Stop. Don’t touch it. It’s not yours.
Earlier tonight, the kids traversed their neighborhoods in their awesome costumes and visited their neighbors with a familiar chant in hopes of a yummy treat (specifically Nerds, Starbursts, and Skittles if they came to my door!). Afterward, they went on home, checked everything for tampering for fear of the urban myth about poison or razor blades in candy suddenly actually happening, and at long last chowed down. Yay!
All this candy in the hands of kids? What are parents to do?
Nothing. It’s not theirs.
I mean, if the kids have a health issue that makes some or all of the candy uniquely dangerous, such as an allergy or diabetes or celiac disease, and they’re still too little to understand this danger, okay, in that case, yeah, parents can manage it, as it’s literally life or death at this point. Or in general if they’re still so little they can’t eat it or even make any decisions about it yet anyway. Okay, in that case, the parents can have it. So that much is out of the way.
But when the kids are older and under no special danger outside of general sugar intake? When their parents may or may not have been present during the trick-or-treating since they were plenty capable of going door to door on their own? Well, the kids wore the costumes and carried the bags and collected the goodies all on their own. So, really, outside of maybe hanging back a few yards if present at all, what do the parents have to do with it?
Nothing. They were not involved in this candy acquisition.
They did not buy the candy. They were not given the candy. It passed directly from neighbor to child.
As such, the candy belongs only to said child at this point, so only said child may decide what to do with it. No one else may do anything with it without the child’s permission.
This means the parents cannot confiscate it. This means the parents cannot take from it and eat it without asking first. This means the parents cannot take it to their workplace to share with coworkers without being sure the child whose candy it is consents to this.
All parents have to do is ask. It is not that hard. Ask the child if they can have a piece. Ask the child if they can take the ones they aren’t going to eat so they could share it with coworkers. Is a desire to maintain control over kids so strong that simply asking permission like a decent human being is unthinkable?
But asking is required. The candy belongs to the kids. And kids do not belong to their parents. You cannot own human beings. This is not a difficult concept.
As such, kids have a right to maintain control of their own things. Respecting that early empowers them to assert themselves throughout life in situations that call for it, rather than slinking away from those who will want to walk all over them because they do not have any confidence in sticking up for themselves.
The kids have responsibilities here, too, in that, well, of course candy isn’t good for them. Of course they shouldn’t eat their entire night’s gatherings right away. But why would they want to? Surely they’d feel pretty gross after enough pieces. Surely they are aware that candy isn’t good for them, even if they haven’t had enough to feel all that gross yet, so they limit themselves to a certain quantity. They might just plain not want anymore for the time being after a couple of pieces.
Yet just as if not more unthinkable than the idea that kids deserve to be asked permission is the idea they are capable of self-regulation. At least they are if it is made known to them that they are. If not made known to them, yeah, they might eat well past the feeling gross stage since they’ve learned not to trust their own bodies and selves on these things, since they figured something or someone else will regulate for them, because they are under the impression they are unable. People are weird like that at any age.
Kids have the right to eat as much or little of their candy as they want, or do whatever else with it for that matter, and they also have the responsibility to themselves to not eat too much and not eat something they need to avoid for health reasons. Their parents have a responsibility to make sure they have the information and freedom to do all this effectively. Their parents have a responsibility to maintain the patience to guide them through personal choices even when there are complications. Their parents most definitely have a responsibility to put away their own desires for control, for the illusion of ownership over the young people they are guiding through life, because only by putting away such desires and temptations can they fulfill their responsibilities.
Kids and adults must be able to trust one another to be so responsible. Whether it’s Halloween candy or anything else.
So put that Snickers bar back in the bag. It’s not yours.
And it’s not worth it.