mum. who I took the name of much later!)

Was not just “old fashioned” and merely “out of date”.

 

He was (as far I aI know still is) a  violent Sadistic misogynist that likes hurting women and either did not care (or possibly delighted more) when the mother's children witnessed his cruelty.

When I described my own demons, I really mean phycological Demons, not just unpleasant memories.

I still suffer some serious mental health issues at 46!

 

I so, very nearly became the same sort of so-called “man” myself!

VERY nearly!

And that is as much as I am comfortable writing about that!

So I will just leave it there.

 

This post is not really about me,

 

It is about my Son.

 

So Again I ask,

Let us please stay on topic and stick the original question!

 

And whether my pushing of Pacifism might end up doing him more harm than good in this sort of area we live in.

 

 

FOR REF: OUR AREA!

(Yes, there is plenty of far worse places the world, like USA city, ghetto <as depicted in the media> But it is still pretty dam awful!)

(5 food banks but only 1 Costa coffee.  )

(For the economic reasons, moving is unfortunately NOT an option!)

 

I am not saying everyone here is a bad person,

 

But I imagine being a pacifist in a wealthy suburb gets a very different reaction than we get here!

 

 

Prolific scribe
Jay-RO

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

Message contains a hyperlink

Hey there @LombotRoss,

 

I just wanted to let you know that I edited out the name of your town, as our forums are an anonymous website, we don't share personal information such as location. You can check out the rest of our guidelines here

 

It sounds like you've given a lot of thought to your situation and the suggestions of @Jess1-RO@PapaBill and @JAKGR8. It's great that the school and authorities are aware of the bullying that's happening, and that your son has a professional support he can talk to.

 

It is hard to know for sure whether the ideals we share with our children (in this case, pacifism) is doing more harm than good. I was wondering if you've spoken to your son at all about his thoughts on pacifism? As others have said, young boys tend to be interested in weapons and maybe talking to your son about pacifism may help you better understand whether this value is helping or hindering him. 

Living in different areas too can definitely have an affect on how we see things. Is there anyone else in your area aside from your wife you could talk to about these feelings and worries with your son? 

Parent/Carer Community Champion
JAKGR8

Re: Should I "Let" My child have fights? Is a certain low levle of violence "Healthy&

Message contains a hyperlink

Hey there @LombotRoss it sounds like you and your boy have a lot to overcome. 

Just a quick add;

@LombotRoss wrote:

 

I do not want to resort to homeschooling because I think both his educational social skill development would suffer as a result.

 

Have you considered flexible schooling options? This might help to break the bullying cycle if he routine can't be predicted. Maybe he can only do some subjects at school and others from home but school sourced. Maybe he just do mornings. This doesn't have to be a permanent option but it might bridge this period of difficulty.

 

Does he belong to any group like sport, music, fitness, volunteer? There is a connection between teen resilience and belonging or feeling worthwhile and wanted by someone who isn't related. For my kids Scouts covers this and the risk taking behaviour. This also includes have good role models for our kids.

 

I also wonder how your son feels about pacifism. Maybe you both need to define it and how it could work in your area. Has he logged into the teen forums? Have you asked a teen on these forums? Their view can be so different. 

 

You might like a few of the articles by Ian Lillico. Especially Boys and their Masks and Bully proofing your son. 

 

JA