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With Halloween creeping up in a few weeks, many of us have teenagers who feel a little lost around the tradition of dressing up and going out to knock on doors and ask for candy.
In fact, some cities have made it illegal for kids 12 and older to trick-or-treat.
But here's the thing: Our kids are growing and maturing at different rates. While some really do feel too old or awkward to trick-or-treat and would rather stay in with friends to eat popcorn and watch scary movies or attend a party, there are many who still love to put on a costume and go out with a big crowd or their younger brother or sister to collect candy.
My 12-year-old son is a perfect example. He is still very much a playful child, but because he's 12 and stands at 5'7" many believe he is too big to be in be trick-or-treating and should be deprived of getting any candy, so they simply don't give him any.
Some adults get so irritated at teens who dress up and ask for candy, and I've never understood why. It's one thing if our teens are disrespectful or show up without even a mask on and demand candy, but come on. What’s the big deal, and why is it affecting so many adults? Having an innocent good time shouldn’t have an age limit.
I still see adults dress up in elaborate costumes themselves—when they take their kids out trick-or-treating or when they answer the door to pass out candy—because it's delightful to get to be someone else for an evening.
I have witnessed some epic Halloween parties thrown by adults who are clearly obsessed with the holiday and go through great lengths to drape their home with cobwebs and insects, and make food that mimics brains and fingers.
And let's be real, adults eat (and enjoy) just as much chocolate and artificially-flavored gummy candy as any kid I know. I certainly dig into my kids' stash every year, wishing I had my own.
I think there are so many Halloween-loving adults out there because heading out for an evening of candy-collecting was stolen away from them at too young of an age and they miss it because it’s a fabulous time.
I think we often look at teenagers and forget they are still actually kids. We want them to act like responsible adults, we wonder why they make their life so hard, and they no longer carry the majestic feeling of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. We should allow them to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating for one darn night of the year.
They are stuck between being a kid and an adult, and if memory serves, that can be a dark, difficult place to be. If Halloween can be a one-night escape, why take it away because some adults feel they are "too old" once they hit the teen years?
Let our teenagers trick-or-treat. There are so many other things they could be doing that could lead to trouble on this night. If they want to still partake in this tradition in a respectful way, who are we to say they can't and refuse to give them candy if they come knocking on our door?
I mean, it literally involves handing them one piece of candy. Not to mention they aren't hurting anyone.
Our teens' childhood is cut short as it is—especially when things like PSATs, college courses and applications, jobs, and scholarships get shoved in their face earlier and earlier.
We need to let them be kids, and if they want to celebrate Halloween the same way they did when they were five, we should let them.