Our mom is in the tank behind us.

What Age Did You Let Your Kids Start Trick or Treating without An Older Person?

Let’s find out for real (more or less) what is going on with Halloween these days. Over on the Free-Range Kids Facebook page, we’ve got a poll running:

What age did you let your children start trick or treating on their own, without you or another adult, or even older siblings. While I’d love you to take the actual poll, I’m also curious about a question I didn’t ask there and will ask here: How does that compare to the age YOU started?

And while we’re at it, please also let us know what your town is doing re: Halloween. I just heard from a friend that “almost no one” trick or treats in her town anymore because the school, churches and community centers sponsor “safe” parties, sort of sucking the life blood (to use a scary Halloween metaphor) out of regular old door-to-door activity. In turn, that age-old fun starts seeming more dicey and abnormal, now that so many kids are at the indoor, supervised parties.

So let us know what the Halloween is happening. And below is the URL for the poll, if you need it. (I really am not totally sure I can link to a Facebook page. If all else fails, you can just go to Facebook and look up Free Range Kids.) When you get to the page you have to scroll down a bit:

https://www.facebook.com/FreeRangeKids/?ref=br_rs

Boo! – L.

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Our mom is in the tank behind us.

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58 Responses to What Age Did You Let Your Kids Start Trick or Treating without An Older Person?

  1. Richard Stanford October 19, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    My eldest daughter is turning 9 in a month; we also live in a fairly walkable neighborhood that has high participation in Halloween. This year is the first year that she’s going out with her friends without adult supervision.

    To be honest we didn’t really discuss and decide this, it happened organically and a big part of it is that she decided that she was ready. I applauded her decision to invite some classmates over and go out as a group.

    I’m expecting her and her friends to stay together. I’m also expecting them to come back later than they should. Since this basically turns into a multi-block party, its entirely possible that some of the parents are going to have to go and find the girls to retrieve them from a dance floor – or they may surprise us with their time sense and responsibility. We’ll find out!

    Also a little surprised that I’m not particularly concerned. Part of it is knowing that I grew up accustomed to far more freedom than she’s ended up with, and wandering around a few streets at almost-9-years-old isn’t a huge deal especially when there’s tons of kids on foot, but part of it I think is just trusting her to make good decisions even in the face of distractions.

  2. E October 19, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    I honestly don’t remember (my kids are in their 20s now), but I do admit one of us walked with them for many years….HOWEVER, it’s because we live in a subdivision that does not have sidewalks, has narrow streets, and the street lights are far apart. We love our neighborhood for the more rural feel, but it also makes it less safe to walk/jog/run after/before light. Well perhaps not less safe, but you must be very aware and ready to leap off the road (which I’ve done) if you do.

    I was also leery to let my teens drive on Halloween for that same reason, I didn’t want them dealing with kids on foot when they might not be visible.

  3. Amy October 19, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    I was 9, up until that point we all went out in a big group, myself, sister, parents, friends/cousins. We had a lot of fun, and when we came home if it wasn’t school night we were allowed to stay up late to watch Halloween shows, or go out and play flash light tag or possible a sleepover. When we were 9 we were allowed to go with friends. Honestly, I think trick-or-treating as an older kid is more fun. You can go with just you friends and stay out an up later. If I had kids and we lived in a neighborhood like I grew up in I think 9 is appropriate.

  4. EB October 19, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    Looking back to my childhood in the ’50’s, we were never accompanied by an adult, and the kids I was with were not much older than I was. But here’s the thing: very young kids didn’t trick or treat the way they do now. In our neighborhood, at least half of the trick or treaters are toddlers and pre-schoolers, being pushed around in strollers by their parents. That segues into parents accompanying K-3 kids, and even older. We, on the other hand, did not start until we could be trusted to stay with the group — maybe 8 or 9.

  5. Specht October 19, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    I sadly went alone for the first time around 11. I am sure I could have gone alone way before that. I grew up when the level of hyper-vigilance had already been snowballing for quite some time. On top of that, my parents had it stuck in their mind that I had much less common sense than the average person. It looks like I am breaking a trend here with the comments. I am really surprised at the homogeneity of the ages when people were allowed to go. Everyone has said, roughly 9. I did manage to attend a couple of Halloween parties at 14-15 where there were hovering parents, but they didn’t walk with every group.

