Now that my kids are older, Halloween has turned into a spookier night – at least for me.
Back in the day, it was good, simple fun. Buy candy. Dress kids as lion, Barbie and Elmo (dating myself I know). Take pix. Hand out candy. Ring bells. Eat candy. And, that’s all, folks, another successful October comes to a close.
Now we’ve got problems, and they’re bigger than tummy aches or scary houses. From skanky costume picks to texting in the dark, here are some teen-tween Halloween issues to consider before the big night.
1. They reserve friends in advance.
THE ISSUE: Gone are the days when you get to decide who your kids trick-or-treat with. Now, who they’re spending the most fun night of the year with is more important than who they’re dressing up as.
THE FIX: Asking kids to plan ahead will calm your fears about who the teens are hanging with and will avoid the tween’s last minute tears because he was left out of the dinner-trick-or-treat group.
2. They take a costume poll.
THE ISSUE: No kid wants to choose a unique costume only to have another kid show up, unplanned, with the same one. According to my teen, this scenario leads to awkward comparisons about who looks best all night long.
THE FIX: Tell your kid to either suck it up and be confident (easier said than done) or join a costume group. See 3 below.
3. They dress in groups.
THE ISSUE: They’re into “peer group” costumes. For tweens, that means choosing a theme – let’s say food, where one is an egg, another is bacon, and a third is toast. For teens, it’s a group of girls going as sailors, say.
THE FIX: Stay supportive while they change their minds every day based on what their friends are doing. The fact that they’re getting creative early means they’re less likely to beg you to hit 40 stores the night before (been there, done that, never again).
4. They want to walk alone.
THE ISSUE: It’s no fun to have Mom or Dad tagging along when they’re trying to be cool.
THE FIX: Until they are teens, kids should have an adult somewhere in the vicinity. Tell them it’s a fun night for you, too, and lag behind with other parents to give them space. Make yourself useful by bringing an extra bag to take the candy load off.
5. It’s an excuse to party.
THE ISSUE: Teens want to get dressed together to kick off the night. These “pre-parties” often include alcohol.
6. There are dangers everywhere.
THE ISSUE: They have phones, which means texting and walking in the dark. Every year on Halloween, kids get jumped, drunk, or hit by cars.
THE FIX: Don’t get all bubblewrap on them. Stick with the tweens from behind (See 4 above) and get direct with the teens (See 5 above).
7. You may not know their whereabouts.
THE ISSUE: Teens may want to bounce around to different neighborhoods or parties on Halloween.
THE FIX: Insist that they text before moving from one place to the next but don’t wait for that ping. Check in with them throughout the night. You got them that phone for a reason and it wasn’t so they could socialize.
8. They like inappropriate costumes.
THE ISSUE: Girls want to look hot at parties, which are basically events for teens to hook up.
THE FIX: We all want to look good but kids have think about what they’re saying with their clothes, even on Halloween. Hear her out but keep a bottom line: If the costume is too small, so are the chances of going out.