Halloween: The Christian Parent’s Dilemma

Opinion, Parenting

Growing up in the 1980s, we didn’t really ‘do’ Halloween. My parents would have discouraged it anyway, but we didn’t have trick or treaters round, we didn’t carve pumpkins and we certainly wouldn’t have dressed up as witches, ghosts or vampires. We didn’t go to any Halloween parties, and it wasn’t celebrated at school. It was, it seemed, just the Americans who had Halloween.

Now, it’s a very different story. Halloween costumes are available in the shops from early September. We’re encouraged to carve pumpkins, decorate our houses in shades of orange, green and purple, and children do Halloween crafts most of October. British culture – and certainly British supermarkets – has embraced Halloween with gusto.

Wondering how to approach Halloween when you are a Christian parent?

But should we be concerned about Halloween?

This year, I’ve noticed something that’s a bit more concerning. It was on my Facebook feed at first, but I’ve since noticed the trend in shops as well. The costumes are gorier. Not friendly, funny witches or comedy vampires, but scarily realistic injuries and wounds. Costumes dripping with blood. Face painting which appears to unzip the skin.

Halloween, which is marketed towards children, is becoming frighteningly adult.

Here’s the thing. As a Christian parent, I worry about the effect of exposing our children to evil. I don’t want to celebrate death and evil at any time of the year. I know that God is bigger than the devil, but I don’t want to give the devil any ground in my home. I don’t want my children to be thinking about evil things.

The Bible certainly tells us that the evil things exist, and it’s not all make-believe. The Bible mentions witches, zombies and demons. Yes, the Bible is clear that God is stronger than all of these things, but they are still there.

I also actively avoid things that might frighten my children. Not because I’m over-protective, but because they are children. Small, seemingly inconsequential things give them nightmares, so I don’t want to encourage that. Rather, I want to shield them from it.

Halloween

But then, I see that it is an opportunity to have some fun in our community. We get to knock on people’s doors that we might only have said hello to before, if that. We live in a very safe neighbourhood, and I’m happy for Ben to dress up in fancy dress and visit some of our neighbours. Where’s the harm in that?

In many ways, it also provides opportunities for us to talk with friends about what we do believe. This year, lots of Christians will carve hearts into their pumpkins to show that they don’t celebrate Halloween but they still are open to trick or treating.

This year, much more so than last year, Ben is aware of Halloween. His friends have been talking about it at school. We went pumpkin picking, and he’s looking forward to carving a face in his pumpkin. He wants to dress up. He wants to go trick or treating.

What should we approve?

But where do we draw the line? How do we sit our children down and say, ‘Actually, you can’t do the fun thing that you want to do because we believe in God?’ How do we stop the ‘dressing up as a cute ghost’ becoming ‘celebrating violence and destruction?’ How can we say that a, b and c are of but x, y and z are not, when they are all part of Halloween?

Halloween Flatlay

Last year, we carved a pumpkin. It was a cute owl pumpkin, and Ben really enjoyed that. I like it too, as it wasn’t a scary face. I’d like to do something similar, and I like the idea of carving hearts as well.

We’ll have some treats in, and of course, we’ll give out treats to trick or treaters.

We’ll go to our church’s light party, which is a great alternative to Halloween. At our church, the children are encouraged to dress up, but not in Halloween costumes. So Ben can be a superhero and run around to his heart’s content.

But that’s it. We’ll not be decorating our house. We won’t be dressing up as extras from a horror film. We’ll be trying to remember that we are in the world, not of the world. For me, the devil is real, and Halloween gives prominence to the things that are of the devil. I don’t want a part of that, not for me, and not for my children.

I’m sure it will get harder. I’m sure there will be Halloween party invitations that we’ll feel we should turn down. The light party at church will only be open to them for so many years. There will be a point where we have to get our children to make their own minds up about what they do at Halloween. But until then, it’s our responsibility to protect them and to educate them as best as we see fit.

 

Dear Bear and Beany

By Naomi

Comments

  1. Reply

    We absolutely love Halloween here, but the kids have never asked to dress up in scary costumes. They prefer things like skeletons, cats, witches and bats. And I’m happy with that.

    Our eldest is 13 and this year she’s asked to dress as Frankenstein’s bride. But it’s basically a black and white costume with stitches on and an attached veil. We’ll paint her face white and add a few ‘stitches’ with black eyeliner here and there, but I certainly won’t be making her look scary.

