Kids and Haunted Places?

Planning a weekend vacation or road trip with your family is always hard to do. Making sure there is enough for everyone to do outside of riding in a car the whole time can be an adventure on its own. I do remember  vacations as a child with my entire family. We would load up the powder blue station wagon (yes blue!) and hit the road. I remember trips where we got lost in the hills of Arkansas and stopping at cool Route 66 Places. As a child, I did not realize how "cool" those places really were. Now that I am older I have realized that family road trips were great for memories. I remember my parents yelling at us to stop smacking bubble gum. I remember my brothers picking on me and just being annoying, out of sheer boredom from riding in the car for what then seemed to be countless hours. I remember playing the "License plate game" and any other game we could create, just to kill the time. This was way before Ipods, games and DVD players. I remember eating with my family at "greasy spoons" and the joy of getting stacks of pancakes at dinner time. I remember driving down twisting and turning roads in the middle of the night and my dad making "spooky noises" because it was kind of scary for us kids. Instead of my parents non-sheltering tactics, or perhaps their little "pay back game" they played has now, been embedded in my mind forever, and I thank them.
I do not have memories of watching hours of TV, playing computer games or managing a social network page as a child. I actually got out and explored areas and had a great time doing it. As a parent, it's my job to not only raise my children as independent, law abiding citizens, it's my job to create memories for them as well and even scaring the snot out of them on occasion. Mean? I don't think so.

The subject of this blog is sure to raise a few eyebrows for sure. Taking children into "haunted places" seems so taboo and irresponsible to some people. It's a big "no-no" for a lot of people that are in the "Paranormal Field", why, I have no clue. I have yet to read or hear a rational explanation for it, outside of paranoia.
Haunted places and children, sounds so scary doesn't it? In reality, there is a good chance that the paranoid parents have already crossed that line.  If your child has ever visited places such as Historic Museums, Battle grounds, Hotels, B&B's, Zoo's, restaurants and even cultural venue's you have failed to protect your child from "ghosts", If in fact you are one of the paranoid people in the world. Ghost stories are everywhere.  They are a part of life and are nothing to be afraid of.  What makes these places scary is the fear that parents put into their children's minds. I take pride in the fact that I am raising rational thinking kids that are not afraid of historical locations. I wish more parents would jump on that band wagon with me.
This past year I was invited to join a private birthday slumber party at the Skirvin Hotel in Downtown Oklahoma City. I was asked to come share the haunting history of the hotel, teach the kids how to get "EVP'S" and take photos in haunted places. I brought my children along with me. Teaching children to not be afraid is not difficult at all. The kids learn about history and they remember it, because of the ghost stories attached. It makes great memories. The kids at this private party had a blast and explored the hotel in a quite and respectful manner. They did not go around screaming and yelling, taunting the ghosts and running amok in the hotel. They respected it for all it's worth and embraced the history. All of the kids had a wonderful time and I had a blast scaring them with the stories. I do wish the hotel was a little more open minded about their haunting history, but then again. I enjoy helping people pick rooms in the hotel where they are more likely to witness something "paranormal."
Those that are opposed to staying in haunted hotels with their children, honestly shows nothing but ignorance in my opinion. Not only are they robbing their children of great history they are pushing their fears into their children. There are even paranormal groups on the internet that preach about the dangers of ghost hunting and children. Kids stay at hotels all the time and they leave totally intact and without "demonic possession." When I visited the very well known haunt, the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs Arkansas I was delighted to see even infants in the hotel. This is the same hotel where the big bad "Ghost Hunters" you see on TV acted like scaredy cats throughout the hotel. I remember late in the night I was walking around in my pajamas to sit on the patio for a while, I passed two little girls, probably around 8 or 9 years old in the hotel. I actually talked to these girls when we checked in and I asked them if they were afraid of the ghosts in the hotel. I told them to wait until real late and hang out on the stairwell so they could see the ghost of a woman.  I totally made up the ghostly scenario, but late that night, the little girls were on the stairs. Waiting. I gave them the thumbs up and kept walking. I made it to the elevator and there was a group of  "ghost hunters" hanging out by the elevator doors. They were armed with EMF meters, video cameras and were snapping photos left and right. I just walked right through the group in my fuzzy slippers. I do remember laughing at them once the elevator doors shut. If they only knew that two young kids were doing the same thing, but being more mature about it. Being innocent and just allowing things to happen instead of feeding off a group of adult idiots.  I remember returning to my room and walking the halls alone. I did not have any ghostly encounters by myself, but all through the night the group of "ghost hunters" were taking photos of our rooms door. The infamous "Room 419" (You can watch the show here 3 parts) is where I stayed and it was rather humorous to listen to how serious these "ghost hunters" were. They had no idea that someone was actually in the room, that was alive!  The next day I did see the little girls and ask them if they met a ghost that night. They had all kinds of stories to share. Stories they will never forget.

This month my family will be hitting the road. Now that my kids are a bit older they will be staying in a room, in a haunted hotel all by themselves. Will they be scared? I doubt it, but if anything does happen, I know they will remember it for the rest of their lives. We are hitting the road to visit family in Missouri. I found a great hotel that has a lot of ghost stories and was even voted "best haunted hideaway" by Triple-A. The Bothwell hotel is a seven floor fully restored hotel in the small historic town of Sadalia, I hope to be able to share some stories once we return from this adventure. I hope my children do have a ghostly encounter, even if it is their imaginations getting the best of them.
In closing, staying where there are "ghosts" is not a bad thing. Parents need to allow their kids to have their own adventures and vacation time. Visit historical locations, museums and maybe even take a ghost tour. Never fear that your child will be hurt or attacked by a ghost at these places. Keep in mind, ghosts have not officially been proven to even exist!  Remember, it's only dangerous and scary if you, the parent make it that way.
Tonya Hacker - GHOULI