I was visiting a church when something unusual happened. I was exiting the bathroom and noticed a sign at the door which read, “If you’re not using the bathroom, please turn the lights off.” I thought I was the only one in the bathroom, so I flipped the switch.
Immediately I heard a frightened voice shriek, “AAAAKKKKK!”
I quickly turned the light back on. I felt so bad. It turned out I had plunged a little girl into darkness for a moment…and it scared her half to death!
That’s how the Halloween season can feel for some kids, especially our younger ones. Ghoulish decorations are scattered throughout our neighborhoods. Our grocery store displays are guarded by witches and zombies. Cobwebs and ghosts hang from houses and trees. Tombstones pop up in unexpected places.
Your family might love the crazy and weird décor of Halloween. But for those who have kids who are a little wary of the season, here are a few ways to use Halloween to instill courage, not fear, into your youngsters. You can have purposeful conversations, telling your child:
God says “Do not fear.” You can look at up the phrase “do not fear” or “fear not” in the Bible and read those passages aloud together. There are hundreds of them. You can start with Joshua 1:9, Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 35:4 and 43:1, John 14:27, and 2 Timothy 1:7. Teach your children to pray when they feel afraid as David did in Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid of _________, I will trust in you, O Lord.”
Light overcomes darkness every time. You can tell your child you’re going to do a little experiment. Stand in the closet or get under a blanket. In the darkness, turn on a flashlight. It’s a lesson that darkness can’t win over light. Just one candle illuminates a room. You can teach your children that just one life surrendered to God lights up the dark places in the world. Since Halloween is a holiday of witches, ghouls, and goblins, why not use it as an opportunity for God’s light to shine the brightest.
You can choose what to look at. I remember walking down a street with my kids when some teenagers in costume came into view. Their costumes were gruesome with fake blood and, well, you can imagine the rest. I quickly took a turn just to avoid walking past those nasty costumes. I made that choice for the sake of my kids. As parents, we must shield our kids from images we know will disturb them. Since we can’t always guide our kids like this, we can also teach them to look away quickly when they see something that frightens them. You can choose where to focus.
Invite your kids’ friends to church activities that are positive. Many churches have harvest festivals, trunk or treat, or other alternative Halloween activities available. This is a great opportunity to invite your friends who don’t normally attend church. Your child’s friend will receive candy in a family-friendly environment, and hopefully, they will return! If your church doesn’t have any activities like this, you can turn your home into a place of light. You might put a sign on your door that reads, “No need to be afraid…God loves you.”
The world may seem more sinister than usual to your child in October. But you can use the Halloween season to instill courage in your child by focusing on the power of Christ which defeats sin and darkness. Instead of screaming in terror, your child can sing praises to God…right in the middle of the darkness.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. and Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.