12 October 2009


Here's one for you...

Your good friend is having a birthday party for her daughter. This child is a special friend of your daughter's. I'm talking close. Best Buds. Kindred spirits almost.

As the birthday falls on Halloween, that's the theme your friend has chosen. You are a somewhat conservative Christian; your friend is not a churchgoer, but is a wonderful person and you highly value her friendship.

In your family you don't acknowledge (let alone celebrate) Halloween. It's dark history and symbols of witches and ghosts etc go against your beliefs and values.

When you hear the theme for the party your heart sinks. Your husband thinks it's a no-brainer: No way is your kid going to the party, he says. You'll have to find a way to explain it to your friend.
But you are torn. Your lay awake at night trying to figure out what to do, what to say.

Do you...

  1. Stand staunch and refuse to let your kid go to the party (risking hurting and offending your friend whom you care about very much)
  2. Explain to your friend your reasons and hope she understands
  3. Explain to your child why she can't attend her best friend's birthday party and hope she understands
  4. Ask if you can take the birthday child out on another day (somewhere special to celebrate her birthday) so she doesn't miss celebrating with her friend
  5. Let your child attend the party (but not the trick-or-treat part?); let her dress as something "nice" like a Princess
  6. As well as (5) explain to your child your family's beliefs about Halloween; allow her to attend the party but stay with her (after you've convinced your husband)
  7. Plan a trip to visit the Grandparents that weekend to avoid any awkward explanations
  8. What's the big problem?? Send the kid! It's only a party and it's all in fun

I know there are a range of views out there, even amongst Christians. Some deeply committed Christians have no problem with Halloween as they see it as just a harmless bit of fun and far removed from its Pagan roots. Also it something of a cultural thing - Halloween is a big thing in America, but is relatively new here.

Christian readers, what would you do??

Non-churched readers... if you were the one throwing the party, how would you feel if your Christian friend said her daughter couldn't attend because of their family's beliefs?? Would it affect your friendship with that person? Would you feel judged? Or would you understand and respect their opinion?

I would love to hear your thoughts...
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Morgan said...

I'm a Christian. A conservative one some might say, but we do do some Halloween stuff. I.e. pumpkins, and trunk or treating. We have a cobweb up and would consider someday handing out candy.

However, I understand where you're coming from and totally respect your family's views on Halloween.

I think you should keep your daughter home. Your husband is against her going and it goes against what your family believes and wants to teach your daughter.

You could allow her to pick out a gift for the friend and give it to her on a different day.

Explain your family's belief to your friend without saying it in a way that might offend her. I think she'd understand and would respect your decision. If she doesn't, then maybe it's time to re-evaluate the friendship.

If you allow your daughter to go, you will need to spend time talking with her about what she might see and what the Bible says about the various things. You need to encourage her to not participate in things she knows are wrong, yet let her know that that her friends have no clue what they're doing, therefore shouldn't be lectured as it's not the same for them (not knowing Christ).

How does your daughter feel about the party? Does she want to go, or is she more comfortable staying home? Do you know exactly what is planned with the party and how Halloweenish it's going to be? I.e., is it going to be pumpkins and apple bobbing, or are we talking a darker Halloween theme?

Sophie said...

Interesting one. We had a similar dilemma in Fiji with, not a birthday party but a regular Halloween party, given by friends who didn't know that many other people there (so our presence would have been noticed). I'm curious to see what other people comment as to what they would do. The girls and I went to the party (dressed as mermaids/princesses) and it was fine. It was however obvious to me that the theme of the party was slightly wierd and inappropriate. I've been telling the girls this year that Halloween is to celebrate dead people and asking them if they think that's a good thing or not. Interestingly, they would much rather celebrate alive people. Amelie came out with 'We don't celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Christmas.' And I think I caught tagged on to the end of that... 'that's for good people' which was an interesting one! Its a tricky one because I want the girls to think for themselves and see why we do the things that we do...

meg said...

Oh tricky! As a non churchy person (don't hate me!) and living far away from the US where Halloween is a big deal, it's not something I've really considered. I think that if it was me throwing the party and a close friend said she wouldn't be coming because of her strong religious (or cultural) beliefs then I'd be totally fine with it. Really truly.

My only concern would be that my friend might I was a horrible person for throwing a party like that. So you may need to reassure her that you don't ;o) assuming you don't!

I also think that it's so important that as a family you stick up for what you believe in, even if it makes you stand out from the crowd. i.e. you probably need to stick with R.

I'm not sure what we'll do when the boys get invited to their first McDonald's party (which we don't ever go to) as their Dad is particularly staunch anti-McDs. Having said that though I don't have an issue with other people eating there... it's just not for us. Maybe it's vaguely similar? Sorry if I'm being insensitive! Really your faith and McDonald's are nothing alike! Argh!