    I was also one of those babies who got carried around in a costume as soon as my first Halloween came around.

    If I have kids, I won’t have a specific age in mind to let them walk around on Halloween alone, assuming they are interested in it in the first place. I will hopefully think up some concrete readiness criteria, and not be all touchy-feely about it. It will probably be way before I did.

  6. Amy October 19, 2017 at 9:29 am #

    You know it’s funny when I was a kid I went trick-or-treating with my friends until we decided to stop. We were 15 or 16, I can’t remember the exact age. But, what I do remember is nobody making a big deal about it. I honestly can’t recall anyone batting an eye over it. No one ever questioned us or said that we were too old. The only thing our parents said was have fun, don’t be home too late. What do you guys think is so different now with TOT?

  7. Dienne October 19, 2017 at 9:42 am #

    My dad went with us until I was in fourth grade (age 9), which year we went by ourselves in a big group of friends. However, we kind of got in a whole lot of trouble (throwing eggs at cars, brought back home by the police), so the next year we had to be supervised again. Fortunately, my neighbor was 16 so he was allowed to take us instead of Dad.

    My daughters are 8 and 10 (and their 15 year old stepsister, who doesn’t like going door-to-door and prefers to hand out candy). They go with a group of friends. I and two other parents would be fine with them going by themselves – it’s a very walkable suburb with huge participation, but two of the other parents are not, so we take turns going around with them, but we pretty much just watch from a distance.

  8. Dienne October 19, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    I will add though, that except for last year, the weather on Halloween has been positively beastly here and my younger daughter has wanted to come home much earlier than the older one. Had they been trick-or-treating on their own, that would have been more difficult to accomplish as they managed to get pretty far from base and none of them had cell phones until this year. Since I was with them, I was able to call my husband to come pick up the little one.

  9. Beanie October 19, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    I think my neighborhood is great for trick or treating–houses not too close together but not too far apart, friendly neighbors, no streetlights so it’s a little spooky. But the (few) other kids prefer to go to the newer neighborhoods with bigger homes. I think they think the treats will be better. My kids have regularly gotten tons of candy at each house here because there are so few trick or treaters and people just want to get rid of it! I’ve always gone with mine because I was worried that the older one would leave the younger one in the dust. This year (they are 10 and 12) I tried to talk them into going out on their own, but the younger one isn’t much into candy and has always been interested in staying home to answer the door, so he said he wants to do that, and the older one has a party with his Scout troop. So I think they’re done with trick or treating. At least I don’t have to worry about costumes–most years they don’t give a flip about dressing up, and I’m the one telling them they have to wear something if they’re going to go around asking for candy. Halloween is one of those things that I loved as a kid but my kids have never been super into.

  10. SKL October 19, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Honestly? I don’t remember, but it was whenever THEY felt ready. They definitely did it at ages 8&9, not sure if they were willing before that.

    In my childhood, it was a little different because we siblings were more spread out. I remember my dad taking us because my youngest sister was little – she probably got big enough to go with the rest of us (without dad) around age 5 or 6, but that was with siblings up to age 11 or so. Maybe around 10-12 I was allowed to break off from the sibling group if I wanted to. I took my kid brother and sister when they were tots and I was a tween/teen.

    I will say there were a lot more kids out on Halloween back then. It was a constant stream of kids and enough parents were out with their tots to be aware of anything weird. Nowadays we are more spread out, families seem to have fewer kids, and some of them do alternative stuff like “trick or trunk.” Plus, people give more / bigger candy so there’s no point trying to go much beyond one’s own block. So we hardly get any kids on our street.

    For us, if there is any danger I feel it’s the traffic. I’m always warning my friends to drive super carefully as they come from work (it’s always on October 31 here so people are driving home just like every other day).

  11. Wendy W October 19, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    I remember ToTing “alone” in the neighborhood where we lived when I was 6-8yo. I have a sister 2yrs older and we stuck together. I have NO memories of ever being “taken” ToTing by a parent, though I’ve seen photos of a younger me in costume and ready to go.

