How can a Parent Deal with Inappropriate Costume Choices?

How can a Parent Deal with Inappropriate Costume Choices?

posted in: Health & Safety | 0

Today’s guest blog comes from my colleague, Dr. Michael Pitt, who offers a humorous take on inappropriate Halloween costumes from the perspective of a pediatrician and father. Enjoy!
– Dr. Karen Sheehan


By Michael Pitt, MD

On many fronts, Halloween is a time when we allow our tried and true parenting rules to be broken. Bed time is pushed back. Attempts to limit sweets are tossed out the window. Heck, the whole holiday laughs in the face of the classic rule of not taking candy from strangers.

But if you’ve taken a stroll down the Halloween aisles yet this year, you’ve no doubt noticed that once again, many costumes marketed for young and preteen girls seem more appropriate for Fredrick’s of Hollywood than trick-or-treating. Neck lines have plunged, skirts have shrunk, and garter belts make inappropriate debuts on chef costumes. Many costumes come with equally provocative titles such as “High Seas Hottie” (a Pirate costume for age 8 and up) or “Convict Cutie” complete with spandex dress and lace-up bodice. Most contain so little fabric they are sold in package not much bigger than an envelope. What is a parent to do?

As the father of a 6-month-old girl who will be dressed as a strawberry this year—and hopefully an equally benign costume every year until her mid 30’s—I find myself already starting to prepare for the inevitable debate over inappropriate Halloween costumes. Here are some tips I’ve come across:

  • As parents, our ability to have success in this argument has to start with a year-round approach to rules regarding clothing. If anything goes 364 days of the year, it’s going to be hard to put your foot down on Halloween. That being said, it is still up to us as parents to encourage and enforce wise choices, including Halloween costumes.
  • Like all disagreements, compromise is going to be key. If the issue with the costume in question is too much leg is showing, consider tights. If you think it’s too low cut, offer a camisole.
  • Choose costumes that emphasize creativity. Often the costumes that are most popular at parties are the ones that are creative, topical or funny. Brainstorming ideas as a family that are outside of the box, can be a fun part of the Halloween season.
  • Encourage group or themed costumes. Having your child work with a group of friends to come up with a costume theme can help alleviate some of the pressures that come with picking a costume.
  • Set an example with the costume choices you choose. While adults certainly have different rules, it is important to consider the messages our kids get from our costume choices as well.

Ultimately this is a battle than many parents will face, and while I realize that my hopes of a perennial strawberry costume are unlikely, we hope to take some steps to dissuade a “sexy Strawberry Shortcake” from making it’s debut any time in the next decades.

Dr. Pitt

Dr. Michael Pitt is a general pediatrician in Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago‘s Division of Hospital-Based Medicine and the director of Global Health Education for the residency program.

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