Sorry for the long winded waffle Simoney.

Widge said...

I gave in last year and let my kids attend the school disco that was halloween themed. one of my son's chose to stay home the other really wanted to go and I said he could provided he dressed in a non scary costume. He was one of the only kids not dressed in halloween and it was hard for him, he felt out of place. I as a parent felt stink for him but at the same time refused to give in, even though it seems no big deal. not conforming to the world stood out more for me. we have also had the halloween birthday dilemma, where we did the same thing as the disco.I can honestly say I don't know if our decisions were right or not but it's working for our family and there is a part of me that doesn't want to go too extreme and make the kids rebel later on because they feel like they are missing out because of our faith. It's tricky, and as I said in my post about halloween I actually dread this time of year and it seems to be getting worse each year.

Trees said...

My first thought was, I would go to Grandmas! I'm such a coward. But actually after a bit more consideration I think I would hope I'd be brave enough to say we don't celebrate Halloween so I pretty much agree with everyone else.

PaisleyJade said...

Wow - a hard question! I have a muslim friend who doesn't partake in certain things we do, and I am not at all offended... if she is a good friend she shouldn't be offended if you explain your reasons. I asked my hubby what he would do (he just spoke on the topic of the dark origins of Halloween at our youth church last Friday) and he said he wouldn't allow our kids to go... but it's a decision you need to make as a couple. The main thing is explaining 'why' you make decisions to your kids, but also the importance of not judging others. You never know how this situation could work out for good! Just for an added bit of info - apple bobbing was a divination game popular with the nature worshippers in early Europe. Who would have known!

Anonymous said...

You have had lots of wise comments. I mostly concur with the not wanting to make your friend feel stink vibe as well as the stick to your beliefs vibe.
We let our kids do the halloween thing even as Christians as we think that it is just a bit of fun and it just adds to the power of it if you really push that is is celebrating evil things. My hubby's Dad was really strict about theses things and he rebelled and was intrigued about it as a teenager... not so good. We only get into as much as they want to and if it got out of control we would reign it in i guess. In the context of our loving home where many other celebrations are enjoyed it is a mere blip on or radar. But if you guys have an issue with it then I think you need to be true to your hearts. BUT it will be heartbreaking for your wee girl so I think your plan of an alternative way to celebrate with her is a lovely idea, and doing something a bit spesh that day would be a nice touch to take her mind off it.
We asked Oscar to miss out on a party recently so he could go to the Watoto choir at church. My parents were coming and we thought it would be such an amazing experience for him. (we had planned it before the invite came.) He was gutted, but he did have a fun morning when he there. It was hard to explain to him tho as a sanguine 7 year old! Good luck! xxx

EcoMum said...

I think it's important to stand by what your family believes, or by what you as a parent think is right for your child regardless of what other people are doing. I also think you have to respect your husband's point of view and make the decision together. I have't been confronted with this dilemna but I think we wouldn't go and I'd explain to my friend why without making her feel like a bad person. I think your friend will respect your beliefs and probably be fine with it, although a little disappointed understandably for her daughter's sake, not having her best friend present to celebrate. I love your idea about taking her friend out to celebrate on another day. A lot of churches and in fact my son's kindy this year have 'light parties' as a Christian alternative to halloween parties so the kids don't feel they are missing out and parents don't have to compromise on what they believe. I don't know too much about them but you could google it to find out more.
In the end you have to do what feels right for you, regardless of what we all think, good luck!

Amy said...

Talk it out with Abby. God gives our kids wisdom that sometimes blows us away. They have uncomplicated seeds of faith and my girls have had ingenious solutions to some of our parenting issues! Remember what may be 'right' for one Christian family may not be right for another. God calls us each to our own walk and equips us accordingly with the peace and grace to follow our gut. Who knows? There might be an opportunity to be salt and light through this experience. So lovely to lay eyes on you again, we have missed seeing you. Welcome, welcome home. You look lovely and refreshed and sparkly. And Gail is obviously delirious to have you back!

Gail said...

LOVE what Amy has said here.... talk it out with Abs ..... and think a lot of wisdom in what others are saying too - one that speaks loudly though - work out what is going to work best for you guys!

After talking it over with you this morning... I broached it with MJ this evening and he (I was surprised) was more relaxed about it than I!... He agreed with me about being the point of difference and bringing a bit of light into the context.

The hardest thing is that this is not about Halloween but about a 5th birthday - Halloween is the theme of the party, and Christian or not, it would make for an easy theme really!!.... therefore our point of difference would be to explain in love where we are at with Halloween as a family and why my daughter wouldn't be doing the whole trick or treat thing, or dressing up as a traditional halloween character... but to ask if it would be ok turn up for the cake, to give a present, for the birthday wishes.... a bit to eat and a happy-birthday sing-song...

