Folks, this is from an email thread between me and two others (2 separate households). Read it from the bottom up.
The only way our children will learn to stand firm in their beliefs/lifestyle is if we model that. I agree that it can be difficult at times. I just don’t think that we need to bend on everything ie. just because our child is sad/struggling/feeling left out. It’s necessary that they learn how to move through these emotions when they’re little. We must show them how to deal with that. I remember feeling sad at points. My sisters do too. We each experienced the “isolation” differently mind you. I give my parents props for standing their ground though. They essentially taught us to stand on principle. Was it always done in the best way? Would I repeat everything? Absolutely not (especially since my spiritual perspective/lifestyle has changed so much from when I was growing up)! At the same time I know for a fact that one of the reasons why I don’t have issues with doing my own thing/being my own person is because of how I was raised. There is a direct correlation. I’ve never needed a crowd and I’ve found that many others who were raised similarly are like that too. One of my girlfriends is definitely on that tip. We’ve been friends since we were about 4. Nothing really moves her especially as it pertains to raising her son. That’s definitely connected to the type of household she was brought up in. She holds her ground on lots and she’s a single mom. – Sistah A
Gotcha! Different strokes for different folks I say. Sounds like you need to have another child. Heehee. That way your son would have some company. Seriously though… what works for one family (or even one child) is ineffective for another. It’s complex. As a parent I could see me trying to avoid the whole Halloween vibe. Who knows mind you. We’ll see when I get there. On top of that I don’t intend to be a single mama so my partner/children’s father’s perspective will definitely have to be considered. I’m sure we’ll come up with a plan that works for us. Right now it’s hard for me to envision celebrating Halloween because:
1) I didn’t grow up with it so to get into it would feel incredibly strange to me. My parents didn’t entertain any of it. They took us out of school and everything. My siblings and I knew why. Albeit if I did this my reasons would be different since my spiritual persuasion has changed so much over time. My sisters and I got our sense of community from being around other children who didn’t celebrate Halloween. Ideally families who aren’t into it should connect with each other (around these times) at least for our children’s sakes. Our children need that sense of community. That way they are less inclined to feel left out.
2) It just doesn’t resonate with me culturally. Same way I actually dig much of the Pagan vibes ie. honouring ancestors. I don’t see Paganism as evil at all. It’s very earthy and I love that.
In terms of fears around our children feeling left out of traditions like Halloween… honestly I think we as adults project alot of that. Some children aren’t phased when they don’t participate in these things.They are natural leaders. They have no problem standing alone and that should be nurtured. AND… as parents we must be careful of adjusting things (that we know we’re not down for) every time our children struggle/feel left out. That produces weak individuals in the long run. Plain & simple. Seriously I’ve seen it time & time again. We must try to be balanced with our children. Flexible & firm. Sometimes “no” has to be just that – “No!” Otherwise they’ll grow up on this tip of always trying to fit in (which isn’t criss at all) & really struggling with being different/unique. That’s no good. Fact is they’re going to cry sometimes. They’ll battle with some things. Bending every time is not what our children need from us. Like I said, all too often we do this in the name of being flexible. The result is that our children end up being weak.
Leaders. That’s what we need to cultivate. Remember leaders must learn how to stand alone and that starts in childhood. – Sistah A
Interesting. My son’s mother & I never celebrated Halloween. My son is participating and he gets to dress as his favourite character from his video game & cartoon. So I guess I have capitulated to the mainstream. But for me it’s more about him socializing in an experience with his friends. He is an only child and so it’s important that he not feel isolated. It’s not about acknowledging or supporting the historical origins of Halloween (conscious or unconscious). We also have several children’s stories on slavery in the U.S. and Africa. He asks questions about slavery, slave master, Africa, Bermuda. So I guess we are striving to strike a balance between instilling a cultural identity in him that affirms who he is without making him feel isolated. Still figuring it out. – Brother B
My youngest would love to go out and my mom invited him to a Halloween candyfest event at her Catholic church. My neighbour invited my son to go trick-or-treating with them but I explained our view. I’m going to let him dress up as an African warrior. He will do some research on the characters this weekend. He’ll dress up and sit on our porch and protect his kingdom come Halloween. My daughter’s group is having a harvest festival and she will dress up as Michelle Obama. Other options are Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Queen Nzingha … – Sistah C
So your children want to celebrate Halloween hey? What’s your family’s plan? I love to hear people’s stories!! Some folks simply ignore traditions like Halloween and others modify things in a manner that speaks to them. I think it’s such a personal choice. For me there’s no right or wrong way. – Sistah A