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As a mom, I have a lot of questions.  One thing that I have questioned, in particular, is how to navigate Halloween with my kids. What do I do when we are at the mall shopping or driving in the car and my three-year (who sees and comments on everything) says something like this?:

“Mommy, look at those scary faces!”…”What is that monster doing in their window?”…”Why is a man with a black cape sitting in that tree in their yard?”

How should I respond to my kids on the issue of Halloween when their only concern is pretending to be pirates and fairies, yet they are being exposed to scary and dark images everywhere we go?  How do I nurture their innocence and leave behind the trash?  How do I protect their sensitive hearts without becoming hermits who never leave the house?

As a Christian, I am a believer in being “in, and not of the world”.  I don’t think the answer is to retreat and to avoid our neighbor’s two-year old when she comes prancing across the street dressed as Cinderella just because we disagree with aspects of Halloween.  I also don’t think is wise to blindly open doors of fear and darkness, exposing young kids to terror inducing images like the ghosts, “scream” masks, and the gore that can appear on the front step trick or treating or in display windows for such an occasion.

Recently we were in the bookstore when my son noticed terrifying images on the covers of a whole section of Halloween/horror books.  He stood frozen in front of the display, and I panicked.  It was the first time he had ever seen such disturbing images.  I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to protect him but I did not want to make a scene.  At first I just tried to pull him away and distract him, but then I realized I had to address the issue head on in a way that helped him understand and process what he saw.

I told him that when we see things that make us scared, we don’t have to keep our eyes on those things.  I explained that those pictures are ugly and do not make God’s heart happy.  I then emphasized the beauty, peace and love that are found in God and said,

“Isn’t God the best?! He is not ever scary or ugly; He is the most beautiful One in the world.  I like to think about Him and all the beauty that He creates, not about ugly things.”

When we drove home, I said to the kids, “Let’s keep our eyes open to see the beautiful leaves that are changing…look!! God made those beautiful red leaves and yellow leaves!!  Isn’t that cool?!!  Don’t you love God’s beautiful work all around us?!  I love to think about the gifts He gives us in the Fall to notice and enjoy, like the changing leaves and the beautiful blue sky!”

As a mom, I am learning that we do not have to fear for ourselves or for our kids because the love of God brings light wherever it goes and His light is stronger than any darkness we encounter.  I believe that we are called to proactively bring His light everywhere we go and as a result, I see Halloween as a time help our children learn the spiritual truth that LIGHT ALWAYS DISPELS THE DARKNESS.  It’s an opportunity to turn our porch light on, engage our neighbors in a genuine way, and let that Light shine out from our homes and into our streets.

We are called to bring light, healing and hope to our streets, especially on such a night as Halloween.  In our culture, Halloween is often a time where neighbors interact in a way that they don’t normally.  It is a time where neighbors with whom you would never mingle are out on the sidewalk.  Halloween provides an opportunity to build relationships as you laugh together over the princesses, fairies and bullfrogs that are running around feasting on the candy they would never, ever be allowed to eat on a normal day.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-1New International Version (NIV)

As for the mother of “Tink” and Capt’n Hook, I would love to hear your thoughts and traditions for how to keep Halloween healthy for our kids.