Halloween with Divorced Parents

Another rendition of my Top Tips! Here’s my Top 3 Tips for managing Halloween for separated or divorced parents.

Tip #1 – figure out how to share Halloween celebrations between parents

From my experience, parents seem to have a varying amount of conflict over this particular holiday.  It’s not really a “holiday”, but it’s a special day for many families, and of course for kids.

If separating or divorcing parents do feel it’s important to see the kids on Halloween, that’s where we need to get creative on how to share the celebrations.

Here’s a few ideas for the sharing of October 31st itself:

  • Alternate years so that this year one parent has the children for October 31st, and next year the other parent has that day, or
  • If parents don’t want to miss a year, then maybe split the day – sometimes we put in wording such as “the off-duty parent will have at least 1 hour with the children on Oct 31st”, or
  • If we look at it from the kids’ viewpoint, parents could say that they will both be able to join in with the children on their fun – so both parents can go trick or treating, and help them get dressed in their costumes, or
  • If parents don’t want to plan so far ahead, they could also agree that they will sit down each year by October 1st to discuss the plan for that year.

If we look more broadly at Halloween, rather than just October 31st, parents could also look at various ways to share celebrations – there’s the day kids dress up for school, there’s October 31st, there’s Halloween parties, and other special events surrounding Halloween that could also come into the mix.

Tip #2 – make a plan for costumes

Costumes can be so much fun for kids – but for parents who are in conflict this can be a sore point.  It’s a good idea to make a plan ahead of time as to getting kids all costumed-up.

First, think about the costume selection – Some parents leave it up to the kids to decide what they want to be for Halloween, and sometimes one or both parents want to participate in the decision-making.  I encourage parents to discuss the decision-making process, and the degree of parental involvement.

Next, let’s talk budgets – Is there a budget for the costume? If so, is this a shareable item between parents? We’ve talked in other episodes about child support and “extra expenses”.  Halloween costumes do not fit anywhere into special expenses that would be shareable between parents, but it’s up to you as parents as to how you want to deal with the cost of Halloween costumes.

I am always surprised as to the total cost each year – in fact, for my kids we have a rule that you only get a bought costume every other year, and the in-between year has to be a DIY costume or something reused from another year (if it still fits),

Last, I recommend making a plan as to who gets to get the kiddos all dressed up – often there’s more than one opportunity for kids to dress up – from Halloween parties to school events, to trick or treating – consider whether you want to share the role of getting kids ready and seeing the excitement on their faces each time they do so.  This goes circles back to Tip #1 about figuring out the sharing of the holiday.

Tip #3 – Come up with a plan together for Halloween guidelines

For most kids, the day of Halloween involves three very important words – candy, candy, and more candy! What if you and your co-parent have differing ideas about what the Halloween guidelines should be?

For every family that I help, I try to get parents to talk in as much detail as possible so that they can prevent future conflict. If Halloween issues are a big deal to either parent, then a discussion is very important.

Here’s a few things to consider:

Curfew – If your kids are old enough to go out without parents, is there a curfew that you want to mutually discuss, or is it based on the rules of the on-duty parent at the time?

Candy limits – my kids have learned from a young age that they can keep about 10% of the candy that they get on Halloween; it’s the act of going house-to-house that’s important to them kids rather than the consumption of the candy itself.  Are there rules that you and your co-parent want to implement to ensure that the kids have a consistent standard between homes?
COVID – I know we’re all tired of this pandemic, and the masking, and the limits on fun things, but there are safety issues relating to COVID and Halloween that may need to be considered.  Many families I meet with aren’t on the same page about COVID – given that Halloween festivities usually involve gatherings and interacting with strangers, it’s important to have a plan between parents as to what COVID safety will look like for your kids, irrespective of which parent has the children.



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