Small town girl. Joins Navy. Sees the world. Flies in planes. Hunts submarines. Gets out of military and has 3 kids. Rejoins Air National Guard as an "old lady" of 38.

A humorous compilation of stories and lessons learned. Usually the hard way.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

To Scare or Not to Scare

Happy Halloween!  Whether you chose to celebrate tonight or not, one cannot escape the commercialized, candy-infested holiday.  Though it may not necessarily be my most favorite holiday- I do enjoy the day- mostly now in the pleasure I see my children get from dressing up as their favorite characters and eating way more candy than they ever get to in a night (despite how much we may try to regulate it!)

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?

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