I also like the idea of the separate, special celebration.

It's such a hard one chick! I suppose like at Christmas, the whole anti-Santa thing is a massive deal to some Christians, while our family just sees him as a colourful decoration.

We must give our kids some credit too... they need to be taught discernment. For me that means them hearing us out and them giving their 2cents.... but it comes down to us (parentals) in the end.

Not much help from me :) but you knew that already!

Anonymous said...

WOW there are some wise women in the world!!! Loved reading everyone response.
I do feel it is important to take a stand for what you believe in....but HOW you take that stand is key. This could be a real opportunity to bring your friendship to the next level with your friend or separate yourself.
Jesus himself ate at the tables of tax collectors and spent time with prostitutes...he DID NOT separate himself from those the church, of that day, looked down upon.
Simone, this is a decision that you and your husband must make together, and follow what it is The Spirit tells you to do.
My only "advice" is to go deep beyond the obvious. Meaning do we hold ourselves separate or do we trust that no matter where we go, who we are with or what circumstance life gives us, That God is walking right beside us. Just because you go to a party with a Halloween theme, does not mean that God waits at the door for you till you get out. I know you will make the right decision for everyone who is involved...even when we do mess up God has a way of making it work for Him anyways.
I liked Gail's point...this is about a 5 year olds birthday which happens to have a Halloween theme....

"But in your hearts set Christ as Lord. always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." I Peter 3:15

And I also just wanted to put out there, that in Canada Halloween is part of the culture here. BUT all the costumes and decorating is not all about the dead.We have the mermaids, princess', pirates,cartoon characters, cheerleaders,bushels of grapes etc etc etc....

Love and Light

kestrel said...

I think respect is the issue here. We have our own different cultures. I wouldn't at all be offended if someone did not turn up cos of different religious beliefs and it is also alright to stand firm in what you believe in.

Simoney said...

Hey Everybody; thanks for your input! There were some real gems of wisdom in there. Two points really stuck out to me...
The first was that whatever we decided Me and the hubby needed to be in agreement (this was said by a number of people)
The second was from Amy: involve my daughter in the discussion/decision... thanks Amy! That was a pearler.

When I was a kid my mum and dad banned us arbitrarily from anything hinting of magic. My dear ole well-meaning dad even burnt my Enid Blyton Folk of the Faraway Tree. No way do I want to be a knee-jerk reactionary "ban-it" kind of mum. Involving the kids and talking it through with them gives them "buy-in" and doesn't leave them feeling robbed or hard-done-by. Our kids need to learn to live by their own conscience in a world we can't shield them from forever.

An amazing discussion took place earlier tonight with my girl and I will post about it later. So thanks heaps wise Amy!

Thanks also to Gail: Thanks for highlighting that it was about a 5th Birthday... not just any-old-Halloween gig. That would have been straightforward for me.

Of course if you're going to put your thoughts out there in Blogland for all to read, it's only inevitable that your dear friend (the Party Mama) would stumble across it. And she did.
She's such a great girl. She rang me up straightaway and said, "Why didn't you just talk to me???"
Um, because I have the "disease-to-please" and I was scared you would think I'm a wierdo??

But she is so cool, we had a great talk and aside from the fact I am kicking myself for not just going to her, all is good.

NEXT TIME I won't be such a chicken. I hope.

One day I hope to be like Mr G. And my Party Mama friend - up front but NICE with it.

I'm a work in progress, what can I say?

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! xx

Unknown said...

I think my decision would depend on the age of my daughter. We are Christians, but we do do some fun things on Halloween. Our daughter is 6, so if this was the situation with her friend we would let her go. She is a very smart little girl who makes good decisions and knows right from wrong.

As it is, this year we are going to a Harvest party on Halloween night, hosted by another Christian family that we went to church with. We always have a lot of fun.

Glad I found your blog! Please come visit mine and follow along with our adventures!


Rustin @ BlogFrog said...

This is a tricky one.

Whatever the decision, I would try your best to make it your daughters decision- she would learn best that way.

Also, if you do need to approach your friend, just explain the dilemma to her. Start off by saying "I have a dilemma and I don't know what to do, can you help?"

Rustin @ BlogFrog said...

P.S. I love your BlogFrog widget. Now tell all your readers what they need to do to show up there! (simplest way is to just join BlogFrog) - Recent Visitors is an easy way to "leave a calling card" when you don't have time to comment :)

Anonymous said...

I think you are taking it to seriously, kids just think of Halloween as a bit fun and it's nothing to do with religon any more.

Simoney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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