Dear Diary,

The terror of Halloween takes on new life when you’re the mom of a preschooler. It happens in ways you may have never anticipated. First, developmentally and socially your little one is learning to gather vast amounts of information and make meaning of the world around them. That means every cultural practice will be placed under scrutiny. Second, your child will take you completely by surprise as you unwittingly turn down an aisle with witches and skeletons. He will ask you why this skeleton is scary but the one at the children’s museum is interesting and fun. You will find yourself left stammering when he asks about explicit and offensive costumes and why they look that way and who wears them and why do they wear them and the list goes on!

One of the most terrifying experiences of Halloween will probably be the one you look forward to the most–picking out a costume! As you wheel through aisles of glittering, splintering colors and textures, the excitement and discovery mounting, you dread the moment when you will ask, What do you want to dress up as? and his reply will surprise you. Maybe he wants to be a character from a TV show you think is too adult or violent to idolize, mimic, or even watch. Maybe you dread the wacky noise makers or the unsanitary masks that will inevitably accompany that choice. Maybe you’re just anticipating the total melt-down that will occur when they drop the necessary prop into a sewer grate. Maybe your son will ask to be a princess or your daughter will demand to be Batman. Personally, out of all the terrors of Halloween, that one sounds the most palatable. For me. Even though my son’s father might insult me on social media, his grandfather might let an outdated insult slide forth and strangers might gawk and gossip. But if the worst thing that happens on Halloween is that I get to teach my son to love himself and to love others for being themselves–I know we’re going to be OK.

I respect every parent’s right to make decisions with their child. So, if you won’t let your son be a fairy pirate for whatever reason, that’s fine. If your daughter asks for the intimidating, Hulk muscle costume and you lure her to a more culturally acceptable tutu, that’s fine by me. However, if you see someone else’s child wearing whatever their gentle heart desires, skipping around being kind and engaging with everyone he or she meets, try to respect that parent’s choice–and more importantly, that child’s voice–and set an example of acceptance and love for your little one to follow.

Hey DFTM Fam–Did you let your son or daughter pick out a costume from the opposite gender’s aisle at the store? Why or why not?


About The Author

Kelsey Lueptow
Feminist Mom

Kelsey is a single mom raising a 3-year-old son in Iowa City, IA. She writes about feminism and gender identity issues. Kelsey loves being a mom, eing a mom because it gives her an excuse to be silly and play with her little guy all the time. When not writing for DFTM, she attends graduate school. She is also an instructor at Northern Michigan University, a published poet, and a contributing writer for Everyday Feminism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.