Scary Halloween

Dear Parents,

You are spared all the crazy about Halloween if your faith rules it out.  If you don’t have a higher authority to call upon, as a parent you are in the good parent driver seat.  There is no Driver’s Manual for parenting Halloween well, so you are left with:  1) what you did when you were a child, 2) winging it, or 3) trying to sift through the tons of advice out here from people like me, Parent Magazine, or friends and family.

I am no different than you.  I resorted to all three options at different times when raising my children.  Here are a few things I learned along the way.

It’s okay not to know and to learn as you go. It is okay to have fun with your kids no matter what you decide to do.

Things to keep in mind.  Traumatized children are easily re-traumatized. A child wanting to watch scary movies and indulge in gore is not a good reason to allow it.  Scary stuff cannot be unseen.  Err on the side of protecting your child’s vulnerable brain. Candy is actually the least of the dangers involved in Halloween.

It is okay to draw a line in the dark about Halloween.  It sounds like this:

We are skipping Halloween this year.
We are going to put on costumes and go out for frozen yogurt only.
We are going to Trick or Treat at friends, neighbors, family only.
We are going to hand out toys from home in our costumes (Beware, being surprised by bloody zombies at your door can be incredibly frightening to young children.)
We are going to go to Trunk Trick or Treating at school or church only. We are going to go up and down our block only.  

Be sure you know how you are going to handle the candy issue before you have to deal with it.  Can your child eat a little as he walks?  Will she get to have some when she gets home?  How much?  All of it, or only what you choose?  Decide before you are confronted in the moment.  Since safety is important to everyone, taking a look at all the candy before allowing your child to eat it is probably a good rule to explain at the front.

If you are going out, go with.  Have fun. Take a few pieces of candy in your own pocket that you can give to your child when not getting to eat all the candy while walking becomes an issue.  Give your pocket treats instead.

This is what I don’t recommend:
Hating or fearing Halloween. Brains are intersubjective and your kids don’t need a ton of your upset to go with a ton of their excitement.
Going out and staying out until there is a melt down.
Eating candy until there is a melt down.
Going out and withholding candy until there is a melt down.
Collecting a bag full of candy, putting it up, and then doling it out one piece a day forever.

Attachment Help

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

By the time my kids were teenagers, they really enjoyed the hours involved in dressing up, ate all the candy before they got home, and they came home inside an hour because Halloween was always kind of scary to them. I put a lot of limits and structure on Halloween all the way into adulthood.  The good news is that it only happens one day a year.

Happy Halloween.  Boo.

Love matters,


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