Halloween may not be as significant as other major holidays for divorced or separated parents, but it can be just as challenging to spend without your children.

halloween divorced families

Whether Halloween for your family is usually filled with spooky traditions (boo!) or trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, no parent wants to miss out on their kids in cute costumes—not to mention picking out a few of your favorite treats from your little one’s candy bag at the end of the night for yourself.

Parents can consider approaching Halloween without scares of fighting, “split-time” or alternating “every other year,” and make this year a treat for your children. But remember, it takes a commitment from both parents for these treats to work, and a promise that there will be no conflict between parents around their kids during this special time.

Treat #1: Trick-or-Treat Together.  True—you may not be pulling the matching family costumes out of the closet—but still, children can benefit from seeing their parents come together to support them, even if it’s just for one night of fun.  You can consider getting input from your children about the neighborhood they prefer to trick-or-treat, without asking them to choose. Once there is consensus, Mom and Dad can discuss and agree upon the place and time that the other parent will come by for shared parenting time during trick-or-treating. Ideally, you would tell the children together about your new Halloween plans and let them know that both of you are so excited to see them on their awesome costume this year!

If trick-or-treating is not possible together at the same time, you can accomplish a similar goal of sharing the holiday by having Dad go out with the kids for an hour while Mom hands out candy, and then switch so that Mom goes with the kids while Dad hands out candy. It still shows parental cooperation, and this may also minimize any tension.

Remember, Halloween trick-or-treating is a brief, but precious time to be as amicable as possible despite what may have been a rocky history. There is also no time as light and fun as Halloween to focus on your children and appreciate a good time together.  You can do it!

Treat #2: Other Halloween Events.  Trick-or-treating can be fun, but so can all the other spooky events going on around the Halloween season.  From haunted houses and hayrides or even school Halloween parties, there is something for everyone.  If being together for the holiday is just not possible, make it a point to celebrate in different ways with your children.  Maybe Mom goes trick-or-treating, but Dad gets to help at the school Halloween party.  That way, no one misses out on festivities. Here’s a healthy co-parenting Tip: Dad could reinforce Mom’s relationship with the children by letting them know how cool their costumes were by the photos that Mom sent him – and Mom can do the same by telling the kids how cool she think it is that Dad went to school and helped with the party. This positive reinforcement is the foundation of healthy co-parenting, and is the heart of what kids need most.

Treat #3: Make Halloween a Group Affair.  If the idea of trick or treating with your former spouse and children is scarier than an abandoned graveyard at midnight, try relieving the pressure by making it a group event.  Make a plan with the parents of your children’s’ friends to all go trick-or-treating together and invite the other parent. This may reduce the scary awkwardness of not having others to socialize with, and your children will feel special to know they get to spend the holiday with not only both of their parents but also their friends.

Treat #4: Who Wants even more Halloween? Candy for Everyone the Night Before!  Admittedly, not the healthiest approach from a nutrition standpoint but if you and your spouse aren’t able to celebrate together, try alternating years where one parent has the children the night before Halloween and the other has time with them on Halloween night.  The night before Halloween can be just as fun! New traditions can be created. Maybe the night before you start a dress-up-and-go-to-the mall-tradition. Or a dress up and movie night. Maybe even a trick-or-treat the night before Halloween!

For many parents, some of these creative approaches to Halloween may be possible. These ideas may have also helped you think of your own fun ways to approach it too. And for others, these approaches may not be possible at all—just do the best you can given the circumstances.

In any event, be well, be safe, and Happy Haunting!