Idis fighting the bird in How the Bee Got its Stinger
I was once at a ritzy business dinner, seated around a big table. Everybody had a cocktail and was getting to know each other after a day of presentations and meetings. Eventually talk turned to family and kids.
I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that all of the other parents were deadset against giving their kids toy guns, fighting games, or other “violent” playthings. They simply did not believe such play was healthy or relevant in the modern era. I disagreed then and I disagree now. Weakness is not a virtue.
Quite the contrary, I believe that martial skills are some of the most important things we can pass down to our children. This is true even - nay especially - if you want your children to grow up and live in peace.
It is important because people (and the broader natural world) are inherently capable of violence. Predators hunt, criminals and bullies prey on the weak, and imperial states grow by war. Repelling these assaults requires martial aptitude. Such is the nature of physical force that once it is in play (even by threat), there is no other recourse in this world.
Indeed, even though the world has grown safer over the last century-ish, this is largely due to the Pax Americana and the rule of law, both of which are underpinned by the threat of force. While these have been so effective as to lull working professionals into a sense of pacifism, the safety they provide has never been absolute nor is it guaranteed to continue.
If and when those protections fail, you will have done your children no favors by denying them a martial education.
More optimistically, by teaching your children how to defend themselves, they will contribute to a peaceful world. The ability to fight back is the most powerful deterrent to abuse. Additionally, almost every formal martial art (broadly defined) understands the stakes of physical violence and includes specific training on restraint, discipline, and safety. A society trained on when NOT to use force is just as important as a society trained on HOW to use force.
Finally, I believe that absolute prohibition breeds rebellion. Defending that hypothesis is beyond the scope of this post, but even if I haven’t convinced you, consider putting guardrails on the playfighting your kids do instead of banning it outright.
Teaching your children how and when to use force will, counter-intuitively to some, give them the best chance of living long and peaceful lives.