Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Fear Fest as Family Fun?


If you’ve ever read my blogs, you may know that I have a “wasband” (was + husband = wasband). As is often the case with divorced parents, we often don’t see eye to eye on parenting. It is not my intention to slam my ex in this post, but the truth of the matter is that divorced people are divorced for a reason. One of our reasons is that we don’t agree on several parenting issues.  That said, I work extremely hard at not letting the children know, see or feel this.

So, the controversial topic on my mind today is taking children to Fear Fest. If you’re from this area or familiar with it at all, you know that this event is held during the Halloween season at King’s Island. Being a natural born scaredy cat, I’ve never attended, but from what I’ve heard, it lives up to its name.

Considering that, I was not happy when my six and eight-year-old came home with tales from their trip to the fest. Apparently attending was the adults’ idea of a Family Fun activity. But I question whether or not it was fun for my son who was terrified that the ghouls and goblins he’d encountered at the fest were lurking outside his bedroom waiting to pounce should he try to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Needless to say, he chose to stay put in bed. You can imagine the end result.

Nor was I pleased to have my kids so wound up following their trip to King’s Island that they didn’t go to sleep until nearly eleven the next night. Both kept talking about werewolves, vampires and mummies who wanted to eat them. Even with all the talking, reassuring and praying that I did with them, their fears were not allayed. This was on Monday night. I can’t imagine what they were like the night they went home from the Fear Fest to their father’s house. There are lots of words my children used to describe their experience. Fun was not one of them.

Again, I’m not gunning for my ex. I’m just asking all parents of young children to consider what constitutes a fun family activity – especially during this season. Perhaps some adults have forgotten what it feels like to be a small child. What is obviously fake to us may seem very real to them. Expecting them to differentiate between the two is not developmentally appropriate. Nor is it fair.

Last year, while Trick or Treating in our neighborhood, my husband, my children and I encountered a house that was over the top with the scary decor. The kids were so petrified by the dead bodies dangling from trees and the corpse that flew at them from a zip line that they froze in their tracks. Their screams of terror reverberated into the night and sent chills up my spine. Seriously? I wanted to ask the adults in that house, Since when did Halloween become about scaring the living daylights out of small children who just want to dress up and get some candy?

It may sound like I’m being harsh, but I thought this holiday was more about fun for the kids than entertainment for the adults. I wish my children’s father had thought more along those lines when he planned to attend Fear Fest as Family Fun. But then again, I guess that’s one of the reasons he’s my wasband.

– Tammi

Photo courtesy of Brittany Randolph.

9 thoughts on “Fear Fest as Family Fun?

  1. Very well said. I wish your wasband can see this, perhaps he could see it from another view, but then again, probably not….

  2. We deal with that a lot at my house with my step children’s mother. She lets them watch scary movies and makes decisions that we would not typically think would be appropriate for children – however, we then get to deal with the consequences of those actions. I’ve decided to no longer be angry and frustrated with those decisions but use them as learning opportunities for the kiddos. We won’t always be there to influence what goes on around them, but we can empower them to know what is right and wrong, and to teach them how to cope when they’ve encountered something scary or inappropriate.

  3. There are lots of family-friendly Halloween events–including one at Kings’ Island!–for children and their families during the day. For adults that love the season, it seems like a good idea to take the kids to the (usually pumpkin or fall-themed) daytime activities and save the scary evening haunts for grown-up gatherings. I was a very fearful child and I appreciate my parents taking care to monitor the scary things I was encountering!

  4. Jen, it seems that you are handling the situation with your children’s step mom well. Even the things we parents perceive as negative present teachable moments if we are open to them. I’m glad you shared and truly appreciate your insightful feedback.

  5. Kelsi, I agree wholeheartedly. Exposing the children to the age and developmentally appropriate activites and saving those that are not for the adults seems like the way to go. Knowing our children, and acting according to their needs, as your parents did, is the parenting style for me. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Sheridan, we can always hope and pray! : )

  7. Tammi, well said. It’s so important that parents, caregivers, and teachers provide age-appropriate activities for the children under their care. Young children are still learning the difference between reality and fantasy. Your children are very fortunate to have you who understands this and cares about what’s in their best interest. Terry

  8. My exhusband and I get along for the most part but we don’t always see eye to eye. He definitely makes poor choices now and then. I have encouraged the kids to speak up when they don’t like the choices being discussed. They can say “I really don’t want to go to Fearfest” or “dad, I don’t think I’m ready to own my own bebe gun at 7” (yes, he really bought my then 7-year-old a bebe gun). The kids won’t always speak up… but honestly, there is only so much we can do. We can’t control what happens when they are with dad. Accepting that makes my life less stressful.

    • Hello Raising 2 Tweens. I appreciate you sharing about your situation. Hearing from someone who has already “been there and done that” with my children’s age group is helpful and reinforces what I try to do with them – have them use their voices to express their feelings. I’m in the process of learning to let go of the things I can’t change about their time away from me, and that does reduce my stress level. Thank you for your insight.