How I Handled My Son’s Drawings of Violent Images

This is NOT my child's drawing, but one I got from early childhood magazine on an article on  children's experience with violence.

This is NOT my child’s drawing, but one I got from early childhood magazine on an article on children’s experience with violence.

On Friday, I picked up my 7-year-old son from his after school program, expecting to see him playing with Legos or tumbling around on the grass with a football in hand. Instead I found him chatting with friends–already something different than the usual status quo. I greeted him. We hugged. Went through the usual dialogue…

“What did you do in school today?”

“Good. I got a star for [fill in the blank]”

“Great! What did you learn?” ….

Then, as he does at times when we are in the car, he pulls out stuff he wants me to see. Often times its a project he worked on in class that he did well on. Sometimes its a flier for a school event he really wants to join.

This day he pulled out some drawings he was really proud of that he made after school. He and his friends were sitting around and drawing together and sharing their stories.

There on paper were images of an elaborate forest scene—tons of green trees. And among the trees were images of people with swords and bows and arrows…all fighting. And there is red crayon scribbles here and there for added effect.

Where are my son’s precious drawings of families holding hands, of surfers riding waves, of snowboarders sliding down mountains? Of dirt bike riders heading up hills?

He was so excited to show me. Big smiles. So proud.

I didn’t want to crush his spirit with immediate criticism. I complimented his drawing and the detail.

Then I expressed that the blood really bothered me and could make other people feel uncomfortable so that in the future I didn’t want him to use red crayon.

He was hurt. Immediately got defensive and asked if his drawing was bad.

I didn’t want to shame him.
I didn’t want to make him feel he did anything wrong.

I mean did he?

I think I’ve seen a lot of movies like “The Sixth Sense” that show these mentally disturbed kids drawing violent images. I think I’ve been educated by the feminist and liberal professors that say drawings of violent images are linked to violent behavior and internal angst….and that male aggression is bad. Very very bad.

I immediately clarified that I thought he was a great artist. But that the blood is just scary. I asked him where he got the idea for the picture and he talked about some movies we’ve let him see. Owen and I don’t have a problem with some violence in movies for our kids. We are stricter about sex and definitely dark, satanic themes, drugs, or gore. But we allow him to watch shoot-em-up movies. And I still feel that it is okay, provided we talk to him about each film and how it compares to the real world and right vs wrong.

And for the record, I don’t think that my son is a future psycho. It was a good guy/bad guy scenario. No one is killing innocent cats, etc…

I think he is a normal boy.

But I’m afraid of what other people might think.What if a teacher, who has been taught to believe all violence and male aggression is wrong, found the drawing and sent him the school psychologist? What if I were called in to talk about the government’s opinion of my parenting tactics?

And I do admit, I don’t want him drawing like this all the time because then that would concern me. An occasional violent drawing is fine with me. Just not with all the blood. And not all the time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything right away. Maybe I should have waited to see if he drew such a violent image again. But my female emotions took over and I immediately wanted to nip any potential issues in the bud right away.

I told Owen, my husband. He wasn’t too concerned. Told Kanan not to include the blood because it bothered his mommy and to make sure and continue drawing other things that are not so violent. Keep a good variety.

Kanan, like me, wanted specifics. Can I do one drawing a day? One drawing a week? One a month?

We didn’t know the answer. Just every once in a while. And you will have to figure out how often that is and we will too. There’s no rule. Just don’t do it often. Then on Monday, Owen told the teachers in his after school program to make sure and not allow him to draw any violent images while there (we figured we could monitor the drawings better if in our own home),

I told his dad about his drawing.

“Completely normal” was his response and a look in his eyes that suggested I was being a worrisome mother.

I want to be rational and logical with this. I don’t want to be overly emotional.

I’m in this dilemma, this paradoxical philosophical world view that on one side recognizes that our nation has bought into too many feminist ideals that demonize male aggression and demonize even self-protection with our gun law battles and our dependency on the government as the ones to protect ourselves. I also have this other world view—the Christian one that does value peace and love and “all things good and pure.” But Christianity certainly isn’t a pacifist faith. While love and peace are certainly goals, even Jesus says that there will be times in the future where his disciples will need to “bring a sword.” Self-protection is not a sin when approached with violence.

So we shall see how it goes. If I see any more consistent violent drawings from my sweet boy.

What are your thoughts? How have my mommy readers handled situations like this with their boys? Where do you give room for being boys, but draw lines for being what you consider :”normal, natural, and healthy?”

I found a couple of books on the topic I thought might be helpful. Two differing views: