Why You Should Dress Up With Your Kids on Halloween
For better or worse, kids are heavily influenced by the behaviors and choices of their parents. Children are always watching and learning about the ways of the world. They’re analyzing how their heroes react in every single situation, and they model their own behaviors after what they witness. So I try my best to be cognizant of my duty as a role-model at all times - and Halloween is certainly no exception to that!
How could a dad possibly be a bad role model on Halloween you ask? The answer is simple - being too cool to wear a costume. That’s right, I said it. I’m looking at you, normally-clothed parents standing in the streets looking at your phones. Oh, the humanity! Think of the children!
Whether trick or treating with the family or attending a Halloween party - dads need to suck it up, look silly, and have fun with the family. And that goes for you too, moms. You aren’t off the hook. The kids are watching, and the consequences of your too-cool-for-schoolness just aren’t worth the risk.
You might be wondering what the big deal about dressing up is. But if you think about it, it’s really no different than any other parenting situation where being a positive role model is crucial. It’s the exact same phenomenon that makes it so vital for Dad to be a reading role model as well. Because if a kid keeps hearing from his teachers or his mom that reading is important, but he grows up watching his hero Dad never once open a book, it should come as no surprise if he develops the attitude that books aren’t cool.
The exact same reasoning can be used for the imagination and self-confidence that can be learned during Halloween. Nothing is more precious than a child’s imagination and childlike wonder. And nothing is more tragic than having that pure joy dwindle away over time, especially if the root cause is embarrassment or trying to impress others. Who cares what other people think, right? I’ll tell you who. I’m looking at you again, normally-clothed parents.
From the very beginning of life, all kids are on an inevitable collision course with the desire to grow up and be cool. But it’s never too late to help them define what cool really means. One of the greatest tragedies of childhood is when kids start abandoning things they love for the sole purpose of impressing others - or because they just think it’s part of growing up. And I want to help our kids avoid that tragic fate at all costs.
So, whenever feasibly possible, it’s definitely worth it to me to model what it looks like to not care what other people think about you. Being a grownup is a vague construct for children with an ever-changing definition. And acting silly on Halloween is just another small chance to make an impression on their definition. I feel like if I dressed in street clothes every single year when we went trick or treating with our children, somewhere in the back of their heads they’re going to get that sad message loud and clear - imagination is only for kids.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to have matching family costumes until the kids leave for college. But if you have little ones and they’re excited about Halloween, then go make a fool of yourself. If your 3-year-old is Doc McStuffins then you can be her little dragon friend. If your son is a Pokémon trainer then put on some Pikachu pajamas and hop around the neighborhood like you mean it.
If you need some inspiration, think about the ending of Little Miss Sunshine when the pageant officials want Greg Kinnear to get Abigail Breslin off the stage, but he starts dancing to Super Freak with her instead. It’s heartwarming because he’s going all in to support his daughter, and he’s throwing what other people think about it to the wind. And Halloween is one more chance to go all in for the kids and promote their imagination and self-confidence.
Is it possible that me dressing up as Peter Pan is the key to a lifetime of happiness for our children? The one thing that will rescue our kids from a hollow life devoid of all meaning? Probably not. Trying to be a good role model is likely a much longer-term game than that. But science hasn’t proven that it’s NOT the key to happiness either. So are you really willing to take that risk?
What do you think? Is a properly celebrated Halloween the key to the meaning of life? Are you a normally-clothed parent or a Pikachu hopping around in the street? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! And Happy Halloween!