Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick or Teen: Should Teenagers Be Allowed to Trick or Treat?

The following is a two-in-one blog post that contains two completely opposite opinions about teens and trick-or-treating:

With Halloween fast approaching I thought it was time to dust off the cobwebs on how I feel about teenagers going door to door for candy. I’ll make this one quick and painless: NOT.

Put simply, a teen is not a child and anyone past the age of 12 shouldn’t be knocking on doors for free sweets. I’m all for the dressing up part; that’s a cool way for kids -- I mean teens -- to be creative and have some fun, but getting free sugar, nope. Not from me. 

Maybe it’s because I am a woman but groups of boys ranging in height up to almost 6 feet tall have appeared at my door on Halloween wearing hockey masks. Now is that a Halloween costume or is that sporting equipment pressed into use? Not only do I feel a little intimidated opening my door at night to an unknown group of young men, but the more of them I give candy to, the less candy I have for the little ones who find it truly magical that someone agrees that they make the best Sponge Bob they’ve ever seen and rewards them for it with free candy.

Teens are simply looking for a way to stay out late with their friends and I’m all for it. Hey, I was a teen once. Even a tween. But come on, teens don’t -- or at least they shouldn’t -- need the reinforcement and socialization that Halloween teaches the little ones.

For the youngest of the trick or treaters it’s a big deal to have mom or dad wait at the curb while they amble up the driveway, knock on the door themselves and yell, “trick or treat.” Interacting with grown-ups other than your parents when asked “who or what you are” is also self-esteem building. They were brave. They separated from mom or dad, marched up that driveway, knocked on a stranger’s door and regaled them with a timeless and much beloved threat. That’s pretty scary stuff for someone 6 thru 12. (Sorry, no pun intended.) But for someone 13+, I don’t think so.

Here’s a wild idea: why not have your teenagers walk the little ones from house to house.  They can get dressed up, socialize with their friends who are walking their smaller siblings and maybe make a little Halloween loot for their efforts?

That’s it from this great pumpkin. Happy Halloween!

Karen Boyarsky is an advertising copywriter who has worked at major ad agencies in NY, SF, LA, Silicon Valley and Las Vegas. She is also an avid blogger. Follow her on Twitter @Boyarsky_kareni.

The QueenMom, on the other side of the spectrum, shares her opinion:

As a mom of seven, one thing that I know I have worked hard to preserve is the innocence and excitement of each one of my children, which includes the magic of holidays. Whether it's Christmas, Easter, or Halloween, there's never an age where you want your children to stop feeling the magic that the holidays bring.

With my oldest two approaching the ages of 13 and 12 in December this year, the last thing I'm prepared for is their excitement during the holidays to diminish. Both of them will trick-or-treat this year, and both will look forward to what Santa will bring them under the tree. I wouldn't want it any other way...and as I look forward to future years, although I know that the excitement and magic will change as they progress through their teen years, I also hold tightly onto the hope that their belief in the magic stays strong for just one more year each year, no matter which holiday it is.

My parents did the same thing for me. I was never too old to trick-or-treat or get excited about Santa or the Easter Bunny's annual visits. I cherished the story The Polar Express as a little girl (I actually had the book with the bell included and my mother read it to me every Christmas season), and although I'm not one to shed tears easily, I still find the movie bringing tears to my eyes each year as I watch it with my children. It never fails, too, one or several of the children ask me the same thing: "Mommy, why are you crying?" and I quickly brush the tears away, not really 100% sure why the tears fall, but knowing in my heart that that bell still rings for me, and I never want it to stop for any of my children. And, so far, that bell still rings for them all...

If - or when - that bell stops ringing for any of them, I will be heartbroken...

Back to the topic of teens and Halloween, adults have Halloween parties, play dress up, share candy, and join in on the fun with the kids. Many will admit that Halloween is still their favorite holiday...and that's because we don't have to "outgrow" the spirit of holidays, no matter how "old" we get.

Whatever happened to being a kid at heart?

It's when teenagers are involved in toilet-papering and other mischievous activities on Halloween that things get out of hand, but a little trick-or-treating? In my opinion, I just don't see what harm it causes...and I'd rather know that my children are trick-or-treating with their friends than wonder what mischief they may be getting into.

As a final note, I will say that as long as my children still feel the spirit, and as long as they want to dress up and trick-or-treat, I'll be helping them get dressed in their costumes and sending them out for a night of candy collecting.

Will I let my teens trick-or-treat? Absolutely! I guess I'll just have to make sure they don't trick or treat at Karen Boyarsky's house. :)

So, with two very opposing views presented here, we're wondering what you think about the Trick-or-Teen topic. Should teenagers be allowed to trick-or-treat or not?

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