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Health & Spirit

Ensuring kids' safety in a household with guns

Carolyn Hax on

Dear Carolyn:

I am a mother of twin 5-year-old boys. My sons play together really well with our neighbor's same-age son, at his house and ours.

Three weeks back I learned the family owns guns, which the mother claims are stored properly. I could not gather the courage to request further details as I feared sounding impolite and inappropriate. But ever since, it has been eating me up and I end up visualizing all the possible scary scenarios whenever my boys play at our neighbor's home. What do I do? It's soon going to be winter and playing outdoors in subfreezing temps won't be an option.

-- V.

People who keep guns in the house and take the responsibility seriously enough to host small children safely will welcome a fellow parent's inquiry about the precautions they take.

People who get offended by your inquiry about precautions are not ones you want hosting your kids.

The gun question is tidy that way, if awkward. The qualities you want in someone watching your kids are honesty, humility, and appreciation of the sacred trust you're placing in them. If she's more concerned with defending her choices than informing yours, then that indicates she is her top priority, which means your kids' safety can't be; such priorities are mutually exclusive.

This is true of anyone watching your kids, not just your gun-owning neighbor, and defensiveness is a liability across the board, not just on the subject of guns. A hot-button issue merely has a way of burning faster through people's wishful thinking and polite deflections.

So ask your questions. Or just say you're not comfortable having your kids play in a home where guns are kept, if that's how you feel, though my vote is for educating yourself before you make up your mind.

Either way: You're a parent. You no longer have the luxury of worrying whether your due diligence on your kids' safety is "impolite and inappropriate." Mom up and say what you want to say.

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