02/23/2012 08:01 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Create Warriors


We are, I think, only the second generation of parents who do not honor warriors.

For centuries children played at war, at fighting, at hunting. Boys mostly, but girls as well (ever read "Little House on the Prairie"?). Parents didn't worry about sending the wrong message, or promoting gun violence. Bravery was prized, physical strength in both boys and girls was necessary in all but the richest families. Competition was encouraged, fighting was commonplace and kids got in trouble if they fought for the wrong reasons, not because fighting is always wrong.

These values are horrifying to many. The changes in parenting, in cultural expectations, were hard-won and have led to many healthier ways of managing conflict. It is easy to see how these values led to rampant domestic violence, certainly.

We are raising our children to value thoughtful communication. We command them to shy away from physical conflict. We, as a society, punish fighting no matter what the reason. We do not tolerate aggression, anger, antipathy. Who, after all, would like to see these words used to describe their child's behavior?

But there is evil in the world.

If we want the next generation of adults to stand against that evil, we must teach them that there are times for anger and aggression. There are acts so vile that they should make us angry enough to physically stand and defend the helpless.

I'm not saying we should tell our children that when they are small. In fact, talk to a teenager who watches the news and you know that we don't have to tell them that ever. They will see those acts for themselves and be moved by them -- teenagers can't abide bad behavior on the part of adults.

So let's not leave our children helpless in the face of evil.

We have gone too far in demonizing the skills necessary for fighting. Value bravery, strength, fighting skill. Also, value the compassion necessary to control that skill.

Don't be afraid of boys who wrestle, of girls who are physical. Just as we teach our children how to swim, and make sure they know how to swim safely, we must let our children learn to fight and then guide when and how they use that knowledge. Not all children are born with this urge, but many are.

Don't hesitate to thank veterans in front of your children.

Question the belief that every gun is evil and every gun owner is dangerous.

Talk about causes worth fighting for, and what that means.

Our children are the guardians of the world. Create warriors who can make it a better place.