For parents, the tricky part about trick-or-treating on Halloween comes in deciding how much freedom your kids will enjoy that evening. Will you send them out the door to canvass the neighborhood without you? Will you follow along behind them, watching from the sidewalk as they ring doorbells? Will you closely monitor their candy intake to avoid over-consumption? Will you hand out only organic Clementines in an effort to staunch the flow of sugar?
These are the questions that plague the modern parent—and it’s really no wonder that Halloween brings out the angst in us. If we no longer send out our children onto our own street—the street that we decided was safe enough to buy a house and live on—without our direct supervision, then why would we on Halloween? If we no longer we deem it okay to let our upper-elementary school age children or older walk to the bus stop by themselves in broad daylight, we certainly are not going to let them go alone to knock on strangers’ doors at night dressed up as Peter Pan and Elsa.
Image courtesy of maple/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Then there is the boost Halloween receives from the media, who ratcheted up fears in parents with tales—unfounded, unsubstantiated—of poisoned candy handed out to random children by crazy people. (Read some of the debunked myths on Snopes.com for just how the media loves to point the finger at Halloween goodies.)
The common denominator in all of these is fear of harm to our kids. That’s why this week, you’ve probably seen stories of hospitals that will scan Halloween candy for free and tips on how to make sure your child’s costume won’t cause injury when walking around the neighborhood. That’s also the reason why shopping malls offer indoor “safe” trick-or-treating under the bright lights and Christmas decorations.
What can you do to stop this fear epidemic? Take a moment to reflect on all the things you love about your neighborhood. The person who walks his cute little dog by your house at every day. The neighbor who tosses your newspaper on the porch when you’re away. The children with which your kids play and go to school. This nice, safe place you’re raising your family. There’s nothing to fear the other 364 days of the year, so why pick on Halloween?
So get out there and get to know your neighbors a little bit better. If your kids are old enough (and I would hazard a guess that at least four or fifth graders and up are), then let them go trick-or-treating on their own. If that makes you really nervous, then have a time or street limit. They will have a blast being independent, and you can greet all the trick-or-treaters who come by your house.
And loosen up on the candy. Hand out the good stuff and don’t worry about childhood obesity or tooth decay. One night of over-indulgence isn’t going to hurt anyone in the long run.
Until next time,