The Family Project: Trick or treat
Q. My children, ages 5 and 12, are planning their costumes for Halloween. Our neighborhood has always been safe, but I still worry. Do you think they are old enough to go alone? I need to be at my house to hand out candy. Also, is there an age when children are too old to trick or treat?
“I don’t think you need to be concerned about how old to trick or treat,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said in answer to one of the questions.
“Right now, you should be focused on whether it is safe for the five-year-old to go out alone with the 12-year-old,” Stefanyak said, adding, “I would not leave a five-year-old with a 12-year-old, who is likely to see a group of friends and go off and leave his younger brother behind.”
“With any of these situations, it depends on the maturity of the kids,” panelist Mike Ramsey said, adding, “In general, a 12-year-old is mature enough to go out on his own, but I agree that putting the added responsibility for a five-year-old on the older brother is not a good idea.”
“The safety of the neighborhood doesn’t matter,” Stefanyak said. “Accidents happen, so the mother’s concerns are warranted.”
“What does matter,” Ramsey said, “is how well do the children know the neighborhood so they are not going to get lost? Do they have flashlights? And do they know basic safety steps, like looking both ways before crossing the road?”
Panelist Pam Wallace suggested alternatives, such as sending the children out with a neighbor who is taking her own children trick or treating.
Ramsey said the mother has a lot of options, including taking the five-year-old out for a half- hour while the older boy stays home to pass out candy.
The option that Ramsey seemed to prefer was for the mother to forget about passing out candy at home.
“Turn the light off on the porch and take your kids trick or treating. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with your children, and to let them have a good time,” Ramsey said.
If the mother is worried about other trick or treaters, Ramsey suggested, “Leave a basket of candy on the porch if you want.”
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor, and Amy Contakes, Valley Youth House.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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