The problem with Halloween.


11 years ago, I learned the best idea about parenting before I even had kids.

Before I was writing books about enjoying your career like Do Over, I used to work for Bose. They are a company in Massachusetts that makes amazing stereos and headphones.

One of the markets we would try to sell to is college graduates. We wanted  the 23-year old who got their first real check to buy one of our stereos but we had a problem.

Sony started talking to that 23-year old when they were 6.

Sony sold them a pink stereo in the first grade.

Sony sold them a Playstation 3 at age 13.

Sony sold them headphones at age 15.

So by the time we showed up at 23 to sell them a stereo there was a sense of “Who are you? I’ve never met you before.”

Sony essentially had a 17-year head start on us. If someone took karate for 17 years before you did, they are going to crush you.

The problem with this principle is that a lot of times we parents give pop culture a huge head start with our kids.

We let the world start the conversation, let celebrities drive their dreams, and let society define their values.

Then at age 15 we show up in their life and wonder why they’re lost.

As a dad of two daughters, this cartoon by @AndyMarlette, about Halloween bums me out because most of us are too busy to respond with the truth. We miss the “store aisle” conversation with our kids because we think if we don’t have the conversation it won’t happen.

Here’s the truth though:

It’s not whether your kids will have a conversation about the world they live in, it’s whether you’ll have a voice in it.

It’s time to start talking with our kids.

Earlier than we want.

More often than we like.

Don’t give the world a head start with your kids.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. Donna Enskaitis

    Many ways of loving your kids. One, giving them what they want; second giving what they need; and third explaining the difference. Loving them and telling them that they’re the best, is a must. Remember too, that to your little one, you’re one of a kind and irreplaceable.

  2. Mrs.Princess

    Realizing there are many comments to wade through here, but I believe their is an element so many people neglect to associate with this very common trend in our society.
    How many women do you know that have gotten augment surgery? How many women do you know are on a diet or workout at the gym religiously? How many women do you know talk about how they look, spend a lot of money on clothing, and spend a lot of time/money or beauty regimens or products?
    There’s a reason the media, retail stores, and online outlets target women. Most, if not all of us, are or have been vain or guilty of vanity.
    If people want their daughters and sons to not be affected by this trend, then women/mothers need to step forward and guide the movement.
    Appropriate exercise and nutrition affect the health and beauty that all women are striving for.
    If we want women and families less affected by the various ‘influences’, then it necessary to stop the vanity addiction.

  3. Rocksana

    I always wonder, when everybody agrees, why does nothing change? why does everyone stil buy the stereotype pink toy for girls (obvious dolls) and all stereo-type blue toys for boys.

    I remember a situation parents buying a new school-bag for a little girl. sche was standing in front of some backs, which were NOT pink with fairys en disney princess. And what did the parents do? They pushed her away and told her. no not these one. They are for boys. Look here are the ones for girls. My inner me was screaming!

    I have a little girl too. She loves loves loves blue. And she likes playing with dolls AND with cars. And i really hope it will stay like that. But everytime she gets a present from s.o. else, – s.o. who doesn’t really think about who she really is – i see shes loosing i bit ofit….

  4. Absolutely correct. Just yesterday I scoured store aisles looking for a costume my 5-year-old daughter really wants. She wants to be Rapunzel and the price tag was $40. I was truly shocked, as many parents are at the sex-focused approach to toddler and young kid costumes. “Naughty Alice in Wonderland” is not what I have in mind for my kid. I purchased a 6 dollar wig, and I went to the resale shop and got her a beautiful dress for 4.75. She cried because it’s not the “official” Disney one. I explained to her that she has to be her own kind of princess and that no one else in the world will have a costume like hers. She is now a happy camper. Little kids these days and their parents are experiencing a whole lot of pressure. We also have the power to stop it.

