Surviving the Horrors of Halloween After DivorceMarybeth Sampsel
Halloween is one of the more minor holidays that is often overlooked in a parenting plan. When you have small children, however, Halloween can be one of the most fun and exciting holidays of the year. If you are divorced or separated and you have small children, Halloween is an opportune time to work with your ex on co-parenting during the holidays. Consider Halloween a “practice round” before Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when making Halloween plans this year.
1. Check your parenting plan, then consider scrapping it.
Some parenting plans do include Halloween. Make sure that you check yours to see if there is a Halloween provision. If there is, keep in mind that you are bound to follow the plan UNLESS you and the other parent agree otherwise. If the Halloween provision already in place makes sense, there may be no need for you to communicate with your ex about changing Halloween plans. If, on the other hand, Halloween was overlooked in your plan or your Halloween provision just doesn’t make sense, get in touch with the other parent to discuss a possible change. Perhaps you can figure out a way to share time with your child on Halloween. Maybe Dad can go to the school party and Mom can take the kids trick-or-treating.
Remember, you can’t change a parenting plan without the other parent’s agreement or the court’s consent. Don’t unilaterally make a change to the plan without consulting with the other parent.
2. Don’t put your children in the middle.
As with any parenting dispute, it is imperative not to put the child in the middle. Make the decision as parents and do not force the child to take a side. Don’t say, “don’t you want to spend Halloween with Mommy (or Daddy)?” Asking the child means your child might spend Halloween concerned about which parent they chose to spend time with.
3. Share Time.
If at all possible, try to figure out a way to share the holiday. Long-distance between parents can make this impossible, but if it can be done, try and figure out a way. Of course, both parents want to spend the holiday with the child. Just because parents are separated, does not mean that can’t be accomplished.
4. Be Nice.
Whether or not you and the other parent are able to reach an agreement about Halloween, be nice! Nothing will ruin your child’s Halloween like watching his/her parents fight. Don’t use Halloween as an opportunity to tell your child about what a jerk their other parent is.
5. Plan Ahead.
Make sure you have tackled a holiday issue before it hits you head on. Don’t wait until October 29th to ask the other parent for time on a Halloween. Planning ahead allows you to prepare your children for the upcoming holiday and to manage their expectations in advance. Children need to know what to expect in the coming days, weeks, and even months. By preparing them for Halloween in advance, you decrease the chances of a Halloween Eve meltdown when they realize they are spending the holiday in one place or another.