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Keeping Teens Safe on Halloween

Published by Carlie Gavigan

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Without Taking the Fun Out of the Holiday

Parenting – it doesn’t get easier as it goes along. Halloween is an easy holiday when your child is younger – you accompany them trick or treating and the only real tough part is making sure they don’t stuff themselves on candy. But there’s a reason the holiday is also known as “Devil’s Night,” and as children grow into teenagers, many opportunities for misbehavior arise. Here are some suggestions that helped me, both as a parent and as a child, get through Halloween without any problems.

First off, be aware that Halloween is a very exciting time for your child. The teenage years are all about developing an identity, and Halloween lets them experiment and play at being someone else for one special night. As much as they may protest towards the childishness of wearing a costume, at heart it’s something they truly enjoy. But with costumes can come the thrill of (perceived) anonymity. Teenagers already feel that they’re indestructable, so the lure of committing wrongdoings in disguise is difficult to resist.

A week before the holiday, sit down with your child and discuss their Halloween plans. If they’re attending a party, ask at who’s house the party is at, and then call those parents. Even the best of kids can try to pull one over on a parent at times, and parenting is all about walking the fine line between trust and supervision. Talk to the parents about the kind of activities that will happen at the party, the kind of supervision that the teenagers will be under, and the size of the guest list. Of course, do all of this when your kid is away from the phone – you want to make this process as invisible as possible.

If something comes up that isn’t within your personal comfort zone (parents not present at the party, supervision not acceptable, et cetera), you will need to be firm with your child about why he cannot attend. This will be extremely difficult – peer pressure is a brutal force in the teenage mind, and to ostracize him from an event that his fellow students are attending will be hard. Explain to them factually why you have a problem with them going, and offer to work with him to find a solution – perhaps you and several other parents can volunteer as chaperones to keep tabs on the party? Make sure they know that your problem is not with them enjoying themselves, but with the situation that they would be in.

Your child may also want to go out unsupervised on Halloween, especially if they have a car. Again, be firm with them and ask where and when they will be, and then confirm those destinations before Halloween night. Make sure that they know that you will potentially check up on their whereabouts, but don’t feel like you have to check in at every destination. The important thing is to communicate that you are aware of what they are doing.

Finally, set a solid curfew for the evening. It’s tempting to let things slide a little bit on the holiday, but ensuring that they’re home on time will help keep things under control. Of course, you should bump it later than their normal weekend curfew, but let them know that if they’re not home when they should be, you will come looking for them. No kid wants to have their parent show up and embarrass them in front of their friends.



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