    My 3 kids were wide spread in age- the closest being 5.5yrs apart, so even if an adult didn’t go, there was an older sibling to keep track of them. Some years they had matching costumes, such as a knight and a dragon. Also we were on military bases for the first 2, and it’s more of a gated community expectation of safeness than a regular neighborhood. My oldest two were going with friends-only by age 8 at the latest. My youngest was different. We were (still are) in a neighborhood where the adults enjoy the party atmosphere of all wandering the streets together. The kids generally walk up to the houses alone, and often run a few houses ahead of the parents, but the streets are full of adults keeping an eye out for everyone. This child’s best friend lived a couple miles away, and by age 10 my son was riding his bike to that friend’s neighborhood for the festivities. They had no street lights, so it was much more fun for the boys than the super-safe atmosphere around our neighborhood.

    There is no “right” age to allow independent ToTing. Kid’s age and maturity, the maturity of their friends, type of neighborhood, and how long one has lived there all figure into it. I think the inclusion of toddlers and babies began with parent “needing” to go with an older child and the littles were forced to come along. If they’re going, they might as well be dressed up, and that segued into taking even first-born babies and toddlers- after all they are SO CUUUTE in those little costumes! Also, the explosion of Halloween displays in the stores makes it impossible to prevent the pre-school set from getting excited about it, and we can no longer use the excuse of “when you’re old enough to be out alone” because too many parents don’t think they’re “old enough” until high school age!

  12. Art October 19, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    Mehh..my hometown (about 4,000) trick or treats in broad daylight, from 5-6pm the weekend before Halloween. Really sucks when when you go all out decorating, almost not worth it. However, it worked, sort of, when were younger, because my grandmother lived 30 minutes away and they t or t ON Halloween. We’d come back home with pillowcases full.

  13. SKL October 19, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    To clarify, not that anyone cares, where I said “youngest sister” in my 2nd paragraph above, I meant then-youngest; another was born when I was 12. Thought I should clarify because it might seem confusing.

  14. SKL October 19, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    And I agree that it seems very young kids didn’t trick-or-treat when I was a small kid. In all likelihood, my sister got taken by my dad because she hollered and demanded to go, LOL – that was pretty much her MO in those days. 😛 I don’t recall my dad taking us before my sister started going. But that could just be faulty memory.

  15. Art October 19, 2017 at 10:33 am #

    Soapbox time.

    If I had any power, I would start setting rules that malls, churches and other so called “safe” trick or treating must have their things before Halloween. I would set rules that schools cannot be sued for allowing Halloween parties, etc in school.

    No one seems to get it that these type of celebrations are part of what holds us together as a society. Demonizing (Demon, HA!) them because they are not politically correct and/or “offensive” is part of why we are falling apart. It sends the message that our society is “wrong”.

    /climbs down off soapbox.

  16. Anna October 19, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    Last year my husband took our then almost-5-year-old around the block, but beforehand (while we finished dinner) we let him go by himself to the first two houses from ours in each direction up and down our street. It gave him a major thrill, so I’ve promised to let him go 3 in each direction this year. Our kitchen faces the street, we know all those people at least by sight, and I figure it’s one night of the year when drivers are on the lookout for pedestrians. If he had a buddy to go with, I’d be tempted to let him go farther, actually.

  17. Qness October 19, 2017 at 10:54 am #

    My kids were allowed to trick or treat in a group with other kids without adults, as far as I was concerned, at about 9. However my youngest often was the only one actually going trick or treating so I went with him. We do have a nicely walkable neighborhood with lots of participation so we could walk around one, long block and be set for weeks :).

    When he was 11 and 12 he didn’t want to go and I got to pass out candy for the first time ever lol! He’s in his early teens now and if he and his friends want to dress up and go out that’s fine by me.

  18. Coasterfreak October 19, 2017 at 11:55 am #

    My older kids were probably in middle school by the time they truly went without us, but that was mostly because we lived in a very lame neighborhood where almost nobody participated in handing out candy, so we would drive them to a different neighborhood. We did let them go off by themselves, but we also had a toddler, so we were out there, too, and most times the older kids would just stay with us (they were not interested in being responsible for the toddler, so we couldn’t just send them all off together without us).

    Around middle school we moved to a different neighborhood and they immediately insisted we stay home and let them go with friends. By this time the youngest was 7, but the older kids still weren’t interested in being responsible for him, so we walked him around ourselves for a couple of years. He was never really “into” it, so after a couple of years he dropped out and didn’t go again until he had some friends in high school who wanted to go.

    For myself, I don’t really remember. I know I never went around myself when I lived in New York state. I moved from there when I was 13, but I also know that around 5th grade it somehow became “uncool” for boys my age to participate in Halloween. I don’t recall going Trick or Treating again until high school (in Texas), when I started creating the goriest costumes I could come up with and going around with friends. So I guess it was around age 15 that I started going without parents, but there was 4-5 years prior to that that I wasn’t interested in going at all.

    It ticks me off when people complain about teenagers going door-to-door on Halloween. Who cares how old they are? As long as they’re dressed in a costume, and not pulling destructive or mean-spirited pranks, they’re OK by me!

  19. Simon October 19, 2017 at 12:23 pm #

    Six. Which was probably a year or two younger than me. In our ‘hood at the time the sidewalk was so thick with ToTers and parents that one could hardly move so it felt very safe to me. This was nine years ago in Oakland.

  20. John B. October 19, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

    Well, trick-or-treating is schedule for my subdivision from 5 – 7 pm Tuesday the 31st. But they also have lots of community activities going on for kids too. In past years, the amount of kids who came to my door varied from one group to several, depending upon the weather. Of course, just about ALL of the kids, even the older ones, had a mother standing in the street watching them. It wasn’t like in my day when the little kids went trick-or-treating with the older kids with no parent present. On my neighborhood email listing, it was asked to annotate your address if you were interested in handing out Halloween candy and I did.

    But you know, so many of my co-workers hate Halloween. They say they turn out their lights to discourage trick-or-treaters from coming to their door. So many of them are the Ebenezer Scrooges of Halloween! Now as for me, I LOVE Halloween and welcome kids with open arms to come to my door. In fact, I don’t mess around when it comes to handing out candy. I make it a point to give out BIG and full sized candy bars!

  21. Colin Summers October 19, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Around 8. It’s a super-friendly, very walkable neighborhood with a lot of blocks that are 80% participating on both sides of the street. Cars crawl through intersections. Werner Herzog totally misunderstands the holiday (or understands it more deeply than we do), and had a string quartet on his lawn with catering for parents to stop and have tapas. The truth is I would have been okay letting our sons go at 6, because there are SO many older kids out there looking out for them, that they would have just gotting picked up by a group and gone from house to house until they were tired of it.

    At 18 months we let our older son toddle up to his first Halloween door on his own and we stood watching from the walk. We figured we had carried him past a few and he’d watched his older cousins do it, so he knew the deal. He knocked, they opened it, he said Trick or treat! and as she turned to get candy from the bowl he walked right past her into the house. A little confusion there, but this is not a holiday that has ever made any of us nervous. (Well, except that our younger son did NOT like the people up the block having the creepy clown guy jumping around the front yard cackling. Sort of spoiled the whole block for him.)

  22. SKL October 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

    My kids refused to say “twick or tweet” until they were ridiculously old. Not sure what that was about ….

  23. Lyndsay October 19, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    We live in a neighborhood that is just rural enough that no one trick or treats here, so we go to a friend’s house in a development of townhouses and close together single family homes. My oldest is 8 (third grade) and I’m toying with the idea of suggesting that we let her, her best friend and the neighbor boy go out alone as long as they check in periodically. However, I also have a two and five year old, so there will be an adult nearby anyway. I can remember being allowed out without adults at maybe 6 or 7, but my sister is nearly 6 years older than me and was my main babysitter by that age, so I was supervised by her until I was probably 9.

  24. Liz October 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    The last time I saw a Trick or Treater was in 2010. In 2011 we had a bad freak snow storm that knocked out everyone’s power, and in 2012 we had Hurricane Sandy, so both years the town requested to cancel it. The following year it rained. Every year since, I’ve had a bowl of candy waiting to go, but nobody comes. Instead, they go to the “downtown” area one afternoon and get candy from the stores, or they go to the mall and get candy from those stores, or they go to a “trunk or treat,” because getting candy from the trunks of strangers’ cars is the best precedent to establish.

  25. lollipoplover October 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    Oldest was 8 and youngest 7 when we allowed them to go *alone* with a giant group of kids.

    We have a huge happy hour before trick-or-treating every year on Halloween with @100 kids and adults attending. The adults stay and hang out by the bonfire with adult beverages while the kids organize themselves and trick-or-treat. The littles (6 and unders) go with the bigger kids and/or a parent may take them. They usually drop off early and get walked back to the party. The middle kids (6-12) usually go the longest as they are highly motivated by candy. The older kids that are on the cusp of wanting to trick-or-treat but being too old take the littles and can still get candy without the “You’re too old to be trick-or-treating” attitude.

