During a divorce, every holiday that you would typically spend watching your children celebrate is either cloaked in layers of awkward subtext or unavailable, due to custody schedules being strictly enforced. Halloween is no exception.
While Halloween is typically a time when parents enjoy their children’s excitement over getting to dress up in costumes, going door to door trick-or-treating, and receiving an inordinate amount of candy, not every parent gets to enjoy the fun and festivities of the holiday.
Many parents are forced to miss the holiday and the excitement that their children are experiencing. Like Halloween, many holidays are forcibly spent alone, and while the Christmas season may be a more well-documented case of missing out on the joy of the time, Halloween can be equally as difficult for a divorced parent without custody.
The joy of Halloween
This is primarily due to how much joy Halloween brings to children. According to Psychology Today, it can be the perfect storm of excitement, joy, and fear. Between the anticipation of dressing up in the costume that you picked out, the anticipation of receiving candy during trick-or-treating, and the possibility of getting to watch a scary movie or two (depending on parental approval), it is an exhilarating time for children.
This stems from the human biology, where the hormones that evoke positive experiences, also can evoke the same stress hormones and excitatory neurotransmissions. Coupling the two experiences together and adding the sugar rush of large amounts of chocolate can make for animated children, enthusiastically awaiting the festivities of Halloween.
Communication and co-parents
The noncustodial parent is not always privy to these feelings, because many do not get to spend the holiday with their children. For them, getting that opportunity to be there for their children is one that they wish they could have, and through a little bit of communication and shared parenting, it very well might be.
This would require you to be on a polite and communicative level with your co-parent. The Huffington Post suggests a few options that could be beneficial in working with them, in order to create the best Halloween possible for you, as parents, as well as your children. You either can plan ahead and create a schedule, where half of the evening, you get the children and the other half is spent with your ex-spouse, or you can share the day together.
Even if the parenting plan does not account for Halloween, it still can be addressed, if both parents are communicative and share the best interests of their children. It may include uncomfortable conversation and even more uncomfortable of moments spent together.
However, as co-parents, you both have to resign yourselves to the fact that you will be forced to spend uncomfortable moments together. This is not much different than Christmas, birthdays, graduations, or other types of special events that you both will inevitably be sharing together. You both want to be there for the children, so out of love and respect for them, communicate your wishes to your co-parent to be there for your children on Halloween.
For the kids
For the children, they should not have to lose focus from the candy and the experience. After a parental divorce, trick-or-treating can be a relaxing escape that will allow them to enjoy themselves. They do not need to be brought into the uncomfortable situation of sorting through which parent they should spend Halloween with. Furthermore, the children caught in the crossfire of custody and divorce should not be asked which parent they would rather spend Halloween with. That’s asking them to choose between the two most important individuals in their lives. It is not fair to them.
Children should be allowed to enjoy the holiday and enjoy the innocence of trick-or-treating. So often, they can find themselves getting wrapped up in the emotions of an intense divorce and custody battle. This can provide them a temporary escape, so long as you let it be the case. Put aside your differences for a moment, and let your children be children.