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Carolyn Hax: Gun safety, kids’ music, doltish kin

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On securing guns in households with children:

I accidentally shot myself in the leg as a 12-year-old – after engaging in an extended search for the combination to my father’s safe. (Top left drawer under the glasses case … where’s yours?)

To gain access to something as potent and forbidden as a gun, I would wager that other young people have been as determined as I was, irrespective of parental warnings.

– Trusted Child

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On guiding kids through a taste for offensive music:

I recommend three ways to help children choose more appropriate and life-affirming music:

• Print out the lyrics to several of their favorite songs and read them together. Discuss the meanings and the messages (they most likely aren’t paying attention to the words or don’t understand the inferences). Talk to them about whether these messages fit within their moral and ethical codes.

• Watch the videos with them. Discuss what they see – are the men fully clothed while the women are practically naked? What does that show about women and how the men see them? Are the men brandishing guns? Showing drug use?

• Help them find musicians whose lyrics and videos are appropriate for their ages and fit within their belief system. They’re out there.

I did a project like this with my juniors when I taught high school English, and it was eye-opening for them. We had many lively discussions, and more than one student chose to stop listening to certain songs or supporting misogynistic, racist, hatemongering musicians.

– J.

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On buffering kids from obnoxious relatives:

People underestimate their power as parents to influence their children, and do not need to fear the effect of inappropriate gifts and the stupid things that come out of the mouths of rogue family members. They can counteract that nonsense with a few well-chosen words, and be confident that their children will hear them.

When I was a child, most of my relatives were a joy to be around, but we had one toxic aunt. My mother would simply dismiss what she said with “I don’t know where Aunt Annoying gets these things. She makes no sense at all.”

Children also need to learn that sometimes adults act like bad examples and say things that are senseless or untrue. The ability to separate and ignore stupidity is a life skill worth developing.

– V.

email: tellme@washpost.com