    My all-time favorite costume was from a group of older teens(16?) who rang my doorbell around 9 pm when most trick-or-treaters were already done. She was dressed all in red. I asked her what she was supposed to be (I was guessing a Skittle) and she said, “I’m your period. Sorry I’m late.” I DIED.
    LONG LIVE HALLOWEEN!

  26. Ms October 19, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

    I live in a rural area, so we go to the town where I grew up and my parents still live. My mom and I still go with the kids, not because we feel the need , but because we want to. Love seeing the decorations and talking to all the neighbors! It’s tradition 🙂 ( If we did live in town my kids would definitely be out on their own)

  27. DrTorch October 19, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

    I tried to let my kid go w/o supervision at age 12, but the parents of his friends tagged along. Prior to that, I went with him b/c there were no kids his age in the neighborhood and he would have been alone.

  28. Abigail October 19, 2017 at 4:04 pm #

    @EB

    Such a good point about starting age for Trick-or-treating!! I’ve paraded my infants along (although not for candy), and the truth is that toddlers don’t really get it and maybe should just sit with a paremt on their own door step unwrapping candy instead of each and every neighbor’s. Once again, unseen social pressure making life harder as I drag a 2.5yr old off before they’ve destroyed their specialty costume with the 3-5 candy bars from each house.

    My sister & I were on our own for Halloween when I was perhaps 7 and she would have been 9. Moving forward, we quickly became responsible for taking younger kids out with the help of a peer or two.

    My son will be released to a peer group (should he desire) at age 8 (3rd grade for him). But with kids every 2 years, likely our children will be taking care of a younger sibling for a portion of the evening until the youngest is like 8 too.

    I’ve also put my foot down about both my spouse & I going out. No more bowl by the door, someone should greet neighbor kids & hear their little voices calling for a sugar high!!!

  29. Heather October 19, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    i had helicopter parents, so I never went without them. (We also didn’t live in a walkable area.) Age 8 or 9 seems reasonable to me.

    I do have a VERY strong fear of him getting hit by a car. We live on a busy street. Obviously he knows not to run out in traffic and stuff (he’s six now) but even so, I have a hard time with him wandering around at night. But I do still plan to let him go alone by about third/fourth grade.

  30. marie October 19, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

    As others have mentioned, kids went trick-or-treating when they were ready to go without parents when I was growing up. We NEVER saw parents out with the babies and toddlers. My own kids got cheated because my husband and I did what every other family did in our neighborhood…we took them around the neighborhood. It was a lot of fun for the adults, of course, because the whole neighborhood was outside. Some houses had adult beverages for the grownups.

    The kids, though… when I think about why Halloween was such a blast when I was a kid, it wasn’t the candy or the costumes. It was roaming through town with friends that was the best part. Don’t get me wrong; we enjoyed the candy at the end of the night but it was the wild freedom that made the night so magical. Our kids were truly cheated.

    When grownups are there with the kids, the fun is automatically doubled for the parents…and cut in half for the kids.

  31. marie October 19, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    …because getting candy from the trunks of strangers’ cars is the best precedent to establish.

    LOL. Great observation. Trunk or treat is nothing more than lukewarm piss and if kids every realize what they are missing, there will be blood.

    Which leads right into my other LOL…”I’m your period, sorry I’m late.” OMG…that’s brilliant. As much as I disapprove of parents doing things for the kids, I’m happy that this girl’s parents came up with that costume.

  32. Michelle October 19, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    Honestly, to me it’s not about safety. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and my kids’ favorite holiday, and it’s just something we do together. I think my mom was the same way, because I remember her going trick-or-treating with us when I was in junior high, after I had just spent the entire summer home alone all day long while she was at work and my younger brothers were at daycare. But for Halloween, she’d drive us to my grandparents’ neighborhood, show off our elaborate homemade costumes, take us all around to the best houses, stop by my great-aunt’s house if we got over that way, and frequently take us out to dinner afterwards. (Which was a big deal, not something she could often afford.)

