Whilst October is technically still in Autumn, many view it as the beginning of the holiday season. Halloween is the first of these significant annual festivities and is often overlooked when determining a contact timetable. But why? For many children, Halloween is great fun – from pumpkin carving to picking a costume to fancy dress parties and trick or treating.
With 55 days left until Christmas Day, Halloween is a great opportunity for both parents to get involved and could potentially be used to help improve relationships between separated parents in turmoil. But how?
Most nurseries, schools and extra-curricular clubs will have some sort of Halloween celebration, whether it is dressing up or bringing in your favourite sweet treats. If you are the parent that is notified of these events, it is important that you share these with the other parent at the earliest opportunity. Imagine how your child would feel if you’d each assumed that the other would buy the scary witch or wizard’s outfit, and they turn up to school in their uniform surrounding by gruesome ghouls, ghosts and little monsters.
Equally, make sure you know who is taking your child to and from their Halloween disco. If you assume the other parent will do it, your child might miss out. Communication is crucial.
Is that outfit appropriate?
Always remember that just because you think the short skirt and bunny ears are appropriate for your 13 year old daughter, her other parent might not. Equally, if you dress your 4 year old son up as a zombie war hero with a replica firearm, his Mum/ Dad might think this is far too violent. As co-parents, you need to decide with your ex-partner what you both deem to be appropriate for costumes.
By letting your child go out in something that you know their other parent will think is unacceptable, this will only serve to cause more friction between you. If the other parent then spots them and calls them out on their outfit, your child will feel uncomfortable, frustrated and angry in front of their friends. Why should your child feel upset because you have failed to talk to their other parent?
“Trick or Treat?”
As most Child Arrangements Orders tend to be silent on Halloween contact, it is up to both parents to decide who spends time with the children and when. It is imperative that you put your child’s wishes before your own. If they want to trick or treat with their friends or neighbours, let them. Don’t cause a row with your ex because you want your child to trick or treat where you live, where they don’t know anyone.
Equally, if their other parent lives around the corner or down the road, make an effort to offer to trick or treat together, or if you feel like that isn’t possible, split the night between you. If you are going to share the experience together, don’t bring your new boyfriend or girlfriend with you and do everything you can to be amicable. You never know, making some positive memories together might just help you smooth out the arrangements for the next occasion when the big man in red comes down the chimney!
Whilst you may think that Halloween is ‘just another money making day’, it can be a great opportunity to build bridges and work together to make sure that your child makes some wonderful (and scary!) memories of both parents working together, whether that be directly, or by organising things to ensure that the child feels as little conflict as possible.