A Parent’s Guide to Halloween

Seeing things that go “bump” in the night? Are ghosts, goblins, and cartoon characters knocking on your door? Don’t worry, you’ve not gone crazy. It’s that prank-filled, candy-coma-inducing time of the year known as Halloween! Here is my first attempt at a Parent’s Guide to this spooky night.

via Liz West @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Liz West @ Flickr Creative Commons

Over the years as a minister and an educator I have received many questions about Halloween. They can all be narrowed down into two basic themes: 1) Can we….? and 2) How should I….?

Is Celebrating Halloween a Violation of my Christian Faith?

It’s no secret that Halloween may have some pagan roots, but so do many other things in our culture in which we still participate and celebrate. Now I’m no stranger to the fact that certain factions of Christianity hold staunch beliefs about this topic at both ends of the spectrum. My goal here isn’t to convince you one way or the other, but to help you put it into perspective.

C. S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters : 

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” 

Demons, witches, zombies, etc. are all creatures with roots in the deathly and the demonic. According to C.S. Lewis, one of the extremes would be to pretend there’s nothing wrong with celebrating any part of this holiday. The other would be to pretend that everything is wrong about celebrating any part of this holiday; or that we become so fascinated that it takes an unhealthy obsession.

I think it was best explained by Mark Driscoll who said, “We’re far better served by knowing the God who defeated Satan, the Lord who rules over demons, and the only One with the power to give life, take it away—and give it back again even better than before.

For my family, there’s no part of the demonic that is celebrated. Our kids still dress up as Elsa from Frozen, Captain America, and a Ninja. To them, it’s a chance to pretend (which by the way is healthy and encouraged with kids) and to get candy. Let’s be honest parents, someone has to help them eat all of that candy!

So my take on Halloween is that it’s a conscience issue. Don’t feel pressured by society to conform or secede. Prayerfully make the best choice for your family and move on.

How Can I Keep My Kids Safe If They Go Trick-Or-Treating?

Here are just a few tips to consider:

1.  Stay In Character But Don’t Sacrifice Safety For Cosmetics. Be sure excess fabric is pinned up. Kids will need to be able to move freely to avoid falls. They will need to see clearly so they don’t walk out into traffic. They will need to have some type of reflective gear if they’re going to be anywhere near roadways so that drivers can see them.

And for you parents of teens, PLEASE don’t let your sons or daughters go out looking like they’re advertising. I’m frankly appalled at the choices that young women have when it comes to costumes. Many of you have great standards for what your kids can wear to school or out in public. Don’t relax that rule just because it’s Halloween or because all their friends are dressing that way.

Pretest any makeup that you want to use. Believe it or not, just because the package says it won’t cause an allergic reaction, doesn’t mean it can’t. Test it on a small part of the skin first before you cover Junior’s face with it.

2. Add some structure to the trick or treating. Younger kids should not be allowed to roam about freely. As they get older, their natural tendency is to lean towards more independence, which is fine. Just give them boundaries. These can look like “Don’t go past this block of houses” or “I expect you back NO LATER than ____pm”. Some towns have curfews for this, so be sure to double check your town’s regulations prior to the big night.

If they are going out without you, be sure to have someone old enough to be responsible with them at all times. Stress the expectation that they are to be together at ALL TIMES. They need to stay on main walkways (not taking shortcuts in back lots or alleyways).

Because I like to turn trick-or-treating into a family event, Marilyn and I drive our kids around to all of their family’s homes. It’s a lot of driving, but the kids get a boatload of candy and all the family gets to see them in their outfits. I call that a win-win!

3. Unless you went to only family’s homes, check their candy when they return. The drug culture has so many different ways to include things in candy that it’s flat sickening. A general rule is to keep only the candy that either a) passes your general inspection, or b) comes pre-wrapped and sealed. This helps ensure that your kids are safe AND you get to pick out some of the best candy for a scientific safety taste-test.

 

QUESTION: What would you add to this conversation? What are your thoughts on participating or not participating in Halloween? Do you have any more safety tips to add? Please hit up the comment section and let’s help each other to keep ourselves and our kids on track this October 31st.

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