Sad as it might be, the carefree days when kids could just go outside to play or hang out are no longer the norm. As parents, you do have to be more cautious about your child’s safety. And it’s a hard call, at times, to determine when to stand firm about restrictions and when to allow your child to exert some individual freedoms.
Certainly, the fun time of Halloween has been tainted by the concerns that exist in our present society. Thankfully, most children do go trick-or-treating without any negative event; unfortunately there are incidents reported that put parents on edge. Those accounts can also cause a dispute between you and your spouse as to the appropriateness of allowing your child the independence of going out alone.
Surely, this is not an issue when a child is young. And, when your child is much older, again it is unlikely to be a concern. However, when the child reaches the age of ten or so, it may create a problem. Unfortunately, there is no absolute answer as to the right age to allow a child to go out for Halloween on their own. A lot will be determined by the individual child and their maturity level.
You will also want to consider some other factors:
1. Who are their friends and what is their maturity level?
2. What area will the trick or treating take place in? Can you keep it localized to an area you know and with which you are comfortable?
3. At what time will they start? This year’s Daylight Saving’s Time has been delayed until after Halloween so there’s an extra hour of light.
4. Can you put a time frame on the activity?
5. Can a parent stay with the group but remain very much at a distance?
Special Tip: If you speak to the other parents and you all agree on the same rules, it will be easier for your child to accept.
Explain to your spouse, calmly, that you do value the concept of allowing your child to gain independence, but you are just too uncomfortable, at this point, to have it exhibited in this type of scenario. Then discuss other ways in which her independence can be fostered. If your spouse believes you are being overprotective in other areas, be willing to listen.
I also think it’s important you let your child know you trust them but that it’s also important you still supervise this activity. Speak matter-of-factly and do not frighten them with horror stories of what could happen. Rather, allow them to have fun and leave the horror for those scary goblin and ghost costumes!
Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is co-author of Marriage Magic! Find It! Make It Last.