by Beth Parkinson
Creative Media Assistant, CBN Europe
With Halloween just around the corner, no doubt certain conversations have opened up in your home. Today, Beth Parkinson talks about how she intends to parent through Halloween, even when darkness can be found everywhere.
Where Do I Stand?
As the evenings draw in and the stores start filling with ‘seasonal’ products, do you find yourself dodging certain aisles and distracting small eyes from skeletons and gore?
I’ll admit from the off, I was that 8-year-old who wrote to their building society and asked why they felt they needed to dress their building with cobwebs and witches… what does banking have to do with Halloween anyway?
But now, almost 3 decades on, it feels even more widespread – every shop, every product line, every TV show feels the need to jump on the Halloween bandwagon, and each year it seems to get more extreme.
But how do you navigate it as a parent? How do you shield your kids from the encroaching darkness? My little ones are 3 and 1, so this is something that I’m still working out – where do I stand as a parent?
But do I go down the route of banning anything that vaguely mentions broomsticks and witches, forbidding them to ever come into the house, or do I let my kids decide for themselves? Do I let them do dress up at nursery, or do I ask for them to be shielded from it?
It’s All In The Balance
I think the conclusion I’m reaching is to find a balance. I had access to some spiritual content as a kid, and some was good, some really not so much. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe gave me the Gospel in a beautifully accessible form, but also had witchcraft and shapeshifting wolves that gave me nightmares.
When I was old enough to choose my own books at the library I went through a season of reading Point Horror, until my mum found out and we chatted about the fact that I was getting nightmares and being more fearful again.
From those conversations and other experiences as a teen I realised that horror was not a genre I could dabble in and keep my peace. I took up fewer invites from the ‘cool’ kids who wanted to watch horror movies and began to shepherd what I watched and read more closely.
Those kids seemed untouched by it, but I knew it affected me deeply. So, my thought is this: maybe we need to measure our child first.
‘I took up fewer invites from the ‘cool’ kids who wanted to watch horror movies and began to shepherd what I watched and read more closely. Those kids seemed untouched by it, but I knew it affected me deeply.’
Avoiding The Hype
There’s no way I’m going to rush into reading Harry Potter with my 3-year-old.
In fact, I remember there being so much hype around them when they came out that I purposefully put off reading them because I knew at that time, that they could draw me in in an unhealthy way. But I have read, and enjoyed them, as an adult.
What is okay for me now is not what was okay for me then, and what one child may be sensitive to may be water off a duck’s back to another.
What I do know, is that when I thought something was off limits, it held more charm, and was more enticing. Those teen horror books are not great works of literature, even at the time I read them, I knew they were ‘cheap reads’, and yet, I kept on.
I kept on until I was able to discuss in a healthy way with my mum what they were doing to my mind, disturbing my sleep and robbing my peace, as well as perhaps setting the bar too low on my standards of writing.
What We Can Do
What I can do, what I will do, is shield my children from the dark. I can feed them with light, with good, uplifting, fun stories, Gospel stories too.
I can protect their innocence, like my mum did for me, and fight for their purity of mind until they’re old enough to be able to discuss why we don’t dress up as witches, why we like pumpkins, but we don’t carve ugly faces into them.
Why we choose to celebrate light and life and how Jesus overcame all that is dark and deathly, so we didn’t have to be overwhelmed by it.
And in the meantime, you’ll still find me skipping past those aisles or avoiding stores with needless skeletons and scary faces. Until they know what they can healthily consume, I’ll guide their intake.
You may even catch me writing stores a letter or two to help other parents shroud their children in the light of hope and truth, and to push back the darkness for the sake of all of our kids.