Caroline Rules: Halloween
You're Not Going Out of the House Dressed Like That!
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: With Halloween right around the corner, our kids are no doubt choosing what they will dress up as for the big night this year. One issue that seems to arise on Halloween is the questionable costume choices for teenage girls. Each year we see girls wearing skimpier and tighter getups. How do we encourage our girls to choose a more, shall we say, “demure” costume, especially in the face of peer pressure they'll likely be getting from other girls at school whose parents don't seem to mind that their child is dressed like a … well, call girl? (We can already hear the cries of, "All the other girls are wearing it!") Should we just let our girls follow the crowd since so many others will, in fact, wear skimpy costumes? Or should we be the "bad guys" and put our feet down in the face of these midriff-baring getups? Where would you draw the line?
Caroline's Ruling: This is a great question with a very simple answer: You are the parent; you set the rules, not your child. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard “But so and so's mom is letting him/her do it!” Guess what? I didn't care. My responsibility was to parent my children, no one else's.
Some may say well, it's only one day out of the year and it's a costume, so what? Wrong! It's more than a costume. It's a statement. It's basically saying that there are exceptions for inappropriate behavior and appearance.
Trust me when I tell you kids are a lot smarter than we think. They will take that inch you've given then and turn it into a yard faster than you can blink an eye. I can see it now: “But mom, all the kids are dressing like this for the dance. You let me wear something shorter than this for Halloween, so what's the difference?” Do you see where I'm going with this? You are sending a message to your child by giving in. You are basically telling them that it's okay to be a follower and not a leader; it's okay to be inappropriate if others are doing it too and, most importantly, you are opening the door to a dangerous trend.
I'm talking about all of these young girls today that are growing up entirely too fast. Consider the reaction of your child's peers if you give in. “We won! Our parents gave in! Look how hot we are! The guys are gonna love us! We should always dress like this. Look at all the attention we're getting!” Can you see what I'm saying? What's next? I shudder to think about it.
So, what's the solution? First and foremost, it's all about communication. Explain to your child that there are never any exceptions to behave or dress in an inappropriate manner. Try to come to a fair compromise without giving in to your principles. If reasoning doesn't work and your child becomes belligerent, well, then it's time to put your foot down. Newsflash: You're the Mom and Dad. What you say goes.
Remember, as an adult you see and understand things that children don't. Either they do as you say or they stay home. It's that simple. No one ever said that parenting was easy, and at times it can be mentally and physically exhausting. Always keep one thing in mind: Your child is a work in progress — “build” that child with the best materials you have, never compromising for anything less. You owe it to yourself and, more importantly, to them.
On a side note, let's reverse the situation: This is another “do as I say, and not as I do” scenario. Mom and Dad need to set an example as well. Dress appropriately! No one needs to have his or her mom answering the door dressed in a string bikini as a Baywatch girl! Tone it down for the trick-or-treating crew, and if you want to strut your stuff, do it in the proper environment. Remember, kids learn by what they see. You may think they're not paying attention, but trust me, they are.
Ok, that's it for now. Remember, practice safe trick-or-treating etiquette … and if you get any Jolly Ranchers, send them my way!
From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco