Jordan fidgets in his desk. He looks at the clock for about the hundredth time. He can’t wait for this day to be over. All of his friends are sporting ghoulish costumes while he sits at his desk in plain old jeans and a shirt. Halloween is stupid!
A few months later, in the very same classroom, Hannah sits in an adjacent seat feeling the same thing about Christmas. She is sick and tired of hearing her parents say that this is really a holiday about commercialism, not about “peace and good will toward man.” She wants to enjoy the festivities and fit in with her friends. Why does her family always have to be so different?!
This is the perfect time of year to discuss family traditions around holiday celebrations, for in many households Halloween or Christmas are controversial subjects. Some parents are staunchly opposed to their children gorging on sweets or dressing up as ghouls. Other parents find the concept of Christmas gift giving and materialism at odds with their core values. It’s okay to substitute unique family traditions for mainstream traditions as long as you are prepared to help your child deal with this sense of “being different.” A child who feels like they’re weird and is excluded from peer activities is at risk of rebelling. But a child who is included in the family decision making process and whose parents are committed to sharing their family traditions with others, is much more likely to revel in their uniqueness rather than chafe at being different.