Parents, don’t ruin Halloween for your kids!

jack-o-lanterns
CC BY 2.0 William Warby

There's never an appropriate time for helicopter parenting, but especially not on Halloween. Give your little goblin a break.

Halloween is the only night of the year when the rules get inverted for kids. They can do all sorts of things that they’re not allowed to do for the rest of the year. They dress up as something or someone they’re not, go out at night in the dark, knock on strangers’ doors repeatedly, and collect candy while incognito. In other words, it’s a surreal and heavenly experience for independence-hungry kids.

The only problem is the parents, who get so freaked out at the thought of what could happen that they insist on putting all sorts of metaphorical leashes on their children in order to outwit the worst-case scenarios. Halloween is awkward for parents who over-supervise their kids for the rest of the year, only to have them prove on one night that they really don’t need it.

Lenore Skenazy, the brilliant mind behind the “Free Range Kids” book and blog, created this funny short video about the three ways parents are ruining Halloween.

Parents don't let kids roam as far afield as they should be allowed to go, particularly older children. Much of the appeal of trick-or-treating lies in its freedom and roaming around with a pack of friends, not having an adult hover nearby while you knock on neighbors’ doors. Some parents are opting instead for “trunk-or-treating,” a sadly toned-down version that must be totally boring (not to mention insulting) for any child over three.

Skenazy describes it: “Cars gather in a circle and kids go from one trunk to the next to grab candy, as if walking in a circle in a parking lot and collecting sugar is the whole point of the holiday.”

Some parents are using child-tracking devices, such as Glypmse and AirLive, to ensure their precious little ones’ safety at all times. In the words of Skenazy, these companies “pitch parents on the necessity of electronically monitoring their kids spooooooooky journey to… the neighbors’ homes.”

Glympse child-tracking app© Glympse -- Seriously, parents? This is a bit extreme.

And about those neighbors – what is it about Halloween that makes everyone think that neighbors are psychopaths waiting to pounce on trick-or-treaters and kill the local kids? Seriously, parents, you’re the ones taking Halloween way too seriously here.

Halloween could also be called “the safest night of the year,” as it actually has the lowest number of sex crimes, according to a 2009 study from Johns Hopkins University, called “How safe are trick-or-treaters?”

“Halloween rates were compared with expectations based on time, seasonality, and weekday periodicity. Rates did not differ from expectation, no increased rate on or just before Halloween was found, and Halloween incidents did not evidence unusual case characteristics.”

So, parents, please let your kids have fun this Halloween without hyper-parenting them within an inch of their (and your) sanity. It really isn’t necessary. Just think back to how you enjoyed Halloween as a kid. Is this really how you’d want it to be?

Tags: Holidays | Kids

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