Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

So What's A Parent To Do With Halloween?

My kids are long past the Halloween stage. Okay, they're actually grown, married adults with their own kids now. And they face the same challenges we did when we every year faced this bizarre, often misguided holiday. Sure, it's fun to dress up and get candy, but kids today have even more ugly, almost demonic outfits to choose from not to mention the other kids whose parents often give no thought to putting their children in grotesque and often hell-ish like costumes.

So how do you handle it as a parent? Some choose to skip it, others find alternative activities while many think it's just pretend so what's the big deal?

First, to me skipping Halloween without any discussion or substitute seems unwise and probably confusing to the kids. All their friends are involved for the most part though that alone is not a reason to let them do anything we oppose. However, to just not participate in any way doesn't seem to be the answer either.

Alternatives are good, many churches and clubs offer them, but that doesn't answer the question for older ones which is, "So what's the problem with Halloween in the first place?" But just jumping in to Halloween activities without some cautions is a bit dangerous, too. The movies, videos, comic books and TV programs out these days have taken the blood and gore to new extremes and wise parents ought to notice.

I want to suggest a couple of things. One, whatever you do consider celebrating All-Saints Day the day before. Do some research online and learn the bigger history and biblical, spiritual implications that the healthy side of this holiday implies.There are wonderful models and stories that our kids shouldn't miss out on.

Two, participate in some way with appropriate attire and only at homes of people you know well. Many families put out fun decorations without all the gore and guts stuff that will keep your day fun and wholesome, not gruesome. Some parents actually work together and share the load with each other and throughout a neighborhood.

Three, if you can find an alternative activity that substitutes other kinds of characters and images as well. But frankly, some of the activities out there simply aren't very good and are actually pretty hokey.  Use your judgment and maybe talk to others before just jumping in. No need to go to something that is just a waste of time.

Four, and maybe most important, talk to your kids. Of course, be age appropriate. Don't demean any other family or child who just loves Halloween or imply that your family is better. They don't need a Hell, fire and brimstone sermon. But you can talk about having fun, about concerns with evil, demonic images (even though they are hopefully fake) and that you as a family want to focus on only the good and enjoyable parts of it all.

You'll probably have to say no to some of the outfits and images and you should. Some of the video game characters represent nothing good or healthy. Your older kids should be able to understand that. Show them that in your faith and God there are better alternatives and that our minds need to be on what is good, right and positive.

Halloween can be just a fun time of the year without having to keep our kids from any of the good times they could still have. You will have to be the ultimate guide through it all. And maybe if work it right there will be a few pieces of candy left just for you!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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