Why I Encourage My Teenager to Trick or Treat

Why I'm Encouraging my Teenager to Trick or Treat #parenting #teens

We all remember how confusing the teenage years are. You’re not quite an adult yet and you’re not really a child either. You’re in the grey zone, which makes it hard to know what adults expect from you.

On the one hand, we seem to be having an epidemic of helicopter or over-parenting. Parents are overly concerned with protecting teens from the realities of the harsh outside world. On the other hand, we’re piling on tremendous pressure to perform, to make huge life decisions, and to behave like adults.

I hear a lot of grumbling from adults about teenagers who still trick or treat. Some parents tell me they won’t let their teenagers trick or treat anymore. Not me. I’m actually encouraging my two teenagers to trick or treat.

Halloween is fun. I love seeing the creative costumes, cute toddlers, and neighborhood kids show up at our doorstep. I may be going against the tide, but I am all for middle and high schoolers trick or treating. I really don’t see the difference between a six year old and a 16 year old trick or treating. Teenagers aren’t too old. They’re kids in awkward, smelly bodies. Yes, they’re well on their way to adulthood, but they are still children.

Let them enjoy the simple pleasures of dressing up, hanging out with friends, and gorging on candy. Let their playful, energetic selves shine through for one night before they go back to cramming for mid-terms.

Trick or Treat is meant to be fun. It doesn’t have to be complicated with so many rules (you have to be under 12, you have wear an elaborate costume). If a couple of seventeen year olds want to throw on their football jerseys or mom’s bathrobe and slippers, I’m cool with that. Let’s not make them grow up faster than they already do. Perhaps we’d all do well to let our inner child have some fun once in a while!


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Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.

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