Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Pumpkin picking and carving are fun, messy traditions. I love the joy in handing out candy and seeing all of the children in their favorite costumes. Once children are old enough to choose their own Halloween costume, each year is a time capsule of what or who the child idolized at that time. My twin boys love the Transformers and are dressing as Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime this year. I adore the imaginative costumes that people come up with year after year. I enjoy being scared and scaring people.

How does celebrating Halloween change during or after your divorce? Ideally, it doesn’t change very much for your children. Although many activities happen throughout October, Halloween itself is only one day.  Most children would rather celebrate the actual day of Halloween with both of their parents. During your divorce, tensions and feelings may be so bitter that it is impossible to put those feelings aside and share Halloween.  If the possibility of fighting, bickering and name-calling exists; then, Halloween should be separate.  One incident can turn an otherwise fun and memorable evening into one that your child fears every year or remembers for the rest of their life.  After time, Halloween may be the perfect holiday to first attempt to rehabilitate and co-parent.  Wounds heal and passions lessen and an amicable Halloween may be possible in the future. Following the children trick-or-treating doesn’t require much in the way of pleasant chitchat.  The excitement and activity will get you through most of the night.  Try to have fun.  Even if this year together is not a possibility. Think about trying the next year to put aside past grudges, anger and emotions to make Halloween pleasant for your children for just a few hours or one day.

Here are some more tips for a Happy Halloween:

  • Share the Holiday – You are both adults and can put aside any anger or other feelings just for a few hours. Children are happy to see their parents be civil to each other and this demonstrates a united front.  Show that their parents love them more than you may dislike the other parent. Both parents can put aside our feelings for the children’s benefit.  No matter how awkward, all parts of the child’s blended family should be able to participate.
  • Be Prepared – Talk to your former spouse as early as possible.  Don’t leave discussions to the last minute.  Determine whether you can share the time; Check your agreement.  Does it address Halloween?; Make a plan. Who is taking the kids to buy costumes? Where are the kids going?  What time will they start?  When will it end?  Are there plans for after trick or treating?; Determine where you are going.  Know the neighborhood. Invite extended family to come with the children rather than trying to take the kids too many places. Share a planned route, if possible; If the plan has to change, communicate with the other parent and try to provide as much notice as possible and Make sure that any costume or accessories are ready to go for your children whether with you or the other parent.
  • Don’t place the children in the middle – Don’t try to influence who they are with or ask them to decide; The parents need to make the decisions between themselves.
  • Be Flexible/Celebrate on a Different Day if Can’t Do Together – Try to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement, show your children that you can cooperate and come up with an agreed plan for your child to have a Happy Halloween with each parent! Be willing to do later and longer.  Possibly start visitation the following day; If sharing Halloween is not possible; consider investigating whether any close places have trunk or treat, downtown trick or treating and other options on other days close to the holiday.  Your child’s school Halloween party could also be a possibility to enjoy with your child.  If Halloween falls on a weekend, then maybe split the day; Do other themed events in October: Boo at the Zoo, Haunted Houses (try it out first), Amusement Parks – Fright Fest at Six Flags, Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion; and Hay rides and corn mazes.
  • After Parent’s Discussion and Decision Inform Children of the Plan – Let them know what is going to happen so they can anticipate, Who will get their costume? What will they wear? Where will they go? Which friends or family are coming with them? Who will be there? and Will Mom & Dad fight? (No!).
  • Take Pictures and Share – Take pictures of the children with each parent; Share pictures with family members from both sides; and Share on social media (if ok with both parents).
  • Let Older Kids Decide Their Participation – Know the friends.  Halloween is all about sharing with friends; Let them celebrate with the friends that they want to.  Realize that older kids may not want to participate or may want to go trick-or treating solo; and Do check on them and make sure that they’re not getting into trouble.
  • Celebrating Halloween Solo? – Consider going to a Halloween Party; Get Dressed up and give out candy; Try a local Ghost Tour; and See if there are any local Halloween Parades.