I was sort of taken aback last Halloween by a young girl wearing a Five Nights At Freddy's costume. But, she was genuinely happy with it, scary as it was, and I realized I'd forgotten I was that kid at that young age...Staying up late to watch things like Vampire Hunter D because the realm of horror was my comfort zone where everything was fascinating and taught you something.
Some kids may never feel that tug, but I think it's more common than we realize and not every person wants heart and rainbows farting from every smiley-faced package all the time-even as youngsters.
My older kids are, well, older, and I'd always distanced them from horror stuff. It's one of those things, it can be normalized by other people but shouldn't be initiated I think. And so much of it is inappropriate for kids of any age. But, recently, they've started playing fun horror games like Hello, Neighbor and Tattletail, and Bendy and the Ink Machine (which is like the darkest of the three, so we play these together, and it may end up being too dark). They went there on their own, they loved it on their own. I won't lie, I'm sort of thrilled. Things like FNAF have a following of all ages again suddenly, and I think this is one of those times where it's more fashionable to venture into the darker realm of things.
We're getting the influx of things like Goosebumps books, too.
And it's just AWESOME.
I feel proud of them for not being afraid.
So much in horror is a lesson, a discovery. a good practice run for the monsters you end meeting in real life that walk around like people.
That said, if neither had ever had any interest in the scary, I'd of still been very proud. But, it's a fuzzy feeling to have that common thread.
So, if you are parenting a kid who loves the frightening, here are some tips
1. Watch the movies, read the books, play the games with them. Even if you don't like them, that participation matters and you can also gauge that way if it's appropriate or too deep, dark, and scary. There have been historic happenings of mentally ill adults and children getting fixated on all the wrong stuff, you need to be the watcher for those signs and the guardian of what they are exposed to. Being involved with them will help you do that. And bonus, you can talk about and put into perspective everything you encounter.
2. DO NOT belittle them for liking that stuff or call them weird. Please. You have no idea how long it takes to shake things like that said to you by your parents. You may not understand it, you may be that person that can't walk into a Halloween store without crying, but please don't do this. Remember that horror has been around since we were story-tellers, and it's definitely okay to be a fan of that. It won't always show up at an early age, but mine did and many others did as well.
3. Support their interests. They like writing scary stories? Ask if they want to join an author summer camp. They like drawing monsters and ghosts? Sign them up for an art class. They like making costumes? Get them supplies to do spectacular stuff on Halloween.
4. Pay attention to age ratings AND what people are saying about things like indie games. Make sure this is an age appropriate level of scary and the right level for your kiddo.
So, you know, do all the parenting stuff you normally do for things your kids love.