    So I always go trick-or-treating with my kids. At least until the younger ones are tired. Typically, after a few blocks none of my kids under the age of 10 *want* to keep going. They want to go home and eat their candy. I don’t make my older kids come home if they’re not ready, though. They trickle in as they get tired and as the festivities wind down. But that age breakdown doesn’t resemble the ages that I *allow* my kids to roam the neighborhood on their own. I’m ok with that much sooner.

  33. Backroads October 19, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    I have one solitary memory of my dad trick-or-treating with us and I can’t put an age to it.

    My neighborhood still does trick-or-treating. I have no complaint with the concept of a trunk-or-treat, my church does one the week before Halloween. I just don’t care for it replacing trick-or-treating altogether. (though my SiL lives in a rural area where they have decided to alternate years as a community between trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating–it’s just so darn hard to go between the houses that are so far apart)

  34. Donna October 19, 2017 at 8:15 pm #

    My kid has not gone trick or treating by herself and probably never will. Helicopter parenting has nothing to do with this. We live in a very Halloween-oriented neighborhood in a very Halloween-oriented town. Halloween is our Christmas. We even have two separate Halloween parades – one canine, one human. Trick or treating is very much a family event – the entire family dresses up and goes around the neighborhood. Unlike the rest of my neighbors, dressing up is not my thing, but since we always go to a Halloween party at a friend’s house prior to trick or treating, I am usually dragged along with everyone else.

  35. George October 19, 2017 at 8:26 pm #

    Is there any age? Dressing up for Halloween is now more dangerous for adults, because if you dress as another ethnic group you could be accused of cultural appropriation, or branded a racist.

  36. Donald October 19, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    I live in Australia. I miss Haloween because few people celebrate it over here. I hardly ever see a child going trick-or-treat. Sometimes I can find a fancy dress party.

  37. Jon October 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm #

    I was born in 1965 with older brothers and sisters. Never had parent with us even when 3 or 4. And I vaguely remember that trick or treat meant you trick the house with an egg or whatever if they didn’t give treats. My daughter is 8 in Brooklyn, she could trick or treat by herself but it’s no fun without a friend, and I’m not ready to propose that to another parent.

  38. Andrea Drummond October 19, 2017 at 11:30 pm #

    Not yet, because mine turned six, and our situation is complicated by the fact that we live on a street with houses far apart, no shoulders or sidewalks, and crazy people driving too fast so we always go elsewhere to trick-or-treat. We go to other neighborhoods near us where people are still doing door-to-door trick-or-treating, although this year we are going with some friends to a trick-or-treat thing in Colonial Williamsburg. To me it’s a supplement, not a replacement. We are still doing normal trick-or-treating on Halloween itself. I refuse “trunk or treat” events though. I understand they are well-meaning but…. laaaaaame. I would have liked getting candy as a kid but I wouldn’t have found the method fun at all.

  39. Heather October 20, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    I don’t like the trunk-or-treat events simply because of the volume of candy they produce. When we do traditional trick or treating, we walk to 5-7 houses, get a couple of pieces of candy from each one, and he comes home and eats it all. At the trunk-or-treats, the kids often return home with POUNDS of candy. And they didn’t even work for it by walking house to house!

    I do realize that monitoring the amount of candy my child gets on one day a year, and insisting that more than a few pieces is “too much” puts me squarely in the helicopter category.

  40. Brian October 20, 2017 at 9:16 am #

    George–really? You cant think of a single costume that doesnt involve some ethnic “joke” or theme? Why would you want to choose a costume that might offend others? Do something funny, clever or pick a basic. There is certainly no reason you _need_ to portray some other race or culture in your costume.

  41. Crazy Cat Lady October 20, 2017 at 9:57 am #

    Sadly, we live in the country so it means driving. I hate sitting alone in the car, so I have gone with them. If I did not need to drive, like the previous place we lived, probably would have let the oldest go when she was in 4th grade, with youngest brother who was more likely to listen to her. Middle son was a runner and it would have been a little older, about the time I let him ride a bike alone, around 11. I have gone a couple of times with other parents, parents hung back and talked while the kids did their things.

    Geographic location can make a huge difference.

  42. Resident Iconoclast October 20, 2017 at 10:10 am #

    Walking to school, with the neighborhood kids but with no adults, 3/4 mile, in second grade; age 7.

