Dear Prudence: Last year one of our neighbors was really ticked off about our Halloween decorations being too scary. We really do go for the more ghoulish decorating and have a lot of fun with it! The angry neighbors across the street have a 5-year-old daughter. They said she wouldn't sleep with the light off for a month after our "horrifying" decorations "scared the daylights" out of her. They also said they hoped that we would refrain from the frightening decorations since we now knew they upset their daughter. They still will barely speak to any of us who decorated using anything "scary" to a 5-year-old.
The kids on our street are a wide variety of ages, most 8 or older. I have three boys ages 8, 10 and 12 who have a great time with the scary stuff. Is it insensitive for us to decorate with tombstones, scary witches and skeletons? My boys and their friends next door are already planning new ideas for the Halloween display. Should I pull the plug on the fog machine and plan a super-duper Happy Halloween?
Prudence says: Being a parent means not expecting the world to bend to your child, but guiding your child through the world. If the parents have carried out this grudge for a year, I feel sorry that their little girl is missing lessons in humor and resilience.
My suggestion is that before you start the decorating, you go tell the parents you'd enjoy it if they and their daughter came over to help your sons decorate. Say that you think if she helps the big boys, and can see all this scary stuff is just things in boxes and not so scary after all, that she will really enjoy the festivities. If they shut the door in your face, tell your sons to skip their house when they go out for candy.
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