The short answer? Absolutely nothing.
Or rather, I got a straight reply, and then felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted from my shoulders. And so did the other mom – later, she thanked me for bringing it up.
The question never fails to pause the conversation, but it’s imperative parents get more comfortable asking it. Whatever your politics, whatever your family’s personal stance about owning a weapon, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to letting your kids play at other people’s houses. Your politics and theirs are irrelevant. FIND A WAY TO ASK.
[sws_pullquote_right]It’s getting close to hunting season in Alabama, and lots of local households are preparing for dove & deer hunting. Now is a great time to bone up on your gun safety communication with your kids, your friends, and your family. [/sws_pullquote_right]
At sleepovers we make sure kids have their toothbrushes and expect other parents to be sure they wear their seatbelts in the car. We communicate bits of important information about allergies, fears, or hang-ups that might make an appearance.
Why aren’t we asking about guns? It’s getting close to hunting season in Alabama, and lots of Dads and Granddads are preparing for dove & deer hunting. Now is a great time to bone up on your gun safety communication with your kids, your friends, and your family.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention says “Most parents who own guns are responsible about keeping them locked, unloaded, and stowed away safely. Yet nearly 40 percent of gun-owning households with children have an unlocked gun to which a child might gain access.”
How to Ask
But asking someone if they have weapons in their house and how they are secured isn’t the easiest thing to do. If it makes you uncomfortable, try this: tell a story. It doesn’t have to be true – if that’s what it takes to help you ask the question, do it.
- When I was a kid, I found a gun at a friend’s house and he was playing with it, and it scared me. I’ve never forgotten about that. Now I ALWAYS ask.
- I knew a kid in school who was hurt really bad when she found a gun in her parents’ closet. It made me think about things like that with my own kids.
- My daughter/son is SO curious – I just have to ask – do you guys keep any guns you might have locked up?
Telling a story paints a vivid picture, and gives your questioning a more personal context.
What To Do With the Answer
Of course, once you ask the question, you need to know what you’re going to do with the answer. Is having a gun in the house a deal-breaker for you? It might be for some families, and that’s OK. You know best about what your child is able to handle at that time in their lives.
If it’s not, and you opt to go forward with the playdate, it could be a perfect springboard for discussion with your child. Educate your kids in an age-appropriate way. Play the “What If” scenario game. Even if your family has guns, even if your kid has taken a gun safety class and knows exactly how they’d react if they found a loaded weapon, there’s still the rogue element of the OTHER kid(s) in the scenario.
If a fellow parent gets angry or embarrassed over questions about your child’s safety, you might want to really consider if that’s a place you want your child to play.
As parents, we can all agree gun safety is of the utmost importance, especially when there are kids in the house. Whatever your personal views or politics.
So – what’s worked for you? If you have tips to share about Making the Ask, or kids and gun safety, leave us a comment below. Be sure to read our comment policy if you have questions.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy teens and two ridiculous dogs, spouse of one incredible guy, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Executive Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and conduct freelance marketing and SMM work.