    Same with Halloween. It was fun. In those days, it seemed like we were running things. I wouldn’t trade it for the new world parenting for anything. I always liked chatting with the adults. These days, they’d all be in prison, for “luring.”

    As I recall, some of the adults who were active in the John Birch Society (“conservatives” for those who don’t know), insisted the communists were poisoning the water with fluoride, and that the Reds would subvert society and ruin everything.

    They didn’t need to, we did it to ourselves. All they did was buy a few politicians. Who needs the Russians, when we Americans are as nutty as fruitcakes? As long as we keep electing the fruitcakes to public office, we’ll keep on getting what we deserve, too.

  43. Kirsten October 20, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    My parents never came up to the door with me. AFAIC if the parents need to bring you to the door you’re not old enough to trick or treat. My first year or two my Dad followed at a distance and hid behind a tree so that I could feel like I was doing it alone. That’s the whole point of the holiday – for kids to own the streets for a night. Nothing but groups of kids. This thing where the parents dress a toddler up and wheel it around collecting candy just feels so wrong to me.

  44. Kirsten October 20, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    PS. @marie – exactly!

  45. Dienne October 20, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    George – in addition to what Brian said, what does it even mean to “dress as another ethnic group”? How do Asians dress? Or Latinos or Indians or whatever? The very notion is unavoidably steeped in stereotypes.

  46. Kirsten October 20, 2017 at 10:28 am #

    @Colin Summers – whoa whoa whoa whoa, what?? You live in the neighborhood of Werner Herzog?? Where is this? He’s my favorite director and now that’s all I can think about!

  47. George October 20, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

    Brian, Dienne: Yes, lots of costumes involve stereotypes. Furthermore, many are offensives to certain religious groups. It is now almost impossible to wear a costume that does not offend someone.

  48. Papilio October 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    Ah, memories… Irrelevant ones to the age question, but still.

    (Not Halloween but Sint-Maarten on 11-11, singing songs and carrying paper lanterns made at school.) I don’t remember, but since we went on a long street with sidewalks that’s rubbish for speeding even without droves of pedestrians and sidestreets that have little traffic even during the day… 6&8, maybe…? It’s funny, because the only parents I remeber being there too, were always with very young kids (around 4-6), which sort of suggests to me that maybe we did go alone at 5&7, although it didn’t help that I was shy and Little Brother was, well, younger, so… ??

    I do know the last time I went was at 13 – a bit not done, as one is supposed to stop when one goes to secondary school! Luckily I looked young 🙂

  49. Amy October 21, 2017 at 9:53 pm #

    But why must a kid stop? If they are truly not into it ok cool, but they should do it if they enjoy it.i wush we could teach kids not to give in to peer pressure.

  50. hineata October 22, 2017 at 5:00 am #

    Personally I can’t stand Halloween (party pooper! ) which is fine because I’m not in the States so can’t bug anyone else with my views! So my own kids, like most here, have never gone trick or treating.

    But Guy Fawkes, I generally walked up town with friends or siblings from 8 or 9. These days we don’t have much in the way of private fireworks, but the kids go off with friends at public displays.

  51. Jessica October 22, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    I started around 8, I think, with the neighborhood kids. Maybe 9 as that would have been my second year in that neighborhood. Our neighborhood had high participation and big groups of kids. The neighborhood I live in now is similar with even more trick or treaters (about 900 per year) and kids seem to go in big groups with mostly kids and a few parents. Given the numbers, it is hard to tell who has an adult with them or not. I will probably let my daughter go when she has a good group of neighborhood friends and they seem ready (she is two now so not sure when that will be).

  52. Ricky October 22, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

    George: Racist is about the most misused word in the English language. My parents taught me that all people are created equal and should be evaluated individually not collectively. That has served me well.

  53. Ricky October 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    Kirsten: In this age of mindless “anything but reality” drivel I appreciate vintage films that actually make me think. My favorite director is a toss-up between Werner Herzog and Stanley Kubrick. Favorite films: Aguirre Wrath of God and Dr. Strangelove.

