Reflections & Insight

How Not To Make Halloween Into A Nightmare: Tips For Co-Parenting

Halloween is often overlooked when creating parenting plans. It never seems to get the attention that Christmas, Fourth of July or even Labor Day receive. Because people don’t get time off for Halloween, it is often simply forgotten in custody orders. However, it can be pretty frightful if the parents are acting like monsters on the night that the kids are supposed to be having fun. Here are some tips to make sure that Halloween is a treat instead of a trick:

• If Halloween is not in your ordered parenting plan, consider adding it. This may seem like a no brainer, but as mentioned above, the holiday is often overlooked. It’s a good idea to be fair about the holiday and consider an alternating annual schedule. For example, the kids could be with dad for trick-or-treating in even-numbered years and with the mom in odd-numbered years.

• If your relationship with the co-parent is a good working relationship, consider doing the trick-or-treat thing together. It can be a lot of fun to take your kid together. But, if you know you can’t be within ten feet of your ex without turning into a witch, then be realistic about it.

• Remember, this is your kids’ time for fun. You don’t want their memories of Halloween to be marred by the horrors of badly behaving parents. Even though you may be tempted to “get into it” with your ex, make sure you have a good handle on your emotions so that your kids can have a great time.

• Don’t let there be a battle with the ex about the kids’ costumes. I know, you want to dress your little boy up as a clown or a tiger, and your ex wants to dress him up as Freddy Krueger. It will help if the two of you discuss Halloween costumes well in advance of the big night. Most importantly, let your child have the last word on what the costume will be. Don’t let the costume be a turf war.

• If it’s Halloween and it’s your night to have the kids, as circumstances permit, consider driving your little monsters past the other parent’s house to trick-or-treat. Perhaps even take the kids to your ex’s parents to show their costumes off at grandma and grandpa’s. This goes a long way to show that you are making the children’s relationship with the other parent a priority.

• If it is not your night to have the kids, don’t force yourself onto the scene. If you can do it together and you are welcomed by the other parent, that is wonderful. But if you are not welcomed, don’t just show up. Remember, a key to successful co-parenting is respect for boundaries. Perhaps you can plan a separate Halloween party when it is your night complete with spooky music, candy and pumpkin carving.
Again, remember that Halloween can be a fun night for your kids. Be considerate of your little ghoul or goblin by not spoiling the evening by bickering with the ex. Make the night about the kids. If you can work together— great! If you can’t, then respect boundaries.

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