Of course I loved it as a kid- just as mine do now. So last week when I caved into their pleading and begging and brought them to the Halloween Store (generic name), I couldn’t help but be a little taken aback by the sights.
~Monster masks in the scariest possible forms
~Blood and gruesome weapons everywhere
~Nasty patch-on abrasions
~Characters from horror movies I would never allow my kids to watch
~Headless bodies dangling from a bloody rope
~Disturbing babies actually eating their own legs! It was purely wretched!
And I couldn’t help but think that we must be a strange culture- from an outside observer's perspective- as we celebrate these horrors and place them all about our homes where guests are sure to see.
I instantly felt guilty bringing my little ones there as I watched my 6 year old cringe at some of the horrible sights. I did my best to usher her along to the princess section as quickly as possible.
I observed other parents in there as they tried to laugh off their toddler’s screams at some of the scary sights. Oh honey- it’s just pretend!
It's true, it is pretend. I’m not against some fun entertainment of being a little scary here and there- but this just seemed so extreme. And then I couldn’t help but wonder- have we just gotten soft as a society? Could that be the problem? Do we shelter our children too much??
In the “old days” children were taught to fear God- and threats of Hell kept their behavior in check. Granted, beating their children with belts was also acceptable behavior in the old days. Not exactly an effective parenting technique.
I recently danced around an explanation of “Hell” to my 8 year-old when approached with the inquiry. I was stumped for which direction to take. I promised myself I would not ever lie to my children. But I did not want to scare him either, as he would take it very literal.
And then I bring him to a store where he picks up a bloody chainsaw (pretend of course) as his costume because he thinks it’s cool? Does he really want to cause harm with it? Should I worry about my boy turning into a chain-saw criminal someday? I sure hope not- as he has the gentlest heart ever- underneath the dirt. Yet something about destruction impresses boys. Just what is the limit?
So I struggle, wondering what to do with this Halloween question. Where is the balance? Where does a parent draw the line as to what to shelter them from and what exactly is defined as just ‘fun’ scary stuff?