  5. Thanks so much, Jon. Wonderful reminder. The movie “Miss Representation” is a documentary on the way our culture speaks to girls. It’s difficult to watch, but I was glad I saw it. I went into the movie thinking I already knew about the problem … but the movie showed me areas where I needed to have conversations I hadn’t thought of yet.
    I have 3 girls and a boy. Grateful for your reminder today. Thank you!

  6. I just read a blog post on halloween from a recovering ex-pagan and it struck me so badly http://pennierenewed.blogspot.com/2013/09/an-open-halloween-letter-from-ex-pagan.html

  7. My kids are 18, 16, and 14. Because I’ve been able to home school them, it’s been a lot easier to discuss the world often, from a Biblical perspective. Even though their dad rejected his faith and left when they were 4, 2, and 6 months, my children have retained a strong faith. We’ve always watched movies together, read, listened to sermons and the radio, and discussed things. Focusing on the heart, rather than trying to control the external surroundings, is the key.
    And I pray like crazy.

  8. Sharing. Agreeing. Thanks, Jon, for articulating this so well.

  9. Roberts

    Children are indoctrinated with all forms of poison from the public School system. Peer pressure, Government manifesto’s being propagated to the youth “big Government control = good, individualism = bad” and anything prayer based is strictly forbidden, laughed at and ridiculed. Proper parenting time and Spiritual studies have taken a long far back seat to commercialization of products, social gadgets and more “education” posing as the cool and in thing to do which is diametrically inverse to spiritual guidance. Even Disney is in on the game. (Look at the adults coming out of the Disney empire as entertainers) Parents are required to work more hours to pay for all of this Government control therefore taking time away from parenting and proper guidance. The planned quagmire is full on. Do a search for Common Core lessons for third graders. Wake up people.

  10. patrick

    the original post was a bucket of awesome. the comments, not so much. Thank you Jon for this very important reminder/wakeup call for parents….especially parents of young girls.

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  12. Dee

    Exactly! I am not a parent myself, but as a child who grew up not always being able to talk about the things that bothered me or what I saw around me, I often had to go and find out from Friends or the internet. today at 21, I see how that has given me some very jaded views on important life matters and I have had to learn to redefine them! I pray that I can be the parent that gives my children the platform to ask questions and to have conversations about things that matter. I want to be their biggest influence.. and not people whose private lives I do not even know! Great Post!

  13. Ryan

    I was hoping for a great trick or treat story from Jon when I opened this….that saddened me.

    As for your example – I don’t think you give Sony enough credit. Sony had to not only get the kid to want it but convince the parents to buy it! You make it sound like parents are ignoring this pop culture infiltration until they are 15. Nope – we are actively encouraging that kind of behavior with the clothes, toys, accessories, food, etc. we purchase for them. You can talk to your kids all you want but who is buying the pink radio and Playstations for the kids? We are doing it to ourselves – actively participating in the indoctrination.
    If parents don’t agree with the values of pop culture then they need to stop buying into it. If you lead by example then the kids will get the message. If you don’t buy the Playstation for them and they still want it then the conversation is going to happen anyway because they are going to bug you and ask why 1,000 times – don’t just say “I said so” – have the conversation. Don’t give in and buy it because its easier.

  14. Wow Jon… I needed that info about 20 years ago! Seriously, that was to the point and the point hurts. Spending time now and making an impact now is what’s going to guide their future. Isn’t that what Solomon was saying? “train a child in the way they should, and when they are old they will not depart from it.” Thanks Jon. You nailed that one for me.

  15. Richard

    Well put. My grandma told me with regards to my daughter and before the rest of the chit-lins arrived, that if I will talk with my daughter regularly now… she will talk to me when she gets older. She will learn to tell me anything… with a smile she added, even the things you don’t want to know. I would add to that, the things I need to know.

  16. Fantastic Jon! Thank you for sharing.

  17. An old saying some of us “boomers” learned as we grew, “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” It seems to apply here.

  18. Kat

    very true, as well its placed in movies, songs, actions of acceptance. Line keeps getting further back to what is morally right. Modest isnt even in vocabularies anymore