Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween Candy Buyout

Okay, this is my last Halloween post, promise. I've been trying to get Reid to move on for days, so I should too. But I've been struck by just how many parents buy their kid's Halloween candy off of them.

I think the movement started with Dentists, who buy candy to save teeth and then give the candy to troops over seas. Hats off to you Dentists! Your purpose is clear: less cavities, and your mission is philanthropic: giving to men and women whom we can never repay. I give the idea a thumbs up, two thumbs up if they have the kids package the candy themselves.

The movement of parents buying candy off their kids, well I was on the fence for a while. I didn't really know what to make of it. One parent (who I do not know personally) wrote about how her husband turned the whole thing into a big lesson on money management and capitalism and how her children spent two hours -- two hours! -- bargaining piece by piece with their dad. I'm a big supporter of money sense in youth, so it seemed clever enough.

But the more I've sat on the whole idea of parents buying candy off their kids the more I've realized this isn't a lesson in capitalism, it is a lesson in welfare. I give it two big thumbs down.

I'm usually one to support any parental philosophy or style. I have my opinions about things, but I reserve judgement because I know opinions vary. However, I'm here to confess I'm having a hard time reserving judgement on the issue of Halloween candy buy back. I think the biggest reason it is hard for me to reserve judgment is because many of the very people who I keep reading about buying their candy off their kids are die hard conservatives who despise government handouts. So I have to wonder, do these parents not realize the very valuable community handout lesson they are teaching their children come Halloween night?

I'm not going to go all Matt Walsh on you here and talk about how destructive this practice is, I'll still maintain my "to each his own" attitude. But I do think mindful parenting is important, and I think the parents who are buying candy off their kids probably just haven't taken the time to be really mindful about the whole process. I encourage all of us to think about what we are teaching our kids when we pay them for something they were given for free.

The lesson taught to these kids is clear. Go door to door as fast as you can and get as much candy as you can for simply saying "trick or treat," and then return home and make as much money as you can off your "hard work" (those are air quotes, please insert eye roll). Ask yourself, are they really making money off their hard work, or are they making money off their neighbor's kindness and generosity? Making money off hard work would require raking a neighbor's leaves, not trick or treating. 

Take for example the candy that was stolen off our porch, or Ben's secretary's porch, or our neighbor's porch. Now, I wouldn't put candy on my porch if I didn't know this was a possibility. There wasn't much and I wasn't bothered by the act. Until ... I thought of that child going home and making $5 off his/her mom and dad for all that candy he/she stole. This scenario actually makes more sense to me. I think most kids know a whole bowl of candy will make them sick, so why take it all? But if a whole bowl of candy makes them $5, then take it all!

I'm not trying to discourage limiting our children's Halloween candy, but there are so many other options that teach kids more valuable lessons. Make a cookie bar with your various loot as the add ins and deliver it to your local Church group or assisted living center. Package a few pieces with some toiletry items and pass them out to homeless people in your city. Package them with a few cans of soup and deliver them to your local shelter or food bank. Sale them to your dentist and know that they'll brighten some soldiers day. Learn self control and only eat one a day. You could even make a fun little Christmas countdown advent out of them. The options for using up all that candy wisely are endless.

Simply encouraging your children to run door to door asking for a free handout so that they can earn a little money from you is not one of the wise options. It's teaching your kids to make a profit off something they were given for free. If you still want to argue it's a valuable lesson in capitalism we can agree, but recognize the flip side and know that it is also a valuable lesson in welfare. 

1 comment:

Mom said...

Love this post! One year I went as a Democrat for Halloween and gave all the employees a mini Hundred Grand candy bar. All but one employee took it, ate it and never gave it a thought about the 'free handout.' Typical of my opinion of Republicans in general. If it benefits me I am all for it, just don't help out the other guy. I did admire the one person who gave me my handout back.

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