    I’m hoping we don’t have too many scary looking trick or treaters at the door this year as our 3 year old has sensory processing disorder and he frightens easily. I can understand older children and adults dressing up in gruesome costumes for parties aimed at their age-group, but not for walking round the neighbourhood trick or treating!

    I hope you enjoy Halloween whatever you decide to do. I know we will 🙂

    Louise

  2. Reply

    This is so interesting and I love that one sentence that you wrote which sums it up perfectly – ‘we are in the world, not of this world’ I also grew up with christian values and my mother never recognised halloween but you’re right that you can’t really avoid it now. I think you’re approaching it in the best way you can – giving you kids the fun to participate a cultural event whilst still fitting in with your values. Brilliant post and I LOVE your images. #sharingthebloglove

  3. Reply

    I certainly understand your dilemma Naomi. You are absolutely not alone in wondering how to handle Halloween with your little ones. This was very well written and inspired me to write my own post offering my viewpoint. I intend to publish it later today and hope that it may give you some clarity!

  4. Reply

    (I’m not sure if my previous message went through, and I forgot to put sharingthebloglove, so I’m going to take another crack at it!) 🙂

    I completely understand your dilemma with having your kids celebrate Halloween. Lots of other folks share those feelings, so you are certainly not alone!

    I was a Halloween baby myself, so Halloweens and birthdays were always inextricably tied together. Your post has inspired me to write my own on the subject, so I’ll offer another viewpoint that you may be interested in. (No hard sell, I promise!)

    Thank you for this well-written post.
    #sharingthebloglove

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. I’ll certainly pop over and check out your post.I was actually worried about my second child being a Halloween baby, but he was born 6 days overdue so even went past Bonfire night! xx

  5. Reply

    This is such an interesting one and a really well written post. I have to admit that although I enjoy Halloween, I’m more about the fun side of it – the pumpkin carving and light hearted dressing up – rather than the full on gore aspect. My son is only two, so we’ve not really had to consider Halloween too much, but it’s something that I’m sure we’ll come up against in the future. I’m not a Christian, but I’m not a fan of celebrating violence, or deliberately scaring people, which Halloween does seem to bring out in lots of people. Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. Reply

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Ben is 4, and this is really the first year he’s been bothered about it, or understood what trick or treating is. I’m sure this is one aspect of parenting that only gets harder. xx

  6. Reply

    This is a interesting post and I agree Halloween has gone a bit of the scale this year. My girls love the costumes, but they are cute and not gore. Pumpkin picking and carving is fun to do and that’s about it for us. I’m sure it will get more difficult as they get older. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove X

    1. Reply

      I worry that it’s getting bigger and bigger each year, but most parents seem to just want to do the fun, pumpkin-carving stuff. I definitely think it will get harder as they get older. xx

  7. Reply

    […] from Kate at The Less-Refined Mind, tells blogging how it is, it’s bloomin’ hard work. . 4. Halloween: The Christian Parents Dilemma from Life by Naomi, I’ve always celebrated Halloween despite being from a catholic family so it […]

  8. Reply

    We don’t really do halloween. We picked a pumpkin and N wanted a face rather than a nice picture which I wanted, but it’s gone mouldy before today anyway so a bit of a waste (hot kitchen with the Aga in it!).

    As kids we didn’t celebrate halloween, and weren’t allowed to go trick or treating. My mum didn’t agree with it, not because she was a christian, but because she viewed it as begging with menaces/threats. Luckily it wasn’t that big back 30 years ago, but it was still scary for us kids having other children (usually older) turning up with threats and looking scary. I hated it, and I dread to think what other people living on their own would feel.

    So N won’t be going trick or treating if I have my way. Luckily we’re in the sticks on a farm so we don’t see anyway. However this year N did ask today to go and trick or treat his cousin. I told him no, and that he didn’t have a costume anyway. The cousin (age 8) came over to the farm in a hat, but otherwise not dressed up, and both he and N got given sweets by Granny. He doesn’t really have sweets after the dentist said avoid them, so I’m not impressed. But it was hard to explain to him why he couldn’t go. It’s only going to get harder when he’s older – but given he hates dressing up, and we don’t live in the village I’m hoping he won’t ever really be fussed.

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