Not as easily spooked anymore

Its Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs. The theme is End of Summer Start of Fall.

It's Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs. The theme is "End of Summer, Start of Fall."

This is that delightful time of year when I have to poke my head inside each store to check for scary things before I bring my young son inside.

Last October, I took Jacob (then 2½ years old) into a craft supply store and walked him past a full-size ghost figure that I was sure he wouldn’t notice. But the ghost had a motion sensor, and as we came alongside it, the thing started moving and emitting an evil laugh. Jacob screamed in horror and clung to me.

I was slow to learn my lesson. About a week later, I was out with Jacob again and realized I needed something from Party City. I hastily pushed the door open and led my son by the hand into the store, where we found ourselves face to face with a large ‘bargain bin’ full of 4-foot-tall Grim Reapers. He got a look of panic on his face, and we both high-tailed it for the safety of the sidewalk.

I’ve never been too fond of scary stuff, for emotional and spiritual reasons. When my first two sons were little, I actually took a pretty hard stand on Halloween. Our family distanced itself from the H word and from the ‘spooky’ activities that tend to mark the day. If my sons wore costumes on or around Oct. 31, it was to participate in a church event (typically called a harvest festival) where scary costumes were out of the question.

I still take spiritual matters very seriously, I still think church harvest festivals are way better than trick-or-treating, and of course I make an effort to keep Jacob from seeing the ‘horrific’ side of Halloween. But I’m a mellower dad than I used to be. For example, I’m not keeping my son out of the preschool’s Halloween parade simply because they call it a Halloween parade. Labeling an event with the H word does not make it a demonic ritual, just as calling an event a “Christmas party” does not make it a religious observance. It’s what happens at the event that determines what it is. And everything this preschool does, it does with extreme sensitivity to the kids’ emotional comfort. I’m not afraid.

I don’t know if it’s because my belief system has evolved or simply because I’m older and wiser now, but I just don’t get wrapped around the axle about names and labels — including “Halloween” — anymore.

Anyone have something to share on the innocence or the evils of All Hallows’ Eve?


6 Responses

  1. I think it’s sad that our school system resorts to “Harvest Festivals” and not Halloween. The kids can’t dress up anymore. When I was a kid we all dressed up in goofy, scary costumes and had cupcakes (which are also banned now).

    I don’t see any harm in it, and trick-or-treating on Halloween is still one of my favorite things to do!

    • Aaron, thanks for the comment. I see schools and other organizations trying to respect the cultures of the people they serve, which I think is good. But sometimes people want to be accommodated too much. Costumes aren’t inherently symbolic of anything good or bad; neither are cobwebs or bats, or pumpkins with faces on them. I’d like to see everyone lighten up and focus on what the children are actually experiencing. As for cupcakes, I’m not sure that’s a cultural issue!

  2. Being a christian parent buts a bit of a delema on this sort of thing. I love Halloween, candy and costumes. I love the scary things, that might just be from ny high school goth nature. Then I find where the church is teaching our children how this “Celebration of Evil” is bad. I did it growing up and turned out fine. it is not a mater ofr celebrating evil., its a matter of having fun. What your childeren learn about the world and right vs. wrong will not be made in one night of dressing up and begging for candy.

    • Hey, Zerzix. I think you’re right about the benign nature of kids’ Halloween activities. Kids have no clue about the symbolism or ancient origins of a holiday. Pretending is just fun. I think the worst thing about trick-or-treating is the dietary effect.

  3. as a kid, i used to sometimes be scared of some scary halloween stuff. if i didn’t have kids, i would no longer celebrate any holidays. i’m agnostic so holidays don’t mean an awful lot to me. i do, however, want my kids to experience everything they can and for them to decide what they want to keep or not keep doing as they get older. i also don’t inflict any of my beliefs on my kids; that is why i tell them it is up to them on what religion they would like to practice, if they choose to do so. right now my 12 yo is looking at 3 different types of religions…i don’t voice my opinions on any of them so that she is not influenced by me. if i am asked, then maybe, but usually i just tell her that she needed to research it for herself.

    • Hi, Ciara. I think it’s great that you are supportive of whatever paths your kids choose. I just don’t think you need to be so concerned about “inflicting” your beliefs (or doubts) on them. Let them inside your head. Any belief system worth its salt will stand up to fair scrutiny, and they deserve (and need) to know what you think about the things they are exploring. That doesn’t preclude them from looking into it on their own and making up their own minds.

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