With Halloween approaching and my twin daughter’s turning 11 years old soon, I’ve heard a few of their costume ideas…which have caused me to really think.
What’s appropriate? What’s not? What if they want to wear something that I think isn’t appropriate? Maybe you have similar questions…
I started to think about what mattered most and how I could guide my daughter’s in choosing a costume that we both could feel good about. And I also realized that my main goal was for all my children to grow up and make wise decisions, not just on Halloween.
With that in mind, I’m sharing this article in hopes it can support other dads (or parents) in the process of navigating tricky Halloween costumes for your kids.
One of the challenges we face during the Halloween season is our children’s requests for costumes that are either excessively evil or overly sexy. While Halloween is a time for fun and creativity, it’s crucial to balance our children’s desires with our responsibility as parents to guide them towards age-appropriate and acceptable choices.
How does this work for both you and your child? I think it’s about helping your child learn to make good decisions, which means they need the chance to make decisions. So, give your child as much autonomy around Halloween as you can. This will of course depend on your child’s age and maturity level.
In this post, I will share a few thoughts on how to handle these situations. The main goal is to foster a strong parent-child bond while also maintaining healthy boundaries. Knowing that I didn’t have all the answers I also looked into what others had to say and found two research facts that might support the goals I’m looking to achieve.
This first fact was a bit surprising, only because I never really thought much about my influence on costume choice. But it makes perfect sense.
Fact #1: The Impact of Parental Influence on Costume Choices
Research indicates that parents have a significant influence on their children’s choices, including Halloween costumes. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that parental guidance plays a crucial role in shaping a child’s perception of what is appropriate and acceptable. This means that as dads, our input in their costume choices carries weight and can help guide them towards more suitable options.
Fact #2: The Importance of Open Communication
Another research finding from a study published in the Journal of Family Psychology highlights the importance of open communication between parents and children. The study suggests that when children feel heard and understood by their parents, they are more likely to comply with parental guidance and be content with the outcome. Therefore, fostering an open and understanding environment is key to successfully navigating difficult costume requests.
This insight is something I firmly believe, but at times it can be hard for me to apply. That’s why I’m constantly evaluating how well I’m doing in this area and making adjustments to keep the communication as open as possible with all my children.
That being said, I’d like to share a few ideas to support more open communication, maintain healthy boundaries and stick handle the tricky Halloween costume challenge.
1. Initiate a Conversation
When your child approaches you with a Halloween costume request that seems excessively evil or overly sexy, the first step is to initiate a conversation. It’s critical how you talk to your child about their costume decision. The most important skills you can bring to this conversation are a willingness to listen and empathy/understanding. Ask them why they want that particular costume and listen to their explanation without interrupting. This last part about interrupting is critical. When kids have the opportunity to share without judgement, you’ll be amazed at what you learn about them!
Another aspect of this conversation is an opportunity to help them learn more about themselves and become aware of any social pressures that are influencing their decisions. It also helps you know what pressures they might be feeling or who/what is a powerful influence on their costume choices.
Having an open discussion where kids feel safe, heard and understood will help you connect better and open the door for you to address their feelings and needs more effectively.
2. Explain Your Concerns and Family Values
Once you’ve heard your child’s viewpoint, it’s important to explain your concerns as a parent. Be clear about why you believe the costume may not be appropriate or suitable for their age. Avoid using judgmental language or making them feel guilty for their choice. Instead, focus on the values and principles that guide your decision, such as respecting others and being a good role model.
3. Offer Alternatives and Engage Their Creativity
After sharing your concerns, offer alternative costume ideas that align with your family’s values and your child’s interests. This can be a collaborative process, allowing your child to explore other options that still reflect their creativity and individuality. You can say, “Let’s see if we can adjust this so we’re both comfortable.”
Encourage your child’s creativity to modify their chosen costume or select a new costume that is both fun and suitable. You can design something together or help them brainstorm ideas and offer suggestions, allowing them to express themselves while adhering to your family’s guidelines.
By involving them in the decision-making, you encourage them to take ownership of their choices and strengthen your bond with your child.
4. Set Boundaries
In some cases, your child may still insist on a costume choice that you find inappropriate. As a dad, it’s your responsibility to set boundaries that prioritize their well-being and the values of your family. You can explain that while you respect their creativity, certain costumes may not be allowed due to your expectations for decency or safety concerns.
5. Lead by Example
Children learn by observing their parents. To set a positive example, consider dressing up in a family-themed costume that reflects values and interests that are important to your family. This not only reinforces the idea of shared experiences but also sends a clear message about your family’s values.
6. Show Unconditional Love
Throughout this process, it’s essential to reassure your child of your love and support, regardless of the costume they choose. Let them know that your guidance is rooted in your desire to protect them and guide them to make healthy choices. Make it clear that your love is unwavering, no matter the costume they ultimately select.
As dads, it’s our responsibility to guide our children in making Halloween costume choices that are appropriate and respectful. By initiating open conversations, explaining our concerns, offering alternatives, and setting boundaries, we can navigate tricky requests with love and understanding. Remember that leading by example and showing unconditional love are key to maintaining a strong parent-child bond while helping our children make choices that align with our family’s values.
Halloween should be a time of fun, creativity, and togetherness, and by following these principles, we can ensure that our children enjoy the holiday while respecting the boundaries we’ve set as responsible parents.
About The Author – Drew Soleyn
I’m the Director of Dad Central Ontario, Founder of Connected Dads, and a Career Coach at the Queen's Smith School of Business. As an ICF and Maxwell Leadership certified Coach, Trainer & Speaker, I help struggling dads show up at their best for the people who matter most.