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BOO! Co-Parenting over Halloween Doesn’t Have to Be Frightening.

Helpful Tips For Co-Parents Who Want Their Children To Have A Happy Halloween

Who is taking the kids trick-or-treating this Halloween? Who will choose and buy the costume? For separated or divorced parents, worrying about co-parenting over any holiday can be stressful. It’s common for separated or divorcing parents to have a child custody agreement that contains a holiday schedule for major holidays that involve a vacation from school, but smaller events such as Halloween, are often left out. If Halloween or other specific dates are a big deal for your kids, that won’t change because you’re separated or divorced. Having a plan can help your children enjoy the holiday even though the family dynamic has changed. If you need to revise your holiday parenting plan, consult with an attorney in advance.

If you don’t already have a plan in place for Halloween, your best option is to talk with your co-parent and build one together—if you can communicate effectively and it is safe to do so. Don’t assume that because Halloween falls on Sunday when you have the kids, that you will do the trick-or-treating and buy the costume. This is especially true if Halloween is a big deal for your kids, or if it’s something you used to do as a family. Do your best to compromise and coordinate a night of costumes, candy, and fun for your children.

Here are a few suggestions for having a Happy Halloween for co-parents and children:

  • Trade every other Halloween night so that each parent gets a chance to pick the costume and go trick-or-treating with the kids.
  • Agree to split the cost of the costume up to a certain dollar amount.
  • Make it a family event and go together! (Only if it is safe to do so and you can be friendly and civil to ensure the kids have a great time.)
  • Split up activities over the day, or the weekend, such as one parent does costume shopping and contests, while the other does the trick-or-treating.
  • Create new traditions that allow everyone to participate, such as the parent with custody on Halloween does trick-or-treating while the other has a set activity like pumpkin carving on their day or evening.

It’s always best to be flexible and creative during the holiday season when you can communicate effectively with your co-parent. When holiday celebrations are structured around separated or divorced parents’ schedules, children may be triggered and act out, or feel lost in the shuffle—especially if this is your first Halloween as separate families. Holiday events can highlight the reality that nothing will ever be the same. You should acknowledge and validate your child’s emotions and work to stay civil with your co-parent and communicate with them about your child’s emotions. Model good behavior for your children by focusing on their needs and be open to suggestions and changes where it benefits them. Even if you and your co-parent agree to a Halloween plan, things happen, such as someone becoming ill or having to work. Attempt to be creative around such events so your children don’t end up in a less than desirable situation.

Remember to focus on your children during these times. Be intentional about ensuring your children get quality time with you and their co-parent. No one said that co-parenting during the holidays would be easy, but by prioritizing your children and keeping an open conversation with your co-parent, Halloween doesn’t have to be frightening!

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Kirsty Liedman

Kirsty joined Gjesdahl Law, P.C. in 2021. During law school, Kirsty pursued a Child Welfare Certificate which focused on child welfare issues, courtroom advocacy, trauma-infor…
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