Halloween. The day was fun when my children were small, but not when they were older. Maybe you enjoyed the day when your kids were young, too, but now … everything’s different. Your son used it for an excuse to go out and drink with his friends – or worse. Your daughter planned to sneak off and meet up with that boy you know is bad news or smoke pot with her friends while they’re out trick or treating.
Now you dread the night. If you’re child is a minor, you feel like you have to be the bad guy – again. Your child will treat you that way when you ask those annoying, oh-so-hard questions: “Who’s going with you? Where are you planning to go? You’re wearing that? When will you be home? Who is __________?”
Then there’s the oh-so-tough boundaries you have to remind them about – and enforce, even if you don’t feel like it: “No, you can’t go there.” “I’d rather you not be with them.” “No, you can’t ride in their car.”
You can do this … but you can’t do that. This isn’t the best idea … that sounds risky. “You need to work on making another plan, please.” Ugh.
Be sure your rules, expectations, and consequences are clear. Mutually understood. A good idea we found is to write them out and agree on what they are ahead of time.
It’s because we love our children that we do these things. We want to keep them safe. If only we could.
We do everything we can think of or that we’ve heard others have done. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t. It’s a crap shoot.
Will something happen? Will your phone ring late in the night when they don’t come home on time? Could there be bad news on the other end? We never know.
An older, wiser parent once told me, “Our kids are so smart. One way or the other, if they want to badly enough, they’ll find a way to do that thing you’re trying so hard to protect them from.”
Thanks a lot. That’s not what I wanted to hear.
Here are 5 tips that helped me:
- Distractions. Distractions. Distractions. Watch a lighthearted movie, go out on a date with your husband or with friends, read an uplifting book, work on a project, do some baking, clean or organize something – anything that will occupy your thoughts.
- Ask someone to pray with you. Maybe it’s your spouse or a friend. Let someone who cares about you and your child share the burden. We need each other.
- After you’ve set clear boundaries with consequences, surrender your child to God. Acknowledge that He’s in control. He’s with you and with them. He’ll give you what you need when you need it. You can trust Him.
- Do something to help you relax. When we worry, we tend to hold our breath or take shallow breaths. Take three slow, deep breaths, and release them. This can help you calm down. Go for a walk and pause to really look at the night sky. A warm bath or shower is soothing, too. Light candles, listen to music. Make it special.
- Focus on truth. Read favorite Bible passages you find comforting. I like the 23rd Psalm and Psalm 75:3, “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.”
If you dread Halloween, maybe something on this list will help. If you have suggestions to help other parents, please share them!