Being a parent today can be hard enough as it is. You have to make sure the little ones are fed, watch their academics, and most importantly, make sure your child doesn't invite a Slenderman into your home to kill your family and eat your horse. The Slender Folk are an elusive kind, nearly impossible to seek out unless you are under the age of 15 (or a high level hunter of magical creatures), but knowing what to look for can save you and your family from a brutal, agonizing Slender Death. Here are the top four signs that your child may be heading down this dark path.

1. Actually Look at Your Child's Shitty Crayon Doodles and Macaroni Art

When your child first picked up those colorful plastic sticks, you were overjoyed as to what wonders they could create. Hell, maybe you even nicknamed them your "Little Rembrandt". But over time, the excitement faded, and you would barely glance at the scribbles that they claimed were of you and Gram Gram. Step one is to go down to the kitchen and actually look at the drawing you shrugged off last week. You may just find a picture of a tall, slender fellow in black, holding your child's hand as they walk into the woods, that has been stuck to your fridge for a week.

 2. Your Chubby Little Couch Potato is Actually Going Outside

If your child used to spend all of their free time glued to the television or computer, chugging a 40oz Mountain Dew, you were probably ecstatic when they finally asked if they could go out on a walk, or to meet up with a new friend. You may have been so thrilled that you didn't notice they would only ask to leave as the sun was beginning to set. Or perhaps it didn't strike you as a little odd when they mentioned that they were meeting "a friend" in the woods behind Ol' Mr. Jenks’ abandoned farm. If this starts to become more than a one time thing, you may have trouble on your hands. There are really only two logical reasons why your child would be going into the forest at such an hour:

- They are hooked on drugs now (Get ready for a roller coaster ride of emotions for the next eight to twelve years... "Mom, I'm clean now, I swear! Call me back, please!")

- Slenderman.

3. Your Child Has Started to Dress Like a Jehovah's Witness and Started Cutting Themselves

Lets face it, the whole Mod scene died in the 80’s along with punk rock (not this “my mom dyes my hair and buys me Hot Topic clothes, so I'm hardcore” bullshit). And if your kid did happen to convert to being a Jehovah's Witness, they probably wouldn't be keeping blades on them. I've never seen one of those well-dressed little cyclists look anything less than downright ecstatic while peddling to yet another almost certain slammed door in their face. Children involved in the Slendercult, however, will not have such a jolly disposition. They will appear pale, sleep-deprived, and melancholy AF. Slendermen have an eerie fetish of making their victims look prim and proper before they charm them into committing a heinous crime. If your child has reached this stage, it may already be too late. You can try sitting down and talking to them, but they will most likely pretend that nothing is wrong and accuse you of being overbearing and never listening to them. Don't be fooled by any of this, it’s just all code for "I'm chatting it up with a Slenderman, Pops."

4. Go through your child's diary or laptop

So, your kid thinks that you’re "overbearing and never listen to their problems"? Well you'll show them! It’s your house, and since the child is living under your roof, paying no rent, their diary is basically your diary. Especially if it could prevent your family from being ripped apart by a Slenderman, I say that you have every right to go through it. However, in today's day and age, most kids don't use handwritten journals anymore as they can too easily fall into the wrong hands. You're going to have to break into their computer. If they have a password, try something like the name of the family pet, their Playstation username, or something special to them. But let’s be honest, you don’t know that much about them, so you could just yell at them for having a password in the first place. Once you're in, it shouldn't be hard to find out what kind of dark occult shenanigans your little one has been getting into as of late. You will probably just find out that your child has had a boring, three-year crush on some classmate, or their weird fetish for feet porn. But in the rare instance that they are spending their time searching deep web chat rooms late at night, and having lengthy conversations with well-dressed slender fellows trying to arrange a meet-up, you will be glad you read this article.

If your child happens to catch you during this mental breakdown, tearing apart their laptop, which they thought was the only safe place they had, you may recall a memory from your own childhood that oddly parallels this current situation. When you were growing up, there was nothing more you wanted than to spend time with your dad. He was your hero. You tried to take interest in what he loved so that maybe he would love you as well, but he stayed apathetic to your need for attention. There was always something more important: his job, his friends, or his pending divorce. Soon, you started misbehaving in an attempt to receive the attention that you were never given. You had finally found a way to reach him, but at this point, you didn’t give a shit what he thought. Now, 26 years later, here you are, focusing on your work, friends, and pending divorce, instead of the only person in the world who would want nothing more than for you to actually spend time with them. It’s not too late, though! Take this opportunity to make amends and still be a part of your child's life. It all starts with talking to them about The Super Simple Slender Safety Rules:

1. Stay out of the woods after dark

2. Stay out of Dark Net chatrooms

3. Do not give out any personal information online

4. Never show pictures of the family horse to strangers!

If they follow these four rules, there is a 90% chance that you will never be visited by the Slender Folk.

This article was brought to you by: Wacky Horse Masks, perfect for taking any birthday party to The Next Level, and can also be used as a makeshift Blood Ruby hotbox.