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Teens & Halloween

Advice, discussions, and reviews from the Parents of Teens weekly email newsletter.

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Teens, Preteens, & Young Adults > Teens & Halloween



Middle schoolers trick-or-treating on their own?

Oct 2007

I have two young children but have recently become the guardian of a middle schooler. I plan to take my little ones out to trick-or-treat but the middle schooler balked at the thought of me accompanying him and his friends while they make the rounds. I'm wondering what other parents of this age do. Is it safe and normal for 13-year-olds to trick-or-treat without parental escort? Kim


The middle school years are years of uneven growth for kids and parents and alot of these types of decisions should be made on a case by case basis resulting in a gradual increase in independence and responsibility for your kid. Ask yourself if you trust your son AND his friends. Also, do they know their way around? Will they be home by the time you ask them to be? Will they look out for one another? Will your son follow the ground rules you and he agree to? Will his friends respect the rules he has agreed to follow? Talk to him and involve him in the decision. It is possible for a parent can tag along at remote distance and watch the fun and drama unfold. If your kid has not been out on his own with friends during the day, I'd say wait a year and make sure he gets safe opportunities to venture out.

My personal experience: When my kid was in 7th grade, I was not ready to let her roam with a group of kids on their own even though I trust my kid. One of the friends was really mad that I wouldn't let her go without a parent. Well, they led the way and a parent (not me) ''tagged along''. What happened...lots of fun, a little chaotic on where to go and a bag of candy split open all over the street. Could they have gone alone that year? Maybe, but I am glad they didn't. By the next year, 8th grade, WE were all ready and the kids went on their own with ground rules and all was fine. A year made a big difference. And the next year the issue was - aren't you too old for trick or treating? Response: an adamant NO, I am not too old to go trick or treating!'' Either way - Happy Halloween


My rule for my children on halloween has always been if you're old enough to trick-or-treat on your own you're too old to go. Under these rules, my sons stopped trick-or-treating around middle school, while my daughter continued through 10th grade! (Fortunately, she had a friend whose mother was happy to accompany 3 15-year olds on their rounds).

On the other hand, when I was in my mid-teens, I enjoyed being the ''adult'' in charge of my younger siblings when they were trick-or-treating, so maybe if you put it in that light (''it would be so helpful if you would come with us''), the middle schooler would get to trick-or-treat without feeling he/she was being treated like a baby. Queen of Mean


As my kid grew up, we first went trick or treating together, graduated to her going to the door alone while I watched from the sidewalk, and then while I watched but from a spot where no one would think I was watching her.

Then groups of friends went together. The rules were to stay together, and depending on the size (and age) of the group, two or three parents would be the chaperones and discreetly monitor, sometimes from across the street and a few houses down.

If you've got little ones, two parents can be a grand plan, with one VERY discreetly monitoring the older ones and the other accompanying the little ones. You can trade off too. Good if everyone's on the same block,

The final stage, before high school, the plan was a small group of friends, and a parent at each end of the block the kids were on. Between two of us, they were in sight most of the time, and the kids were free to pretend that they were SO cool and ''on their own''. They had loud whistles, and unique and easily spotted costumes were also helpful.

The groups were either all girls or mixed girls and boys. I don't know what middle school boys will sign up for, but something in this range might be a good opener for planning and negotiation.

moving along this path over the years accustomed the kids to the fact that there would be parents watching out for them, and this was non-negotiable. Increasing the level of independence every year or two was more or less a reward for their cooperation on the way there. By high school age, the ones that still went out just had to accept guidelines: stay in the group, whistle around the neck, no matter how glamorous the costume, cell phone in the pocket, and consequences for breaking any of these rules. Having a few families involved seemed to help with ''enforcement'', and may have prevented some of the ''but everybody else...'' speeches.

It worked out more often than not. Sarah


Yes, I think 13 year olds should be allowed to trick-or- treat in a group, without parents. I know which streets they are going to be on, and they will be in before 9 PM. We have discussed personal safety, crossing streets in the dark, not entering houses, etc.

The whole point of being a teen is to learn how to handle yourself in the world. With so many families out on the sidewalks, this is one of the safest nights to do this. peg


Seeking non-slutty costume for teen girl

Sept 2007

Help! Desperately seeking a source for Halloween costumes for my teen daughter. The halloween shops seem to carry nothing but variations on ''naughty nurse'' - even Marie Antoinette has a micro-mini skirt! Any ideas where she can find something a little more age-appropriate (or, as she describes it, ''non-slutty'')? Just looking for a fun costume that she can feel comfortable in. Thanks for the help. Searchin'


costumes are the perfect time to be creative! why support these idiot costume companies by buying their stuff? here are a few ideas, but i'm sure your daughter will think of more once she stops thinking of a pre-made costume:

* think of a theme, then try to assemble something from home!

for years, my signature costume was ''martian'' -- i put together the wackiest combination of colors, odd outfit pieces, bright tights, weird sox, etc., and topped it all with antennae made from a wire dry-cleaner hanger topped with aluminum foil balls. [make the long part of the hanger into a semi-circle to go around the back of the head, under hair; do a zig-zag on the shorter pieces to serve as the antennae; get rid of the top hook part.]

