Yes, I Make my Kids Watch Scary Shows. They're Better off Because of it

I make my kids watch scary shows, and they're better off for it

3 min read

I make my kids watch scary shows.


Before you call child welfare services, let me explain.


Making (or at least strongly encouraging) my kids to watch spooky shows is all part of my evil plan to play Dr. Frankenstein and create resilient children who grow into fully- functioning adults.


Spooky, age-appropriate movies, T.V. shows and books are totally fun. As kids, who among us didn’t buy “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark” from the school Scholastic order forms?


Oh, the memories with those “Scary Stories to Read in the Dark” books. I remember pulling out those books every chance I could get as a kid. They were definitely best enjoyed with a Blow Pop from the after-school candy sale. Munched to bits from the delightful terror of the words and pictures.


My 7-year-old daughter has always loved spooky things. When I carried her through a haunted house one Halloween in her babyhood, she was grabbing all the cobwebs and props within her reach.


My 11-year-old son, though, fears so many things. His instinct is to avoid at any cost all that frightens him. Sure, this world is full of real horrors. But we're talking plugging his ears while walking by the Halloween display at Target in case an animatronic makes a noise. Oh, and my husband made the mistake of buying him the Scary Stories to Read in the Dark box set. Our little dude devoured the books in one sitting, but then was so terrified he spent the night in our bed. Ultimately, we hid the book set up in our bedroom closet at his request. Apparently, his bedroom closet was too close for comfort and the ghouls might find their way off the pages and into his bed for a midnight snuggle.


I could have decided to keep indulging his fears. To let him sleep in our bed until he’s off to college. But enough is enough.


It was time both of my kids appreciated the gleefully spooky side of life.


My husband and I put on spooky shows for our kids at home on occasion, and more so around Halloween time. The classics. Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps and that new series Tierra Incognita. Not exactly Silence of the Lambs.


My daughter snuggles up with a blanket to watch, but my son protests.


Up until recently, I let his fears win. Ok, Baby, go upstairs. Go watch something else on T.V. or read a book. But then he was too scared to even walk upstairs alone.


I started encouraging him to stay downstairs with us when the dreadful delights were filling our living room T.V. screen. Lean into the spooky, I would tell him. It's fun.


My son has anxiety like me, and I know that avoidance only makes us feel worse.


It’s been a gift to be able to relate to him on many levels, and to share with him that I’m scared sometimes too, and that’s OK. There’s a time to be cautious when true dangers are lurking, and there’s a time to enjoy harmless fun.


The truth is, life is scary. I want my kids to keep moving forward when there are things that go bump in the night. I want them to be resilient and own their capabilities. I hope they will keep showing up, even when they're spooked. No excuses.


And guess what? When a spooky show ended on a recent night, my son begged for more. 


I make my kids watch scary shows. Because there's something way more frightening than a spooky PG-13 episode, and that's kids ill-prepared to face life's real thrills and chills.