  54. Ricky October 22, 2017 at 5:53 pm #

    In a semi rural unincorporated community I had costumes from age 4-7 and handed out the candy. The only paved street was the main street which was a two lane state highway. Ten blocks with a mix of small businesses and residential so speed limit was 25mph. My street was a gravel dead end with 9 houses including mine. It was off another gravel dead end which went to the paved highway and had 16 houses. At 8 years old I was allowed to Trick or Treat those 2 dead end streets alone. Of course no sidewalks, no streetlights, and zero traffic. On the second authorized street I encountered older friends. 10 year old brother and his 12 year old sister. I hooked up with them for the longer street. When finished I walked home on my street. I scored 2 popcorn balls, 2 caramel apples, A small paper bag of caramel popcorn, 2 waxed paper bags of peanut brittle, 3 waxed paper bags of homemade cookies, and several full size 5 cent candy bars. This was Halloween 1960. Now all homemade treats would be thrown in the trash! Not one needle or razor blade hidden in my homemade treats. How sad.

  55. Joel October 22, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    I was in third or forth grade when dad said I was too old for Halloween, so I never did go without an adult.

  56. Vanessa October 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm #

    My now-18-year-old never did, but it was because there’s basically no trick or treating in our neighborhood and I had to drive her to another one to do it. Since I was already there, I just walked around with her. If we’d lived someplace that had a trick or treating scene and she’d had a group of neighborhood friends to go with, I probably would’ve let her go around age 9 or 10, which was the same age I started going with friends. Although, she didn’t want to trick or treat much past that age anyway–she stopped after fifth grade because she was already well over five feet tall by then and felt awkward about towering over everyone.

  57. James October 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    My kids don’t. Then again, we have to drive to a neighborhood that has Trick or Treat (cows don’t participate in Autumnal equinox shenanigans), and I think that at 4 it’s still acceptable to have someone watching you. We DO stand at the sidewalk and make the kids go up to the doors.

    When I was a kid we never went Trick or Treating with my dad. It seemed to be pretty common where I grew up. I never got the sense that it was about danger, though–us kids would routinely walk to the grocery store, or to piano lessons, or to the bank, all of which were much further than the neighborhood we went Trick or Treating in extended. Honestly, I think the dads wanted to spend time with the kids, and wanted to get out of the house. The dads frequently would stand around talking and smoking a cigarette or cigars while the kids went to a few houses. Then the men would break up, go to the next area, and do it over again. The night always ended with us at Grandpa’s house, eating way too much candy and listening to soundtracks from old horror movies. 😀

    @Brian:

    “Why would you want to choose a costume that might offend others?”

    Why do others get to dictate what I wear? It’s one thing to INTENTIONALLY offend others–if I went in blackface carrying a bucket of fried chicken and a watermelon slice, sure, that’s on me. But it’s a whole other world to allow the most easily offended segments of the country to dictate what’s appropriate. The kids dressing up as Moana don’t care about “cultural appropriation” (an anti-concept far as I’m concerned); they want to dress up as a movie character they like. Same as my son who’s going as a RescueBot this year.

    Secondly, are you SURE the culture involved is insulted? Or is it someone being insulted FOR someone? There’s a difference. I’ve read articles on Speedy Gonzales, the Loony Toons rodent. For a while they were threatening (and in some areas they succeeded) to take him off the air, because he was considered “offensive”. Only problem? Mexicans LOVED HIM. He was a character that was as smart as any others, as sharp-witted as any others, and one who didn’t drink, wasn’t on drugs, didn’t come from a broken family–he was, not exactly a role model, but at least a positive image. Since then, my rule is that unless the culture in question is saying something’s offensive, I ignore the whole issue. Those who are offended on someone else’s behalf are merely busy-bodies trying to make us all fit into their mold, and should be ignored.

  58. Cassie October 31, 2017 at 8:05 pm #

    My answer is a bit late… because I am Australian and I do not like the cultural appropriation (or *ahem* commercial grab for our money) of Halloween in Australia (it looks like a fun brilliant holiday… but it isn’t our holiday). I am one of those Australians that turns off their lights and ignores all door knockers on this night.

    Despite this my 5 & 7yo ask if they could go trick or treating with the neighbourhood kids. Rather than force my beliefs in this, I simply said yes. My 5yo wore an old costume, my 7yo made her own, and they went with some neighbourhood kids… no parents, just a 12yo girl who was acting as the ‘parent’ – and she did a great job. My entire effort was to buy a bag of Freddo Frogs in case kids came knocking at our house.

    The night ended with two happy kids on the lounge with a basket full of lollies, and fun stories about their night.