''wings'' are available now at craft shows and probably also costume displays. but you can also make wings out of wire frames in the desired shape, netting or tights stretched over them [or, sturdy cardboard covered with whatever], and elastic to secure around the shoulders. also, fabric paint, glitter glue, feathers, etc. add decorative touches.

''witch'' and ''ghost'' are also easy to do, with whatever funny and creative twists her imagination comes up with. most stores are stocked now with little sets that can dress up a thrown-together costume [cat ears and tail; devil horns; witch hat; etc.]

* shop thrift shops! they have all kinds of clothing available. we used thrift shops when my daughter was in drama, to find pieces we could use or alter for period costumes. she might go in with some idea of what she wants, but just seeing the stuff there might inspire a theme, too. costume mom


Teenage girls can make fabulous grape vine costumes. They need to have a black or brown tight-fitting base, such as leotards and tights. Sweats work fine, too. Purple high-tops make great footwear. Then all they have to do is get real (if available nearby) or fake (at Michael's Crafts store) grape vines and attach some real bunches of grapes at strategic spots to high-tops, body, hair and ears. There are great grape earrings available online, too.

Possibilities for other plants are endless--let them come up with some ideas. Or how about classical goddesses? Persephone could carry pomegranates, Neptunia could have seaweed for hair and carry a trident made from a plastic devil's fork spray painted gold and decorated with sea shells and she could wear a great cloak made from torn strips of shimmery blue and green fabric.... Halloween fan


You could buy, for instance, the Marie Antoinette costume for the wig, beauty patches, whatever other M.A. goodies it has, then go to Thrift Town (San Pablo Dam Rd in El Sobrante) for a gown. TT is a gold mine for costumes--most of my kids' Halloween & drama production costumes started at Thrift Town. It's also a good place to start if you're looking for inspiration. And cheap. Well worth a trip out to El Sob. Laura

Are teens too old for trick-or-treating?

Sept 2000

Just wondering if there's an "official" age where it's not okay for kids to go trick-or-treating? Sometimes I get high-school kids at my door, and that's a little strange. My son's in 7th grade and he and his friends still want to go, but I think a different sort of activity might be more appropriate. What alternatives are there? What does the group think? Linda


In reply to the question about the appropriate age for our children to quit treat or treating: I know of no "official" age, but my personal view, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna-ish, is that Halloween should be appropriate for teens all the way through high school IF the teens engage in innocent fun on the holiday and refrain from nuisance/illegal pranks -- i.e., if the only harm done is tooth decay. We hear so much about teens growing up too fast and losing their ability to play. If high schoolers want to don costumes and collect candy around the neighborhood, I say why wouldn't we encourage them to get together and have fun with it, and why not welcome them at our doors?
I seem to recall that I went trick or treating till I was in 6th Grade. Some people allow through Middle School (i.e., up to 8th grade). High School is definitely too old, IMO. When I'm giving out goodies, I always give less to the high schoolers, unless they are "escorting" a younger sibling, *and* are really in costume. High schoolers by themselves, dressed in "all black" or some other non-costume, usually get very little in the way of treats from me. One way you can avoid many of the high schoolers is to close your doors on the early side--most little kids are out between 6 and 8. After 9 it's almost all older kids. As to alternatives, many cities hold "Haunted Houses" or similar activities (I know there's usually one here in San Leandro). And of course you can always throw your own party, as long as someone is available to answer the door! Dawn
I live in the Oakland (foot) Hills. Every Halloween we see vans bringing loads of kids to our neighborhood to trickortreat. These are kids/families of all descriptions, but mostly poor, I think. I have always imagined that they come to our area because it is safer than their own, because their own neighbors don't have treats for them, and hopefully, because they feel welcome here.

I want to agree with the person who posted that they would be happy to have teens in costume at this holiday. Kids are young for such a short time. Who cares if they might seem rather mature for such an activity? If they act appropriately, don't hurt property or other revelers and are only after candy they are welcome in our neighborhood!

It is such a silly holiday as we have it today. Most people are unaware of the origins of Halloween and think it is a night to collect massive amounts of candy. I really don't care where the trickortreaters live or how old they are. They are welcome to the treats we are fortunate enough to be able to give. I couldn't bear to be the grouchy lady who refused to give them a treat and (possibly) made them feel bad.

Sharon


Just wanted to add another morsel to the Halloween stew. I personally love the holiday and enjoy seeing the neighbors and lots of others out and about. In addition to candy, I have some little toys for kids whose parents prefer they not eat sweets. I also buy masks for the teens or children without costumes. They are always well received and it is a fun way of helping teens get into the spirit of the holiday. Inexpensive masks and other items can be ordered through the Oriental Trading catalogue. Happy Haunting. Candace
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