The twinkle in their eyes as I revealed their vampire costumes signifies the magical spark that exists each year on October 31st. The moment September begins, my children start planning Halloween, a holiday believed to have begun 2000 years ago. They try on their costumes, practice being in character and solidify a location for their candy-collecting route. This all takes place before the leaves even begin to change. Along with friends, they eagerly await the evening as it draws near. And by eagerly, I mean our house is filled with talk of candy, costumes and cobwebs for the entire autumn season.

“Can we do the whole neighborhood this year?” My eleven year old lives for the hayride, pumpkin patch, candy-eating-season otherwise known as fall. As I imagine him only steps away from middle school, I hold tightly onto the child he is today. I can only hope the magic of Halloween lives on brightly in the hallways of this larger, more mature environment. My one wish for his childhood is that it lasts as long as possible.

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Yet each year, as Halloween approaches, I read articles, I see posts on social media and I hear neighbors debating about teens trick or treating.

Trick-or-treating should be off-limits for teenagers. Or so many believe. But amongst all this commotion, I look at my children (my almost middle schooler in particular) and I wonder why would I take away the piece of childhood he holds onto? 

We lament when they stop asking to be picked up. We wake up one day and realize their voices have deepened and they’d rather skip their morning hug and their evening snuggles. It all ends so quickly. Why would I force him into adulthood if he’s grasping his childhood so tightly? I simply won’t

I’m a 39-year-old mother who reminisces about the magical day myself. I recall having my face painted and feeling as though I could be anyone and anything I chose. I remember walking along the sidewalks of my childhood neighborhood with the most special friends a girl could have asked for. I’ll never forget the feeling that ensued when a Reese’s was dropped into my pillowcase and how something so simple could provide such happiness. 

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I can still see my brother and I with our candy laid out in front of us as we bartered while reveling in the success of another fabulous Halloween. Most of all, I remember the wonder of it all, and how that twinkle in my boys’ eyes was still strong in mine even in high school. If my kids can hold onto the youthfulness of Halloween like I did, I’ll be promoting their involvement every step of the way.

Some teenagers will be mischievous on Halloween–that’s unlikely to change. Just as some younger children will choose to attend a smaller trunk-or-treat because the enormity of walking door-to-door is simply too much. Every child has their own needs and we should not eliminate an option because it’s not ideal for some. 

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High schoolers prone to partaking in “Mischief Night” or pranking on Halloween will not be led to better choices by removing the one option they have known all their lives. I tend to believe the removal of trick-or-treating for older kids leaves them vulnerable to potential dangers lurking in the Halloween night. If we want them to have a safe, well-behaved and memorable Halloween, we must leave that option available.

So let them be. Let the teenagers dress up, too. Let teens trick or treat. Give them candy when they knock on your door. Ask them about their costume—or ignore their lack of one—and treat them as if they’re children on Halloween night. Because they are. And the memories of this night will live on in them forever.

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