It’s rude and it needs to stop. There, I’ve said it.
If your teenager is planning on trick-or-treating this Halloween — you’re part of the problem.
Yes, I’m looking at you, mom of the immature teen who is still more like a child than a teenager. And you, too, mom or dad of those hulking football players or agile soccer players who “just want to have some fun” this fall.
This applies to parents of all teens who are eyeing costumes or have bought them already.
Life’s too short, so I’ll just say this straight. Call me a heartless killjoy, or hit me with studies saying how important it is for adolescents to retain some of their childlike innocence — but here’s the deal. It’s a pain in the butt for the rest of us.
In some towns, households spend crazy amounts of money on candy to give to the wee and adorable door-knockers. Obviously no one’s asking for IDs — but who hasn’t cringed when a six-foot tall, barely costumed “kid” with biceps and a driver’s license in his back pocket rings your doorbell at 10 p.m. with his hand out?
Don’t put your neighbors in that position. It’s not right.
Even worse, you’re perpetuating a disturbing and increasingly common attitude among younger generations that it’s perfectly fine to demand something for nothing — and that they’re entitled to pretty much whatever they want just because they want it. When you allow your teenagers to trick or treat, you’re adding to a problem that’s taken on meme-like proportions because it’s so pervasive.
Too much, you say? Too hard? After all, it’s just a little candy — right?
Wrong. It’s a representation of a larger issue.
The age at which kids feel comfortable trick-or-treating has been slowly creeping up. In the 1970s, most junior high kids wouldn’t be caught dead trick-or-treating. They would be far too embarrassed and worried they’d be seen by their peers. And if their peers did catch them, they’d be shamed mercilessly for it.
Flash-forward to 2017, and there are college students doing it. Actual bona fide university kids — you know, those young adults who are our future leaders. They’re playing dress-up and begging for candy.
Let’s end this. And let’s do it now, parents.
If your kid is age 12 or under, great. That’s the group trick-or-treating is meant for, the kids who should be enjoying this holiday and having fun with other little kids like themselves. Children. Fun costumes, jokes (if you live in the Midwest), scads of candy — it’s a great night for them.
But it’s for them.
It’s not for young adults who are on birth control. It’s not for teenagers who may cap off the night by driving their cars to the next town over — to pick up a six-pack for a weekend party. It’s not for the kids who also clock in to earn a paycheck at the local fast food joint — and who may have voted in the last election.
Municipalities have had to take up the reins when parents won’t or don’t. They’ve actually had to pass laws and ordinances barring teens (and older kids) from trick-or-treating. They have to do that because some parents are colluding in a societal push to extend childhood and adolescence to the mid-20s and beyond.
Stop doing that.
Let your kids know, in no uncertain terms, that trick-or-treating is for small children. If they’re not small children, don’t allow them to go. They may fuss and moan about it today (particularly if their friends’ parents are cowards who won’t draw the line!). But one day, they’ll thank you.
They’ll realize you were helping them grow up, no matter how hard that was.
And isn’t that really what a parent should be doing?
Michele Blood is a freelance writer with a passion for children’s literature. Based in Flemington, New Jersey, she leverages her background in psychology in her work for publishers, businesses and NPOs.