Oh, the Horror!

| 10/21/2014 8:14:00 AM

Front yard Halloween decorations

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,
I'm young at heart, in my 30's and Dad to "Sarah," 8 and "Trent," 5. I've been married to their Mom "Brenda" for 13 years and we're doing mostly fine. Except for Halloween season. I'm really into Halloween and decorate the whole house and yard with blood dripping out of windows and gore like severed heads on the walk, etc. There's a 6 foot hooded executioner with a bloody axe on the porch, stuffed bodies here and there, and dismembered zombies scattered around. Of course, we have the standard skeletons and spider, fog machine and the whole works for Halloween week. Sarah loves it, and she's been watching gore movies with me since she was three, at least after Brenda is asleep because she doesn't approve of the kids watching horror movies. Last year, Trent started having nightmares around October, had a reversal of potty training and still sleeps with a pull-up and the lights on. Brenda wants me to tone down the Halloween festivities this year because he does not seem to be recovering. I know he's 5, but I think if she'd let him watch a few movies he'd get used to it and might even have a good time. It seems like, developmentally, she's not letting him mature properly and he should face his fears instead of hiding from them. Am I right? — Hurting Haunter

Hi Haunter,
Your letter will haunt me indefinitely. Of all the monstrous mayhem you have cooked up, what I find most terrifying is your ego. Go back and read your own letter. You argue that a three-year-old should be introduced to the living dead, murder, carnage and general terror so that he or she may "get used to it." So, every preschooler should already be familiar with dismemberment, torture and beheadings, so that they can cope with those things when they happen in real life? Perhaps you only want to prepare your offspring for the predictable trials of life: inevitably, one day in the future they will be hanging out with four sexy teenage friends and you can set your watch by it, the serial murderer will appear, attempting to stalk and kill them one at a time, or two if he can dispatch them via coitus interruptus.

Of course, the gallery of gore that keeps you transfixed is only fiction. What you want to force your children to get used to is merely amusement for you, the adult who understands the difference between entertainment and making children feel unsafe in their own home. You are responsible for teaching these youngsters how to cope with the world, and scaring them does not make them any stronger. You like the thrill of being scared. Perhaps your daughter does as well, if she even had a choice at all. Not all people are like you! Please read this article that explains the adrenaline rush you crave. This is not a rush or a thrill for some other folks, especially young children. And your Trent is just that; his own little individual person in the world. He should not be expected to like everything Daddy likes, and trust me he most certainly will not. The most important thing a parent can remember is that your children always come first. I would encourage you to reconsider the images you are exposing those little minds to, and ask yourself if a child could feel safe with that embedded in his or her subconscious. Then consider getting your fright fix away from the house, instead of turning your loving home into a child's nightmares.

Uprooted Again

Hi Tim,
My husband, a teacher and coach in our small town, is facing an attack by his school board for "inappropriate behavior" with female students, even though he assures me that nothing happened and I believe him. We have two young children and I am certain he would never hurt them. The bigger problem is, this is the third time we have found ourselves in exactly the same situation. He is facing almost certain termination after a board review and if that happens, we will have to move again and I will have to leave my job as a medical assistant, for the second time. I love my job but I can survive. What I do not know how to do is explain this to our kids, 6 and 9. They have already been through this twice but since they are older I worry about them hearing things at school and I do not want all these vicious lies to poison their minds against their father. How can I protect them? — Uprooted Again

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